Small Bone Fracture in Neck Threatens Palmer's Season
Next game: Sunday, September 23 vs. San Diego
Packers Gameday at 9:00 a.m. on Newsradio 620 WTMJ
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) -- While the injury certainly could have been worse, Green Bay Packers backup offensive lineman Tony Palmer could miss the rest of the season after sustaining a small bone fracture in his neck during Sunday's road victory over the New York Giants.
The dangers of neck injuries were a hot topic in the Packers' locker room last week after a serious injury to the Buffalo Bills' Kevin Everett in Week 1. But coach Mike McCarthy said Palmer never had any problems with movement in his extremities after he was injured on a kick return.
McCarthy said Palmer was in "very good spirits" and traveling back to Green Bay on Monday morning, but acknowledged that such an injury could threaten his availability for the rest of the season.
"We need to get him back here and let our doctors get their hands on him," McCarthy said.
Palmer's injury originally was diagnosed as a neck stinger, but he was held overnight in a local hospital and the fracture was discovered.
McCarthy said the only other significant injury to come out of Sunday's game was Chad Clifton's ankle sprain. McCarthy said Clifton might miss some time in practice this week but expected him to play against San Diego next Sunday.
"I haven't had a chance to speak to him today," McCarthy said. "He may miss some practice time this week, but I'm hopeful that he will go."
BACKUP PLAN: Wide receiver Ruvell Martin or cornerback Charles Woodson lining up under center?
It could happen -- at least in practice -- after the Packers lost wide receiver and emergency quarterback Carlyle Holiday for the season to a knee injury last week.
The Packers kept only two quarterbacks on their 53-man roster this year, Brett Favre and backup Aaron Rodgers. The original plan was to have Holiday, a former quarterback at Notre Dame, fill in if both Favre and Rodgers were injured in a game and both were unable to play.
That might sound farfetched given Favre's ironman starting streak, but it nearly happened in the Packers' game against New England last year.
Coach McCarthy admitted he is taking a calculated gamble on the continued health of Favre, who has started a quarterback-record 239 games -- 259, including the playoffs.
"We are playing the odds, but we need to be prepared and have a plan," McCarthy said. "We have a couple candidates, and that's probably what I'll work on here in the next two days.
Martin was a high school quarterback in Muskegon, Mich.
JUICE BAR: Despite allowing Favre to get flattened by a Giants defender just before halftime, Junius "Juice" Coston got decent grades from Packers coaches after making his first start at right guard on Sunday.
Coston allowed Giants defensive tackle Fred Robbins to power past him on a second-and-9 play late in the first half, and Robbins hit Favre hard.
All in all, though, offensive coordinator Joe Philbin said Coston was OK.
"For his first time, I think he was very, very competitive," Philbin said. "He played well. He had a couple of quarterback hits that we've got to work on and eliminate those. But the guy plays hard."
Philbin didn't commit to having Coston, who got the starting job after a calf injury to starter Jason Spitz, back with the first-team offense when the team resumes practice on Wednesday.
"I don't know about that," Philbin said. "We're going to see -- see how Spitz's health is, see where he's at and make a decision as we go."
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)