The Green Bay Packers probably will be without two of their top run defenders for Sunday, bad news considering Adrian Peterson is coming to town.
C.J. Wilson, a run-stopping defensive end in the base defense, “probably will not make it back this week” because of a knee injury sustained on the first play of the loss to the Giants, coach Mike McCarthy said on Wednesday. Outside linebacker Clay Matthews probably will miss a third consecutive game with an injured hamstring, though there’s a glimmer of hope.
“Had a chance to watch Clay go through rehab today,” McCarthy said. “Talking with him, he wants the opportunity to talk again on Friday. So, he’s getting close. I think it would be a stretch for him to play in the game. But we’ll have him evaluated again on Friday and see how the week of rehab goes.”
Green Bay’s run defense will be put to the ultimate test against Peterson. After a five-game run in which the Packers fielded statistically the best run defense in the league, they allowed 4.6 yards per carry at Detroit and 4.7 yards per carry last week against New York.
Peterson, almost unbelievably considering he tore his ACL against Washington on Dec. 24, has rushed for a league-leading 1,236 yards and a stunning 5.8 yards per attempt.
“He’s a challenge for any team,” said Wilson, who played another 13 snaps last week after several players landed on his knee while he was making a tackle. “He’s a great running back, a great guy to watch. He’s very explosive, doesn’t have too many weaknesses. It’s going to be a real tough challenge for us but I know the guys we have are going to be up for it.”
The other run-stuffing defensive end, Ryan Pickett, did not practice because of a bruised thigh, but McCarthy and Pickett expect the veteran will be ready for Sunday.
“It’s going to be tough” playing without Wilson, Pickett said. “We’re going to ask our young guys to step up. They’re up for the challenge. They’re going to have to step up and play big because we’re going to miss C.J. He’s a real good run player, I think. A lot of times, he doesn’t get the credit he deserves. He can play the run real good. That’s definitely going to hurt us. It would definitely help us more if he was playing.”
Meanwhile, McCarthy said running back Cedric Benson’s injured foot was being evaluated “as we speak.” Benson is on the short-term injured reserve list and is eligible to return, though that’s looking less and less likely.
Charles Woodson (collarbone) and Sam Shields (ankle) are out, and Derek Sherrod (broken leg) will be put on season-ending injured reserve rather than added to the 53-man roster.
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