The Green Bay Packers' (6–4) pursuit for the NFC wild card got a lot tougher on Monday with the loss of Al Harris and Aaron Kampman to season-ending knee injuries.
Harris, a cornerback, and Kampman, a linebacker, were both injured in the second half of Sunday’s game against the San Francisco 49ers, a 30–24 win that put the team within striking distance of the wild card berth.
The Packers D now has to buckle down and figure out how to fill the gap in their line before their Thanksgiving Day game against the Detroit Lions (2–8).
“It will be a big challenge for our football team,” coach Mike McCarthy said at a news conference.
“Our younger players, they're going to have to step up and get ready on a short week for Detroit.”
Cornerback Tramon Williams, 26, will most likely fill Harris’s shoes, McCarthy said. But finding an immediate replacement for Kampman will be more difficult.
“As far as moving forward at Aaron's position, that's what we'll spend [Monday] going through,” McCarthy said.
The 29-year-old Kampman was in his eighth NFL season—all with Green Bay—and had 42 tackles this year.
He carved out a place for himself as one of the league’s better pass rushers, but his injury could serve as a setback or worse to his career because his contract expires at the end of this season.
Harris, 34, was in his 12th season in the NFL after coming out of Texas A&M University and has been with Green Bay since 2003. He had 34 tackles and 2 interceptions this year.
“I think we have a lot of confidence they'll both respond very well. They're both in great shape, both take great care of their bodies,” McCarthy said.