Green Bay Packers guard T.J. Lang practiced again on Thursday and, barring some sort of setback, will be back in the starting lineup on Sunday against San Diego.
Lang went through individual drills during the portion of practice that was open to reporters. It was a big day for Lang. Thursday is the lone padded practice of the week and Lang said he needed the work to get acclimated to wearing a knee brace for the first time since his collegiate career at Eastern Michigan.
“So far, so good,” coach Mike McCarthy said before Thursday’s practice. “I think today with padded work, T.J. will get a good gauge where he is.”
Receiver Davante Adams, who has missed all but one series of the last three games due to a sprained ankle, and safety Morgan Burnett, who has missed four of the five games with an injured calf, were in pads, as well. Because both players are out after aggravating previous injuries, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the Packers sat them again on Sunday and took advantage of the bye to make sure they’re fully healthy for big road games against Denver and Carolina, followed by a four-game stretch of divisional games.
While the offense has struggled without Adams, with back-to-back 17-point outputs by that unit, the defense is surging. That unit had a miserable game without Burnett in Week 1 against Chicago but has been dominant in 11 of the past 12 quarters against the Chiefs, 49ers and Rams.
“We’ve got a lot of good players,” McCarthy said. “Our defense is playing with the right attitude. The communication is clearly better than it’s been. Guys are on the same page. It’s fun to hear the interaction of the defense particularly, you’re talking about the secondary. I think it’s just the improvements we made through the offseason and training camp, and we’re gaining more and more confidence each week.”
Linebacker Nick Perry (shoulder), defensive tackle B.J. Raji (groin) and defensive end Datone Jones (unknown) were the three players who did not practice. McCarthy said Perry is progressing faster than expected.
After McCarthy addressed reporters on Wednesday, the team put safety Sean Richardson on season-ending injured reserve because of a neck injury. Richardson also suffered a neck injury late in the 2012 season, which required spinal-fusion surgery. He returned to action for the end of the 2013 season and played in all 16 games last season. It was an uplifting story that obviously has taken a sour turn.
It’s not certain if Richardson will need surgery again, and McCarthy wouldn’t discuss whether Richardson’s career might be over.
“Obviously it's not easy any time your season comes to an end,” McCarthy said. “That's a tough reality. You think about everything he's put into it and really the opportunities that he's created for himself, really the position he was on our football team. You don't have enough Sean Richardsons on your football team. His approach, his work ethic, just the way he plays the game. We're still working through some things, but I know he's a strong man. I know there's a lot of love for him in this building and we'll make the transition.”
Packers Injury Report
Player (Injury): Wednesday, Thursday
WR Davante Adams (ankle): Limited, Limited
T Bryan Bulaga (knee): Full, Limited
S Morgan Burnett (calf): Limited, Limited
WR Randall Cobb (shoulder): Full, Limited
CB Demetri Goodson (hamstring): Limited, Full
CB LaDarius Gunter (heel): Full, Limited
DE Datone Jones (not injury related): Not listed, DNP
WR James Jones (hamstring): Limited, Limited
G T.J. Lang (knee): Limited, Limited
OLB Nick Perry (shoulder/hand): DNP, DNP
DT B.J. Raji (groin): DNP, DNP
ILB Jake Ryan (hamstring): Limited, Full
Chargers Injury Report
Player (Injury): Wednesday, Thursday
T King Dunlap (concussion): DNP, DNP
OLB Kyle Emanuel (shoulder): Limited, Limited
G/T D.J. Fluker (ankle): DNP, Limited
G Orlando Franklin (ankle): Limited, DNP
G Chris Hairston (ankle): DNP, DNP
WR Stevie Johnson (hamstring): DNP, DNP
CB Crag Mager (hamstring): DNP, DNP
DE Darius Philon (hip/thigh): DNP, DNP
ILB Manti Te’o (ankle): DNP, DNP
C Chris Watt (groin/concussion): DNP, DNP
OLB Tourek Williams (foot): DNP, DNP
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PackerReport.