Mike McCarthy on Jake Ryan: ‘We Need Him’

Jake Ryan, who leads the Green Bay Packers in tackles, was limited participation on Monday and could return for Monday night at Philadelphia.

Jake Ryan figures to be back at inside linebacker, meaning Clay Matthews might be able to stay at outside linebacker.

Ryan, who hasn’t played a snap on defense the past two games because of an ankle injury sustained on a first-series punt at Tennessee on Nov. 6, practiced on Friday.

“He’ll go through the early part of it,” coach Mike McCarthy said before practice. “They just want to be smart with his first day back. Everything looks good for Jake so far.”

On a cold and drizzle-filled day, Ryan worked inside the Don Hutson Center at the start of practice before joining his teammates outside for the end of individual drills. The Packers listed him as limited participation.

Ryan’s return is key for Green Bay’s beleaguered defense as it preps for Monday night at Philadelphia. Rookie inside linebacker Blake Martinez is expected to miss at least a couple of games with a knee sprain sustained late in last week’s game at Washington. The Packers finished the game with Joe Thomas and Carl Bradford at inside linebacker; they were the tandem on the field for Rob Kelley’s 66-yard run and clinching touchdown.

“We need him,” McCarthy said.

Without Ryan, the Packers would have to go with Thomas and Bradford or move Matthews back to inside linebacker, where he spent the second half of 2014 and all of 2015.

Even with zero tackles at Tennessee and not playing at Washington, Ryan leads the team with 61 tackles (45 solos). Before the injury, the 2015 fourth-round pick had 10 tackles at Atlanta and nine against Indianapolis.

“You look for that leap from Year 1 to Year 2,” McCarthy said. “He’s really comfortable with what’s being asked of him. The adjustment part is cleaner for him. He’s just playing faster. He’s seeing it. He’s a heck of a football player. He’s instinctive, he’s tough. He just looks a lot more comfortable and he’s playing a lot faster.”

Martinez, cornerback Demetri Goodson (knee), outside linebacker Kyler Fackrell (hamstring), guard T.J. Lang (ankle), center J.C. Tretter (knee) were the five players who were not present while reporters were present.

Cornerback Damarious Randall, who has missed the last five games following groin surgery, was limited participation.

"My health is my No. 1 focus," he said, "so if I'm ready to go out there Monday, then I'll be out there Monday."

The Packers did not practice in pads. During the final six weeks of the season, teams are only allotted three padded practices.

G Don Barclay Shoulder Limited Limited
S Kentrell Brice Back Limited Full
LB Kyler Fackrell Hamstring DNP DNP
CB Demetri Goodson Knee DNP DNP
DB Micah Hyde Shoulder Limited Limited
G T.J. Lang Foot DNP DNP
ILB Blake Martinez Knee DNP DNP
CB Damarious Randall Groin Limited Limited
ILB Jake Ryan Ankle Limited Limited
C J.C. Tretter Knee DNP DNP
DE Connor Barwin Knee DNP Full
S Terrence Brooks Hamstring Full Full
RB Ryan Mathews Knee DNP DNP
DE Steven Means Illness DNP DNP
RB Darren Sproles Rib Full Full
T Hal. Vaitai Knee DNP DNP

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