Barring a last-minute setback, it appears weak-side linebacker A.J. Hawk will be in the starting lineup when the Green Bay Packers host the Minnesota Vikings in a big-time season opener on Monday night.
Hawk on Saturday practiced for a third consecutive day after sitting out every practice and the final three preseason games after straining a muscle in his chest in the exhibition opener on Aug. 11 against Cincinnati.
“He feels great. So, once we get the final clearance from our medical staff, we’ll make a decision,” coach Mike McCarthy said.
Hawk is still awaiting that clearance.
“I’m just trying to give the doctors and trainers every opportunity to see me perform at practice, see me do everything they wanted me to test on and see how I feel, and hopefully leave them no doubt on the decision to make,” Hawk said after practice.
Part of giving the doctors “every opportunity” was participating in practice this week so they could see how Hawk reacts to gamelike scenarios.
“That’s the test,” said Hawk, who has been wearing a harness. “That’s why this week I put on pads and got out there and practiced. They wanted to see what I could do because I felt pretty good about where i was and I felt like I needed to go out there and prove to myself exactly what I could do.”
The availability defensive end Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila (knee) isn’t so certain. Gbaja-Biamila was a spectator for most of the brief period when reporters were allowed to watch practice, and McCarthy said he’d be a “game-time decision.” When players broke off into a ball-security period, Gbaja-Biamila did not join his fellow defensive linemen in a pass-rushing/ball-stripping drill.
“He’s another one that feels very good,” McCarthy said. “Kabeer has been limited in his practice reps, but we have 56 more hours to go. This is the time that we emphasize to our players about getting their bodies ready to go. He’ll be a game-time decision, but I’m hopeful that he’ll go.”
Running back Ryan Grant was a full participant at practice, McCarthy said.
Out were center Scott Wells (back), receiver James Jones (knee) and guard Josh Sitton (knee). Sitton was ruled out for the game earlier in the week. McCarthy hasn’t ruled out Wells, saying he’d be a game-time decision but would not start.
“You’d definitely love to have Scott up,” McCarthy said. “He’s been a starter on our football team for two years, so we’ll take him all the way to the wire and see what the decision is.”
Sitton but did some jogging on the side. Both Sitton and Jones were on the field without knee braces for the first time since sustaining their injuries at San Francisco in the second preseason game.
Bill Huber is editor of Packer Report and PackerReport.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org