Defensive end Datone Jones will miss a third consecutive game with an ankle injury. Cornerback Sam Shields is doubtful with a knee injury that probably will sideline him for a second consecutive game. And safety Morgan Burnett is questionable with a calf injury.
Burnett didn’t practice all week but is making progress. He’ll have to show he’s ready at Saturdays practice, and the late kickoff will give him a little extra time to mend.
“Morgan was in here bright and early through the treatments,” coach Mike McCarthy said on Friday. “He’s obviously going through the Friday routine defensively with the walkthroughs and the classroom, so we’ll give him every (opportunity).”
If Burnett can’t play, the Packers could go in three directions. One would be to go with HaHa Clinton-Dix and Micah Hyde as the safety tandem. The other would be to go with Clinton-Dix and Sean Richardson, which would allow Hyde to focus on the dime role. Or it could be a combination of the two, with Clinton-Dix and Hyde playing safety in the base and nickel packages, with Richardson entering when Hyde moves up to serve as the dime defensive back.
“I think Sean Richardson, A-No. 1, deserves opportunities,” McCarthy said. “It’d be nice to give him those opportunities and those are conversations that have been going on for quite some time. And that’s what you’re looking, you’re looking for players just to keep battling, take advantage of the plays that they are in on. You look at the play he made on the third down against Carolina. Yes, I mean, Sean deserves it and we’ll see if it happens.”
Shields’ absence will hurt against the pass-happy Saints, though the Packers still have Tramon Williams and Davon House in the base defense, Casey Hayward as the nickel and Hyde or Jarrett Bush as the dime.
Jones “went after it” during a workout on Thursday with position coach Mike Trgovac but “you could clearly see he’s not ready,” McCarthy said.
For the Saints, running backs Khiry Robinson (leading rusher) and Pierre Thomas (third in rushing, third in receptions) are out, which makes former Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram the No. 1 back. Also out is center Jonathan Goodwin, who had started the past 92 consecutive games.
GREEN BAY PACKERS