The Green Bay Packers’ beleaguered defense could get back the services of two starters for Monday night’s game at Philadelphia, with inside linebacker Jake Ryan and cornerback Damarious Randall listed as questionable.
Barring a setback, Ryan will be back in the starting lineup after injuring an ankle on a first-series punt at Tennessee two weeks ago.
“Just talked with Jake (and) talked a little bit during practice and talked with him after practice,” coach Mike McCarthy said on Saturday morning. “He feels good. I’m very optimistic that he’s going to go. He’s a tough guy, he feels good, so (he will) practice tomorrow. God forbid something happens, I see Jake playing.”
That would be key. 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. With Ryan out of action, the Packers gave up a 75-yard touchdown to Tennessee’s DeMarco Murray. Without Ryan and Martinez, they gave up a 66-yard run to Washington’s Rob Kelley. Even while not playing on defense the past two weeks, Ryan is the team’s leader with 61 tackles.
Ryan said he felt "good" after he did a "bunch of running" and some linebacker drills on Friday.
"It definitely hurt, I’ll give you that much," Ryan said of the injury. "We’ve got the resources here. We’ve got the trainers here and the staff here to get you back as fast as you can."
The outlook also is promising for Randall, whose return potentially would provide a big shot in the arm for a woeful pass defense. “Very hopeful,” McCarthy said. Randall was inactive because of the injury for the Week 5 game against the Giants, played a little more than a quarter before aggravating the injury against Dallas in Week 6 and has missed the past five games following surgery to repair the injury. The Packers are 2-5 in those games, with 30-plus points allowed in each of those losses.
“Damarious Randall had a good day yesterday,” McCarthy said. “Feel good about the work he’s put in this week and he’s making progress. Getting better.”
Ryan and Randall could return to the starting lineups but it remains to be seen just how effective they’ll be and how long they can play. Those injuries could mean a limited usage, like how the Packers handled Ty Montgomery and Randall Cobb earlier this month. Or, because of the team’s dire playoff prospects, they might have to play a lot, like how the Packers handled James Starks’ return against Tennessee. The plan, McCarthy said, was to play Starks for 20 or 25 snaps. Instead, he played more than 50.
“You project and there’s always communication, you obviously watch the player, the position coach watches him,” McCarthy said. “That’s just an ongoing evaluation. But being 4-6, we need to make sure our patterns of substitution are tight and we need to do whatever we need to do to win this game.”
Along with Martinez, right guard T.J. Lang will not play against the Eagles. McCarthy hinted that Barclay would get the start. He started last week, too, despite a pregame shoulder injury that limited his effectiveness. Barclay was benched at halftime in favor of Jason Spriggs.
“Don Barclay practiced very well yesterday,” McCarthy said. “We’ve rolled Jason in there a little bit. Don is a lot further ahead than I anticipated. We’ll take the full week of preparation” before deciding.
Speaking to reporters in Philadelphia, coach Doug Pederson said running back Ryan Mathews and right tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai will not play due to knee injuries but veteran Darren Sproles is "good to go" despite a broken rib.
|G Don Barclay||Shoulder||Limited||Limited||Limited||Questionable|
|S Kentrell Brice||Back||Limited||Full||Full||--|
|LB Kyler Fackrell||Hamstring||DNP||DNP||DNP||Out|
|CB Demetri Goodson||Knee||DNP||DNP||DNP||Out|
|DB Micah Hyde||Shoulder||Limited||Limited||Limited||--|
|G T.J. Lang||Foot||DNP||DNP||DNP||Out|
|ILB Blake Martinez||Knee||DNP||DNP||DNP||Out|
|CB Damarious Randall||Groin||Limited||Limited||Questionable|
|ILB Jake Ryan||Ankle||Limited||Limited||Limited||Questionable|
|C J.C. Tretter||Knee||DNP||DNP||DNP||Out|
|DE Connor Barwin||Knee||DNP||Full||Full||--|
|S Terrence Brooks||Hamstring||Full||Full||Full||--|
|RB Ryan Mathews||Knee||DNP||DNP||DNP||Out|
|CB Leodis McKelvin||Concussion||Full||Full||Full||--|
|DE Steven Means||Illness||DNP||DNP||Full||--|
|RB Darren Sproles||Rib||Full||Full||Full||--|
|T Hal. Vaitai||Knee||DNP||DNP||DNP||Out|
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.