GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Running back DuJuan Harris (knee) and offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga (knee) never made it out of training camp.
Cornerback Casey Hayward (hamstring) did, only to suffer the same injury twice more and play all of 87 snaps the entire season. Wide receiver Randall Cobb missed three weeks of training camp with a biceps injury and then was knocked out for 10 games with a broken leg and played just 29.6 percent of the regular-season snaps.
Tight end Jermichael Finley (cervical disc) made it through five games and 252 snaps before his season ended in Week 7. Linebacker Clay Matthews (thumb) didn't miss a day of training camp but suffered the same injury twice and played just 52.7 percent of the regular-season snaps.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers (broken collarbone) missed consecutive games for the first time in his career and played just over 50 percent of the regular-season snaps.
If you're the Green Bay Packers, this is a good cross-section of data to use to evaluate yet another injury-stamped season. Among the more than 30 players who missed at least one game due to injury, the ailments that sidelined them ran the gamut. There were training injuries, contact injuries, muscle injuries and freak injuries.
If there were injuries the Packers didn't incur this season, it was only because half the team was safely on the sideline nursing some other type of injury.
"I mean it's injuries are injuries," said Bulaga, who had no idea he had torn an anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during the intrasquad scrimmage in August and continued to play on it. "It happened.
"I was shocked to see how many happened this year in the NFL. It seemed like every week you were getting an update on some guy that had that injury. It's the game, it's part of the game. That's really all I can say about it."
Bulaga, who suffered a rare season-ending hip injury the previous season, has played in 24 games over the last three seasons after playing in all 20 his rookie season. He is a perfect example of someone the Packers thought would be a fixture in their lineup for a decade only to be left scrambling to replace him.
Asked if he considered changing his training techniques in the off-season or focusing on a specific area, Bulaga said no.
"They're two injuries that...the hip injury that's something maybe you'll see once every 20, 30 years maybe," Bulaga said. "I've never even heard of that injury when it happened, and the ACL injury, it wasn't self-inflicted. It wasn't something I did on my own. It wasn't my own body weight giving out on my leg or anything,
"Obviously the hip, it was a little weird, but again, I've never even heard of that injury when it happened so there's nothing different that I'm going to go about doing."
Bulaga said he is at a point where there are no limitations to his training, but he must continue to do rehab to make sure all the strength is back in his knee. He was confident he would be back in time for the start of training camp and was hopeful about organized team activities.
As Bulaga and others recover, coach Mike McCarthy, the medical staff and the training staff will review every injury. They already chart how the injuries happened to see if there are trends, but after making changes aimed at lowering fatigue injuries, McCarthy said this week he's not sure what else to do.
Asked if he learned anything new about injuries this year, McCarthy flat out said no. This comes after he adjusted the off-season workout program, re-evaluated the training camp practice schedule and incorporated TV timeouts into every practice to help simulate game conditions.
"Injuries are a moving target," McCarthy said. "It's part of the game. Everything we do from a training standpoint -- you look at our facilities, the way our players are cared for. The nutrition. The practice structure now.
"We've made a number of adjustments in favor of helping us be a healthy football team and we didn't get that done. At the end of the day, you have to look at the individual more, look at how the injury happened, the timing of the injury and just stay in tune with that. We're somewhere in fifth or sixth in the league for most injuries this year. You have to look further."
Whether that's general manager Ted Thompson and his staff paying more attention to the body types and the injury history of their draft selections or something completely different is a question for the off-season. What is known is that three out of the last four years, the Packers have been among the NFL leaders in injuries.
Harris, who had a cyst removed from his side in the off-season and then needed surgery on his patellar tendon, said there really is nothing that separates him and the injured players from the rest except luck. He said everyone trains with the purpose of avoiding injury.
"Everybody has to prepare themselves the way they know how to," said Harris, who is ahead of his rehab schedule and confident he'll be ready for off-season work. "You just have to do what you do. Everyone has to take it serious. We don't want to go through this again."
Hayward wasn't around to clean out his locker when reporters were allowed in Monday, but he faces a lot of uncertainty heading into next season. He badly injured his hamstring just before camp and pulled it twice after long periods of rehab.
It's unclear if he'll need surgery or if a full off-season of rest and rehab will take care of the injury. But he's someone the Packers were counting on greatly this past season and got nothing from him.
"Casey Hayward's a playmaker, and he didn't play for us this year," McCarthy said. "I look for him to get healthy and to come back strong and make an impact next year."
Finley's future appears to be somewhere else given he's a free agent and the Packers' likely unwillingness to clear him after neck fusion surgery. One of the players who looked like he could fill some of Finley's pass-catching duties was Brandon Bostick, but he broke the fifth metatarsal in his left foot after landing wrong in the Dallas game Dec. 15 and needed surgery to have a screw inserted.
"I think it's healed now, I can walk on it," he said. "In two weeks it will be four weeks and I'll get the boot off. I'll just follow the direction of the doctors and go from there."
As for Cobb, Matthews and Rodgers, the three legitimate impact players on the Packers roster, the off-season will be for healing bones and strengthening areas around the injury.
Cobb wasn't the same player when he returned in Week 17, but he had no issues with his leg and now has time to get back what he had. Rodgers survived without any further damage to his collarbone and should be completely healed before off-season training begins.
Matthews' situation would be appear to be the most tenuous given he broke the same thumb twice. The first break, a Bennett's fracture, requires total immobilization or there is a danger his grip could be affected. At the time the second break occurred, McCarthy indicated it was the same injury without being specific about another Bennett's fracture.
Since Matthews and the Packers have not been forthcoming about the injury, it's hard to know if there's a lot of concern about the future of his right hand, but no one has said he'll be as good as new. Matthews has not spoken publicly since he suffered the injury.
Of course, uncertainty is something the Packers are familiar with. They've faced a great amount of it three out of the last four years and so why shouldn't there be some this off-season.
(c)2014 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Visit the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel at www.jsonline.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services