Running back DeShawn Wynn returned to practice today after sitting out a session earlier this week with a neck spasm. Wynn sustained the injury in practice on Monday, but participated in the team's full practice today after a day off on Wednesday.
Coach Mike McCarthy said that Wynn will be the Packers' No. 1 back when they return to action Monday night against the Broncos in Denver.
"He took his share of reps," said McCarthy. "He's in the No. 1 slot right now, so he has an opportunity to take it and do something with it. We'll see what we can do."
With Wynn as the top back, either Brandon Jackson or Vernand Morency will serve as third-down back. Ryan Grant also has played as a third-down back for a rushing offense that ranks last in the National Football League (65.7 yards per game).
McCarthy said that the hit that ignited Wynn's neck spasm was "unnecessary," and "not a reflection" of his inability to stay healthy. Wynn battled a quadriceps injury that caused him to miss most of training camp. He also had a stomach virus early in camp, and a knee injury last May forced him to miss some practices.
Though he has had to deal with some nagging injuries, he says it has been far from a nightmare.
“Kind of a dream come true, being a seventh round pick and getting to start a few games," Wynn said. "Injuries, that’s part of the game as long as it’s nothing major that’s going to keep you out forever. You can continue to treat them and work through them, and as long as you can get better by the end of the week, it’s no problem. As long as you’re able to practice through it, it’s not that big of a deal. A lot of people get small injuries throughout the season. It’s something you’ve got to deal with, play with it, and get on with it.”
Wynn downplayed the "unnecessary" hit that he took in practice, and declined to identify the tackler. Though some have questioned his toughness and conditioning, he says it's not an issue.
“I don’t think injuries have anything to do with being tough," Wynn said after practice. "Toughness is something you show when you are able to compete and perform. I wouldn’t think anybody on this team or any coach on this staff would tell you that I’m not tough. It’s a tough break to have an injury. This one is a freak injury with the neck thing, but I don’t think it’s set me back at all. I missed one day of practice. Maybe it’s a big deal to some people. I got the mental reps in. It was just the physical reps. Luckily we’ve got a Monday night game and got an extra day of practice this week. I was able to get back today and move forward.”
As far as conditioning, Wynn has taken some shots from observers. It didn't help that he left in the first quarter of Green Bay's game against Chicago on Oct. 7 with leg cramps.
“Everybody's got their own opinion," Wynn said. "Of course, I don’t agree with it, but that’s what they say. What can you do?”
Wynn has been the silver lining in an otherwise weak Packers rushing attack. His 4.1-yard per carry is best on the team, and he has scored four touchdowns.
McCarthy said prior to the bye week that he needed to decide between Wynn or Jackson as the No. 1 back, and he made it clear today that he's going with Wynn, despite the questions on his durability.
"He's done all the things that have been asked of him as far as the weight room and training room," McCarthy said. "He had a neck spasm. He took a shot at practice that was frankly unnecessary. It happens, but this is not a reflection of anything that has happened in the past."