Of the Packers’ four injured defensive linemen, Ryan Pickett is deemed the long shot of the group to play on Sunday at Chicago.
Pickett is listed as doubtful with a pulled hamstring, meaning there’s a 25 percent chance he will be available. Pickett said he’d test the injury on Saturday, and coach Mike McCarthy said Pickett would be a game-time decision.
“I talked to Ryan at the middle part of practice before he came up top to conclude his rehab, and we’re going to take him all the way to the game,” McCarthy said. “I’m going to visit with him when he gets to the locker room at Soldier Field, and we may or may not work him out. We’re going to use the next 48 hours. We’re going to give him a chance to go.”
Pickett didn’t take part in practice all week, though he did some jogging on the side on Friday. He was injured while chasing quarterback Joe Flacco on Monday. He tripped over a teammate and landed awkwardly. He says he’s sore, but not as sore as when he injured his other hamstring before the start of training camp last year.
“Yeah, I can (play without practicing),” he said. “I’ve been playing long enough. I already know how to play. I like practicing to get me used to seeing what I’m going to see, but I’m pretty familiar with Chicago.”
With the Packers ready to embark on the stretch run to the season and riding a four-game winning streak, he sees no reason to play it safe.
“I want to play, man,” he said. “We’re in the mix of doing something I think is special, and I want to be a part of every step of it. It ain’t about risking. I’ll be fine. If I can be out there, I’m going to be out there.”
If Pickett can’t play, first-round pick B.J. Raji would start at nose. Because of an ankle injury and holdout, Raji was limited to end and nickel to start the season but has been brought up to speed at the nose.
Meanwhile, defensive end Johnny Jolly is listed as questionable (50 percent) with a knee injury. He was limited at practice all week but said the knee has regained strength after intensive rehab. Fellow starting end Cullen Jenkins and Raji are listed as probable.
“This has been an interesting week,” defensive coordinator Dom Capers said after not having any of his four linemen take part in team drills on Wednesday and Thursday and only Raji available on Friday. “Our big guys have all been somewhat limited, but we’ve worked our way through it pretty well. You need those big guys. You can never have enough of them.”
Lending depth should Pickett and or Jolly be held out are rookie Jarius Wynn and veteran Michael Montgomery. Montgomery has played in seven games and was inactive against Baltimore. Wynn also has played in seven games, mainly on special teams but he did line up on defense on Monday.
If Pickett can’t play, the Packers would be starting three rookies on the defensive front seven, with Raji at nose tackle and Brad Jones and Clay Matthews at outside linebacker.
Capers couldn’t recall being in such a situation, even though he’s been the head coach with two expansion teams. He said he doesn’t care who’s lining up, rookies or veterans, as long as they’re performing.
“I think the three rookies that have been playing as much for us, they’ve stepped in and done a good job,” Capers said. “I think they’ve stepped up and excepted the responsibility that they’re expected to go out and perform at a certain level.”
Packers injury report
Out — LB Jeremy Thompson (neck). Doubtful — NT Ryan Pickett (hamstring). Questionable — DE Johnny Jolly (knee). Probable — LB Nick Barnett (knee); T Chad Clifton (hamstring); TE Jermichael Finley (knee); DE Cullen Jenkins (hamstring); DL B.J. Raji (ankle); CB Charles Woodson (shoulder).
Barnett, Clifton, Finley, Raji and Woodson were full participants at practice all week. Barnett said his knee was “perfect.”
“Nick’s had two good days of practice,” Capers said.
Bears injury report
Questionable — WR Devin Hester (calf); T Orlando Pace (groin). Probable — LB Lance Briggs (knee); DT Tommie Harris (knee); LB Hunter Hillenmeyer (groin); DT Israel Idonije (knee).
Hester didn’t practice all week and Pace was limited all three days. Bears coach Lovie Smith said they’d be game-time decisions.
“Normally you would like for the guys to at least practice by Friday before we play them,” Smith told reporters in Chicago. “But we’ll let it go right up until (kickoff) and go from there.”
— The Packers rank sixth in the league on offense (13th rushing, eighth passing) and first on defense (fourth rushing, third passing). The Bears rank 24th on offense (31st rushing, tie for 16th passing) and 15th on defense (25th rushing, ninth passing).
— Something’s got to give. The Bears rank 30th in red-zone offense with touchdowns on 42.1 percent of possessions. The Packers rank 28th in red-zone defense by allowing touchdowns on 61.8 percent of possessions.
— The Bears had completions of 36 yards (and a touchdown) and 68 yards against Green Bay in the opener. “You definitely have to attack them,” Bears quarterback Jay Cutler said. “If you don’t, they’re just going to beat you up all day. There were some times in the first game where we took some shots. Johnny got behind them once. We’re going to take what they give us. If they want to come up and press us, there will definitely be some opportunities to run past them.”
— McCarthy stressed the positives when talking about Tramon Williams. “Well, it’s ironic that we’re sitting here talking about Tramon Williams in the Baltimore game because of his penalties,” McCarthy said. “But he made the two biggest plays in the game in my view. He made the interception in the end zone, which takes points away from Baltimore, but he also chased down the long kickoff return. Those are two huge plays in that game, and he should be recognized for that.”
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