Green Bay Packers: Sam Shields

Each week, readers are invited to submit questions about the Green Bay Packers via Twitter using the hashtag #PackersMail. As the Packers travel to South Florida today for Sunday's game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, let's address some of this week's hot topics:

Demovsky: After the way Jarrett Boykin played over the final 12 games last season, when he caught 49 passes for 681 yards and three touchdowns, it looked like the Packers had found another capable receiver. It might have even been one of the reasons they let James Jones leave in free agency. But Boykin followed that up with a mediocre training camp and was quickly bypassed for the No. 3 job by rookie Davante Adams even before Boykin missed three games midseason because of a groin injury. Still, he's been active for 11 games and has just three receptions for 23 yards. Boykin has refused all interview requests this season and did so again on Friday, so his explanation for what has gone wrong will have to wait. But receivers coach Edgar Bennett said this week that Boykin will "make the most of his opportunities when he gets in there," but the reality is Boykin hasn't earned much playing time, and his dropped pass that went for Aaron Rodgers' second interception last Sunday against the Bills won't help. However, Boykin's still likely to be active ahead of Jeff Janis because of his role on special teams, at least this season. But if the Packers were counting on Boykin for the future, they might have to reconsider.

Demovsky: I know Randall Cobb got everyone riled up this week when he said there have not been any talks between the Packers and his agent about a contract extension, but I'll go back to what I was told a month ago by a long-time NFL personnel man: Cobb is not the kind of player that GM Ted Thompson will let walk away. He's a young, homegrown talent on a draft-and-develop team. The negotiations could follow a similar path to the ones they had with cornerback Sam Shields last offseason, when they it took until right before free agency opened to get a deal done, but it would be a major surprise if it didn't get done.

Demovsky: Great question, and only Mike McCarthy truly knows the answer. He said early in the week that he thought they had good balance despite what the stat sheet showed. He also said he liked the matchups they had in the passing game and indicated that Aaron Rodgers did have a lot of run-pass option plays and went with the pass. McCarthy also said Rodgers' decision-making in those instances was spot on. Play-calling in the NFL is easy to question but difficult to do, but it was definitely a curious plan.

Demovsky: There's no question Letroy Guion has earned himself a job next season and probably for more money than the $985,000 he'll make this year as part of the one-year deal he signed last offseason. But it won't necessarily preclude the Packers from bringing back B.J. Raji. How many suitors will Raji have after missing the entire season because of the torn biceps tendon? There weren't any last season that were willing to offer him more than the one-year deal the Packers did. So unless the Packers feel Raji is now damaged goods, there's no reason not to bring him back on another one-year deal that almost certainly will be cheaper than the $3.7 million they paid him this year (Note: It was supposed to be a $4 million deal but $300,000 was in per-game roster bonuses).
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Randall Cobb talked more about his contract situation at his locker on Thursday than he has with the Green Bay Packers, apparently.

Cobb
Three months away from hitting free agency, the fourth-year receiver said he's no closer to getting a long-term deal done with the Packers than he was back in July, when he said he had not done enough to warrant an extension -- or at least not the kind of extension he wanted.

Here he is now, just four days after he surpassed the 1,000-yard receiving mark for the first time in a season, and little has changed for Cobb.

"There's no contract talks that have been going on right now, so I guess not," Cobb said during a lengthy session with reporters on Thursday. "I guess there's still more to do. So, just continue to put my nose down every day and focus on getting the team into the playoffs and doing everything I can to bring back the Super Bowl."

The Packers are expected to keep the Cobb-Jordy Nelson duo together, so perhaps general manager Ted Thompson is following a similar approach to the negotiations last season with cornerback Sam Shields, who signed a four-year, $39 million contract just a few hours after the negotiating window opened for free agents. Nelson, meanwhile, signed a similar contract extension in July.

Cobb admitted early in the season that the contract weighed on his mind as he got off to a slow start. Since Week 7, when Cobb caught six passes for 121 yards and a touchdown against the Carolina Panthers, he ranks eighth in the NFL in receiving yards and 13th in catches among all receivers. For the season, his 10 touchdowns ranks tied for eighth overall.

Yet he still thinks about his contract.

"I can't say I don't,” Cobb said.

