Atari Bigby’s season-opening fate probably has been sealed.
Bigby, the three-year starter at safety, said the post-surgery prognosis on his ankle is that he’ll be out between four and eight weeks. Considering he missed all of the offseason work after deciding not to sign his restricted free agent tender, that means the best-case scenario is Bigby would have one week to get ready for the Week 1 game at Philadelphia. The worst-case scenario, however, would mean Bigby couldn’t even get on the practice field until after the first three or four games.
That means the likely scenario is Bigby starts the season on the physically unable to perform list, meaning he’ll have to miss at least the first six games.
“I’m walking around pretty fine. I’ve got to get it a little stronger,” Bigby said. “In a couple days, I should get the stitches out and then we’ll go from there. Then I’ll do more active stuff — more running and stuff like that.”
Bigby said he decided not to have surgery early in the offseason because he thought the pain was simply from the rigors of last season. But rest didn’t do the trick, and the ankle didn’t respond well to the Packers’ pre-camp conditioning test.
Bigby said starting the season on PUP would be “very disappointing,” but that seems the likely scenario.
“I don’t know what they’re going to do,” he said. “What I’m doing is focusing on getting healthy, getting my ankle back to where it needs to be as fast as I can and as safe as I can. Once I do that, then everything will fall into place.”
— A.J. Hawk sprained an ankle in the morning practice, which he completed, but he did not participate at night. “We’ll take a look at him (on Friday) and see if he’ll be available for the game,” McCarthy said.
— “We’ll see,” is what McCarthy said about Harrell’s availability for Saturday.
— Cornerback Charles Woodson and receiver Donald Driver worked with the scout teams, meaning there’s a good chance they won’t play against Seattle
— Mason Crosby made 6-of-6 field goals from the hold of Chris Bryan, who will do the holding against Seattle. Bryan also clearly won the night’s punting battle against Tim Masthay, both in terms of distance and a series of pooch punts. Masthay’s chances went to the 23, 12, 18 and 13. Bryan’s went to the 17 and 2, the last of which was caught by gunner Brandon Underwood.
— Sam Shields is no longer fielding punts but got his first work as a gunner with the No. 3 punt team.
— B.J. Raji, who’s been almost invisible for most of camp, batted down two passes, the second of which he intercepted. Charles Woodson, Desmond Bishop, Derrick Martin and Nick Collins also added picks in a big night for the defense against quarterbacks Graham Harrell and Matt Flynn in scout-team periods.
— A scuffle between T.J. Lang and Cyril Obiozor led to Obiozor’s helmet getting yanked off.
Justin Harrell wasn’t at practice again, but this time, it wasn’t because of his back. Defensive line coach Mike Trgovac said Harrell’s wife needed an emergency C-section to deliver their baby.
Harrell played against Cleveland on Saturday — his first game since Dec. 7, 2008 — but appeared to take limited snaps on Monday (even though he said that wasn’t the case), then sat out both of Tuesday’s practices because of back tightness. According to coach Mike McCarthy, Harrell was on “the list to go” for Tuesday morning.
“I don’t know what his back situation is,” Trgovac said. “I think this will be a really important game for him coming up (Saturday night at Seattle). I though he showed some good signs in the last game. I hope it’s not, because the kid’s worked his butt off and really has given everything he can to get this straight. I hope that’s not the case. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.”
Harrell has played in only 13 of a possible 48 regular-season games in his three seasons since being the team’s controversial first-round pick in 2007.
“The kid’s working his butt off. He’s working hard,” Trgovac said. “I’m not oblivious to everything that goes on around me with him. It’s one of those deals, if you’ve ever had a back injury, you know your back runs your whole body. It’s one of those things where you can only fight through it so much. He’s giving it all he has.”
The Packers visit Seattle for a game that kicks off at 9 p.m. Central on Saturday. McCarthy said he’d like to keep the reps similar to last week’s game against Cleveland, meaning about 20 snaps for the starters. The status of injured players like Will Blackmon and Nick Barnett has not been determined.
Meanwhile, a lengthy road trip presents some challenges.
“The toughest part about playing on the West Coast in the preseason is really the trip home,” McCarthy said. “Everything else is normal. But it’s a good situation to go through. We have a number of East Coast games. We won’t have a flight as long as the Seattle flight. But it’s important to get on the road. We’ll do some things a little differently on the road than we did in the past, just minor changes, nothing worth really discussing. It’s always good to review your road policies and what you’re trying to do. We’ve been a pretty good road team in the past, and that’s something we want to continue to improve on. The long flight home is probably the one negative because of what you have to get done Sunday as a coaching staff.”
— It seems like training camp just started, but in fact, it’s almost over. Thursday is the last day of two-a-days. After a day off on Sunday, Monday’s practice is one of five remaining until the preseason finale at Kansas City on Sept. 2.
— All veterans with seven-plus years of experience got the morning off. The injured list included the usual names: Bigby, Kregg Lumpkin, Al Harris, James Starks, Alex Joseph and Clay Matthews. Brett Swain, Barnett, Blackmon and fellow safety Derrick Martin are on one-a-day schedules, with only Blackmon working in the morning session. Matthews’ hamstring apparently is feeling good, as he told a few reporters to watch him run as he jogged to another drill.
— Spencer Havner was back at linebacker after working at tight end the last three practices.
— The lone special teams period was for punt return. The ball was fired out of the JUGS machine, with McCarthy cognizant of the early workload given to his punters. Of note, rookie Sam Shields was not part of a return rotation that included Blackmon, Tramon Williams and Jordy Nelson.
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