This season, Green Bay rolls into Sunday's playoff game vs. Seattle at Lambeau with a healthier outlook both physically and mentally. That doesn't mean injuries are not a concern – that would be impossible after 20-some weeks of football. The difference this year is that injuries are a sub-plot instead of the main storyline like in 2002's sad ending.
Receivers Javon Walker (knee, hamstring), Donald Driver (ankle) and Robert Ferguson (Achilles' tendon) are all banged up and missed at least some practice last week. Walker returned to workouts Thursday, but Driver and Ferguson needed additional time off. Likewise, cornerbacks Mike McKenzie (toe) and Al Harris (knee) remained out.
Walker said the outlook is positive despite the receivers' nagging injuries.
"It's nothing that is going to hold us back," Walker said. "We're going to be ready to go on Sunday, obviously banged up but it's nothing that's going to stop us at this point.
"We have put in too much work, too much effort, for this season to stop now."
Ferguson, who turned his young career around with an impressive 2003 campaign despite a slew of injuries, guaranteed his availability for the playoffs.
"I'm just giving it time to heal as much as I can before I go out there and play," Ferguson said. "I will definitely play, regardless of my status."
Ferguson lobbied to play vs. Denver last week, coach Mike Sherman said in his post-game press conference.
"He wanted to play, he was trying to talk me into letting him play," Sherman said.
More good news came from McKenzie's Friday workout. Sherman told reporters after practice that he though McKenzie "looked good," and should be able to go Sunday. If not, Michael Hawthorne would make his third consecutive start at corner.
McKenzie's return to form would be a big step for the Packer defense, which will have to contend with the Seahawks' potent downfield passing attack.
Progress for the rest of the injured Packers has been slow. Linebacker Na'il Diggs (shoulder) returned to practice, but only in a limited capacity. Harris returned to practice Wednesday but returned to the sideline Thursday.
Also on the mend are defensive end Chukie Nwokorie, questionable with a cracked bone in his right wrist. Fitted with a large cast, Nwokorie has been out of practice all week. Right guard Mike Wahle is also sporting a cast after breaking a bone in his left hand vs. Denver. The cast isn't expected to stop Wahle from starting his 52nd straight game for the Pack.