But it doesn't bother him like it did early in the year.

"No, I'm still going to play football," he said.

Cobb has a strong support in his quarterback. On his ESPN Milwaukee radio show this week, Aaron Rodgers lobbied for Cobb's return.

"There's a lot of guys that embody what it means to be a Packer," Rodgers said on the show. "Over the years, there's been a number of guys who really just kind of bought into the Packer way of making it about the team and being a great locker room guy, being a guy you can count on every day to be a great teammate and a great practice player, and great in the community and take ownership of the responsibility to conduct yourself the right way. It's been fun to see a lot of those guys get paid and get second contracts and stick around, and Randall is one of those guys who's exactly what I was just talking about."

It's a sentiment that Cobb said he appreciated.

"You definitely hear from your teammate and friend, your quarterback," Cobb said. "It's a great feeling to hear that. He has that trust in me, and I'm just continuing to work for him and do the best I can for him."

And for himself and his contract.

"I am my biggest critic, I've always been my biggest critic [and] I'll always be my biggest critic," Cobb said. "So I still don't think I've earned what I'm trying to be. I've still got a lot of work to do. So I'm just taking it day by day and doing the best that I can to be the best that I can be for this team."
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Joe Whitt has an actual list, although he did not say whether it was handwritten or a printout, of receivers he considers studs. He keeps it in his office at Lambeau Field and uses it as one way to measure how the Green Bay Packers' cornerbacks, the position he has coached since 2009, perform against the NFL's elite.

[+] EnlargeJones
Benny Sieu/USA TODAY SportsJulio Jones had a career day Monday against the Packers, who remain confident in their cornerbacks.
Whitt said through 13 games this season there have been probably 18 receivers on his "stud list" -- yes, that's really what he calls it -- and only two have gone over 100 yards. One of those, however, topped the 200-yard mark, and it was Julio Jones' 11-catch, 259-yard game Monday night that was the last thing anyone remembers about the Packers' defense.

"We've done really well all year," Whitt said Thursday before pausing to calculate how many of those so-called stud receivers the Packers have faced this season.

"So is one half of football going to change the confidence level? The guy had a really good day. Everybody has career days at some point. Julio had his on us."

Jones already had 100 yards on five catches in the first half but with the Packers ahead of the Falcons 31-7, there was little concern. And then on the first play of the second half, Jones broke behind cornerback Tramon Williams for a 79-yard catch and run that broke the dyke. The Packers had to hang on for a 43-37 victory.

It wasn't until the coaches threw Davon House into the mix for the final 21 snaps in place of struggling starter Sam Shields that anyone could slow down Jones, who couldn't finish the game because of a hip injury after a collision with House in the end zone. House, who broke up the pass, also injured his shoulder on that play despite finishing the game but looks unlikely to play Sunday at Buffalo.

"None of us did good, other than House," Whitt said. "None of us. I didn't coach it well enough. We all equally took that career day from Julio. Everybody."

The Packers were ranked 11th in the NFL against the pass last week. As they prepare for the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, they rank 20th.

"The challenge is, we've got to get back on track," defensive coordinator Dom Capers said. "I feel like that was our poorest half since the bye week, but I feel like we can. They're very correctable errors, and we've got to find a way to make plays."

Veteran outside linebacker Julius Peppers doesn't see that as a problem.

"We'll be fine; we'll be fine," he repeated. "We had a bad half of football, and that's what it is. It's nothing more than that. The good thing is, there's no carryover to this game. We're going to start fast this game, and we're going to finish this game. Like I said, we'll be fine."

If it's a one-man wrecking crew like Jones that is worrisome as the playoffs approach, then the success the Packers have had against Whitt's list perhaps will calm the nerves. The only other "stud-list" receiver to light them up was Brandon Marshall, who caught eight passes for 112 yards and a touchdown but it came in the Packers' 55-14 route in Week 10.

The Packers have allowed only one other 100-yard game by a receiver, Philadelphia rookie Jordan Matthews, who isn't on Whitt’s list -- at least he wasn't at the time. Two tight ends (Chicago's Martellus Bennett and Carolina's Greg Olsen) also have gone over 100 yards against them this season.

