Despite giving a few signs earlier in the week that his team might go full throttle after 15-1, Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy confirmed Friday that the Packers will play it safe with a good chunk of his starters, including quarterback Aaron Rodgers, against the Detroit Lions.
Several key players dealing with lingering dings will be held out on Sunday.
Receiver/returner Randall Cobb (groin), running back James Starks (ankle) and receiver Greg Jennings (knee) were all ruled out for Sunday, and tackle Bryan Bulaga (knee) is doubtful.
Both Charles Woodson and Clay Matthews are questionable. The duo are both healthy, but each could be a scratch on Sunday to save them from any additional wear-and-tear. McCarthy said that both will be evaluated tomorrow morning regarding their playing status for Sunday.
On the issue of how much quarterback Aaron Rodgers will play, however, McCarthy was mostly mute. He said the decision to start Rodgers was still under review as of today. However, McCarthy did proclaim a want to play all three quarterbacks on Sunday, which gives credence to the idea that Rodgers won’t see much of the field. Matt Flynn should see extensive action, and Graham Harrell could get some late snaps.
It appears as if the Packers will get a chance to take an extended look at left tackle Chad Clifton, as he is listed as probable after practicing the entire week without a set back. Clifton hasn’t played or practiced since Week 5 after tearing his hamstring against the Atlanta Falcons. McCarthy has said all week how important it was to see Clifton in live action, and they should get that opportunity on Sunday.
Tight end Jermichael Finley (knee) and Ryan Pickett (concussion) were also listed as probable.
As long as no flare-ups occur between now and Sunday, Finley will almost surely play. With both Cobb and Jennings out, expect to see a big dose of the Packers four tight ends on Sunday to cover the lack of depth that they have at the receiver position. Rookies D.J. Williams and Ryan Taylor should both see their highest snap totals of the season.
Also, the Packers have practiced with both Jordy Nelson and Tramon Williams at returner this week. Pat Lee might also see some work returning kicks.
UPDATE: ESPN Milwaukee’s Jason Wilde tweeted tonight that Pat Lee will return kicks, with Sam Shields potentially taking the punts.——————
Zach Kruse is a 23-year-old sports journalist with a passion for the Green Bay Packers. He currently lives in Wisconsin and is working on his journalism degree, while also covering prep sports for The Dunn Co. News.
You can read more of Zach's Packers articles on AllGreenBayPackers.com.Follow @zachkruse2