Thanksgiving game a battle of backups

A Thanksgiving matchup between the Packers and the Lions is expected to feature former Vikings quarterback Daunte Culpepper as a starter. The better news for Culpepper is that he will be facing a severely depleted Packers defense after Green Bay lost two key defensive starters for the season.


The good news for the Lions is that quarterback Matthew Stafford did not suffer a serious left shoulder injury in Sunday's stunning 38-37 victory over Cleveland.

The bad news for the Lions — and for a national television audience — is that Stafford is unlikely to play in Thursday's Thanksgiving game against Green Bay if his soreness continues.

Daunte Culpepper is expected to start against the Packers.

"There's a chance that goes away in the next couple days, but structurally everything's good," coach Jim Schwartz said. "I don't think there's any lasting damage, but he's extremely sore, as you can expect. We'll see. You don't want to close the door on anything."

Stafford suffered an AC joint separation on the second-to-last play Sunday. The AC joint connects the collarbone to the shoulder blade. He returned to throw the winning touchdown with no time left.

A TV replay showed him running off the field, apparently saying, "It's out." But Schwartz said: "To me, a shoulder out means it's dislocated and it's hanging. His shoulder wasn't out. But when you do get that AC, it feels that kind of way."

Schwartz said most of the medical tests had come back and showed it was nothing he would label significant. Schwartz usually reserves that word for long-term injuries.

Asked if he could play Thanksgiving, Stafford told WJR-AM (760): "I don't know. We'll see. I'm in a pretty good amount of pain right now, but hopefully it'll start getting better."


  • Coach Jim Schwartz fired back at Browns coach Eric Mangini, who implied the Lions faked injuries to slow down their no-huddle offense.

    "He's way out of bounds on that," said Schwartz, who worked with Mangini in Cleveland and Baltimore. "That couldn't be further than the truth. There was no need to do that to slow the pace down, because the officials were doing a really good job of standing over the ball for us and them."

  • Mangini also was upset about the pass-interference call on Hank Poteat that set up the winning touchdown. Poteat was flagged for pushing wide receiver Bryant Johnson out of bounds, giving the Lions the ball at the 1-yard line with no time left. Abram Elam also took down wide receiver Calvin Johnson during the play, as Brodney Pool intercepted a Hail Mary pass.

    "It's really not illegal contact when the guy's out of the pocket or scrambling," Mangini told reporters in Cleveland.

    Schwartz scoffed at that.

    "They don't know what they're talking about," Schwartz said. "You can quote me on that, because when the quarterback's out of the pocket, there can still be pass interference. There can't be illegal contact, but there can be pass interference. And when the ball's in the air, you can't make contact with the receivers. It's clear."

  • WR Calvin Johnson was listed with hand and knee injuries Monday. Asked if Johnson would play against the Packers, coach Jim Schwartz said: "We'll see."

  • S Ko Simpson has a knee injury. Coach Jim Schwartz said the Lions were determining whether it would end his season.

  • CB Anthony Henry could see time at safety, at least in a backup role. Henry has taken some reps at safety since training camp in case of emergency. There was talk in the offseason he could move there depending on his performance.

  • G Daniel Loper was listed with a back injury after Sunday's game. He likely will play Thursday.


    The Packers' worst fears coming out of their 30-24 win over the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday were confirmed by head coach Mike McCarthy on Monday.

    He announced at his day-after-game news conference that cornerback Al Harris and linebacker Aaron Kampman will miss the rest of the season because of knee injuries.

    McCarthy didn't elaborate on the extent of each injury, but various reports have indicated that the veteran leaders suffered torn anterior cruciate ligaments in their left knees during the second half of Sunday's game.

    McCarthy said Harris and Kampman will need surgery.

    "It will be a big challenge for our football team," McCarthy said. "Both Aaron and Al have meant a lot to us and our football team. Both have over 100-plus starts.

    "Just thinking about it after visiting with Aaron (on Monday), not seeing 74 (Kampman) and 31 (Harris) in the huddle, it's going to be different. But, it's a challenge that our younger players ... they're going to have to step up and get ready on a short week for Detroit."

    The Packers (6-4), who have won their last two games, will have to compensate for the losses of the two Pro Bowl players in a hurry.

    They will play at the NFC North rival Detroit Lions on Thursday in the Lions' traditional Thanksgiving Day game. Green Bay didn't practice Monday.

    The Packers will plug in either rookie Brad Jones or Brady Poppinga to replace Kampman at left outside linebacker in their 3-4 scheme.

    Jones started for Kampman, who had a concussion, in the Nov. 15 win over the Dallas Cowboys and fared well.

    Nickel back Tramon Williams will have a full-time role now with Harris out, but Green Bay might have to rely on untested rookie Brandon Underwood in a situational role.

    "It don't matter at this point — they've got to play," veteran cornerback Charles Woodson said. "So, we look for those guys to be prepared come Thursday."


  • Monday's announcement by head coach Mike McCarthy that linebacker Aaron Kampman, as well as cornerback Al Harris, would miss the rest of the season because of a knee injury could spell the end of Kampman's eight-year career in Green Bay. Kampman is due to become an unrestricted free agent at season's end. His conversion from Pro Bowl defensive end to outside linebacker this year in the Packers' new 3-4 scheme has been bumpy, so Kampman might be tempted to look for a new home in 2010.

    "I would hope not," said McCarthy, when asked whether he thinks Kampman played his last game as a Packer in the 30-24 win over the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, when Kampman suffered his injury in the second half.

    "But, those are all questions for the future," McCarthy added. "Right now, we want to make sure that (Kampman and Harris) get the best care, just like we do for all of our players, and just make sure that we're part of their decisions and help them the best that we can. They've meant a lot to our organization. They've played a lot of football and have been great representatives of the Green Bay Packers, and we want to make sure they're taken care of."

  • With the Thanksgiving Day game at the Detroit Lions on the horizon Thursday, the Packers will be in hurry-up mode with their preparations.
    The players had Monday to recover from Sunday's game. They will have a full practice Tuesday, followed by an abbreviated workout Wednesday morning before departing for Detroit in the afternoon.

    "Our coaches have been here Thursday, Friday, Saturday (last week) and after the game Sunday getting ready for Detroit," McCarthy said. "So, we'll finalize our game planning throughout the day (Monday), and really Tuesday will be more like a combination of Wednesday and Thursday for us and we'll have a good plan for the Detroit Lions."

  • TE Jermichael Finley played in Sunday's 30-24 win over the San Francisco 49ers for the first time in four games after being out nearly a month with a knee sprain. Finley was active in the Packers' passing game. He had a game- and career-high seven catches for 54 yards.

  • C Scott Wells managed to make the start and play the whole way despite suffering a concussion that kept him out of practice late last week.

  • LB Brady Poppinga was activated Sunday after missing a game with a quadriceps injury.

  • RB Ahman Green didn't play in the game because of a strained groin that occurred late in the practice week.

  • OL Allen Barbre, who lost the starting job at right tackle after seven games, is sidelined indefinitely with an ankle sprain he suffered in practice Thursday.

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