The Green Bay Packers have improved their defense this season, but they now face the heart of their schedule without one of their best players.
FOX Sports insider and NFL Network contributor Jay Glazer reported Monday that safety Charles Woodson will miss six weeks with a broken collarbone, the same one he broke in Super Bowl XLV.
The Packers later confirmed the injury during Monday's team news conference.
"It's been a hard couple of weeks with injuries, with that we'll go on," Packerscoach Mike McCarthy said.
McCarthy said the injury is similar to the one Woodson suffered in the 2011 Super Bowl, but not as severe.
The news comes out of left field. There was no hint of Woodson's injury during Sunday's 30-20 win over the St. Louis Rams.
Woodson recorded five total tackles in the game and was on the field for 50 of the Rams' 60 snaps.
The 15-year veteran has seen his play decline in recent years, but the Packers aren't likely to shelve him for the season. After moving from cornerback to free safety, Woodson has posted 38 tackles and 1½ sacks. He's also forced a fumble and tallied an interception and brings unmatched experience to an otherwise developing secondary.
His play against the run has been solid, but thePackers will struggle to replace his leadership on a defense that's improved from among the worst in the NFL last season to 14th through seven games in 2012. Woodson has been a central figure on the Packerssince 2006.
If he plays again this year, the six-week timetable would place his return at Week 14, but that would mark a quick recovery from an injury suffered twice in as many years.