Packers Thin at Cornerback

Sam Shields didn't practice all week and is listed as questionable, which could leave the team with only four cornerbacks. One of those four is rookie Micah Hyde, who didn't practice the last two days. Plus, the final injury reports and more from Friday.

Has there ever been a good week to face Adrian Peterson?

Probably not, but the Green Bay Packers could be incredibly thin at cornerback for Sunday's game against the Vikings. Coach Mike McCarthy ruled out Casey Hayward (hamstring) and James Nixon (knee) on Friday and listed top corner Sam Shields (hamstring) as questionable. Shields, who missed last week's game against the Giants, didn't practice all week.

"It's been up and down, so we'll see how it goes," McCarthy said of Shields. "We've got 48 hours, is the way we're looking at it. We'll obviously give Sam every chance to get ready."

Shields, a fourth-year pro playing under his restricted free agent tender, is having his best season in the league. Teams have only rarely thrown the ball in Shields' direction. According to ProFootballFocus.com, Shields was targeted 18 times in his last five games.

Cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt was asked several times about Shields but kept his focus on the remaining players: Tramon Williams, Davon House, rookie Micah Hyde and Jarrett Bush.

"I understand your question, and I understand all your questions, and they're valid," Whitt said. "And I'm trying to answer them in a way where my focus is winning this game. To answer your question, Sam is very important to this defense. Him and Clay (Matthews) are probably the two standouts right now, but we don't have him. So, I'm not going to be in a woe-is-me mentality right now. I'm going to be in, ‘OK, Tramon, you just played your best game. House, can we get both of you all's best game together? Jarrett, can we get your best game? Can we get six of them in a row and get to where we need to be?' That's my mentality right now. I understand your question, but we need to win a football game. That's where the sense of urgency is right now with me."

Against the Giants, the Packers used Williams and House outside, with Hyde entering in nickel situations. Hyde, however, didn't practice on Thursday or Friday. While he's listed as probable, the Packers might be inclined to go with Bush.

However the Packers line up, it's a good thing they're facing Christian Ponder this week instead of next week's quarterback, Matthew Stafford.

"Well, you obviously wish you'd be healthy but we'll go with the combination that is available," defensive coordinator Dom Capers said.

Packers injury report

Out: RT Don Barclay (knee), CB Casey Hayward (hamstring), CB James Nixon (knee), OLB Nick Perry (foot/ankle), QB Aaron Rodgers (collarbone). Doubtful: DE Johnny Jolly (groin). Questionable: CB Sam Shields (hamstring). Probable: C Evan Dietrich-Smith (knee), CB Micah Hyde (groin), OLB Clay Matthews (thumb), Andy Mulumba (ankle), OLB Mike Neal (abdomen), DT Ryan Pickett (knee).

Rodgers, Nixon, Hayward, Hyde, Shields, Perry, Barclay and Jolly did not practice. Rodgers did some light throwing, McCarthy said, but he wasn't about to discuss a potential timeline for his return. On Jolly, McCarthy said he'd be "challenged" to play on Sunday.

Vikings injury report

Did not participate: LB Erin Henderson (not injury related), CB Josh Robinson (chest), TE Kyle Rudolph (foot). Questionable: WR Greg Jennings (Achilles), LB Michael Mauti (knee), RB Adrian Peterson (groin), DE Brian Robison (neck), C John Sullivan (concussion). Probable: DE Jared Allen (back), RB Matt Asiata (shoulder), FB Rhett Ellison (ankle), DT Fred Evans (knee/shoulder), DT Letroy Guion (chest), LB Chad Greenway (wrist), Christian Ponder (left shoulder).

Peterson was limited on Friday after not practicing the first two days. There's little doubt he'll play.

Without Henderson and, most likely, Mauti, Audie Cole will start at middle linebacker. He was a seventh-round pick last year who was released by the Vikings on Nov. 7 but re-signed two days later.

"In the preseason of his rookie year, he showed some big-play potential coming up with those interceptions for touchdowns and did a good job on special teams last season, along with this season," Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said on Friday. "That's kind of been his niche up to this point, but he's always worked hard in practice. We've always felt really good about where he is. Now he'll get a chance. He's a long guy with good range and very, very bright and good football intelligence. So it will be a good opportunity for him."

Four-point stance

-- McCarthy, on the practice week: "Urgency is part of your DNA, it's part of your everyday makeup. It's our 11th game. It's building. We understand what our record is. But this is one moment, this is one opportunity, and we're just focused on the result for Sunday – and that's about winning. We're not doing extra calisthenics or doing extra PowerPoints or anything like that. Everybody has a message. I always just look for the energy in the common areas, whether it's drill to drill, huddle command, defensive pursuit, things like that. So I feel good about our preparation."

-- Even with Brad Jones back in the lineup, A.J. Hawk has stayed in the lineup as the dime linebacker. "I just think A.J. has been our most consistent player till this point in time," Capers said. "He's been able to stay on the field. He's been our leader out there. I think he's playing his best football since I've been here. I think he's a very stabilizing guy in there. He's normally going to be where he's supposed to be. He's been doing a nice job on the pressures. With Clay being out those few weeks, we kind of turned to him to get some pressure. When he blitzes, he blitzes and he's normally pretty good for backs trying to block him."

-- Outside linebackers coach Kevin Greene was named one of 25 semifinalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Wednesday. "There's no question in my mind (that Greene deserves to be enshrined)," Capers said. "I just know from a physical standpoint, an emotional standpoint, a consistency standpoint. All you have to do is look – he's the all-time sack leader for a linebacker, which speaks for itself. There's some pretty good linebackers that he has more sacks than."

-- Sunday's forecast is for a high of 22 with wind from the west at 11 mph, according to Weather.com. The average high is 39.


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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.


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