On Wednesday, none of those four were full participants at practice as Green Bay began prepping for Sunday's game at Chicago.
Starting nose tackle Ryan Pickett was held out with a hamstring injury, while starting ends Cullen Jenkins (hamstring) and Johnny Jolly (knee) and backup B.J. Raji (ankle) were listed as limited participation.
"It's going to take the week," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said when asked about Pickett. "He'll probably be a game-time decision. Really you could put all four of those guys — the D-lineman, I'm concerned about it obviously having all four of those guys miss practice. It's probably going to take the week to really sort that out."
Pickett was not available for reporters but Jolly and Jenkins both spoke confidently about lining up to face the Bears. Raji wasn't concerned about the ankle after the game on Monday.
When the Packers switched defensive schemes, there were concerns about how Jenkins, Jolly and Pickett would adapt. It turns out they've made a seamless transition. Jolly ranks fourth on the Packers' tally of tackles, with an interception, two fumble recoveries and eight passes defensed. Pickett ranks sixth in tackles. Jenkins ranks 10th in tackles, leads the team with three forced fumbles, ranks second with 4.5 sacks and has an interception.
"Nah, we didn't have any worries," Jenkins said. "Of course, you want to get comfortable in it, but we felt like we can play any position on the D-line. Putting us in the 3-4 isn't anything really different. We feel like we can play anything that they throw at us. It's just a matter of being able to adapt and feel comfortable."
Thompson ready for playoffs?
Packers linebacker Jeremy Thompson was in the locker room, a few days after a neck sprain resulted in him leaving practice in an ambulance and spending the night in a hospital.
"First thought, I thought I broke my neck, but once the feeling started coming back, I thought I was going to be all right," he told Packer Report. "After all the scans were done, no broken bones, no torn ligaments, that was encouraging. Now it's just the waiting game so I can start working out a little harder and maybe come back and play."
Thompson says he feels "pretty good" and has been walking around and working out while dealing with some residual numbness in his arms. The injury came right when Thompson had assumed a role on defense because of the injury to Aaron Kampman. He said he might be ready should the Packers reach the playoffs.
Thompson, whose battle with stingers derailed his chance to win the starting job during training camp, admits that his future is uncertain. He's set to see specialists in the next couple weeks to get their opinions.
"Yeah, if everything doesn't heal up right, that will be the big issue," he said. "But what the doctor's telling me now, there shouldn't be any complications or anything like that."
Packers injury report
Out — LB Jeremy Thompson (neck). Did not participate — LB Nick Barnett (knee); NT Ryan Pickett (hamstring). Limited participation — T Chad Clifton (hamstring); TE Jermichael Finley (knee); DE Cullen Jenkins (hamstring); DE Johnny Jolly (knee); NT B.J. Raji (ankle); CB Charles Woodson (shoulder).
Barnett's knee injury shouldn't be an issue this week, McCarthy said.
"I think he is going to be OK by the end of the week," McCarthy said. "He'll have a chance to practice tomorrow, but I anticipate he'll probably go by Friday. He just has some swelling in there and we're being smart with him."
Bears injury report
Did not participate — WR Devin Hester (groin); LB Hunter Hillenmeyer (groin). Limited participation — LB Lance Briggs (knee); DT Tommie Harris (knee); DT Israel Idonije (knee); T Orlando Pace (groin).
"We hope that we'll have him. Lance is one of the best players in the league," Bears coach Lovie Smith said of Briggs, who missed last week's game. "We'll need everyone to be able to compete with the Packers. They're playing great ball. Offensively, of course, starting with Aaron Rodgers and the rest of the crew. We'll need all of our weapons and Lance is getting better."
"I don't know if I could be harder on Mason than he is on himself," McCarthy said. "He's a pro, a very hard worker, a very diligent technician, which you definitely need to be at that position. He continues to work at it. I have not lost confidence in him. That hasn't changed since the day he arrived his rookie season. I remember when we trotted him out there in the Philadelphia game. He'll continue to work at it."
— Briggs, in a conference call with Packers beat reporters on Wednesday, was asked about Brian Urlacher's disparaging comments about the direction of the team and Jay Cutler's play. Urlacher, of course, suffered a season-ending injury at Green Bay in Week 1.
"We all get emotional about certain stuff and we're passionate about it," Briggs said. "You want to win. I don't view them as him trying to be negative. You know, he was just speaking his mind at the time. And I think he was also speaking with someone whom had built a relationship and trusted that when you talk to him, that you will articulate this in a way that it's not going to seem like it's derogatory towards my teammate. A lot of us build relationships with these reporters and these writer and when we're sitting down and we're talking and they say, ‘You know what kind of guy I am. You know how I'm going to write the story, I'm going to write it good for you.' And you start to open up a little bit and then you turn around and look in the newspaper and it looks like you kind of slandered your teammates."
— In his conference call with Packers reporters, Lovie Smith cited Mark Tauscher as a reason for the improved play of the Packers' line. Green Bay has allowed four sacks in the last three games. The Bears sacked Aaron Rodgers four times in the opener.
"I know early in the year, teams were (pressuring Rodgers), but what I've seen lately is a pretty solid group," Smith said. "Haven't given up a lot of sacks in the last quarter or so of the season. When you have a quarterback that is as mobile as Rodgers is, too, of course that helps the case. I know they've had a couple injuries inside but getting Tauscher back, we're seeing a lot of what we've seen from them in the past."
— The early forecast for Sunday's game is 34 and sunny, a far cry from the horrendous weather in late-season trips to Chicago in 2008 (2 degrees, minus-13 wind chill) and 2007 (a blustery 16, with a wind-chill of minus-18).
"When the Bears and the Packers play in December, you're supposed to play in the elements," Smith said. "That will definitely be the case this week. We're both used to it."
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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 email@example.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.