Withstanding injuries since the start of the preseason, the Green Bay Packers defense took another hit Sunday afternoon against the Minnesota Vikings when one of its key contributors was carted off the field.
Safety Raven Greene, who has played at a hybrid linebacker-safety position throughout the first two weeks, went down with an ankle injury during the second half after a cut block and was ruled out for the rest of the game. He had recorded one tackle after tallying a second-most six with a pass deflection during Week 1.
The depth chart has Greene listed as the backup strong safety behind starter Adrian Amos for the Packers defense, but his role is much more advanced than an average second-stringer. He was very involved during the opening week against the Chicago Bears, playing more than three-fourths of defensive snaps with 12 reps on special teams as well.
Greene had earned his way into an important role with a strong training camp and preseason, and his value only increased when inside linebackers Oren Burks (pec, out) and Curtis Bolton (torn ACL, injured reserve) went down with injuries before initial roster cuts.
Without Greene’s multi-purpose skills in the secondary, the Packers defense is starting to look pretty thin in the middle with Blake Martinez the only stable piece of the inside linebacker unit.
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Greene Wasn’t the Only Wounded
Packers pass rusher Za’Darius Smith also came off the field in the second half with an ankle injury but returned before the end of the game, later dismissing the concerns about the issue.
Meanwhile, standout rookie Darnell Savage Jr. emerged from the postgame locker room in a boot with ESPN’s Rob Demovsky reporting he was kicked in the shin and was not believed to have a serious injury. He added the Packers will undergo additional tests on his injury Monday to make sure.
The impact losing any of those three would send ripples through a Packers defense that has been a breath of fresh air while the offense has struggled to find its footing through the first two weeks. Greene’s ankle seemed the most severe, but the second-year pro thanked fans on Twitter for keeping his spirits up and wishing him well.
Another Tough Break for Greene
Greene went from undrafted free agent out of James Madison University to backup free safety with the Packers in his first season, benefitting from the trading of Ha Ha Clinton-Dix to the Washington Redskins. He was promoted behind Jermaine Whitehead heading into November, but an ankle injury in December landed him on the injured reserve and capped his first year in the league at five total sacks — including one sack.
The situation was still favorable for Greene when he returned in the offseason, though, as Josh Jones’ reported desire to get out of Green Bay afforded him regular safety reps, continuing on into training camp. By the time the preseason was done, the versatile Greene looked like a natural for Mike Pettine’s defensive system.
If updates in the coming days reveal Greene is going to miss some time, it will be hard for the Packers to find a replacement.