Notebook: Injuries among hurdles for defense

Bigby will test hamstring on Friday to see if he can play on Sunday at Tampa Bay.

Heading into Sunday's game at Tampa Bay, the Green Bay Packers' defense faces almost as many hurdles as Angelo Taylor cleared in winning gold in the 400-meter hurdles in the Beijing Olympics.

Starting cornerback Al Harris is out with a lacerated spleen.

With Harris out, fellow starting cornerback Charles Woodson can't afford to take a week off to rest his broken toe.

Starting safety Atari Bigby has an injured hamstring and hasn't practiced all week.

Starting safety Nick Collins has a sore back and has been limited at practice.

Backup safety Aaron Rouse has a sore knee and has been limited at practice.

That beat-up secondary will face a Buccaneers offense that passed the ball 67 times last week.

But the Packers can't focus on stopping the Bucs' passing game. After being bludgeoned by Dallas last week, the Packers are yielding a league-worst 5.7 yards per rush.

A defense that got worn down by the Cowboys will play in 87-degree heat on Sunday at Tampa.

So, amid all of that and while his teammates prepared for the Buccaneers (2-1), Bigby put his hamstring to the test in the Don Hutson Center.

"He went inside in his rehab today, so really, the a.m. examination is always a big deal on Friday morning," coach Mike McCarthy said. "So, we'll see how he feels, how he responds from this workout and then we'll go from there. There is definitely a sense of urgency with Atari. He wants to get back out there."

If Bigby can't play, Rouse will make his second consecutive start. With the injury problems in the secondary, Rouse knows it's important to fight through the pain. Especially against a Buccaneers team that threw the ball again and again against the Bears.

"Any time a team throws the ball that much, obviously you have to be aware of that," Rouse said. "A team that throws the ball 67 times, you expect it; but then again, you don't know what to expect. You don't know what happened to cause them to throw the ball 67 times."

McCarthy liked what he saw out of Rouse on Thursday but seemed less certain about Collins' prospects for Sunday. Still, Collins has a better chance to play than Bigby. They would be backed up by Charlie Peprah and corner-safety Jarrett Bush.

Packers injury report

Out: cornerback Al Harris (spleen).

Did not participate: safety Atari Bigby (hamstring); fullback Korey Hall (knee); running back Kregg Lumpkin (hamstring); cornerback Charles Woodson (toe).

Limited participation: tackle Chad Clifton (knees); safety Nick Collins (back); receiver James Jones (knee).

Full participation: safety Aaron Rouse (knee); guard Josh Sitton (knee).

Changes: Rouse and Sitton went from limited to full.

Buccaneers injury report

Did not participate: fullback B.J. Askew (hamstring); kicker Matt Bryant (death in family); receiver Joey Galloway (foot).

Limited participation: linebacker Derrick Brooks (hamstring); guard Davin Joseph (foot); defensive tackle Ryan Sims (groin).

Full participation: cornerback Aquib Talib (hamstring).

Changes: Starting quarterback Brian Griese, running back Warrick Dunn and punter Josh Bidwell are off the injury report after getting Wednesday off.

Kicker question

Bucs coach Jon Gruden isn't sure what he's going to do at kicker this week. Bryant has been excused from practice as he and his wife mourn the death of their infant son.

"Yeah, we'll address that when the time is right," Gruden told reporters in Tampa, Fla., on Thursday. "Right now, we're getting ready for the Green Bay Packers and dealing with a tough situation. We're doing our best."

Progress for Sitton

Rookie guard Josh Sitton, who hasn't played since sustaining a knee injury while starting at right guard in the second preseason game at San Francisco, has a chance to be activated this week.

"I think any time somebody comes back from a knee sprain, sometimes we refer to it as short-stepping, just kind of keeping his feet underneath him," McCarthy said. "I saw some of that last week, and he seems to be getting more comfortable and has his balance back, so I thought he definitely took a step (Wednesday). When we watch the film today, I'm sure we'll feel the same."

Don't look for Sitton to be thrown into the fire this week, though, in an effort to give him some experience.

"We're in the mode of winning games, so the continuity of the front five is the priority," McCarthy said. "Now, if we feel we can do that and it doesn't disrupt that flow, that would be a nice option to have."

Bill Huber is editor of Packer Report and PackerReport.com. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com


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