Though the injuries are piling up, the Green Bay Packers are confident moving forward.
With at least three starters sidelined, the Packers look to continue their current surge while trying for an 11th consecutive home victory Sunday against the Cleveland Browns.
Green Bay (3-2) adjusted to in-game injuries to receivers Randall Cobb and James Jones by riding the legs of rookie running back Eddie Lacy and a stingy defense to a second straight victory, 19-17 at Baltimore last Sunday.
"When injuries happen, I look at it as you have to flip the page," coach Mike McCarthy said. "It's like anything in life, are you going to cry about it or are you going to look at it as an opportunity to improve?
"Really, these injury situations are opportunities for our younger players or any player on our roster to jump up and take the rope."
That's the situation facing the Packers, who will be minus Cobb (knee), the team leader with 29 receptions, for at least six weeks and starting linebacker Nick Perry (foot) at least for this contest. Jones might play Sunday despite a leg injury, but Clay Matthews remains out with a broken thumb and fellow linebacker Brad Jones could miss a second consecutive contest with a hamstring problem.
Second-year pro Jarrett Boykin and Jordy Nelson are the Packers' only healthy receivers. Rookie linebackers Andy Mulumba and Nate Palmer could to see more time on a defense that has allowed 26 points the last two weeks and an average of 64.3 rushing yards the past three contests.
"You find out about your young players, and I think in the long haul it can help you a little bit later on because of the experience these guys are gaining now," defensive coordinator Dom Capers told the Packers' official website.
Lacy has gained 219 yards on 46 attempts the last two weeks. His 120 yards at Baltimore took some pressure off quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the depleted receiving corps.
After ranking 20th with an average of 106.4 rushing yards last season, Green Bay is fifth at 140.8 per contest in 2013.
"I'm happy where the run game is, but I'm excited about where it can go," McCarthy said. "There are things we've laid out for the run game we haven't tapped into, yet, and that's exciting also."
Lacy has caught three passes for 34 yards, but could be more of a factor in the pass game this week. So too can tight end Jermichael Finley, who had three receptions for 75 yards against the Ravens.
Nelson, fifth in the league averaging 96.8 receiving yards, caught four balls for 113 last Sunday, including a 64-yard TD that gave Green Bay a 16-3 lead late in the third quarter.
After five straight regular-season games with at least three TD passes, Rodgers has thrown one in each of the last three, but only one interception in the last two.
He was 15 of 20 for 246 yards with three TDs and no picks in a 31-3 win at Cleveland in 2009.
Though the Browns (3-3) won 26-24 in their last trip to Lambeau Field in 2005, the Packers have won 10 straight regular season and playoff home games by an average margin of 14.6 points.
Cleveland's three-game winning streak ended with last Sunday's 31-17 home loss to Detroit. The Browns were outscored 24-0 in the second half and subjected to an ill-advised throw by quarterback Brandon Weeden.
With the Browns trailing 24-17, Weeden tried to avoid being sacked and flipped the ball backhanded toward fullback Chris Ogbonnaya, but was intercepted by DeAndre Levy to essentially seal the defeat.
Despite that play and another interception, Weeden remains the starter after throwing for 292 yards and two touchdowns.
"It's never just about one play or person to assign blame," Browns coach Rob Chudzinski said. "We all can be better.
"It really just boils down to those critical decisions. The mistakes that he made (last Sunday), I know he wants them back and would like to have them back, but there are mistakes from other guys there, too."
Cleveland ran for a season-high 115 yards in the first half, but only 11 in the second.
Defensively, the Browns yielded 273 rushing yards on 4.6 yards per carry to Buffalo and Detroit after allowing 316 on 2.9 per rush in the first four contests.
Josh Gordon has 25 receptions for 429 yards with two TDs in four games since serving a two-game suspension for violating the league's substance-abuse policy.
Tight end Jordan Cameron averaged 7.5 receptions and 90.0 yards with five TDs in the first four games, but has totaled eight for 100 and no scores over the last two.
The Associated Press News Service
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