Packers try to soften Finley tweet on Vikings

The Packers are trying to soften the impact of a Jermichael Finley post on Twitter and know that the Vikings are looking to offer a setback to the Packers' division lead. Green Bay is starting to get some of its injured players back in the fold, which could make them more dangerous.

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers loves when Jermichael Finley is on the field and hauling in big throw after big throw.

The tight end's actions off the field haven't always garnered similar applause, however. The latest "He said what?" moment came earlier this week.

Finley, who has a lot of time on his hands these days after he suffered a season-ending knee injury in Week 5, resorted to a favorite pastime of posting a message on his Twitter account. After watching the Minnesota Vikings lose to the Chicago Bears on Sunday, Finley wrote, "Vikings are done; let's stick a fork in them next weekend."

Rodgers could only cringe and shake his head at what he read.

"I made a disclaimer early in the season, 'Jermichael does not talk for the team. He talks for himself,'" Rodgers said Wednesday.

The mere mention of "Packers-Vikings Week" can stir a lot of fervor and animosity on both sides, but the 99th installment of the border rivalry Sunday in Minneapolis just may have gotten a little juicier. Giving a desperate team some bulletin-board material with which to possibly stoke a fire isn't what the Packers needed to facilitate, especially coming from a player on injured reserve.

"They obviously are trying to get things turned around before it gets too late for 'em," Packers defensive end Cullen Jenkins said. "They'd love to get it turned around against us this week. ... I expect them to come out fighting."

The Packers and Bears are tied atop the NFC North at 6-3. They have a three-game lead over the 3-6 Vikings.

"They're in a situation where they have to win," Packers safety Atari Bigby said. "So, we expect their best. We've got to be on our game this week."

Considering the strife that has been percolating throughout the season with the Vikings, including publicized dissension from some players with head coach Brad Childress, Green Bay would seem to have them just where it wants to complete a sweep of the season series.

"We're just trying to make sure our coach is not under fire," Bigby said. "We don't really pay attention to whatever's going on with them negatively. Everything is going smooth here in Green Bay."

Yet, beginning Sunday, the Packers can't rest on their newfound laurels spawned by a three-game winning streak before they had their bye week. Even with the second-best record in the NFC, Green Bay right now would be on the outside looking in for the playoffs because of division and conference tiebreakers.

That makes every win the Packers can pick up the remaining seven weeks paramount, but the home stretch is daunting. They play four of the next five games on the road and meet four teams who are 6-3 or better.

Stumbling this weekend against a sub-.500 and turmoil-stricken Vikings team would be ominous.

"December's going to be a tough stretch, (so) we've got to take care of business the next couple of weeks," said kicker Mason Crosby, also alluding to a potential showdown of NFC heavyweights Nov. 28 at Atlanta.

NOTES

Even if veteran defensive end Ryan Pickett doesn't play Sunday, the Packers will be in a much better position to try to contain dynamic running back Adrian Peterson than they were the first time they played the Minnesota Vikings this season.

Green Bay played most of the Oct. 24 game, which it won 28-24 at Lambeau Field, with only three defensive linemen that could contribute.

Starting right end Cullen Jenkins suffered a calf strain during pregame warm-ups and didn't play. Pickett, the starter at left end, dropped out after only seven plays because of an aggravated ankle sprain.

That left nose tackle B.J. Raji and young backup ends Jarius Wynn and C.J. Wilson to provide the first line of defense against Peterson, who ran 28 times for 131 yards and a touchdown. That was unacceptable to defensive coordinator Dom Capers, no matter that the Packers won the game and were in a predicament up front.

"Anytime you play against Adrian, your run defense has to bring its 'A' game," head coach Mike McCarthy said. "Our run defense has to be much better this week."

The Packers could be at full strength on the D-line for the rematch, depending how Pickett checks out with the ankle, which he reinjured in the last game Nov. 7 before the bye week. He is expected to practice Thursday, and a decision on his playing status will then be made.

DE Cullen Jenkins isn't on the injury report for the first time this season. Green Bay also beefed up the line after the first game against the Vikings by claiming nose tackle Howard Green off waivers from the New York Jets, and he's been a solid contributor the last two games.

  • WR Donald Driver is iffy to play Sunday at the Minnesota Vikings. The veteran starter missed the last game because of a strained thigh injury but is making progress after another week of rest for the bye. He was limited Wednesday and Thursday in practice.

  • OLB Clay Matthews appears on the injury report because of a sore shin that has lingered for a few weeks. Matthews, who has a league-high 10.5 sacks, is on a limited practice schedule again this week but should be OK to start Sunday.

  • TE Andrew Quarless is optimistic he can play this weekend after missing the last game because of a shoulder injury. The rookie, though, must first get through a full practice, which happened for the first time Thursday.

  • ILB Brandon Chillar is dealing with a bum shoulder, but he was good enough to practice in full Wednesday and Thursday and figures to be ready to contribute in a situational role Sunday.


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