But they're not done with Whitt's stud-list receivers yet. They face one this week, Buffalo Bills rookie Sammy Watkins.

"We've got some more," Whitt said. "This [number] 14 [Watkins], he's a player. Detroit has two [Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate]. Tampa, hell they have two [Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans]."
A roundup of what’s happening on the Green Bay Packers beat.

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Last year, the Packers did not have a single player elected to the Pro Bowl. Only Eddie Lacy, an alternate in the voting at running back, played in the game.

That's not likely to be the case this season.

With less than a week remaining in the fan portion of the voting, the Packers have four players among the leading selections at their respective positions.

They are:
  • Aaron Rodgers, who is second in the overall voting (also second among quarterbacks) behind Peyton Manning.
  • John Kuhn, the leading vote-getter at fullback.
  • Jordy Nelson, second at receiver behind Antonio Brown and eighth overall regardless of position.
  • Josh Sitton, the top vote-getter at guard.

Fan voting, which can be done here, concludes on Monday, and the Pro Bowl selections will be announced on Dec. 23. The selections will be determined by a consensus vote of the fans, players and coaches with each counting for one-third. Players and coaches will vote next week.

In all, 88 players will be selected. It's the second straight year they will be picked regardless of conference affiliation, and players will be divided via a draft shortly before the Jan. 25 game in Glendale, Arizona, which is also the site of the Super Bowl.

In case you missed it from ESPN.com: Best of the rest:
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Apparently no one wants to use the B-word around cornerback Sam Shields, but it would be far-fetched to call his early departure from Monday night's win over the Atlanta Falcons anything other than a benching.

Green Bay Packers Mike McCarthy called it a rotation, but that would have required Shields to re-enter the game. Instead, he watched the final 21 defensive plays from the sideline.

Davon House finish the game in his place, leaving Shields on the bench.

"There was a lot going through my head," Shields said Wednesday. "It was frustration. You don't want to be on the sideline. Coach made the decision. He made a good decision [to] put House in there. House made some great plays. I'll be ready for Buffalo."

It was a tough spot for Shields, who got only a few reps in practicing leading up to the game. Those snaps came the day before the game, when Shields was finally cleared from the concussion he sustained in the previous game against the New England Patriots. He had to treat pregame warmups like a mini-practice to make up for the all the time he missed during the week.

"I needed a couple reps," Shields said. "That probably would've helped out. It happens. I was in there. I got back on the field [and] that was the most important part."

Shields wasn't solely to blame for Julio Jones' 11-catch, 259-yard day. According to ProFootballFocus.com, Shields allowed three of Jones' catches for 66 yards, including a 22-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.

Even if House wasn't dealing with a shoulder injury, the Packers weren't planning to permanently bench Shields, their $39 million cornerback who signed a four-year contract in March. Shields was not listed on this week's injury report, while House missed practice Wednesday and might be a long shot to play Sunday at Buffalo.

"He's a young player, and he's our guy," McCarthy said of Shields on Tuesday.

Shields said it's a non-issue going forward.

"I talked to my coaches; we talked about it and moved on," he said. "But they weren't like, 'You're benched, you suck.' It wasn't like that. They felt it was time for House to get in there. They were being cautious about my head."
GREEN BAY, Wis. – The Green Bay Packers might be without the one cornerback who had some measure of success in coverage Monday against Falcons star Julio Jones.

Davon House replaced the struggling Sam Shields in the fourth quarter and came up with a pair of pass breakups against the Atlanta Falcons' star receiver during his 11-catch, 259-yard performance.

But it was on one of those breakups – a pass that House almost intercepted in the end zone on a second-and-6 play from the Packers’ 12-yard line with 7:19 remaining – when he got hurt. Jones' knee caught House on the back of his right shoulder. House was slow to get up after the play but remained in the game.

House did not practice Wednesday, and coach Mike McCarthy said he did not expect him to practice Thursday, either, leaving his status in doubt for Sunday's game against the Buffalo Bills. House said he was scheduled to undergo more tests.

"It's really all up in the air right now," House said Wednesday. "We'll see what happens when we get these tests back and go from there."

House has had shoulder problems in the past. He was on his way to winning a starting job in 2012 until he separated his left shoulder in a preseason game at San Diego and missed the first six games of the season.

