Left guard Daryn Colledge missed practice with a knee sprain while defensive end Ryan Pickett was limited with a tight hamstring. Head Coach Mike McCarthy said he was “concerned” about Colledge, because the fifth-year pro rarely misses practice. Meanwhile, he didn’t sound overly alarmed about Pickett, who experienced some tightness and was taken out.
Colledge got tangled up with nose tackle B.J. Raji during a screen drill in Thursday’s practice and was given Friday off. With left tackle Chad Clifton’s status still uncertain due to a balky knee, it throws an even bigger question mark out there regarding the left side of the Packers’ line for Monday night’s game in Chicago.
The good news is Clifton was a full participant in Friday’s full-pads practice, and McCarthy commented that he liked what he saw and that Clifton felt good after practice. Colledge then told reporters that he doesn’t plan on missing any additional time.
“I think the concern is more getting me ready for the game,” Colledge said. “Did going out there and pushing it today outweigh the opportunity to go play this Monday, and I think the game is more important at this point to the coaches. I’ve got a lot of practices in, so I think I’m ready to go. I’m going to practice tomorrow and I expect to be out there Monday.”
Rookie first-round draft pick Bryan Bulaga is the top backup at both left tackle and left guard, so he has been working at both spots to be ready in case either Clifton or Colledge can’t play. In the event both are unable to play, McCarthy didn’t say which position Bulaga would take, but he would presumably play left tackle because the Packers also have Jason Spitz as a backup at any of the three inside positions (center, left or right guard).
But even with all the uncertainty, it’s not a longshot by any stretch that Clifton and Colledge will both start and keep intact the offensive line with which the Packers began the season. Playing status for all injured players (doubtful, questionable, probable) will be declared following Saturday’s practice.
Colledge has never missed a game in his career, dating all the way back to his redshirt freshman season at Boise State in 2002. His streak of consecutive games played is now at 121 – 52 college games, 66 NFL regular-season games, and three playoff contests – and while Colledge wouldn’t risk his health or the team’s chances by playing just to keep the streak alive, it is a run of durability that he takes pride in.
“It means something to me in the fact that I feel like I need to be out there to support the guys,” he said. “I feel like right now I earned my job at left guard, I feel like I’m playing pretty well, and I need to continue that. We’ve got improvements that we need to make as an offensive line, and I need to be a part of that. I need to be out getting my work and getting my games in.”
As for the defensive line, Pickett is the third player from that unit now on the injury report, in addition to defensive ends Cullen Jenkins (broken hand) and Mike Neal (side/rib). Jenkins was a full participant on Friday and continues to play and practice with a club cast.
Neal, however, did not practice on Friday after doing most of the work in Thursday’s non-padded workout. McCarthy said Neal “took a step backwards” in his recovery, and it appears the rookie second-round draft pick’s chances of making his NFL debut Monday night are slim. Neal has been out since straining some muscles near his rib cage prior to the season opener.
Possible debut on tap
One rookie who could make his NFL debut on Monday is tight end Andrew Quarless. With fellow tight end Tom Crabtree (arch) sitting out practice on Friday, Quarless could be in line to be active on gameday for the first time.
A fifth-round draft pick from Penn State, Quarless admitted he didn’t even know prior to the season opener that the active roster is reduced from 53 to 45 players on gameday. But dressing in street clothes for the first two games has provided some motivation, and he feels he’s ready to play.
“It was definitely a reality check (being inactive),” he said. “It just made me work harder. I’m here to be available when they need me. When they call my number, I have to take advantage of it.”
During the preseason, Quarless had seven receptions for 63 yards, including an 11-yard TD. Considered a raw but athletic prospect with the ability to be a downfield threat like Jermichael Finley, Quarless got off to a slow start in training camp but caught the attention of the coaches over the final two weeks of the preseason, and now he will need to pick up where he left off.
“The thing with the NFL is just being available,” Quarless said. “Anybody goes down you have to be mentally prepared, physically prepared. That’s what we do in practice.”
Day of anticipation
Creatures of habit like anyone else, professional football players would prefer on gamedays to roll out of bed, head to the stadium, strap on the pads and get ready to play. Monday night games mess with that routine a little bit, to say the least.
“We don’t like it,” guard Josh Sitton said. “We like the early games. We like to get up and play. It’s tough sitting around the hotel. You get stiff a little bit. But it’s what you’ve got to deal with.
“Monday night game, that pressure tends to build up all day, but then you get to go let loose at 7:30, so it will be fun at 7:30.”
The Packers shifted their usual Wednesday-through-Friday practice schedule to Thursday-through-Saturday for the Monday night game. The team will head to Chicago on Sunday afternoon, fly back after the game and then have just one day off on Tuesday before preparation begins anew for the home game against Detroit in Week 4.
“As much fun as it is for the fans, it’s a tough schedule on the players, because you’re waiting around all day at the hotel, and it turns into a short week (for the next game),” quarterback Aaron Rodgers said.
“It’s a long preparation week, and by the time you get to Sunday and you’re watching other teams play, you’re just ready to get out on the field and get your game started. It’s definitely a long week, but it’s something that we all look forward to. When the lights come on it’s a special feeling. We know the country is watching. It’s a great opportunity for us to show not only the Bears and their fans but hopefully the rest of the league what we’re all about.”
More on injuries/participation
With Colledge, Pickett and safety Charlie Peprah (quad, did not participate) added to the injury report, Green Bay’s list now has 15 players. But including Clifton and Jenkins, six players were full participants in Friday’s full-pads workout.
The other full participants were linebackers Desmond Bishop (hamstring) and Clay Matthews (hamstring), safety Derrick Martin (ankle) and cornerback Brandon Underwood (shoulder).
Among those limited were linebackers Brad Jones (knee) and Brady Poppinga (knee), and cornerback Charles Woodson (toe), while fullback Korey Hall (hip) sat out.
For the Bears, linebacker Lance Briggs (ankle) was upgraded from did not participate to a limited participant on Friday, while fellow linebacker Nick Roach (hamstring) was upgraded from limited to full.
Defensive end Israel Idonije (foot) and linebacker Brian Iwuh (quad) both remained limited, while tackle Chris Williams (hamstring) and safety Major Wright (hamstring) continued to sit out.
Additional coverage – Sept. 24