NFC North: Andy Mulumba

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Several times since training camp opened, Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy has praised his offensive line.

There was his proclamation on the eve of camp that it has the potential to be the best line in his tenure as head coach. He also had a statement this week that the line has been the consistent position group in practice.

If that's the case, then he also should feel good about his pass rushers because the latest data from the one-on-one pass blocking/pass rushing drill shows the defensive players are more than holding their own.

Last year, offensive linemen won 73 percent of the one-on-one reps. In 2012, their winning percentage was 75 percent. This year, the offense has won just 65 percent of the reps.

Last summer, Mike Daniels had the best mark among the defensive players at 16-16. Through two weeks of practice this year, the defensive tackle is even better at 9-6. Ten defensive players currently have a .500 record or better.

Defensive players occupy eight of the top-10 spots in our "Block Rating" category, a mark (explained below) developed by researcher Luke Stanke, a Green Bay native and graduate student at the University of Minnesota who has aided in statistical analysis of this drill in recent years.

The chart below shows the latest records and ratings.
 

It's interesting to note:
  • The number of reps in this drill already has surpassed the total from all of camp last summer. They have been 180 turns so far. In all of camp last year, there were 140. In 2012, there were just 103. It's clear the coaches like this drill as evaluation tool.
  • Perhaps the biggest surprise so far has been second-year outside linebacker Nate Palmer. After going 2-5 in the drill last summer as a rookie, Palmer is 5-2 and ranks third in the block rating.
  • The Packers have had success finding outside linebackers among their rookie free-agent class over the years, and Toledo's Jayrone Elliott could be following in the footsteps of Frank Zombo, Vic So’oto and Andy Mulumba. Elliott is 5-5 with wins over Derek Sherrod (twice), Don Barclay (twice) and Bryan Bulaga.
  • With Barclay lost for the season with a knee injury, it increases guard Lane Taylor's chances of making the team. The Packers are likely to keep at least eight offensive linemen, and Taylor ranks sixth overall among them.
  • JC Tretter has taken every rep as the starting center but in this drill, he is in a virtual tie with rookie backup Corey Linsley.
  • Guard Josh Sitton has not taken a rep in this drill since last Thursday even though he has been a regular participant in practice. He said he wants to ease the wear and tear on his back.
Examining the Green Bay Packers' roster:

Quarterbacks (3)
The Packers have not kept three quarterbacks on their opening-day roster since 2008, but they might be inclined to do so this season in order to avoid a situation like last year, when Rodgers broke his collarbone. Coach Mike McCarthy is high on Tolzien, who made two starts last season, but Flynn has proved he can win as a backup in Green Bay.

Running backs (4)

The return of Harris, who missed all of last season because of a knee injury, gives the Packers insurance behind Lacy and Starks. Kuhn is valuable both as a fullback and on special teams. It's possible they'll keep a fourth halfback, but the loss of Johnathan Franklin to a career-ending neck injury has left them without a strong in-house candidate for that spot.

Receivers (6)

The Packers often keep only five receivers, but given that they drafted three -- Adams (second round), Abbrederis (fifth round) and Janis (seventh round) -- there's a good chance they will keep six. Abbrederis and Janis will not only have to show they're better prospects than second-year pros Myles White and Chris Harper, but they also could help themselves if they can return kicks.

Tight ends (4)

McCarthy likes tight ends (he has kept five before), and the wild card is undrafted rookie Colt Lyerla.

Offensive linemen (8)

The Packers typically only activate seven offensive linemen on game day, so they can get away with keeping just eight on the roster. Barclay's ability to play all five positions also allows them some freedom. Lane Taylor could be the ninth lineman if they go that route.

Defensive line (7)

Worthy and Guion have work to do to make the roster, but there's room for them if you count Julius Peppers and Mike Neal among the outside linebackers, which is where they lined up more often in the offseason.

Linebackers (8)

There will be some tough cuts here. Second-year pros Nate Palmer and Andy Mulumba both played last year as rookie outside linebackers. It also may be tough for highly touted undrafted rookie Adrian Hubbard to make it.