House has been in and out of the lineup this season in various defensive packages.

"It's never good when you're hurt, especially when you get a chance to play and you do all right," House said.

Shields, who went into Monday's game questionable because of a concussion, was not listed on this week's injury report.

Here's the Packers full injury report:

Eddie Lacy back on practice field

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GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Mike McCarthy said Tuesday that he did not have a high level of concern over Eddie Lacy's hip injury and sure enough, the Green Bay Packers running back was good to go for practice Wednesday.

Although he appeared to be limited during the portion that was open to reporters, Lacy's participation bodes well for his chances of playing Sunday at the Buffalo Bills.

Lacy could not finish Monday night's game against the Atlanta Falcons because of the fourth-quarter injury.

However, cornerback Davon House, who replaced Sam Shields late in the game, was not taking part in practice. Shields, who missed most of practice last week because of a concussion, was practicing Wednesday. House watched practice in sweats. There was no immediate word of his injury.

The full report will be available after practice, but the only other players not participating were guard Josh Sitton (toe) and linebacker Jamari Lattimore (ankle).
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- If you were in search of a detailed explanation for why the Green Bay Packers' defense unraveled in Monday night's 43-37 win over the Atlanta Falcons, then coach Mike McCarthy's news conference on Tuesday was the wrong place to look.

"I'll tell you what, I'm not going to sit here and talk about defense all day," McCarthy said Tuesday. "We're on to Buffalo. That's where we are. We'll have time to correct our things tomorrow with our players, and we'll learn from it. And, obviously, you always want to make corrections after a win."

[+] EnlargeJulio Jones
AP Photo/Tom LynnThe Packers' Sam Shields mostly struggled in trying to cover Atlanta's Julio Jones on Monday night.
That's not to say McCarthy is burying his head instead of taking a long, critical look at the film after Atlanta's Julio Jones had the best game ever by a receiver against a Packers defense with 259 yards and a touchdown on 11 catches.

He just had no interest in rehashing it.

And because of the short turnaround following the Monday night game, the man in charge of the defense, Dom Capers, and the other Packers coordinators did not hold their usual day-after-game sessions with reporters. That will have to wait until Thursday.

The only detail McCarthy provided was that he believes they did change coverages in response to a question about why they did not commit more defenders to stopping Jones.

"It isn't like we played one coverage," McCarthy said. "Hey, they had a big day. Julio had a huge night. They got hot in the second half. I think you first have to give the Falcons credit. They're a very good offense. Winning in December is important, and winning in December is difficult."

And for that, McCarthy saw no need to apologize.

But in their film sessions and game-planning meetings in advance of this Sunday's game at the Buffalo Bills, the coaches will have to find answers for where things went wrong.

Things went downhill for Capers' unit from the outset of the second half, when Jones caught a 79-yard pass on the Falcons' first play from scrimmage of the third quarter.

Cornerback Sam Shields, who practiced only one day last week after sustaining a concussion against the New England Patriots, spent most of his time trying to cover Jones until the Packers finally pulled him after 45 snaps in favor of Davon House, who fared much better while playing the final 22 snaps.

McCarthy said Shields did not have another injury and that the change was part of a predetermined rotation, but Shields never played another snap after he gave way to House, who was credited with two pass breakups against Jones (who couldn't finish the game because of a hip injury).

Maybe the Packers should have yanked Shields earlier, when it became evident he was not on top of his game.

"I thought he obviously wanted to be out there Monday night [and] appreciate him being there," McCarthy said of Shields. "He's a young player, and he's our guy."
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Green Bay Packers' secondary will be at full strength for "Monday Night Football."

Shields
Cornerback Sam Shields passed the concussion protocol and will play against the Atlanta Falcons at Lambeau Field.

Shields, who sustained a concussion early in last Sunday's game against the New England Patriots, did not practice all week but on Saturday coach Mike McCarthy seemed optimistic that Shields had a chance to be cleared.

The Packers made a roster move on Monday, when they placed defensive tackle Luther Robinson on injured reserve and signed defensive tackle Bruce Gaston. However, Gaston, a rookie from Purdue who was signed off the Arizona Cardinals' practice squad, was declared inactive.

