Some good injury news, for a change

A day after Joey Thomas returned to practice, he was back on the sideline with the same knee that kept him out for five days wrapped in ice. This time, however, Thomas had a smile on his face.

"I'm all smiles. It's a great thing to be back on the field. I missed it," Thomas said after Wednesday morning's practice.

As for the ice strapped to his left knee, Thomas said it was a matter of safety first rather than him reaggravating the injury.

"Just iced it down for precaution to keep my knee right," Thomas said.

The Packers' injury situation has been a painful topic this training camp. The ranks of the injured totalled upward of 20 players on a couple of occasions, though most of the injuries were simply the aches and pains and bumps and bruises associated with this time of the football season.

The painful situation, however, improved a little bit Wednesday. Wide receiver Javon Walker took part in all phases of practice after injuring his quad during his sterling Saturday scrimmage. And quarterback Craig Nall, out for some time with a hamstring injury, took a handful of reps.

Walker said his injury, a strained upper quad caused by trying to pull through a tackle on Saturday, was nothing major.

"It's kind of real early in the season to have a problem going on into the season, so it's something we tried to calm down before it becomes a problem. We did that, and it feels real good," Walker said.

Walker picked up where he left off Saturday night with another impressive showing Wednesday morning. Among his big plays was beating first-round pick Ahmad Carroll on a deep sideline route for a touchdown with a fingertip catch.

"It's hard watching, so getting back out there in seven-on-seven, catching balls from Brett, going against our defense, it felt real good," Walker said.

Before getting iced down, Thomas also picked up where he had left off. While Carroll ranks ahead of him on the depth chart, Thomas has been the better player for most of training camp. He broke up a pass to Carl Ford with a leap and later broke up another pass by diving head-first.

Thomas attributed his solid return to keeping his head in the game while being unable to participate.

"It's just mental preparation," Thomas said. "When you prepare mentally, it allows you to come back as if you hadn't missed a lot. You missed a lot of physical reps, and I'm trying to catch up on those reps, but mentally I know what's going on and I know where to be."

The third-round pick was joined on the practice field by fellow draft picks Scott Wells (tendinitis) and Corey Williams (thumb). Williams is wearing a cast on his left hand to protect a thumb sprained during Monday night's practice. Wells, also hurt during that practice, was limited.

News was not so good for third-round pick Donnell Washington. The massive defensive tackle has a sprained arch, and his weight isn't going to make that injury heal any faster. Packers coach Mike Sherman said season-ending injured reserve is possible.

Also out Wednesday was running back Ahman Green, backup quarterback Tim Couch and No. 2 tight end David Martin (knee swelling). After practicing in the morning, starting safety candidate Mark Roman missed the afternoon's special-teams-only practice with general soreness.

Green's left foot is sore, so Sherman elected to give him the day off due to a field softened by recent rains.

"I don't think it's a big deal," Sherman said.

Couch took a few snaps in Tuesday afternoon's practice before the coaches sent him to the sideline with a fatigued right (throwing) arm. Brett Favre, who got Tuesday afternoon off as well, was back in the saddle Wednesday.

Familiar faces on the sideline were starting offensive linemen Mike Wahle (knee) and Mike Flanagan (knee), defensive ends Chukie Nwokorie (hamstring) and Ja'Dae McGuire (abdomen), cornerbacks Chris Johnson (leg) and Chris Watson (hamstring), offensive tackle Brennan Curtin (staph infection) and linebacker Tyreo Harrison (ankle).

Nose tackle Grady Jackson, who has been getting frequent rest with arthritic knees, practiced in the morning. Defensive back James Whitley, who has been out with a concussion, impressed coaches in his return.


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