McCarthy Adjusts as Injuries Mount

The Packers eliminated a 20-minute team period on Monday after John Kuhn's sprained ankle left the team with just three healthy backs. Plus, the injury report and some quick-hitting notes.

The horn blew, signaling the end of one period and the beginning of the next at Ray Nitschke Field on Monday. Twenty minutes were put on the scoreboard clock and the Green Bay Packers' offense and defense were called onto the field for an 11-on-11 session.

Then, the horn blew again. And again. Practice was over and the players cheered as if Mason Crosby had just kicked a game-winning field goal.

However, the abrupt ending to practice had nothing to do with coach Mike McCarthy being in a good mood or wanting to escape for a round of golf at Oneida Golf & Riding Club.

Earlier in practice, fullback John Kuhn sustained a sprained ankle. With running backs James Starks (turf toe), Brandon Saine (hamstring) and Duane Bennett (knee) and fullback Jon Hoese (hamstring) sidelined, Kuhn's injury reduced the Packers' backfield platoon to just three players: Alex Green, undrafted running back Marc Tyler and undrafted fullback Nic Cooper.

"We're down to three running backs and one of them, Alex Green being one of them, he's obviously coming off major knee surgery," McCarthy said. "We cut practice 20 minutes short today because of it. So, that's why the last team period was eliminated. Right now, we have three running backs. We'll see where John is the next couple days. I'd like to have four of them going into the game."

The litany of injuries has forced McCarthy to cut chunks out of two of the last four practices. The reduced on-the-field work hasn't gotten to a critical point but it's becoming a concern.

"Well, we're not where we want to be. I think that's obvious," McCarthy said. "It's not practical to go 2 hours, 45 minutes or 2 hours and 30 minutes. Today's practice was supposed to go 2:21. Actually, the tempo was outstanding. I thought it was a heck of a practice just from an operations standpoint. When John went down, I just didn't think it was worth the risk to try to get through the last team period with three running backs."

With an experienced offense back and the starting five of the offensive line back on the field, quarterback Aaron Rodgers said he wasn't concerned.

"No, it's preseason," he said. "Mike's doing what's best for our bodies. We're not worried about it."

Injury report

Returned to practice: T Marshall Newhouse (concussion); WR Tori Gurley (groin).

New injuries: FB John Kuhn (ankle).

Out for personal reasons: S M.D. Jennings; DE Ryan Pickett.

Old injuries: WR Shaky Smithson (ankle); WR Diondre Borel (groin); RB Duane Bennett (knee); CB Davon House (shoulder); RB Brandon Saine (hamstring); FB Jon Hoese (hamstring); CB Sam Shields (elbow); RB James Starks (turf toe); TE Eric Lair (knee); LB Desmond Bishop (hamstring/knee); G Ray Dominguez (ankle); WR Greg Jennings (concussion); TE Jermichael Finley (quad);

Active PUP list: OLB Frank Zombo (hamstring), DL Johnny Jones (knee), T Derek Sherrod (leg) and TE Andrew Quarless (knee).

The week ahead

The team will practice at 11:15 a.m. on Tuesday in full pads, though that's subject to change given the length of the injury list. There is no practice on Wednesday, with a home preseason game against Cleveland starting at 7 p.m. on Thursday. The Packers will not practice on Friday and Saturday. Practice is set for 11:15 a.m. on Sunday and Monday (both in pads) and 11 a.m. on Tuesday (helmets).

Four-point stance

Cedric Benson was in uniform but mostly watched, per the collective bargaining agreement. During a special teams period when the offensive line worked on plays to the side without any defenders, Benson took some handoffs. "It's different because it's really quarterback-friendly, pass-heavy," Benson said when asked to compare Green Bay's scheme with what he ran in Cincinnati. "It's just kind of dedicated to letting the quarterback run the offense so there's a lot of calls and there can be a lot of changes depending on looks that the defense. You want to get used to hearing all those things and actually what they mean and stuff."

We'll have more on Benson, who spoke at length with reporters, later.

— During the draft, we reported that the Packers and Browns were in trade talks for Colt McCoy. No deal was made and the Packers got the quarterback they coveted in the draft, seventh-rounder B.J. Coleman. According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Green Bay remains the most logical destination should the Browns trade McCoy.

— The physicality of the practices has been toned back considerably. There was one big collision, though, as Tori Gurley caught a pass and ran right over rookie corner Dion Turner.

— There were two upsets in the one-on-one pass-rushing drills. T.J. Lang, who had been 10-0, lost to Mike Neal, and Nick Perry put Bryan Bulaga (now 11-2) on his back for the second time in camp. We have our unofficial one-on-one standings in the subscribers forum.

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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

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