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Steelers Could Avoid Star Packers Pass Rusher



Steelers Packers Kenny Clark
Green Bay Packers nose tackle Kenny Clark (97) lines up against the Pittsburgh Steelers during an NFL football game Sunday, Oct 3. 2021, in Green Bay, Wis. The Packers won the game 27-17. (Jeff Haynes/AP Images for Panini)

Packers Pro Bowl defensive tackle Kenny Clark is up in the air for Sunday’s game against the Steelers with a shoulder injury. Clark is one of five players listed as questionable, in addition to the likely missing Jaire Alexander and Quay Walker. He suffered the injury last week against the Rams, where he could not finish the game and was carted off. Clark did not log a full practice all week, practicing on a limited basis on all three days.

Clark is one of the most disruptive forces in the NFL, one of the game’s more underrated interior pass rushers. Pittsburgh has faced many of those in a short span with Aaron Donald and Jeffery Simmons on the schedule, but Clark is one of the league’s premier interior defensive tackles, too. If he is out, the Steelers will have less to handle upfront from the interior, though Rashan Gary will give the team plenty of issues to worry about off the edge. Without Clark, rookies Karl Brooks and Colby Wooden could step into Clark’s roles further.

This is a significant injury because if the Packers knock off the Steelers, the formula will involve the defensive line, their biggest strength, throwing off Pittsburgh’s offensive line and forcing Kenny Pickett into tough spots. They have solid depth with Wooden and Brooks, but Clark is a game wrecker that few teams have on the interior of their defensive line. Regardless, Gary, Preston Smith, and Clark are some of the better trios up front in the league. Green Bay wants that group to go entirely together, but injuries have prevented that at points this season.

Coming off a game where the defense finally found their footing by holding the Brett Rypien-led Rams to just three points, having Clark is vital to continue that momentum into this clash with the Steelers.