GREEN BAY—As a youngster growing up in Georgia, Packers safety Morgan Burnett rarely saw snow, but when he did, it was immediately time to grab the football.
“We were quick to run outside and play in it,” Burnett said. “If we do get snow, it’ll be like I’m a little kid going back outside.”
The Packers are prepared for the possibility of multiple inches blanketing Lambeau Field either before or during their Sunday night game against Detroit. With temperatures predicted to be in the low to mid-30s, it’s also possible a rain and snow mix could fall.
Given the choice, the Packers would prefer snow. Mike McCarthy even said on Friday that he hopes it snows. The team hasn’t played in a true “white-out” game since the 2007 NFC Divisional playoff against Seattle (pictured).
“The weather can get a little shaky up here in December, but that’s exciting,” fullback John Kuhn said. “We all like to go out there and play in the snow. It reminds us of the ‘Turkey Bowl’ you used to play when you were a kid in high school. So we’re all pretty jacked up about it.”
It would be fitting should running back Ryan Grant make his Green Bay return in the snow. Grant set Packers playoff rushing records with 201 yards and three touchdowns in the famous Seattle game. McCarthy said Alex Green would start at running back, but Grant, who was brought in this week to fortify the position due to James Starks’ knee injury, will play in the game.
The Packers may need reinforcements on both lines by Sunday night as well.
Offensive lineman T.J. Lang did return to practice on Friday but on a very limited basis. McCarthy said he didn’t expect Lang to practice, and the team has been planning all week to have undrafted rookie Don Barclay start at right tackle.
It’s possible Lang, who is officially listed as questionable, could be active for the game as an emergency backup. If Lang is unavailable entirely, one possibility would be to promote rookie tackle Andrew Datko from the practice squad to the active roster as insurance.
The defensive line could be perilously thin, too. Defensive end Mike Neal is doubtful with a shoulder injury, and with C.J. Wilson (knee) ruled out for the second straight week, the Packers have only four healthy defensive linemen. First-year player Jordan Miller is currently on the practice squad and could be elevated for depth.
There was concern Neal’s latest injury might have ended his season, but that doesn’t appear to be the case.
“The news was good news based on what you fear,” McCarthy said of Neal, who has had significant shoulder troubles before. “But he’s not going very well today as far as testing.
“We’re going to give both T.J. and Mike Neal every chance to play in the game. We’ll probably know more tomorrow, and we’ll have to react to that tomorrow to make the roster move if needed.”
Cornerback Sam Shields (ankle) is probable and expected to play for the first time since Week 6, but receiver Jordy Nelson (hamstring), linebacker Clay Matthews (hamstring) and defensive back Charles Woodson (collarbone) are all out.
Woodson, who hasn’t played since Week 7, returned to practice this week and did some work in pads on Thursday, but his return is targeted for next week. Matthews will miss his fourth straight game and has yet to practice since injuring his hamstring right before the bye week.
“He’s been close every week,” McCarthy said. “Closer, closest? We’re getting close. He feels good about it.
“I think it’s real important for Clay, no different with Charles, that when we do bring those guys back, it’s not potentially just a one-week situation. We’re trying to do everything we can medically, and ultimately you’re talking about veteran players who know their bodies better than anybody. We’re conscious of the long-term here.” Additional coverage - Dec. 7