Here's the full inactive list for the Packers:
A roundup of what's happening on the Green Bay Packers beat.

GREEN BAY, Wis. – When the calendar turns to December, NFL teams start opening up their record books.

It's the time of the year when season milestones are reached and records are set.

Monday night's game against the Atlanta Falcons at Lambeau Field will provide several members of the Packers the chance to enter their names into the books.

Consider the following:
  • Aaron Rodgers, making his 100th career start, needs one more three-touchdown/zero-interception game to tie the NFL record for most of those in one season. Tom Brady, with eight, set the mark in 2007.
  • Nelson
    If Jordy Nelson, who has four games this season with at least nine catches, has one more such game, it would be the most in a single season in team history.
  • Randall Cobb needs just 78 yards receiving to give the Packers their first 1,000-yard receiving duo in a season since 2009 (Greg Jennings had 1,113 and Donald Driver had 1,061). Nelson went over the 1,000-yard receiving mark last Sunday against the Patriots.
  • A victory would tie coach Mike McCarthy with Vince Lombardi for the second-most overall wins (98, including regular season and playoffs) in team history.

The last item on that list might get the most publicity, given the gravity of the Lombardi name in Green Bay and the NFL, but don't expect McCarthy to spend any time thinking about it.

"Last I checked, it's December," McCarthy said this past week. "I'm just thinking about today."

In case you missed it from ESPN.com: Best of the rest:
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Sam Shields still has time to make it through the concussion protocol, so the Green Bay Packers have not ruled their starting cornerback out of Monday night's game against the Atlanta Falcons.

Officially, the Packers listed him as questionable on Saturday's injury report.

Shields
"The medical staff has told me he still has a chance to play," coach Mike McCarthy said Saturday. "He'll be given the opportunity to play in the game if everything goes right."

The Packers did not practice on Saturday, but if they did, Shields would not have taken part. They will hold their final practice of the week on Sunday morning.

"Sam Shields is a starter, so I'm going to give him every opportunity to play," McCarthy said.

Shields was injured in the first half of last Sunday's win against the New England Patriots. Davon House replaced him and finished the game. He would start along with Tramon Williams if Shields isn’t cleared. Cornerback is perhaps the Packers' deepest position on defense, which bodes well against Falcons receivers Julio Jones and Roddy White.

White, however, was listed as questionable on the Falcons injury report, although he insisted he will play.

Safety Micah Hyde has been a fixture into the nickel spot, and cornerback Casey Hayward has been settled into the dime spot.

"It's definitely a very good receiving group," McCarthy said. "We've been practicing all week without Sam, so Davon, Casey and Tramon, they'll be ready to go."

Defensive tackle Mike Daniels, who hasn't practiced all week because of a sore back, looks on track to play.

Here's the full injury report:

Out
LB Jamari Lattimore (ankle)
DE Luther Robinson (calf)

Questionable
CB Shields (concussion)

Probable
DT Josh Boyd (knee)
DT Daniels (back)
G T.J. Lang (ankle)
OLB Nick Perry (shoulder)
G Josh Sitton (toe)
G Lane Taylor (illness)
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Green Bay Packers aren't counting out Sam Shields just yet for Monday night's game against the Atlanta Falcons but given that the starting cornerback still hasn't cleared the concussion protocol, they are facing the prospect of playing without him.

Shields
That's something they've done twice already this season: In Week 7 against the Carolina Panthers and in Week 8 against the New Orleans Saints.

With Shields sidelined because of a knee injury, the results were mixed.

"One good and one not so good," Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers said Friday.

And the difference might have been the difference in the caliber of receivers between the Panthers and the Saints. Carolina threw for just 248 yards and no receiver caught more than three passes. Saints quarterback Drew Brees put up 311 yards and hit on several big plays down the field.

There was another difference in those two games. Safety Morgan Burnett also missed the Saints game because of a calf injury.

"So you had two of your starters that were gone there," Capers said. "You don't like that. You hope not to have one of them out, but we're fortunate to have good depth."

The Packers managed to hold up OK when Shields left Sunday's win over the New England Patriots after just 10 snaps. Davon House replaced him in the base defense, while Micah Hyde and Casey Hayward manned their usual spots in the nickel and dime packages, respectively.

