(Update) Packer News Briefs: Matthews, Woodson practice Thursday but still in doubt for Sunday's gameWisconsin Sports
- The Green Bay Packers’ two top defensive stars both practiced yesterday for the second straight time. But it does not appear that Clay Matthews and Charles Woodson will play on Sunday night against the Detroit Lions at Lambeau Field.
GREEN BAY - The Green Bay Packers’ two top defensive stars both practiced yesterday for the second straight time. But it does not appear that Clay Matthews and Charles Woodson will play on Sunday night against the Detroit Lions at Lambeau Field.
Head Coach Mike McCarthy said he needed to see both players in a full-speed padded practice – something the Packers won’t be able to do next week because of the NFL’s limits on padded workouts. Matthews has been battling an injured hamstring. Woodson is coming back from a broken collarbone. Both are being groomed for a return on December 16th, when the Packers play at Chicago in what apparently will be the game that decides the NFC North Division title.
McCarthy is no fan of the new limits on padded practices, which are part of the 10-year collective bargaining agreement that ended the owners’ lockout a year ago. And the coach grumbled about the new limits again yesterday, saying he only has one padded practice left for the regular season. Teams are limited to 14 full-speed workouts during the regular season – and 11 of them must be completed in the first 11 weeks. The final three are spread out over the last six weeks, with the goal of keeping players healthy late in the season.
Green Bay Packers’ defensive end Mike Neal is listed as doubtful for Sunday night’s home game against Detroit. Neal did not practice all week due to a shoulder injury suffered almost two weeks ago. He has also had other shoulder problems throughout his short NFL career. Right tackle T.J. Lang returned to practice today, after hurting an ankle last Sunday against Minnesota. Lang is listed as questionable for the Lions’ game – and the same goes for linebacker Terrell Manning as he recovers from an injured shoulder. Both Lang and Manning were limited at practice today. Corner Sam Shields practiced fully today, as he gets over a high ankle sprain. He’s listed as probable for Sunday night. Receiver Donald Driver – who missed last week’s game with a bad thumb – is also probable, along with center Jeff Saturday. Five Packers have been ruled out – receiver Jordy Nelson, running back James Starks, and defensive players Clay Matthews, C.J. Wilson, and Charles Woodson. Nelson aggravated a hamstring injury last Sunday before the Viking game. Coach Mike McCarthy expects Matthews and Woodson to return for the December 16th game at Chicago, which could be for the NFC North Division crown.
The Green Bay Packers might have to elevate a practice squad player, to have enough defensive linemen for Sunday night’s home game against Detroit. Without a move, there’s a chance that coach Mike McCarthy would only have four linemen at his disposal. C.J. Wilson has missed practice all week with a knee injury. And McCarthy is not sure how Mike Neal is faring, after he injured a shoulder two weeks ago. Neal has torn a labrum in both his shoulders during his pro career with the Packers – and that’s got the coaches especially concerned. McCarthy said he might find out more about Neal’s status later today. In the meantime, the coach said a personnel move’s being considered. They could bring defensive lineman Jordan Miller off the practice squad. The Packers lead the NFC North Division with a tie-breaker over Chicago. Both teams are 8-4. The Bears play 6-6 Minnesota on Sunday, and the Pack will face a Lions’ team that’s 4-8.
Packers’ special teams’ coach Shawn Slocum says the game would change a lot if kickoffs were banned – and he expects at least some change in that regard. Earlier this fall, a Tampa Bay official suggested a replacement for the kickoff – which many regard as the most dangerous play in football because of the speed of the players in a spread-out field. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell mentioned the same idea in a Time Magazine article, thus stirring a much bigger debate about it. The proposal was to give the kicking team a fourth-down-and-15 on its own 30-yard line – and it could either punt or try to convert a first down. The Packers’ special teams coach says there’s a continued effort to make the game safer for the players. And Slocum says the proposed change would have a big impact on the receiving team’s field position, because the punt play is much less predictable than kickoffs. Packers’ punter Tim Masthay would like to know if out-of-bounds punts would still be allowable without penalty. The proponents did not say if that’s the case.