Packers rooking running back James Stark is doing his best to look like the Vikings' Adrian Peterson on and off the field. Starks dressed up like Peterson for Halloween and is playing the role of Peterson on Green Bay's scout team this week.
Dressing up as Adrian Peterson
a couple weeks after Halloween is another sign of progress for Packers rookie running back James Starks
The next step is for Starks, who has assumed the role of Peterson with Green Bay's scout team in practice this week, to be on the same field with the Minnesota Vikings' star back when the teams meet Sunday in Minneapolis.
"I'm kind of itching to get back out there," Starks said. "I want to feel like everybody in this locker room has been feeling — going out there every day, going out there playing in front of thousands of fans that love the Green Bay Packers
. I want to feel that, too."
Starks hasn't played in nearly two years. His last game action was at the end of his junior season at the University at Buffalo, against Connecticut in the International Bowl on Jan. 3, 2009.
A torn labrum he suffered in subsequent spring workouts led to surgery and cost him his final year of college football.
The Packers still thought highly enough of Starks, Buffalo's all-time rushing leader with 3,140 yards, to invest a sixth-round draft pick in him this year.
Yet, Starks' pro career has yet to get going because of a torn hamstring he sustained in a team workout shortly after the draft. He aggravated the injury before training camp and started the season on the physically unable to perform list.
Starks said he is fully recovered from the injury, and the Packers are convinced the 6-foot-2, 218-pound Starks can contribute down the stretch after such a long layoff from football. They activated him from the PUP list last week after getting a long look at him on the practice field for three weeks.
"He's a talented young man. There's no question," head coach Mike McCarthy said. "He had (Peterson's) number 28 jersey on (in practice Monday), and he looked dang good in it. He's a big, physical, athletic runner.
"(But) he's got a lot to learn. He needs the details of the little work, the little things that you get into in the team periods."
McCarthy said Starks will be in the running to be on the 45-man roster on game day, possibly as early as Sunday against Peterson and the Vikings.
"I've been out for a while, so just getting into things and starting to get out there gradually, I started getting more comfortable and feeling like myself again," said Starks, who turns 25 in February. "I'm going to continue to get better and better each day."
WR Donald Driver was expected to be back in Green Bay by Tuesday after being excused by the team to tend to a personal matter following the bye week. Driver's status for Sunday's game at the Minnesota Vikings is up in the air. He missed the last game because of a recurring thigh strain.
DE Ryan Pickett may try to practice Thursday as he makes progress from a right ankle sprain that he aggravated in the last game. His status for Sunday's game won't be known until the end of the week.
OLB Clay Matthews, who leads the league with 10 1/2 sacks, is getting some time off from practice this week to rest a shin injury he's had for a couple weeks. Matthews is expected to be fine to play against the Vikings.
TE Andrew Quarless is hopeful of practicing this week and playing again Sunday after getting extra time during the bye to recover from a shoulder injury that sidelined the rookie for a game.
RT Mark Tauscher was scheduled to undergo surgery Tuesday for a right shoulder injury he sustained in Week 4. The Packers held out hope of getting Tauscher back before the end of the season but placed the veteran on injured reserve Friday, feeling Tauscher needed to have the operation now and couldn't wait until after the season.
QB Aaron Rodgers will look to build on his season-best performance from before the bye. He completed 27 of 34 passes for 289 yards and three touchdowns without an interception for a superb passer rating of 131.5 in the 45-7 rout of the Dallas Cowboys on Nov. 7. Rodgers hasn't thrown an interception in the last two games.
WR Greg Jennings has been on a pass-catching tear of late. He has 25 receptions for 368 yards and three touchdowns in the last four games.
RB Brandon Jackson hasn't cracked 60 rushing yards in each of the last four games after he had a season-high 115 in the Week 5 loss at the Washington Redskins. Still, he has been a factor in the passing game with 17 catches for 143 yards in the last five games.
RB John Kuhn made a big splash in the pre-bye game with career highs of 13 carries and 50 yards, nearly eclipsing the 54 yards he totaled in the previous four games.
TE Donald Lee has been the starting replacement since the Packers lost Jermichael Finley to a season-ending knee injury in Week 5. Lee, though, has only three receptions for 32 yards and no touchdowns in the last four games.
CB Sam Shields should be the kickoff returner Sunday. The speedy rookie took over the duties against the Cowboys and made the most of his only return with a 49-yard runback. Shields will remain in his regular role as the nickel back on defense.