Notebook: Indoor Star Fills Spot

With Morgan Burnett placed on injured reserve and the Packers' depth at inside linebacker taking a major hit, former Green Bay Blizzard player Maurice Simpkins is promoted from the practice squad. That and more from Thursday.

The Green Bay Packers went through the formality of putting rookie safety Morgan Burnett on injured reserve on Thursday, and they filled his spot by promoting linebacker Maurice Simpkins to the active roster.

Simpkins, who played indoor football with the Green Bay Blizzard, was signed during training camp to bolster the depth at inside linebacker, and that will be his role again. Neither Nick Barnett nor Brandon Chillar are expected to play, which leaves only A.J. Hawk and Desmond Bishop at the position.

"Right now, I'm just here doing whatever I'm called to do, I'll do it," he told a horde of reporters in the auxiliary locker room after practice. "That's all I'm looking forward to. Whatever's asked of me."

The 27-year-old Simpkins played collegiately at Coastal Carolina. He said he played indoor football for the Rock River Raptors of Rockford, Ill., in 2007 and 2008, then got out of football in 2009 to focus on his career as a computer programmer in Atlanta. This spring, he played for the Blizzard, earning first-team honors in the Indoor Football League.

Simpkins said he was honored just to be worked out by the Packers. Being signed and getting a chance to participate in training camp was the icing on the cake, even if he figured he was only training camp fodder. Then, he was thrilled to be signed to the practice squad. Now, he figures to make his NFL debut on Sunday at Washington.

"It means a lot," he said of this opportunity. "It's a dream I've had for 20 years of playing football. I'm just grateful that the organization gave me the chance and has the faith in me to feel that I can perform to a level that they're looking for."

To fill Simpkins' spot on the practice squad, the Packers signed linebacker Johnny Williams. As an undrafted player from Kentucky last year, he spent training camp with Jacksonville and had a late-season stint on Pittsburgh's practice squad. He spent training camp this year with Denver.

Speaking of linebackers

Last week, outside linebackers Frank Zombo, Brady Poppinga and Brad Jones rotated in and out on a by-series basis, with Zombo getting five series, Poppinga four and Jones, who as coming back from a knee injury, getting two.

Coach Mike McCarthy wouldn't shed any light on his plans for Sunday.

"I think performance answers those questions," McCarthy said. "I can't stand up here and tell you how many reps Brad Jones is going to play as opposed to Frank Zombo. It's our responsibility to prepare out football team, prepare our players and create opportunities for them, and really their performance dictates play time."

Packers injury report

Out: S Morgan Burnett (knee). Did not participate: LB Nick Barnett (wrist), LB Brandon Chillar (shoulder), FB Quinn Johnson (glute), CB Sam Shields (calf), T Mark Tauscher (shoulder). Limited participation: S Nick Collins (knee), CB Charles Woodson (toe). Full participation: T Chad Clifton (knee), DE Cullen Jenkins (hand), S Derrick Martin (ankle), S Charlie Peprah (quad).

Collins, who on Wednesday didn't sound optimistic that he'd be able to play against Washington, went from did not participate to limited, with McCarthy expecting Collins to be ready for the game.

Redskins injury report

Out: RB Clinton Portis (groin). Limited participation: T Trent Williams (toe). Full participation: S Chris Horton (ankle), S LaRon Landry (wrist), G Kory Lichtensteiger (knee), QB Donovan McNabb (thigh).

Punter Josh Bidwell, a former Packer, was removed from the injury report and placed on injured reserve. Hunter Smith, who used to punt for the Redskins, was re-signed.

Four-point stance

— In the weekly Super Bowl odds provided by Bodog.com, the Packers are a 13-2 bet to win the championship, a slight improvement from last week's 7-1. Minnesota made a big jump after the Randy Moss trade, going from 25-1 to 16-1.

— Speaking of Moss, Woodson agrees with Bodog's assessment: "I think their plan is, you get Moss, then you get Sidney (Rice) back at some point in the season, you have Percy (Harvin) there and he's a good guy in the slot, and then you have Adrian ( Peterson). Who wouldn't want that on offense? From that standpoint, that's what they're thinking about. They'll be a high-powered offense."

— The Packers are 3-1 and tied with the Bears for first place in the NFC North. Green Bay is one of 23 teams who are in first place or within one game of first place. That's an NFL record through four weeks.

Aaron Rodgers' 16-yard scramble on second-and-13 helped the Packers put away the Lions last week. Since the start of last season, Rodgers ranks second among quarterbacks in rushing yards with 385 (Jacksonville's David Garrard, 408) and first in touchdowns (seven) and 10-yard runs (17).


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.


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