The Green Bay Packers might have rookie running back Eddie Lacy but definitely will go without safety Morgan Burnett for a third consecutive game.
For the third day in a row, Lacy watched practice while wearing a baseball cap rather than a helmet due to the concussion he sustained on his first and only carry of last week’s victory over Washington.
Nonetheless, he’s listed as questionable, which means there’s a 50 percent chance that he’ll be cleared and ready to go by Sunday’s noon kickoff at Cincinnati.
“Well, it’s not ideal. It’s not ideal for a rookie to go through the week without any preparation and then play in the game, no question about it,” coach Mike McCarthy said. “I’m not excited about it. We want 46 players that we feel give us the best chance to beat the Cincinnati Bengals. When the plan was put together on Monday and Tuesday, Eddie Lacy was part of that plan based on the information given by the medical staff. If that’s not the case – it’s always a medical decision, first. You have secondary plans, and we’ve done that, but the primary plan, Eddie was part of the thinking.”
Based on the early-week diagnosis, McCarthy thought Lacy could be cleared for Friday’s practice. Instead, his outlook for Sunday could put the Packers in a bind, because fullback John Kuhn is listed as doubtful because of a hamstring injury. He didn’t practice all week, either.
“I’m doing everything I can to get back out there," Kuhn said. "Sometimes there’s a process involved, so I’m just going through the steps necessary to help the guys out.”
If Lacy and Kuhn are out, that would leave the Packers with only James Starks and rookie Johnathan Franklin in the backfield. McCarthy said he’d have to make a decision by Saturday in order to promote undrafted rookie Michael Hill from the practice squad.
Burnett will miss a fourth consecutive game – including all three in the regular season – due to a hamstring injury sustained in the third preseason game against Seattle on Aug. 23. Burnett was limited at Wednesday’s practice, watched Thursday’s practice and wasn’t on the practice field during the portion of Friday’s practice that was open to reporters.
McCarthy said the injury hasn’t improved much during the week, meaning the bye comes at a good time for Burnett.
With Casey Hayward and Jarrett Bush also out with hamstring injuries, the Packers figure to use a similar secondary rotation as last week. M.D. Jennings and Jerron McMillian got the start at safety, with Chris Banjo getting some of McMillian’s snaps at safety. When the Packers went to their dime package, McMillian assumed his usual spot as the dime (sixth) defensive back and Banjo joined Jennings at safety.
“It will be similar,” McCarthy said. “Once again, Cincinnati’s offense has a lot to say about how you distribute your defensive personnel.”
Packers injury report
Out: S Morgan Burnett (hamstring), CB Jarrett Bush (hamstring), CB Casey Hayward (hamstring). Doubtful: FB John Kuhn (hamstring). Questionable: RB Eddie Lacy (concussion). Probable: TE Jermichael Finley (toe; limited), DE Johnny Jolly (neck; full), G T.J. Lang (back; full), CB Tramon Williams (groin; limited).
McCarthy said Williams’ groin was “just a little aggravated” and was optimistic that his veteran cornerback would be fine with rest and treatment.
Bengals injury report
Out: CB Brandon Ghee (concussion). Doubtful: CB Dre Kirkpatrick (hamstring), S Jeromy Miles (hamstring), G Mike Pollak (knee). Questionable: OT Anthony Collins (knee), CB Adam Jones (abdomen). Probable: RB Giovani Bernard (hamstring), DE Wallace Gilberry (knee), WR Marvin Jones (foot)
The Bengals are extremely short-handed at cornerback without Ghee and, presumably, Kirkpatrick. Starters Terence Newman and Leon Hall are healthy; Jones, Kirkpatrick and Ghee are third, fourth and fifth in the rotation. Cincinnati signed Curtis Marsh this week to provide another body.
-- With rain in Green Bay on Thursday night and Friday morning, and with Sunday’s game on FieldTurf, the Packers practiced inside the Don Hutson Center.
-- This will be A.J. Hawk’s first regular-season game at Cincinnati. He grew up about 45 minutes away in Kettering, Ohio, and watched Bengals games at the old Riverfront Stadium. “I actually saw Kevin Greene come in there when he was with the Steelers. It’s going to be fun. I’ve got a lot of people coming. I didn’t have to buy their tickets; they got them on their own, so it’s perfect for me. I think it’s going to be fun. The Bengals are good now and they’re playing really well. Cincinnati fans have always been huge fans. They’ve always loved the Bengals. They just wanted them to win. Now that they’re doing it, that town’s on fire.”
-- After two games against ultra-athletic quarterbacks Colin Kaepernick and Robert Griffin III, the Packers get more of a traditional pocket passer in Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton. “Let’s be real here, McCarthy said. “Andy Dalton’s a good athlete. We’re acting like he’s going to stand back there and we’re going to rush right at him. I mean, that’s not the case. Football is not played on a chessboard. We need to get after the passer, whether we’re in a jet rush or a transition rush. It doesn’t matter. That’s excuse football. Whatever our assignment is when they’re passing the ball, or we’re in pass coverage, we need to get that done.”
-- Bengals left tackle Andrew Whitworth on Clay Matthews: “He's an athletic guy that runs around and makes plays. He's more like a Troy Polamalu of outside backers," Whitworth told reporters in Cincinnati. "He's everywhere. He's a little unpredictable at times because he jumps around. He has his own style.”
Agree or disagree?: Discuss hot Packers topics in our, free forums. Leave Bill a question in the subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum.
Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.