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Packers DE Neal, LB Poppinga slated for season-ending surgery

  • By NFL.com Wire Reports
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The only breaks some Green Bay Packers players can catch this season are to their body parts.

Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Monday that defensive end Mike Neal and linebacker Brady Poppinga are both scheduled for season-ending surgeries, bringing the total number of Green Bay players lost to injury to nine.

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McCarthy said Neal, who's battling a shoulder injury that has kept him out of the past two games, is set to have surgery Tuesday.

"We knew the extent of the injury right away," McCarthy said. "It's (Neal's) shoulder, and sometimes you're able to rehab and play through that, but that's not the case with Mike. It's severe enough, and everyone is in agreement that we need to go in and fix it."

Poppinga's surgery is on the same knee he had reconstructed following his rookie season in 2005. McCarthy said a time for surgery hasn't been set, but it should take place over the next seven to 10 days.

"They found that was more damage than they were able to correct on the initial scope," McCarthy said. "He's seeking a second opinion, but it's pretty clear that he's going to have season-ending surgery."

The Packers have been hit hard with injuries over the first seven weeks of the season. Seven players -- including four starters: tight end Jermichael Finley, linebacker Nick Barnett, running back Ryan Grant and safety Morgan Burnett -- already are on season-ending injured reserve.

The team was encouraged to see cornerback Al Harris and safety Atari Bigby return to practice last week, along with outside linebacker Clay Matthews. Matthews played in Sunday night's 28-24 victory over the Green Bay Packers, but Harris and Bigby have yet to be activated.

"I thought they both had a good week of practice, so I know they're chomping at the bit," McCarthy said of Harris and Bigby. "That's something as a staff we'll talk about tonight and tomorrow to try and have a plan there."

All the talk of injuries didn't diminish the Packers' joy after beating their former quarterback, Brett Favre, and the Vikings. Still, McCarthy wants his team to focus on Sunday's showdown with the New York Jets.

"I don't think you run around with your pompoms this week," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "That's the last thing that I'm going to do. Everybody had a chance to enjoy the win last night, and I'm sure everybody feels good today. It was easier coming to work today than it was last week. That's our business. Winning is important. A lot of good things come off of winning. But it's onto the next one. It's a simple as that."

And the Packers were far from perfect against the Vikings.

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers had two uncharacteristic interceptions deep in Vikings territory and didn't appear to be on the same page as his receivers on several throws.

Defensive coordinator Dom Capers had to improvise after Cullen Jenkins pulled a calf muscle in pregame warmups and fellow lineman Ryan Pickett reinjured his ankle. The Packers couldn't play much base defense against a Minnesota team that was committed to running with Adrian Peterson.

Still, the defense forced Favre into three ugly second-half interceptions. Linebackers Desmond Bishop and A.J. Hawk, players who had to deal with diminished roles earlier in the season, both had interceptions Sunday.

And the Packers were able to put pressure on Favre at the end of the game.

The Packers have tried to downplay the emotion associated with facing their former quarterback, especially after losing to Favre twice last season. Even after a win, Rodgers wasn't interested in talking about Favre.


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But teammates said Sunday's victory might have meant more to Rodgers than he revealed.

"I think honestly, it does mean a great deal to him," Matthews said. "We might see it as any other game, but for him, there's certainly a little something special. For him, sitting behind Favre, then coming out and putting together two fantastic seasons and losing to him twice, for him to come out against the guy who -- whatever you want to call it, the quarterback who was in front of him -- it means a great deal to him."

Backup quarterback Matt Flynn sensed it, too.

"I think it means a lot to him," Flynn said. "Obviously it's a big game for us as a team, the way the season has gone. But personally, I think this was definitely one he had circled that he wanted to win. I'm happy for him. I'm happy he got it."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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