GREEN BAY – The Packers returned from the bye week a considerably healthier team, with their entire offense and most of their defensive starters participating in Tuesday’s practice.
That group included left guard Lane Taylor (ankle) and safety Morgan Burnett (hamstring), a positive sign after neither practiced nor played in Week 7 against the New Orleans Saints.
“Lane is doing better. He’ll start with the rehab group today,” said Head Coach Mike McCarthy during his pre-practice news conference Thursday. “We’re getting close to being fully healthy as a team.”
If Burnett is cleared to play Monday against Detroit, it would be boost for the Packers on several fronts. Along with what Burnett provides as a hybrid defender, the eighth-year veteran has worn the communication headset this season.
McCarthy has praised Burnett all year for the job he’s done relaying calls from defensive coordinator Dom Capers and confirmed he’ll reassume that role once he’s back on the field.
Fellow safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix has filled that role since Burnett tweaked his hamstring last month in Dallas.
“Morgan, he’s the most experienced player on defense – he and Clay (Matthews) and Nick Perry are the guys who have been here,” McCarthy said. “He’s the key communicator. We made that change this year and it’s probably the best it’s been.
“Communication is important because you want to get lined up and you want to play. You want to dial into what they’re doing. When that’s not intact, you’re obviously not playing as fast as you can.”
McCarthy said he likes what he’s seen from Vince Biegel, though the rookie linebacker remains on the physically unable to perform list after practicing for the first time during the week before the bye.
If the Packers choose to activate Biegel in the next week, they have a spot available on their 53-man roster after the release of defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois Wednesday.
“Vince looks good,” McCarthy said. “He’s obviously excited about being out there, but I’m more focused on getting him practicing today and getting re-acclimated, and also getting his second padded practice of the year (Friday). So he’s working.”