With three games remaining in the regular season, the Green Bay Packers aren’t as healthy as coach Mike McCarthy would prefer.
As expected, left tackle Chad Clifton and Greg Jennings have been ruled out of Sunday’s game at Kansas City. Inside linebacker Desmond Bishop didn’t practice and probably won’t be ready to face the Chiefs, either. Also held out of practice was top running back James Starks, who didn’t bounce back well from a hard workout on Tuesday.
One potential bit of good news is that starting right guard Josh Sitton returned to practice after missing the last two games.
“He went through the individual drills today, felt very good,” McCarthy said. “But talking to the medical staff prior to practice, they didn't feel as good about him, so it's kind of a common theme that you go through dealing with the doctors vs. the players. We'll see how Josh is tomorrow and maybe potentially he'll do more tomorrow. I don't have a feel either way on Josh.”
Sitton said he was doing “great” and is getting healthy “a lot faster” than he expected. If it was up to Sitton, he said he’d be back in the lineup.
“I miss the game,” Sitton said. “That’s what I’ve grown up loving to do. When you’re sitting on the sideline, I’m sitting over there super-bored. I thought I’d be fine over there — an NFL football game, you get to sit back and watch, but I was bored the whole time. I’m ready to get back out there. I miss being out there with the boys. It’s hard to watch them play. Just trying to stay positive.”
Packers injury report
Out: T Chad Clifton (hamstring/back); WR Greg Jennings (knee). Did not participate: LB Desmond Bishop (calf); DE Ryan Pickett (concussion); RB Brandon Saine (concussion); RB James Starks (knee/ankle). Limited: G Josh Sitton (knee). Full: LB A.J. Hawk (calf); LB Vic So’oto (back).
McCarthy, repeating what he said on Monday, believes Pickett will be cleared to play on Sunday.
Chiefs injury report
Did not participate: S Jon McGraw (ankle). Limited: QB Kyle Orton (right index finger).
— Hawk will reclaim his starting spot this week after missing the last two games, which means Robert Francois will return to the bench. And once Bishop is healthy, D.J. Smith will return to the bench, as well. But McCarthy said the team might have to find roles for them, especially after Francois and Smith created three turnovers against Oakland. “I think what happens when you have players step up and take advantage of an opportunity, you do want to try to increase their roles,” McCarthy said. “D.J. and Robert definitely earned opportunities to have an increased role.”
— Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel was asked for one thing that stands out about the Packers. “Everything. Aaron is tremendous. He has good control of the offense. The runners run hard. They’re hard to stop. They have good players on defense. They go get the ball. They hunt turnovers. That’s what they do. With this (Randall) Cobb, the way that he can return. Overall, they’re a total team. They seem to have a good mind-set about where they are. There’s going to be no letdown on their part. We have to be ready to play because we’re going to get the Packers’ best.”
— Crennel was an assistant coach when the Patriots won a record 21 in a row in 2003 and 2004. His thought on Green Bay’s success in winning 19 straight? “You have to have good players so they can make plays. Then, with those good players, you have to have the right leadership. In New England, we had a leader at every position that could help young players develop and demand a good performance and then that plays over to the team. That’s how we were able to be as successful as we were then.”
— Rodgers is one touchdown pass from becoming the fifth quarterback with 40 scoring tosses in a single season. The others: Tom Brady (50 in 2007), Peyton Manning (49 in 2004), Dan Marino (48 in 1984 and 44 in 1986) and Kurt Warner (41 in 1999).
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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.