NFC North News

The Packers came up with a win against Detroit despite the absence of Brett Favre's favorite target. Donald Driver went down in Week 1 with a neck injury, but there is a chance the receiver could return this weekend.

Hot News updates from LionsFans.com, PackerReport.com and VikingUpdate.com.

DETROIT LIONS
--WR Az-Zahir Hakim says he is ready to make his comeback from a season-ending hip injury last Nov. 17 and it appears Lions coach Steve Mariucci might agree with him this time. Mariucci kept Hakim out of the Green Bay game, but Hakim has practiced every day this week and will probably play against Minnesota.

--LB James Davis is one of only two Lions players on this week's injury report. Both he and Az-Zahir Hakim are listed as questionable. Hakim will probably play but Davis, although he is practicing, had rib cartilage damage Aug. 16 against Cincinnati and might not be entirely ready for special teams work.

--DT Cory Redding thought he was ready to rejoin the Lions' defensive line rotation a week ago but coach Steve Mariucci kept him down, giving him another week of practice and recovery time. The rookie suffered a sprained knee in the second preseason game and hasn't played since. It's likely he'll be available Sunday against Minnesota if Mariucci feels he needs another DT.

--WR Charles Rogers has locked up the starting flanker position for the Lions but his contributions have been modest. He had four receptions for 38 yards and two touchdowns in the season opener against Arizona and had four receptions for 38 yards (no touchdowns) against Green Bay also. His long play is a 17-yard gain.

--RB Shawn Bryson has been the most productive back in the Lions offense which ranks 24th overall and 31st in rushing yardage. Bryson has gained 51 yards on 12 carries in addition to 89 yards on eight receptions coming out of the backfield. He is part of coach Steve Mariucci's running back-by-committee since RB James Stewart was lost for the season with a shoulder injury.

GREEN BAY PACKERS
Will Donald Driver play Sunday in Arizona or won't he?

That's the main question in Packerland as Green Bay prepares for its meeting with the Cardinals in Tempe, Ariz.

Driver put on pads again Thursday and took part in practice, just as he did on Wednesday. Coach Mike Sherman closed practice to the media after the first 20 or so minutes for the second consecutive week, so an exact statement of what Driver did is impossible to ascertain. But indications were that Driver spent most of his time with the scout team.

Just the fact that Driver is on the field at all is remarkable. In the opener against Minnesota Sept. 7 Driver was taken off on a body board after being down for 10 minutes. The injury has been diagnosed as a "neck strain," but he was wearing a neck brace as recently as on the sidelines during the Detroit game Sunday.

"Practicing and getting hit are obviously two different situations," coach Mike Sherman said. "I won't allow him to get hit but we'll see how he does and then take it day by day."

Driver, one of the most fearless receivers in the NFL, doesn't expect to change his game if he does play.

"They're saying, 'Don't jump that high,'" Driver said. "But if the ball goes that high I'm going to have to go get it. You're always nervous about what's going to happen but you still have to play this game, regardless of the situation, without fear. And that's how I'm going to play."

--FB Nick Luchey (calf) sat out a second day of practice Thursday and should be considered extremely doubtful.

--DE Aaron Kampman (ankle) sat out a second day of practice Thursday and his status is up in the air. He was listed as probable.

--S Antuan Edwards suffered a thigh bruise in practice Wednesday and sat out Thursday. The Packers say it isn't serious and he wasn't added to the injury report.

--TE Wesley Walls (hamstring) returned to practice Thursday, a good indication that he will play Sunday.

--S Darren Sharper (groin) practiced again Thursday. He hasn't played a full game yet but this week there's a good chance that he will.

--WR Robert Ferguson (knee) returned to practice Thursday but was vague about how much he did. His status remains uncertain.

--LB Na'il Diggs (knee) worked in pads Thursday and should be fine.

--WR Antonio Freeman is ready to start alongside Javon Walker if Donald Driver and Robert Ferguson can't play. He caught four of the five balls thrown to him in his debut against Detroit.

--QB Brett Favre ranks 28th in passer rating after two games at 57.6. "We are 1-1," he said. "We are what we are. As an offense we haven't hit on all cylinders. I definitely haven't. I'm not going to sit here and blame it on who's in and who's not in. I expect a lot out of myself, as does this team and the people."

--FB Najeh Davenport has had problems holding onto the ball both as a rusher and as a receiver. As a result, his status as Ahman Green's primary backup is in jeopardy. "We'll play (Tony) Fisher more," RB coach Sly Croom said. "We've got to use all three of them, but Fisher will definitely be a little more into it on earlier downs."

MINNESOTA VIKINGS
Vikings receiver D'Wayne Bates hasn't practiced this week and is walking around in a protective boot on his left foot. He was downgraded to questionable and won't play unless he's able to test the foot in practice Friday.

Although Bates is the No. 2 receiver behind Randy Moss, the Vikings can afford to play at least one game without him. Bates, who was injured in the 23-14 victory over the Bears last week, has only four catches for 33 yards, although he did have a nice TD catch in single coverage in the red zone against Green Bay two weeks ago.

Bates is a solid player whose status as No. 2 receiver comes only because of he's a veteran. He has had only one 100-yard receiving game in his career, and that came in 2001 when he was with the Bears.

Second-year pro Kelly Campbell and rookie Nate Burleson, who are interchangeable as the Nos. 3-4 receivers, are much more explosive playmakers. Campbell's 51-yard reception on the first play against the Bears last week is a team-high this season. Burleson has been quiet during the regular season, but he led the team in receiving yards during the preseason.

If Bates doesn't play, the Vikings will move Campbell to No. 2 and Burleson to No. 3. They'll also activate Kenny Clark for the game. Clark is quarterback Daunte Culpepper's cousin.

The Vikings have been fortunate so far when it comes to injuries. They haven't had a starter miss a start in two games.

-- WR Keenan Howry might have earned a look in multi-receiver sets if No. 2 receiver D'Wayne Bates (foot) doesn't play. Howry is averaging 12.0 yards per punt return with a long of 35.

-- RB Onterrio Smith said he's excited to "take out some frustrations" on the Lions. He said the Lions told him they were going to select him in the fourth round. But the Lions took Kentucky RB Artose Pinner, despite the fact Pinner had broken his left leg in the Senior Bowl and still isn't able to play. The Vikings selected Smith six spots later.

-- RB Doug Chapman, who missed the Bears game because of a high ankle sprain and soreness in his Achilles' tendon, practiced Thursday, but it wasn't in full pads. He'll be a game-time decision.

-- SS Corey Chavous, who played against the Packers despite a sprained right knee, has practiced all week. He'll play, but he's not 100 percent.

-- FS Jack Brewer has been out since suffering a chest injury in the final preseason game. He has returned to practice, but won't play until next week against San Francisco.

-- P Eddie Johnson and K Aaron Elling are working with noted kicking coach Doug Blevins this week. Blevins is a guest at Winter Park this week.


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