GREEN BAY—Josh Sitton is glad he doesn’t have a four-hour flight to take before Sunday’s game this week.
“Yeah, you gotta love these home noon games,” said Sitton, the Packers’ starting left guard whose lower back began to bother him on the Packers’ West Coast flight to San Francisco last Saturday.
He made it through the 49ers game – albeit with three frustrating penalties in the second quarter, not all of which he and his coaches agreed with – but his back kept him out of practice until Thursday this week.
Sitton did practice on a limited basis both Thursday and Friday, and the lack of travel bodes well for his chances to play, though he’s listed on the injury report as questionable for Sunday vs. Washington.
“I thought Josh looked good today,” Head Coach Mike McCarthy said following Friday’s practice. “Hopefully, he comes in here tomorrow and has progressed the way he has the last couple of days.”
A durable player who has missed only two games since becoming a starter in 2009, Sitton wasn’t going to guarantee he’d play, even as good as he felt after taking his Friday practice reps. The back has been somewhat unpredictable.
“It hurts a pretty good bit of the time. Sometimes it locks up and spasms,” he said. “It comes and goes, but it feels a lot better than it did a few days ago.
“If I feel like I can play, I’ll play.”
If he can’t, McCarthy said earlier this week that Marshall Newhouse would be the next man in on the offensive line. Newhouse has played solely tackle the past two years, so most likely Newhouse would play right tackle with Don Barclay taking over for Sitton at left guard. Newhouse would be an option at guard, too.
Two other Packers – safety Morgan Burnett and cornerback/special teamer Jarrett Bush – are also questionable, both with hamstring injuries. Bush didn’t practice at all on Friday.
Burnett, who was limited in all three workouts this week, is in better shape than at this time last week, but if he can’t play for the second straight game, undrafted rookie Chris Banjo could be worked into the safety rotation along with M.D. Jennings and Jerron McMillian. McCarthy declared Banjo ready after he played mostly on special teams and saw only three snaps on defense in Week 1.
“I have to be able to do my job regardless. I have to be ready,” said Banjo, who among the defensive backs has had the least amount of time in the playbook, having been signed a few days after training camp started.
“Good week of progress, day by day just continuing to build on knowing the plays and starting to anticipate stuff. It’s getting there. Still not where I want it to be, but it’s getting there.”
Also on the injury report, tight end Jermichael Finley (toe) and outside linebacker Nick Perry (neck stinger) are both probable for the game, which will feature the regular-season debut of Lambeau Field’s new South End Zone.
The towering addition, nicknamed the “Wall of Sound,” includes 7,000 new outdoor seats, which are expected to increase the noise level in the stadium considerably. It was difficult to gauge the change in volume during the preseason, when the stadium was not filled to capacity, but several players said then they felt the stadium was louder.
“Anytime you get more Packers fans in the building, it always helps,” cornerback Tramon Williams said. “There’s no doubt in my mind it will be a great environment for football.
“Anytime you get a crowd behind you, you always want to feed off the energy. That’s one of the (reasons) why we play well at home.” Additional coverage - Sept. 13