The Green Bay Packers took the practice field for the second time this week, and after having a long list of inactives on Monday, the team appeared a little healthier today.
After suffering a concussion early in week three’s loss in Cincinnati, Jermichael Finley cleared the NFL’s concussion protocol early Tuesday and was a full participant in practice today. This is good news for the Packers.
Finley brings an added dynamic to the Green Bay offense. This dynamic was missing in the loss against Cincinnati. Finley forces opposing defenses to account for him over the middle of the field, which can open things up in both the running game and on the outside for receivers like James Jones and Jordy Nelson. Finley could present potential matchup problems for the Detroit linebackers and safeties.
The Packers also got back fullback John Kuhn and veteran defensive back Jarrett Bush, who were both dealing with hamstring injuries. Bush’s value as a special teams contributor can’t go understated. He also serves well as an emergency corner or safety on defense.
Kuhn’s return is huge for Green Bay this week. The Packers already began this week thin in the backfield with James Starks out and Eddie Lacy and Jonathan Franklin both coming off injuries. Green Bay even signed undrafted rookie running back Michael Hill off the practice squad to add some depth to the running back position.
However, with Kuhn returning and having a good chance to play Sunday, the Packers will most likely stick with the veteran fullback as their third-down back to ensure solid pass protection for Aaron Rodgers. Franklin may get a few looks in this role, as well, but Kuhn is still the Packers’ best back at picking up the blitz and calling out protection audibles.
In other Packers’ injury news, Coach McCarthy already ruled out Starks and second-year cornerback Casey Hayward for the week. McCarthy said Starks could miss a couple of weeks yet with the knee injury, and Hayward is still going through some tests and will need at least one more week for his hamstring to fully heal.
On a positive note, Clay Matthews‘ chances for playing Sunday slightly increased after today’s practice. Matthews completely sat out of Monday’s practice, and it initially appeared that the Packers’ star outside linebacker would sit out this week against Detroit. However, Matthews did participate in practice today on a limited basis.
This is encouraging news, but it’s still way too early in the week to make any final determinations on his status for Sunday. It appears the Packers are testing to see how Matthews’ hamstring holds up after running a few drills. It will really depend on how his hamstring responds in the following few days from the limited action on whether he’ll be ready to play or not against Detroit.
At least Matthews is moving around on the hamstring a bit. Meaning the injury isn’t too serious, and even if he sits out this week, his chances to start against the Ravens in Baltimore in week six looks good.
We’ll continue providing updates for you on the Packers’ injuries leading up to their divisional game against the Detroit Lions on Sunday.
Stay tuned . . .