"Davon House went in and did a good job," Capers said. "You've seen Casey Hayward and Micah and we've had a number of guys that have had to step in, and that's one of the advantages of having some depth in the secondary. In this day and age, if you don't have depth in the secondary you can have big problems in a hurry just because you've got to match up with all these good wide receivers that you're going against."

Shields was at Lambeau Field on Friday but did not practice. All coach Mike McCarthy would say is that Shields is still going through the concussion protocol.

"I think as we all know, you're either in it or not," McCarthy said. "He's making progress."

With the Monday night game, the Packers don't have to make their official injury designations -- out, doubtful, questionable or probable -- until Saturday.

Here's the full injury report:
  • DT Josh Boyd (knee, limited participation in practice)
  • DT Mike Daniels (back, did not practice)
  • G T.J. Lang (ankle, limited participation)
  • LB Jamari Lattimore (ankle, did not practice)
  • LB Nick Perry (shoulder, limited participation)
  • CB Sam Shields (concussion, did not practice)
  • G Josh Sitton (toe, limited participation)
  • G Lane Taylor (illness, did not practice)
GREEN BAY, Wis. – On Thursday, Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy called defensive tackle Mike Daniels day to day with a sore back.

Apparently one day wasn't enough for him to return.

Daniels sat out practice again on Friday. However, there's still plenty of time for Daniels to recover in time to play on Monday night against the Atlanta Falcons.

The Packers were without another defensive starter on Friday. Cornerback Sam Shields (concussion) still has not returned.

Backup linebacker Jamari Lattimore (ankle) also did not practice. Backup guard Lane Taylor also was not seen at practice during the portion that was open to reporters. He was not previously listed on the injury report.

The Packers were in full pads on Friday, using one of their three allotted padded practices after Week 11.
GREEN BAY, Wis. – As well as Mike Daniels has played lately, the Green Bay Packers should hope the sore back that kept the defensive tackle out of practice on Thursday isn't problematic.

That was the indication from coach Mike McCarthy, who called it "a day-to-day thing."

Daniels is coming off perhaps his best stretch of the season. In his last two games, he has 1.5 sacks and six tackles. He and outside linebacker Mike Neal combined for the fourth-quarter sack of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady that essentially clinched Sunday's victory.

McCarthy also said cornerback Sam Shields was still going through the concussion protocol. Shields left Sunday's game in the first half and did not return.

Thursday was the first on-field session since the win over the Patriots; McCarthy gave the players three straight days off before preparations began for Monday night's game against the Atlanta Falcons. Despite listing seven players on the injury report, McCarthy said he thought the team was refreshed after the mini-break.

"Hell, they'd better be; they got an extra day off, three days," McCarthy said after Thursday's practice. "It was good. Practice was good today."

Here's the full injury report:
  • DT Josh Boyd (knee, did not practice)
  • DT Mike Daniels (back, did not practice)
  • G T.J. Lang (ankle, limited participation)
  • LB Jamari Lattimore (ankle, did not practice)
  • OLB Nick Perry (shoulder, limited participation)
  • CB Sam Shields (concussion, did not practice)
  • G Josh Sitton (toe, limited participation)
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The absence of cornerback Sam Shields at Thursday's practice was to be expected since he's still going through the concussion protocol, but two other key defensive players were surprise spectators as the Green Bay Packers got back to work.

Defensive tackle Mike Daniels and defensive end Josh Both were non-participants during the portion of practice that was open to reporters. Both finished Sunday's game against the New England Patriots without any apparent injuries. In fact, Daniels shared the sack of Tom Brady on the Packers' final defensive play of the game. Shields did not finish the game after leaving in the first half because of a concussion.

Backup linebacker Jamari Lattimore (ankle) was the only other player not practicing. Lattimore left Sunday's game in the second half and did not return.

Guards T.J. Lang (ankle) and Josh Sitton (toe), who have been on a restricted practice plan since their injuries six weeks ago, both took part.

It was the first day back at work since the Patriots' game. Coach Mike McCarthy gave the players off until Thursday because they have an extra day this week in advance of Monday night's game against the Atlanta Falcons at Lambeau Field.

The full injury report will be available after practice.

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