Packers reportedly lose big free-agent addition Muhammad Wilkerson for the rest of the season
The defensive end suffered a serious ankle injury on Sunday
According to ESPN's Rob Demovsky, Wilkerson is out for the season after picking up an ankle injury during the Packers' loss to the Redskins on Sunday. The injury was serious enough to prevent Wilkerson from traveling back to Green Bay because he needed to have a procedure done in Washington.
Wilkerson, a former star of the Jets, landed in Green Bay after flaming out in New York. When he signed his one-year, $5 million deal, which paled in comparison to , he indicated that he
"There is a lot more in this tank, and I know that. I'm ready for this change and the doubters, I'm ready to pretty much shut them up," he said in April. "And people will still talk of course, as people will, but it's a motivation for me, definitely."
The injury is a big blow for both Wilkerson, who wanted to prove he's still a top-flight defensive lineman, and the Packers, who were hoping Wilkerson would help get them back to the postseason by rediscovering his prior form. From 2011-15, Wilkerson racked up 36.5 sacks and 184 tackles in 77 games. But from 2016-17, his production dipped to eight sacks and 59 tackles in 28 games. As CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora chronicled,
The right fibula fracture he sustained in the final game of the 2015 season had a lingering impact on his lower body; at 6-feet-4, 315 pounds, the break down near his ankle was significant. Wilkerson at times felt like he was playing with one foot and one ankle during the 2016 season and the healing was slow going. His initial burst -- once driven by speed and force -- was sapped with his right ankle/foot not able to fire like normal. In 2017 he played through a difficult shoulder injury as well as a broken toe, and by December it was clear his time in New York was waning.
Once again, an injury will cost him. He hadn't yet recorded a sack with the Packers and-- and possibly forever considering he'll become a free agent again after the season. Wilkerson's future beyond this season is unknown. He'll still be 29 when the season ends, so he'll undoubtedly get a chance to latch onto a team in the offseason, but his career has been trending in the wrong direction for a few seasons now.
As for the Packers, they still have good players on their defensive front they can depend on -- like Mike Daniels and Kenny Clark -- but Wilkerson was supposed to elevate the group to such great heights. At 1-1-1, the Packers suddenly find themselves behind the Bears and tied for second with the Vikings in the NFC North. To make matters worse, Aaron Rodgers is dealing with some sort of a knee injury that has hobbled him to this point.
It's way too early to panic about the Packers' slow start, but enough has gone wrong to be concerned.
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