The Green Bay Packers returned from their bye week much healthier than they were following last Sunday’s win over Detroit.
At Monday’s practice, only cornerback Sam Shields (concussion in Week 1) and tight end Jared Cook (ankle in Week 3) did not participate. Safety Morgan Burnett (groin), outside linebacker Clay Matthews (ankle/hamstring), elephant Datone Jones (knee) and defensive tackle Letroy Guion (knee), who with Shields sat out the victory over the Lions, participated in the padded practice.
The team does not have to produce an injury report until Wednesday.
“It’s not fun sitting on the sideline watching your brothers go to work,” Burnett said. “So just having the opportunity to get back out there, that’s a lot of fun. The bye couldn’t have come at a more perfect time. Now we’re getting guys back, getting guys healthy, and that’s what you really want going down the stretch.”
Getting Shields back would be a major boost to what statistically is one of the worst pass defenses in the NFL. The challenge won’t get any easier on Sunday night: Eli Manning and the high-powered New York Giants.
Asked about Shields before Monday’s practice, coach Mike McCarthy said: “Sam, he’s improving. I know the break was good for him. He was able to go home. …
“I think our medical staff has done a great job,” McCarthy continued. “I think Sam has an excellent support group, not only his family and a number of people as far as his agent. No stone has been left unturned. I think we have a very good handle on why and how and really the process for him to come back.”
Also, receiver Jeff Janis practiced without the club-cast he’s been wearing since breaking his hand at practice on Aug. 10. He had two screws inserted permanently into his hand to help fix the break.
“Just going through a little bit of adversity makes you a little more grateful when you’re not hurt,” Janis said. “I’m just going to try to take off from where I left off.”
The bye came at a perfect time for a beat-up defense. However, the other end of the spectrum is a daunting stretch in which the Packers play in each of the next 13 weeks -- plus, potentially, another game or three if they reach the playoffs but don’t earn a first-round bye.
“It’s all part of a challenge,” McCarthy said. “It’s all part of a challenge every year when your schedule comes out and you chart out a plan. Frankly, everybody wants to look at statistics and strength of schedule and personnel. I always think it’s nonsense. I’ve learned a long time ago it’s not who you play, it’s really when you play them. The difference between winning and losing is so thin, and injuries (are) a big part of our game. And we can’t ignore what’s gone on here the first three- or three-and-a-half weeks into the season with injuries. Injuries have impacted a lot of teams; they’ve impacted a lot of games. That’s all part of your thinking as you move forward.”
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.