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The dots are all set to be connected. Hard-hitting safety Atari Bigby is expected to return Sunday for Green Bay. The opponent is Tennessee, a team that averages 145 rushing yards per game.
Will Bigby simply slide back into a position he vacated six weeks ago after severely straining his hamstring? Replacement Aaron Rouse is also a physical presence at 6-foot-4 and 223 pounds and has filled in well overall. Rouse, in fact, was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week earlier this month for his strong all-around performance Oct. 19 against Indianapolis.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy said both players were working with the first-team defense. But it will be interesting to see whether defensive coordinator Bob Sanders can capitalize on his newly flexible personnel situation to maximize the playing time of the Packers' run-stopping safeties -- especially considering their otherwise spotty run defense this season.
Is there a way to use Bigby or Rouse as a hybrid linebacker? McCarthy didn't address that possibility but acknowledged the role of each player in run defense.
"It's great to have [Bigby] back," McCarthy said. "Aaron has played well in his absence and we have some flexibility there."
Bigby was used as a quasi-linebacker earlier in his career but cautioned against placing too many expectations on his return.
"This is football," he said, "and it's always good to have a physical guy to come out there and lay [out] some bit hits. ... [But] I'm not Superman or nothing. I'm not going to go out there and ultimate-warrior or bench-press LenDale White."
Just keeping White and teammate Chris Johnson under wraps would be fine with the Packers.