Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy is optimistic that he’ll have a healthy team when they hit the practice field next Monday following a well-timed bye week.
Then again, some of that optimism is grounded by experience. Players with minimal injury concerns get to go home for the bye. Players with larger issues have to stay behind to work with the training staff.
“I have no reason to think that I won’t but, at the end of the day, they have to go through the testing and pass everything and so forth,” McCarthy said on Monday, one day after his depleted Packers held off the Lions 34-27. “You know, history will tell you that they feel great because they know that their schedule will be affected greatly if they didn’t feel great right now.”
The Packers gave up 418 yards against the Lions but did enough with a short-handed defense to get the win. Four starters – cornerback Sam Shields (concussion), safety Morgan Burnett (groin), outside linebacker Clay Matthews (ankle/hamstring) and defensive tackle Letroy Guion (knee) – were inactive, as was one key backup, elephant Datone Jones (knee).
Shields’ fourth concussion as a member of the Packers will keep him out for at least a couple more weeks, ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter reported, but McCarthy said he’s “hopeful that we’ll be OK” with Burnett, Matthews, Guion and Jones following a week off.
The bye probably won’t be enough to get tight end Jared Cook back on the field. Cook hurt his right ankle while running a deep crossing route early in the second quarter. Cook dropped the pass, then hopped off the field. He was examined by the medical staff before being taken to the locker room on a cart. The injury is not a season-ender, according to ESPN.com’s Rob Demovsky.
The team’s lone veteran addition during the offseason, Cook had an excellent training camp and preseason but had gotten off to a quiet start to the season. In two games, plus a little more than one quarter, he caught six passes (11 targets) for 53 yards. He had a key third-down conversion with a 15-yard gain on the opening drive vs. Detroit.
“I’m not sure as far as where we’re at as far as the time that he could potentially miss,” offensive coordinator Edgar Bennett said. “But with that being said, I know we have guys who are capable of stepping in there and getting the job done just like they did yesterday.”
Against the Lions, Richard Rodgers caught two passes for 9 yards, including a touchdown, and Justin Perillo caught one pass for 13 yards.
The bye comes at a good time given the injury situation, said guard T.J. Lang, who was questionable for Sunday with an injured hip. The downside is the Packers will play 13 consecutive weeks -- and longer if they make the playoffs but don't earn a bye.
"I think it’s pretty good timing for us," Lang said. "We were missing a lot of key players. It will give us a chance to take the week off and heal up. We’ve got a few more games at home. I was a little bit bummed about the bye week when I first heard about it because now we have to go 13 straight afterward but it’s good timing when you’ve got a beat-up team and it’s a lot more enjoyable when you’re coming off a win. We’re going to take advantage of it, hopefully heal up and get back to full force when we come back."
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.