Cornerbacks (6)

Hayward's return from last season's hamstring injury means he likely will return as the slot cornerback in the nickel package, a role played last year by Micah Hyde (who may primarily play safety this year).

Safeties (4)

The major question here is whether Hyde or Clinton-Dix will be the starter alongside Burnett. Chris Banjo, who played primarily on special teams last season, might be the odd man out.

Specialists (3)

There's no competition at any of these spots.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- When ESPN's three days of live draft coverage finally goes off the air Saturday evening, 256 players will have been drafted.

But player acquisition will be far from over.

In fact, some NFL personnel executives have said the most stressful part of draft weekend is the process of signing undrafted free agents as soon as the seventh round finishes.

In a matter of a few hours, some teams sign as many as 20 undrafted rookie free agents. It's a process the Green Bay Packers take seriously. It's why they use many of their allotted pre-draft visits on players likely to go undrafted. They consider it part of the recruiting process.

But they aren't the only ones who actively recruit potential rookie free agents. The Seattle Seahawks distributed a 12-page brochure to agents showing them how the team covets and strongly considers undrafted free agents for its roster.

Among the charts in the brochure is one that shows preseason playing time for undrafted free agents and another with the percentage of undrafted free agents who make the 53-man roster.

In terms of playing time, last preseason, the Seahawks led the league in playing time percentage by undrafted rookies at 36.2 percent, according to their research. The Packers were second at 33.6 percent.

On that page, the Seahawks noted: "If your client doesn't get on the field in the preseason, he'll have a tougher time making that team's roster or any roster at all. Last season, the Seahawks ranked No. 1 in total offensive and defensive playing time by undrafted rookies."

When it comes to making the roster, the Seahawks said 22 percent of their undrafted free agents since 2010 have spent time on their active roster, which ranks eighth in the NFL, and according to the brochure, “the Seahawks have been selective in the number of UDFAs they sign each year. The team has signed 68 of them, which ranks 17th."

The Packers actually have a higher percentage of undrafted free agents who appeared on their active roster at various points during the season since 2010, according to the chart, at 24 percent, which is tied for fourth in the NFL.

The Packers have had at least three undrafted free agents make their opening-day roster each of the last four years. In that time, 13 undrafted free agents have made the Week 1 roster, which is tied for the third most in that span behind only St. Louis (17) and Cleveland (16), according to the Packers.

Here are the undrafted free agents that have made the Packers' roster coming out of training camp the last four years:

2013: S Chris Banjo, OLB Andy Mulumba, Lane Taylor.

2012: T Don Barclay, WR Jarrett Boykin, OLB Dezman Moses, S Sean Richardson.

2011: S M.D. Jennings, LB Jamari Lattimore, OLB Vic So'oto.

2010: G Nick McDonald, CB Sam Shields, OLB Frank Zombo.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Let's get this out of the way from the top: We know Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson does not draft for need -- or so he says.

But in the months leading up to this week's draft, Thompson and his scouts have spent hundreds of hours not only discussing the prospects who will be available to them but also their current roster and its strengths and weaknesses.

With that in mind, let's break the 12 position groups that make up the roster into four parts based on the following categories of draft needs.

We will define them this way:

Part 1: Negligible -- positions where there is little or no need.

Part 2: Non-essential -- positions where there is a need but it is not paramount to fill.

Part 3: Secondary -- positions where there is a need but not at the critical level.

Part 4: Pressing -- positions where it is imperative that help be found.

On Monday, we looked at the negligible needs, Nos. 10-12.

Next up are the nonessential needs.

7. Quarterback: It's too early to start thinking about a replacement for Aaron Rodgers, who turned 30 last December and is under contract through 2019, but they need to find the next Matt Flynn -- a long-term backup who can be counted on to win games just in case. Flynn is back under a one-year deal, but coach Mike McCarthy has said he would like to develop a young quarterback. Is that Scott Tolzien? Perhaps, but don't be surprised if they bring in a mid-to-late-round quarterback.

