The Green Bay Packers may be without their top two running backs Thursday when they travel to play the Tennessee Titans in the preseason finale. Brandon Jackson did not practice today after sustaining a mild concussion in practice on Sunday.
Coach Mike McCarthy said after practice that Jackson is “questionable” for the game on Thursday. Vernand Morency, who has been out since the first day of training camp, is not expected to play against the Titans.
If Jackson and Morency do not play, McCarthy said that Noah Herron will start at running back and be backed up by rookies DeShawn Wynn and Corey White. Fullbacks Brandon Miree and Korey Hall are expected to play Thursday.
The Packers will be taking a good look at Wynn, a seventh round pick. He injured his quadriceps on Aug. 7 and was unable to practice until Sunday. It may be his one and only chance to prove that he belongs on the roster, or at least on the team’s practice squad this season.
“I thought he did a nice job yesterday after reviewing the film,” McCarthy said. “Just seeing him today, I thought he had a good day. He'll have a big opportunity come Thursday night. He'll get a lot of carries in the game. It's a big day for him.”
Running back is the main area of concern as the Packers prepare for their opener Sept. 9 against Philadelphia. Morency is expected to suit up for that game, but there is no guarantee. Jackson has averaged a ho-hum 3.3 yards per carry on 40 attempts this preseason for a team-high 131 yards rushing.
With Donald Driver hobbled after spraining his ankle in last Thursday’s preseason game against Jacksonville, the Packers are extra thin on playmakers.
“From a play-calling standpoint, what Vernand Morency runs well Brandon Jackson might not run as well,” said quarterback Brett Favre. “We’re trying to find something to hang our hat on. … I we can be successful in the passing game, you can alleviate some of the pressure of the run game.”
Rookie receiver James Jones has been impressive this preseason, which gives the Packers hope of another solid playmaker. Jones has a team-high 16 catches for 192 yards and two touchdowns. If Driver is able to return by the opener, all the better for Green Bay.
“I assume he’ll be back,” said Favre. “In talking with him, he feels the same way. Of course, when a player like that gets injured, it makes for good TV and radio and things like that, but it does concern you. I think he’ll fine, but being that he’s a receiver and it’s a foot injury, that is a concern being that he has to cut and do those things. Donald has played through injuries before. You talk with him and he’s very optimistic.”
Despite the injuries in the backfield, McCarthy is not overly concerned.
"I'm not as concerned about the running game as you are," McCarthy told reporters. "You want to win the game but this is a big game for us evaluation wise."
Powdrell placed on injured reserve
Fullback Ryan Powdrell was placed on injured reserve today, the Packers announced. Powdrell injured his MCL Aug. 18 against the Seattle Seahawks.
By placing Powdrell, a non-drafted free agent from Southern California, on injured reserve, the Packers reduced their roster to 75 players.
Play of the day
Patrick Dendy got the first of his two interceptions off of third-string quarterback Paul Thompson during a red zone drill in a 7-on-7 drill thanks to cornerback Frank Walker. Walker jumped in front of tight end Carl-Johan Bjork and attempted to intercept the pass, but it bounced out of his arms and right to Dendy, who was in the right place at the right time.
Orrin Thompson returned to practice today and it appears that he will be ready to play Thursday at Tennessee. That’s good news for Thompson, who is on the bubble of making the roster.
Thompson had been playing left tackle behind Chad Clifton with the second-team offensive line through most of training camp and in the offseason practices. He sustained an MCL injury in a preseason game on Sept. 18 and was unable to practice until today.
The final roster spot among offensive linemen appears to be between Thompson and guard/center Tony Palmer, who has been out with a hamstring injury since the first preseason game on Aug. 11. Palmer’s versatility plays in his favor, but Thompson’s size (6-foot-6, 322 pounds) may be too good to pass on for the Packers.
All eyes again were on Mason Crosby and Dave Rayner in today’s field goal kicking competition. Crosby again edged Rayner by making all but one of his attempts. Rayner missed wide left from 47 and 52 yards. Crosby’s only miss came when he was wide right from 52 yards.
Both Rayner and Crosby have made all three of their field goal attempts during three preseason games. However, Crosby has made a few more attempts during practices and has displayed a stronger leg in both field goal attempts and kickoffs.
He said it
“I’ve been wanting to play in a preseason game since the first one. It’s been kind of rough to sit out, but now I get an opportunity to play. Unfortunately, I only have one more (preseason game) left, so I’ve got to make the most of it.”
-- running back DeShawn Wynn
-- Junius Coston practiced for the second straight day at right guard with the first unit in place of Jason Spitz, who is not expected to play on Thursday due to a calf injury.
-- Some fans were allowed inside the Hutson Center about 50 yards from the door along the east sideline. The fans were asked to leave by security guards about midway through practice. It marked one of the few times that the Packers have allowed fans inside the Hutson Center to watch a practice due to the restricted space around the field.
-- Tuesday’s practice, which begins at 10 a.m. at Clarke Hinkle Field, will be the last of training camp that will be open to the public.
-- Linebacker Carl-Johan Bjork played tight end during Sunday and today’s practices. “It's a numbers thing,” said McCarthy. “He's never played tight end before. He caught the ball well and has done a nice job.”
After catching his first pass in practice on Sunday from Aaron Rodgers during a 7-on-7 drill, Rodgers jumped up and gave Bjork a chest bump as Bjork trotted back to the huddle.
-- Morency again was wearing pads today in the no pads practice. He often ran sprints along the sideline in front of reporters while the team was in 11-on-11 drills.