Notebook: Ankle Holds Back Raji

The offensive line will be short-handed with Clifton and Spitz listed as doubtful; final injury reports; Browns cornerback hurt in crash; more from Friday.

While Clay Matthews III flashed his enormous potential last week in a quarterback-sacking performance against Detroit, fellow first-round pick B.J. Raji continues to be mostly invisible.

Chalk it up to a sprained ankle sustained in the preseason finale against Tennessee that he just hasn't been able to shake.

"It's just been so hard," defensive coordinator Dom Capers said on Friday. "He missed the early part of training camp (due to a contract holdout). When he got in and finally got going, he had four practices and we played him in the Tennessee game. He sprained his ankle, and for three weeks, it was nothing. More than anybody, he wants to be out there and he wants to be going full-go."

Raji tweaked the injury during the Detroit game and barely played. He was a full participant at practice all week and is listed as probable on the injury report. By the coaches' tally, he has three solo tackles, three assisted tackles and no quarterback hits in his three games.

"Is he full speed? Probably not," Capers said. "But he's out there practicing. This guy wants to play now. If you're a D-lineman, sometimes if you can't push off of both legs, you don't have the same explosiveness."

It will be imperative for Raji to stay on the field this week. With rookie Jarius Wynn ruled out with a hamstring injury, if Raji goes down, the Packers will be left with only Michael Montgomery behind the starters.

"Mike Montgomery, I think has put together a couple good weeks," coach Mike McCarthy said. "I thought Mike played well in last week's game. B.J. just keeps improving with reps, but he has this injury that has been lingering. Other than that, I don't have any concerns."

Offensive line questions

With starters Chad Clifton and Jason Spitz almost certain to miss Sunday's game, the Packers are precariously thin on the offensive line.

Only Evan Dietrich-Smith and Breno Giacomini are left in reserve. Dietrich-Smith is an undrafted rookie who has played on special teams in three games. Giacomini, a second-year pro, hasn't been on the gameday roster all season.

Dietrich-Smith is the backup at all three interior spots. If left tackle T.J. Lang would go down, left guard Daryn Colledge would slide outside and be replaced by Dietrich-Smith. Giacomini, who has had some work at left tackle, would replace Allen Barbre at right tackle.

"Well, the people that you have the flexibility with still is Daryn, number one," McCarthy said. "Dietrich-Smith has played both center and guard through training camp, so he's definitely an option. T.J. has played some guard. We hope we don't get to that, but we do have some flexibility."

Packers injury report

Out — FB Korey Hall (calf); WR Jordy Nelson (knee); T Mark Tauscher (knee); DE Jarius Wynn (hamstring). Doubtful — T Chad Clifton (ankle); C/G Jason Spitz (back). Questionable — LB Brandon Chillar (neck). Probable — WR Greg Jennings (hip); FB Quinn Johnson (ankle); DL B.J. Raji (ankle); QB Aaron Rodgers (foot).

"I spoke with Greg after the jog-through segment," McCarthy said of Jennings. "He just went to the rehab part of practice. I'm not concerned about it, unless he has a setback here in the next 48 hours."

Like Jennings, McCarthy is confident that Chillar will play barring a setback.

Browns injury report

Out — None. Doubtful — K Phil Dawson (calf); TE Steve Heiden (knee). Questionable — DL Kenyon Coleman (groin); WR Joshua Cribbs (knee); OL Rex Hadnot (knee); TE Robert Royal (illness, hamstring, finger); DL Corey Williams (illness); DB Eric Wright (shoulder). Probable — QB Derek Anderson (ankle); LB Eric Barton (shoulder); LB David Bowens (knee); OL Alex Mack (illness); CB Anthony Madison (illness); DB Brandon McDonald (shoulder); S Brodney Pool (illness); NT Shaun Rogers (illness, foot); DL Robaire Smith (calf); WR Chansi Stuckey (illness); LB Jason Trusnik (illness); FB Lawrence Vickers (illness); LB Kamerion Wimbley (illness); OL Floyd Womack (ankle); P Dave Zastudil (knee).

Starting corner involved in accident

Wright appears to have walked away relatively unscathed from an early-morning traffic accident on Friday in which he reportedly rolled and totaled his car while trying to navigate the I-77 south exit to I-490 west on wet roads while driving home from a Jay-Z concert in downtown Cleveland.

"We're hopeful he can play (on Sunday against the Green Bay Packers at Cleveland Browns Stadium), and we're really happy he's safe," Brown coach Eric Mangini said at his daily press conference, about 10 minutes after he had met with Wright following his return from Cleveland Clinic for further evaluation.

Wright is a starter on a secondary that allowed 417 passing yards to Pittsburgh last week.

Four-point stance

— A lot like last week's 26-0 Packers victory over Detroit, the Browns' 27-14 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers could have been much worse had the Steelers not turned the ball over in the second half. The Steelers rolled up 543 yards, more than twice the Browns' total of 197. The disparity in total yards was the sixth worst in team history, and comparable to the games played in the expansion era of 1999 and 2000.

— In his last seven starts against NFC teams, Browns quarterback Derek Anderson is 4-3 with 10 touchdowns and three interceptions. In his two starts this season, his receivers have dropped 15 passes and he's completed only 11-of-41 passes.

— The NFL made $25,000 from the Packers on Sunday. Nick Barnett was fined $7,500 for his face-mask-grabbing sack of Drew Stanton, Spencer Havner was fined $7,500 for a horse-collar tackle that wasn't called, and Daryn Colledge and Donald Driver were fined $5,000 apiece for unnecessary-roughness penalties.

— Without Braylon Edwards, the Browns are turning to rookie Mohamed Massaquoi, who is averaging 17.4 yards per reception. He ranks third among NFL rookies with 278 receiving yards.


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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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