Notebook: Key Starters on Mend

Chad Clifton and Atari Bigby likely will play Sunday vs. Lions; Greg Jennings' comments are no issue; plus more from Wednesday.

The Packers on Wednesday appeared on track to get two key starters back in the lineup.

Left tackle Chad Clifton, who missed the last two-and-a-half games with a sprained ankle, was a limited participant at practice for the second time this week. Safety Atari Bigby, meanwhile, was a full participant for the first time since hurting his knee in the opener against Chicago.

After posting five interceptions in 16 starts during the Packers' 13-3 season in 2007, Bigby was limited to only seven games last season. Without Bigby, the Packers yielded 31 points in Week 2 against Cincinnati and 30 in Week 4 against Minnesota. Especially against the Vikings, the secondary was plagued by communication breakdowns.

"Atari Bigby is a starter," coach Mike McCarthy said. "I think anytime you lose a starter for a number of games and then the starter comes back, it definitely adds to your offense or defense. So, having Atari back would definitely be a boost for us. More importantly, we've just got to make sure he's healthy and ready to go."

The Packers' problems without Clifton have been well-documented. Clifton didn't allow a sack during his six quarters while fill-in Daryn Colledge has allowed 4.5 sacks, according to STATS.

"I think it's important for Chad to work today and tomorrow and see where we are," McCarthy said. "That will be pretty much the plan for him. How much he will do on Friday is left to be seen, but if he can go through the full body of work that we have laid out for him, definitely feel that he'll be ready to go on Sunday."

Interestingly, Colledge said that rookie T.J. Lang took the backup reps at left tackle on Wednesday. McCarthy, however, wouldn't say that Lang had supplanted Colledge as the backup.

"I thought he did a nice job in the Minnesota game," McCarthy said of Lang, "but if we get to that, we'll answer that question."

Packers injury report

Out — FB Korey Hall (calf). Did not participate — LB Brady Poppinga (illness); RB DeShawn Wynn (knee). Limited participation — LT Chad Clifton (ankle); DE Cullen Jenkins (ankle); NT Ryan Pickett (hip); RT Mark Tauscher (knee). Full participation — S Atari Bigby (knee); G Daryn Colledge (knee); RB Brandon Jackson (ankle); LB Jeremy Thompson (knee).

Hall suffered a calf strain during Monday's practice and is out for a couple of weeks, McCarthy said. Fifth-round pick Quinn Johnson will take his place on the 45-man gameday roster and figures to make his NFL debut on Sunday against Detroit.

"I think Quinn is definitely getting better," McCarthy said. "He does a good job with the opponent stuff for our defense. He spends a lot of extra time with Edgar Bennett, working on the fundamentals and technical things that we ask him to do here at the fullback position. I like what I see so far. It will be a good opportunity for him to play on Sunday."

Lions injury report

Did not participate — FB Jerome Felton (shoulder); TE Casey FitzSimmons (thigh); DT Sammie Hill (ankle); DE Jason Hunter (ankle); WR Calvin Johnson WR); RB Maurice Morris (hip); S Koe Simpson (hamstring); DE Dewayne White (hamstring). Limited participation — LB Jordan Dizon (foot); DT Grady Jackson (knee); LB Ernie Sims (shoulder); QB Matthew Stafford (knee). Full participation — RT Gosder Cherilus (shoulder); TE Brandon Pettigrew (hamstring).

Lions coach Jim Schwartz told reporters in Detroit that Stafford, who missed last week's game against Pittsburgh, is "improving," but he's nowhere close to determining whether Stafford or Daunte Culpepper will be starting on Sunday.

Asked about Johnson during a conference call with reporters in Green Bay, Schwartz said: "Calvin's a really, really tough guy. First of all, he's a really fast healer. Those guys are just metabolic as can be. Things that hold other people back for months, he can put behind him pretty quickly. I know that if he can, he'll be out there, and if he can play on Sunday, he'll be ready."

Jennings' comments a nonissue

Not surprisingly, Greg Jennings' comments about being ticked off (G-rated version of what he really said) about not getting the ball didn't raise so much as a ripple in the locker room.

"You want a receiver to want the ball," quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. "If he didn't, you'd think there was something wrong with him, so obviously I'm trying to get the ball to him and Donald as much as I can. We just haven't had the same kind of opportunities yet. But I'm confident with the plan we've got we're going to get him the ball. Obviously, he's a big-time player but he's had a lot of double coverage, they've been rolling the coverage to him a lot and I'm going to throw it to the open guy. The more times we get the ball to Donald (Driver) and Greg, the better our offense is going to be. So, I'm going to try to get it to them as much as I can."

Meanwhile, McCarthy looked at the big picture: "When your team statistics are in order, your individual statistics will be in order. That's where I am at on that."

Four-point stance

— With cornerback Will Blackmon on injured reserve, sixth-round pick Brandon Underwood will be on the gameday roster for the first time and Jarrett Bush also will be in the mix at corner.

— The Packers have won seven straight overall against Detroit, the longest in this 160-game series since Detroit won 11 in a row from 1949 through 1954. Including two playoff wins by the Packers, Green Bay owns an 86-64-7 edge.

— With his first catch, Donald Driver will pass Sterling Sharpe for most receptions in franchise history. With four at Minnesota, Driver has 595 career receptions.

— The Packers are 9-4 in their last 13 games after a bye, including 2-1 under McCarthy. The one loss came last year at undefeated Tennessee.


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.


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