The Green Bay Packers’ defense potentially will be healthier for Sunday’s game against Washington but the offense has two key question marks.
Safety Morgan Burnett returned to practice in a limited fashion on Wednesday but tight end Jermichael Finley and guard Josh Sitton were out.
Burnett, whose 35-game starts streak was snapped when he didn’t suit up against San Francisco, is battling a hamstring injury sustained in the third preseason game against Seattle. Coach Mike McCarthy said it would take the full week to determine whether Burnett can return to solidify a defense that was torched for 412 yards by Colin Kaepernick last week.
Sitton said his back began bothering him on the long flight to San Francisco. He wouldn’t guess his odds of playing on Sunday, though he said it was feeling better than it did on Monday and Tuesday.
“I’m an O-lineman. Back problems are going to happen,” he said. “I’ve always had a little bit of back issues here and there. This is just something that flared up. Hopefully, it will go away before Sunday.”
Sitton was penalized three times – twice for holding and once for hands to the face – while battling All-Pro Justin Smith. Like offensive coordinator Tom Clements said on Monday, Sitton said he didn’t agree with the calls.
“Ol’ 94 out there’s a pretty good actor,” Sitton said. “He likes to throw his hands up in the air a lot and pretend like he’s getting held.”
If Sitton can’t play, Marshall Newhouse would jump into the starting lineup. The Packers could go in several directions from there, though. Newhouse could simply replace Sitton at left guard. Or Newhouse could go to right tackle and right tackle Don Barclay could move to left guard. Or T.J. Lang – the former starter at left guard – could move from right guard to left guard and Barclay could slide down to right guard.
Finley said he injured a toe when it was bent back badly while being tackled on his first catch of the game. The “adrenaline rush” from the game allowed him to play through the pain, he said.
“I have the mentality I want to play,” Finely said. “I don’t have anything in my mind that I want to sit down Sunday. We have four days until Sunday, so if it’s up to me I’m going to be up there.”
McCarthy said Finley would not practice on Thursday.
Packers injury report
Out: CB Casey Hayward (hamstring). Did not participate: TE Jermichael Finley (toe), G Josh Sitton (back). Limited: S Morgan Burnett (hamstring). Full: OLB Nick Perry (neck).
Redskins injury report
Limited: CB David Amerson (back), DL Chris Baker (illness). Full: NT Barry Cofield (hand), S Brandon Meriweather (groin), RB Chris Thompson (ankle).
-- McCarthy, on quarterback Aaron Rodgers tackling Eric Reid following Sunday’s interception: “Well, that’s a tough question. There’s instincts. Aaron Rodgers, his play in the San Francisco game was obviously a very good play on his part. I think Ted Thompson’s answer would be different than mine. He’s playing football. I just think he has to be smart.”
-- McCarthy, on his confidence in the defense: “I have a lot of confidence in our defense. Clearly, we’ve had one performance as a football team and there’s plenty to go around. I thought the defense’s approach to the last game, as far as the objectives to stop the run and do those type of things, we’ve addressed that. We have to learn from what we didn’t get done. I think this unit is clearly more in synch than we’ve been in prior years coming out of training camp and I have a lot of confidence. We have a big challenge ahead with Washington.”
-- Nelson said he emerged from Sunday feeling good following his first real game action since needing knee surgery early in camp. “I honestly feel really good. I felt better Monday than what I was expecting, just mainly full body soreness (because) I hadn’t played in a game since the last time we went to San Fran. I didn’t get to have the preseason games to get banged up, so I felt better than what I was expecting and felt really good out there today.”
-- With Rodgers and Kaepernick throwing three touchdown passes apiece, there were a league-record 63 touchdown passes thrown 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.