In a major setback, the Green Bay Packers ruled out cornerback Sam Shields for Sunday’s playoff game at the Washington Redskins.
The Packers also downgraded outside linebacker Jayrone Elliott from questionable to doubtful. Left tackle David Bakhtiari, who was expected to practice on Saturday, remains questionable.
Shields didn’t practice on Wednesday or Thursday and presumably was unable to practice on Saturday morning before the team departed for Washington.
For the Packers to advance, they’ll again rely heavily on rookie cornerbacks Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins against Washington’s red-hot offense. Over the past three weeks, Washington ranked No. 1 in scoring, yards per play, yards per passing attempt and quarterback rating.
“When you’re a rookie, you’re learning a lot, you’re learning on the fly, but for rookies I think they’ve looked very sharp,” Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins said during his Wednesday conference call. “They’re very aware players. They have good eyes, good vision, good instincts, so I would think they’ll be guys who will just continue to get better and with all the playing time they’ve gotten this year it will make them great corners going forward.”
With Cousins, the passing game is the strength of the Redskins. Without Shields, Green Bay’s top cornerback and the player who would have matched up on premier deep-ball threat DeSean Jackson, Redskins offensive coordinator Sean McVay surely will test Green Bay’s rookies.
“I think you are seeing very mature players,” he said on Friday. “For the younger guys that they do have out there in Randall and Rollins, I see very mature players. They recognize concepts and they play very sound. So, regardless if they are first-year players or not, you can see it is a very well-coached secondary and they are very sound in what they do on the back end.”
Friday's story: Different day, same uncertainty for the Green Bay Packers regarding standout cornerback Sam Shields.
Shields remains in the concussion protocol, coach Mike McCarthy said on Friday morning. On Friday afternoon, the Packers listed him as doubtful for Sunday's playoff game at Washington.
“Nothing’s changed,” McCarthy said.
Asked if Shields would even be on the flight for Sunday’s playoff game at Washington, McCarthy said, “I can’t answer that right now.”
Shields has missed the last three games and his absence would be felt against Washington’s surging passing attack, with Kirk Cousins finishing fifth in the league and passer rating and first in completion percentage. He’s got three talented receivers in DeSean Jackson, who is one of the NFL’s premier big-play threats, Pierre Garcon, who ranks fifth in the NFL in third-down receptions, and Jamison Crowder, who finished third among all rookies in receptions.
Shields practiced last week but couldn’t get past the final step(s) of the concussion protocol. He didn’t even practice on Wednesday or Thursday of this week and wouldn't have practiced on Friday, either.
“I think when you’re talking about a concussion, it’s obviously different than other injuries,” McCarthy said when asked about that presumed step backward. “You don’t just get to 70, 80, 90 percent. Every one of these is different, every player’s different. Until he comes through the protocol, it’s just where we are.”
The Packers listed 18 players on their injury report, including left tackle David Bakhtiari and cornerback Damarious Randall, who were limited participation. Bakhtiari, who has missed the past two games with an ankle injury, advanced a step after not practicing on Wednesday. McCarthy said he is “projected” to practice on Saturday and listed him as questionable.
"We'll see come game day," Bakhtiari said of his status.
Randall was added to the injury report on Thursday with a groin. He is one of 13 players listed as probable.
“Just tightened up, just being cautious,” McCarthy said of Randall. “Obviously, where we are in not only the season but in the week. I think any time you have anything with one of your players on Thursday, you’ve got to be cautious.”
Guard T.J. Lang is probable but said he might need surgery to deal with longtime problems with both shoulders.
"That’s just part of the game," he said. "There’s very few injuries that require immediate surgery unless your shoulders are done really bad or it’s a knee. My mind-set has always been unless it requires immediate surgery I’m not going to."
Here's the injury report, which is subject to change following Green Bay's Saturday practice.
Packers Injury Report
Player (Injury): Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. Status.
LT David Bakhtiari (Ankle): DNP, Limited, Limited. Questionable.
RT Bryan Bulaga (Ankle): Limited, Limited, Limited. Probable.
DT Mike Daniels (Hamstring): Limited, Limited, Limited. Probable.
LB Jayrone Elliott (Quad): DNP, DNP, Limited. Questionable.
DT Letroy Guion (Foot): Limited, Limited, Limited. Probable.
DE Datone Jones (Neck): DNP, DNP, Limited. Questionable.
RB Eddie Lacy (Rib): Limited, Limited, Limited. Probable.
G T.J. Lang (Neck): Limited, Limited, Limited. Probable.
C Corey Linsley (Ankle): Limited, Full, Full. Probable.
LB Clay Matthews (Ankle): Full, Full, Full. Probable.
LB Andy Mulumba (Knee) Full, Full, Full. Probable.
LB Mike Neal (Hip): Limited, Limited, Limited. Probable.
TE Justin Perillo (Hamstring): DNP, Limited, Limited. Questionable.
LB Nick Perry (Shoulder): Limited, Full, Full. Probable.
CB Damarious Randall (groin): Not limited, Limited, Limited. Probable.
CB Sam Shields (Concussion): DNP, DNP, DNP. Doubtful.
G Josh Sitton (Back): DNP, Limited, Limited. Probable.
G Lane Taylor (Knee): Limited, Full, Full. Probable.
Redskins Injury Report
Player (Injury): Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. Status.
CB Quinton Dunbar (Quad): Limited, Limited, Limited. Questionable.
S Dashon Goldson (Shoulder/Rib): Limited, Limited, Limited. Questionable.
DE Jason Hatcher (Neck/Knee): Limited, Limited, Limited. Probable.
WR DeSean Jackson (Knee): Full, Full, Full. Probable.
S Jeron Johnson (Chest): Full, Full, Full. Probable.
RB Matt Jones (Hip): Limited, Limited, Limited. Questionable.
CB Dashaun Phillips (Neck): Full, Full, Full. Probable.
LB Perry Riley (Foot): Limited, Limited, Limited. Questionable.
RB Chris Thompson (Toe): Full, Full, Full. Probable.
T Trent Williams (Knee): Full, Full, Full. Probable.
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PackerReport.