Outside of a couple series two weeks ago against Minnesota, the Green Bay Packers’ arsenal of wide receivers hasn’t been on the field together since the first half of the Sept. 30 game against New Orleans.
That’s probably not going to happen on Sunday at Chicago, either.
After Greg Jennings missed seven games with an abdominal injury that required surgery, Jordy Nelson injured a hamstring on Dec. 2 against the Vikings and figures to miss a second consecutive game this week against the Bears.
“I was talking to someone on Monday, I had some deal down in Milwaukee, and a guy, he made mention of just wanting to see all of us out there at the same time,” Jennings said, “and I said, ‘You know what? It would be nice just to have everybody out there, just to see what we look like again,’ It’s been a tough season. I told Aaron (Rodgers) the other day, there’s really nothing I can do about it, but I know it’s had to be rough for him just, I go down, Jordy goes down, Drive’s (Donald Driver) in and out – it just hasn’t been that consistent (thing where), he looked to the left, he looks to the right and sees the same guys. I know it’s been a struggle for him. But we’ll get there.”
Nelson hasn’t practiced this week. On Wednesday, coach Mike McCarthy called him a “long shot” to be available.
As was the case with Clay Matthews and is the case for Charles Woodson, there’s little urgency to rush Nelson back. Yes, if the Packers win on Sunday, they’ll clinch the division title. But even if they lose, the Packers will own the division lead on a tiebreaker. Getting Nelson back to 100 percent for a presumed trip to the playoffs is the logical decision.
Meanwhile, offensive lineman T.J. Lang was listed as limited participation for a second consecutive practice. McCarthy said Lang looked good, but whether that means Lang will be available for emergency duty, move back to his customary spot at left guard or return to right tackle remains to be seen. McCarthy went out of his way to say he would leave the who’s-playing-where questions for Friday.
“I feel good,” Lang said. “Obviously, last week, sitting out Wednesday and Thursday, I didn’t have anything to judge how it’d feel. Yesterday and today, even though we weren’t in pads, I was still moving around a lot, putting weight on it, playing around, running around. I feel pretty comfortable. I think by Sunday I’ll be feeling really good.”
Offensive line coach James Campen said Lang “looked pretty good” at the no-pads practice.
“The first thing you have to do is remind him that a player can’t compromise his fundamentals,” Campen said. “You’ve got to bend, you’ve got to – in his case with the ankle – you’ve got to step and be able to put it in the ground. You can’t gingerly try to do it. You’ve got to either do it or don’t. That’s how you get confidence in something. Then, you make sure look-wise you get what you need and take some plays off that you might’ve already done 100 reps at.”
Packers injury report
Out: CB Charles Woodson (collarbone). Did not participate: WR Jordy Nelson (hamstring); RB James Starks (knee); DE C.J. Wilson (knee). Limited: WR Donald Driver (thumb); G/T T.J. Lang (ankle); LB Terrell Manning (shoulder); LB Clay Matthews (hamstring); Mike Neal (shoulder). Full: Davon House (illness); LT Marshall Newhouse (wrist).
Bears injury report
Did not participate: WR Earl Bennett (hamstring); RB Michael Bush (ribs); CB Tim Jennings (shoulder); DE Shea McClellin (knee); DT Henry Melton (chest); LB Brian Urlacher (hamstring). Limited: LB Lance Briggs (knee/hip); QB Jay Cutler (knee/neck); TE Kellen Davis (knee); LB Geno Hayes (knee); T Jonathan Scott (shoulder); DT Matt Toeaina (knee). Full: DT Stephen Paea (foot); G Chris Spencer (knee); CB Charles Tillman (shoulder).
— Jennings, on the rivalry: “It’s the Bears-Packers rivalry. We’re friends off the field. (Charles) Tillman – great guy off the field, on the field, hate him, hate going against him. But I have to go against him. I know he’s going to get my best punch, I’m going to get his best punch. You like going against guys that just want to compete, just want to play football. Tillman’s always been one of those guys that you dread looking at on film and saying, ‘Man, we’ve got them next,’ because he’s going to keep coming play after play after play. And I’m sure he’ll think the same thing if he were looking at me on film, and I want him to, because I’m not going to stop and I don’t expect him to stop. That’s when you get the best games and that’s why this rivalry is so special.”
— Neal was limited again, one day after surprising McCarthy and position coach Mike Neal by practicing. “Going through the exam is a lot different than getting down there and doing functional football work,” McCarthy said. “He felt that he needed to try to practice yesterday, which was not the plan by the medical staff. Once he got through, he felt a lot better. I thought he looked good today, I’ll be curious to see what his exam looks like tomorrow.”
— Though he was given a 15-yard penalty, safety Morgan Burnett said he was not fined for his hit on Lions receiver Calvin Johnson last week. “I was just trying to make a play on the ball. I never had any intention of trying to take him out or go at his head. I was just trying to make a play on the ball, he was making a play on the ball and that’s the type of collision we had.”
— In the latest Super Bowl odds by online bookmaker Bovada, the Packers are 7-1. That’s the fifth-best odds in the league, followed by New England’s 3/1 and Denver, Houston and San Francisco all at 6/1. The Packers were 9/1 last week.
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.