Notebook: World of Hurt on Defense

The Packers will be without four of their top 13 defenders at Washington. However, there is some good news. A source told Packer Report that Nick Barnett hasn't ruled out playing this season, Brandon Chillar says he'll be OK and Mark Tauscher has a shot at starting.

First, the bad news: Inside linebackers Nick Barnett and Brandon Chillar have been ruled out for Sunday's game at Washington.

Now, the good news: Contrary to an ESPN report from earlier in the week, Barnett hasn't ruled out playing again this season with an injured wrist, a source told Packer Report on Friday. And contrary to a local report that Chillar had a serious shoulder injury, the linebacker told reporters after Friday's practice that he plans on playing "sooner rather than later."

That won't do any good this week against a Washington offense that figures to test the Packers' only veteran inside linebackers, A.J. Hawk and Desmond Bishop, with talented tight ends Chris Cooley and Fred Davis. But at least the news isn't dire.

Of course, Barnett isn't out of the woods and he might wind up sacrificing this season so he can play in 2011 and beyond. That he returned and played with the injury "opens the door" for Barnett to play without surgery, our source said. However, putting off surgery opens the door for Barnett to do more damage, which could impact him on the field and off for the rest of his life.

That Barnett played through the injury last week "speaks 100 percent to his level of toughness and his position on the team," the source said, which is why he's even considering playing with a severe injury.

Barnett saw a doctor in Indianapolis to get a second opinion and was back in Green Bay by midday.

"When I was going into the team meeting, Nick was actually going into testing down there," coach Mike McCarthy said. "I'm sure I'll have more information this afternoon and will have an opportunity to sit down with Nick Barnett."

Meanwhile, Chillar said an MRI revealed a sprained shoulder. There is no timetable for his return but Chillar said he "will be able to come back and play" this season and doesn't need surgery.

Those injuries mean Desmond Bishop will make his second NFL start.

"Desmond is one of those guys that he's just been waiting for his opportunity, and he's going to get his opportunity," defensive coordinator Dom Capers said. "He has excellent quickness. I think he's a physical player. I think he's a good blitzer. He's going to get an opportunity to play first, second and third downs. I know he's excited about it. This is his chance to show us what he can do as a starter and in game situations."

More short-handed defense

Not only are Barnett and Chillar out, but so is third corner Sam Shields and, of course, starting safety Morgan Burnett, who was placed on season-ending injured reserve with a torn ACL.

That means four new faces among the Packers' top 13 defensive players. Capers said he might have to scale back the defensive menu in response.

"We always tell the guys, if they're sitting in that room, they've got to be accountable for their jobs and they've got to be ready to step in," Capers said. "Injuries are such a part of this game that you can't let it slow you down. We had 'em last year in one game, where we lost Aaron Kampman and Al Harris, and Brad Jones had to step up. And you saw him step up the rest of the way. It does give the new guys an opportunity to show what they can do, and they've got to pick their game up and go out and perform their role whatever we ask 'em to do."

There's a lot of moving parts in the secondary. Last week, Jarrett Bush replaced Shields at the third cornerback and acquitted himself nicely. However, with Burnett out, Bush has been getting some work at safety. Thus, the options are Bush and Pat Lee as the third corner and Charlie Peprah, Derrick Martin and Bush as the starting safety opposite Nick Collins.

It's up to Tauscher

Mark Tauscher did not participate in practice all week due to a shoulder sprain but that doesn't mean he won't be in the starting lineup on Sunday.

"Mark's doubtful," McCarthy said, alluding to Tauscher's status on the injury report. "He's getting stronger. Mark's played a lot of football here. I trust him. If he walked up to me Sunday morning and said he could play, then I would go that way. But T.J. Lang and Bryan (Bulaga) have both been preparing to go at right tackle, so that's what we'll discuss when we get upstairs. We'll let those guys know in the morning which direction we're going to go."

The worry is, if Tauscher plays and either aggravates the injury or just isn't effective, then the team has wasted a valuable spot on its 45-man roster. Tauscher, who has allowed two sacks this season, obviously has experience on his side as an 11th-year pro.

"Certainly, he's got — I'm throwing around numbers — 10,000 snaps in the National Football League," offensive coordinator Joe Philbin said. "That's worth something as opposed to (inexperienced) T.J. Lang. There is a difference there."

Packers injury report

Out: LB Nick Barnett (wrist), LB Brandon Chillar (shoulder), CB Sam Shields (calf), FB Quinn Johnson (glute). Doubtful: T Mark Tauscher (shoulder). Probable: T Chad Clifton (knee), S Nick Collins (knee), DE Cullen Jenkins (hand), S Derrick Martin (ankle), S Charlie Peprah (quad), CB Charles Woodson (toe).

On Wednesday, Collins wasn't certain if he'd play because of a knee sprain suffered a week earlier at Chicago. However, he was a full participant at practice on Friday.

"If it's up to me, I'm going to be out there every Sunday," Collins said. "I feel like that with any injury that I have. I'm optimistic that I'll be out there. I think the doctors will let me play."

Redskins injury report

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

It's interesting to see how teams designate their players. Questionable means a 50-50 chance but McNabb was full participation at practice all week and nobody thinks he's going to miss the game.

Meanwhile, defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth missed practice because his half-brother died in a motorcycle accident on Thursday night. His status for Sunday is uncertain.

Four-point stance

— Capers said outside linebacker Brady Poppinga, not newly promoted Maurice Simpkins, would be the backup at inside linebacker.

— The NFL still has not made a decision on punishment for Collins for his mouthguard-throwing incident at Chicago.

— Defensive line coach Mike Trgovac, on Mike Neal's NFL debut last week: "I'll tell you what: Mike, you saw the effort, which was outstanding as it always  is. You saw some rustiness to his game because he had been off for awhile. Last week, he didn't practice as much, but this week he's been full go with no limitations on him. I really saw his game pick up in practice this week."

— The Packers have eight giveaways but the defense has risen to the occasion. Opponents have cashed those turnovers into just one touchdown.

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

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