The Green Bay Packers will be without four starters when they play at the St. Louis Rams on Sunday.
Pro Bowl receiver Greg Jennings will miss his third consecutive game with a groin injury, nose tackle B.J. Raji will miss a second consecutive game with a sprained ankle and cornerback Sam Shields (ankle/shin) and outside linebacker Nick Perry (knee) will be out with injuries sustained last week at Houston.
The only mild surprise on the list is Raji. He practiced in a limited capacity on Thursday and Friday.
Without him, the Packers again will go with Ryan Pickett at nose tackle, with C.J. Wilson at one end and a rotation of Jerel Worthy and Mike Neal at the other end. In passing situations, Worthy, Neal and Mike Daniels will get most of the action.
”Obviously, we lose a big guy and we lose a guy that’s got some explosiveness, a big guy with some third-down pass-rush ability, so your rotation gets a little bit smaller. That’s the biggest factor,” defensive line coach Mike Trgovac said.
At cornerback, rookie Casey Hayward, who has three interceptions in the past two games, figures to get his first NFL start and Davon House will make his regular-season debut when the Packers bring in their dime personnel.
“When Sam got down, I knew someone was going to have to step up and play this week, even if it’s dime or nickel or some role,” House said. “If it wasn’t me, J.B. (Jarrett Bush) or Casey, someone’s got to step up and do it, and I figured maybe if I work hard this week, it might be a legitimate chance of playing, and I think I might be able to play on Sunday.”
At outside linebacker, Erik Walden will get most of the action after splitting time with first-round pick Perry the last four weeks.
”I think Erik Walden has definitely made a step from last year,” coach Mike McCarthy said. “Erik had a chance to go through an offseason program which he did not (in 2011). I think just the fact going through it from Day 1, he’s very comfortable in our scheme. I just love the way he plays. Physical. Brings an attitude that you can’t have enough of on your football team. He’s clearly playing better this year than he did last year.”
Packers injury report
Out: WR Greg Jennings (groin); LB Nick Perry (knee); DT B.J. Raji (ankle); CB Sam Shields (shin/ankle). Probable: TE Jermichael Finley (shoulder); RB Alex Green (shoulder); CB Davon House (shoulder); S Sean Richardson (hamstring); QB Aaron Rodgers (calf); TE D.J. Williams (hamstring).
Rams injury report
Out: WR Danny Amendola (shoulder); LB Mario Haggan (thigh); T Rodger Saffold (knee). Questionable: T Wayne Hunter (back). Probable: CB Janoris Jenkins (back).
Saffold opened the season as the starting left tackle. Hunter replaced him and has started the past four games. If Hunter can’t go, Joe Barksdale, who was claimed on waivers a couple weeks ago from Oakland, would get the challenge of squaring off against Clay Matthews. A third-round pick by Oakland out of LSU in 2010, Barksdale has never started in the NFL.
— Quarterback Aaron Rodgers was named the FedEx Air Player of the Week. Rodgers won a fan vote against Peyton Manning and Josh Freeman. Junior Achievement of Green Bay will win a $2,000 donation in Rodgers’ name.
— McCarthy was “encouraged” after watching tight end Andrew Quarless and outside linebacker Frank Zombo practice this week. Both remain on the physically unable to perform list with knee and hamstring injuries, respectively. During the brief portion of practice open to reporters, Zombo got a couple reps with a defense made up primarily of front-line players.
— Defensive coordinator Dom Capers, on whether his unit “turned a corner” last week at Houston. “I don’t know if we turned a corner. I think we played three very good defensive games and three not-so-good. I like the way we played in Houston because the things we talked about that we had to do, we did.”
— According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Sammy Brown refused to wear a blond wig after doing so on Wednesday to impersonate Clay Matthews. "It ended up being a little uncomfortable," coach Jeff Fisher told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "We encouraged him to tuck it in the back of his jersey but he didn't want to do it. Next time it comes up, we'll have to get a better candidate. Or just cut him."
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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.