After missing the last four games with a concussion, there’s reason for optimism that cornerback Sam Shields will be available for the Green Bay Packers’ playoff game at Arizona.
There's reason to believe that left tackle David Bakhtiari could be back, too, meaning two key starters who weren't on the field for the Packers' 38-8 loss at Arizona on Dec. 27 could be in the starting lineup for this playoff showdown.
While Shields remains in the concussion protocol, he had a “really good workout” on Tuesday and was "getting close" to clearing the final hurdle(s) in the concussion protocol, coach Mike McCarthy said before Wednesday’s practice. Shields was listed as limited participation on the injury report and appeared to be full-go during the portion of practice that reporters were allowed to watch. It was a big step forward after Shields took part in only ball drills before the Week 17 game vs. Minnesota and wasn't on the field at all last week.
Shields’ return, obviously, would be a major asset against the Cardinals’ high-powered passing attack. Quarterback Carson Palmer finished third in the league with a 104.6 passer rating. It’s a big-play passing attack, with a league-best 8.70 yards per attempt, with receivers Larry Fitzgerald and John Brown eclipsing 1,000 receiving yards and Brown (15.4 average), Michael Floyd (16.3) and rookie J.J. Nelson (27.2) showing big-play production. During a conference call on Tuesday, Palmer said he thought his receivers could win a relay race against any four-man group in the league. Shields, as the fastest of the Packers’ cornerbacks, potentially could put the brakes on that downfield attack.
Bakhtiari practiced, as well, after missing the past three games with an injured ankle. He was listed as questionable the last two weeks but wasn't given final clearance to play.
"I’ve been optimistic every week," Bakhtiari said. "I’ve been saying I’m taking this day by day. With this injury, it can go a lot quicker or it can be a lot slower. This week I feel good. Last week, I felt good, too. The most important thing is that it’s been more time, so we’ll see what happens."
He was sidelined for the first game against Arizona, with backup left tackle Don Barclay allowing four sacks.
"Obviously," guard T.J. Lang said, "Dave, he’s the starter, he’s the guy. I think any time you can get your No. 1 guy out there, no matter what position it is, it definitely gives your team a little bit of a boost. You know, he’s a guy who’s going to go out there and get the job done. It’s one less guy you’ve got to worry about. That left tackle position, it’s tough to play. It’s the premier spot on the line. A lot of tough duty out there going against the best pass rushers. For the most part in our offense, you’re asked to do it one-on-one the majority of the time. Dave’s a guy who’s proven over time that he gets the job done."
The only players who did not practice were receiver Davante Adams (knee) and cornerback Quinten Rollins (quad).
PACKERS INJURY REPORT
Player (injury): Wednesday
WR Davante Adams (knee): DNP
LT David Bakhtiari (ankle): Limited
DT Mike Daniels (hamstring): Limited
OLB Jayrone Elliott (quad): Full
DE Datone Jones (neck): Limited
RB Eddie Lacy (rib): Limited
G T.J. Lang (calf): Limited
OLB Mike Neal (hip): Limited
TE Justin Perillo (hamstring): Full
TE Andrew Quarless (knee): Limited
TE Richard Rodgers (hip): Limited
CB Quinten Rollins (quad): DNP
CB Sam Shields (concussion): Limited
G Josh Sitton (back): Limited
CARDINALS INJURY REPORT
Players (injury): Wednesday
LB Markus Golden (knee): Limited
G Mike Iupati (shoulder): Limited
DT Josh Mauro (calf): Limited
QB Carson Palmer (right finger): Full
DT Frostee Rucker (ankle): Limited
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.