Will Grossman have to Worry about McKenzie?

Mike McKenzie's availability for Sunday's matchup with the Bears will not be determined until game day. The talented cornerback hadn't practiced with the team until this week because of a contract holdout. Will Green Bay give him another week to prepare because of the Bears inexperience at wideout?

Green Bay Packers coach Sherman decision is for practical and psychological reasons.

Psychologically speaking, Sherman is trying not to show his cards to the Bears so early in the week.

Practically speaking, after missing both mini-camps, training camp and the first week of the season, Mike McKenzie is behind physically and mentally. Sherman said McKenzie arrived in great shape, but being in great shape physically isn't quite the same as being in football shape. Until taking part in Wednesday's practice, McKenzie hadn't worked against NFL-caliber wide receivers and hadn't hit anybody since Green Bay's January playoff loss at Philadelphia.

With the Packers operating a new defensive scheme, McKenzie has to learn in one week what his teammates have digested for more than four months.

"We keep trying to push the envelope in regard to Mike's adaptability to the defense and also to the game because he hasn't been out there very much," Sherman said. "Whether he will be available on Sunday, I'm going to wait and hold on that."

The Packers granted a two-week roster exemption to activate McKenzie, so they might see the Bears lack of experience at quarterback and receiver as an opportunity to ease him back into action.

Green Bay could easily be looking pat the Bears to their trip to pass-happy Indianapolis coming next week.

The Packers have said veteran Michael Hawthorne will start Sunday at McKenzie's left cornerback spot. If he suits up, McKenzie would work in the dime (six defensive backs) grouping.

"If you dress him, you use him," said Defensive backs coach Kurt Schottenheimer.

Green Bay's dominance over the Bears has given them a feeling of invincibility, which could lead to Sherman playing it safe with McKenzie.

"I wouldn't put him out there if he was not in pretty good shape, which he is," Sherman said. "We've run him after practice, run him during practice. From a conditioning standpoint, I believe he's fine. Obviously, you want to avoid that injury problem but at some point you have to let him loose as well. If I didn't feel comfortable with that, I certainly wouldn't put him out there on Sunday."

Bear Report Top Stories