Possible players of interest: AJ McCarron, Alabama; Tom Savage, Pittsburgh; David Fales, San Jose State; Keith Wenning, Ball State; Brock Jensen, North Dakota State.

8. Cornerback: The Packers committed to Sam Shields this offseason with a four-year, $39 million contract just as free agency opened, but veteran Tramon Williams is in the final year of his contract. Casey Hayward is expected to be back from the hamstring injury that ruined his 2013 season, and there's depth with Micah Hyde, Davon House and James Nixon, although Hyde may move to safety. If the right corner fell to the Packers, Thompson might jump at the chance.

Possible players of interest: Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State; Kyle Fuller, Virginia Tech; Lamarcus Joyner, Florida State; Keith McGill, Utah; Stan Jean-Baptiste, Nebraska.

9. Outside linebacker: Like defensive end, this is another position where there's plenty of talent depending on who lines up where. Beyond Pro Bowler Clay Matthews, there's Julius Peppers (who will play a combination DL-OLB), former first-round pick Nick Perry, former second-round pick Mike Neal and second-year players Andy Mulumba and Nate Palmer.

Possible players of interest: Anthony Barr, UCLA; Kyle Van Noy, BYU; Jeremiah Attaochu, Georgia Tech; Demarcus Lawrence, Boise State.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- With the bulk of the free-agent work done, it's a good time to recheck the Green Bay Packers' depth chart leading up to the May 8-10 NFL draft.

On Thursday, we broke down the way things look on offense.

Next up is the defense:

Defensive end: Datone Jones, Josh Boyd, Jerel Worthy.

[+] EnlargeDatone Jones
AP Photo/Morry GashThe Packers are counting on defensive end Datone Jones to rebound in his second season.
Analysis: The Packers have high hopes for Jones despite a disappointing rookie season in which the former first-round pick was slowed by an ankle injury and recorded just 3.5 sacks (two of which came in one game). "I feel he's one of those second-year players who [can] take a huge jump," coach Mike McCarthy said of Jones earlier this offseason. "That will be my expectations for him." Boyd, a fifth-round pick, actually saw more playing time late last season than Jones. Worthy played in only two games a year after he blew out his knee.

Defensive tackle: B.J. Raji, Mike Daniels, Letroy Guion.

Analysis: Moving Raji back to nose tackle on a full-time basis should help his production, which declined sharply over the last three years following a move to defensive end. Daniels was perhaps the team's most improved player last season, which should lead to an even bigger role this season. Guion, who was cut the Minnesota Vikings, will have to battle for a roster spot.

Elephant: Julius Peppers, Nick Perry, Mike Neal.

Analysis: Elephant is a catch-all term for the multiple positions this trio will play. They will be part outside linebacker, part defensive end and part defensive tackle. The addition of Peppers, who was signed last month after being released by the Chicago Bears, should boost the pass rush. Expect Perry to play more on the right side this season, where he was far more impactful last season. These players will actually be tutored by linebackers coach Winston Moss.

Inside linebacker: A.J. Hawk, Brad Jones, Jamari Lattimore, Sam Barrington, Victor Aiyewa.

Analysis: Hawk had perhaps his best season last year, but Jones was a disappointment after signing a three-year, $11.75 million contract and could be on shaky ground for a starting job. Lattimore, a restricted free agent who has yet to sign his tender, got some playing time last year while Jones was hurt and could push for the starting job. So could Barrington, a promising rookie who missed the second half of the season because of a hamstring injury.

Outside linebacker: Clay Matthews, Andy Mulumba, Nate Palmer, Chase Thomas.

Analysis: Neal and Perry played almost exclusively at outside linebacker last season, so there's a good chance they'll be a big part of this group again. But behind Matthews are a couple of second-year players, Mulumba and Palmer, who played more than anyone expected last year as a rookies. Mulumba, an undrafted free agent, played better than Palmer, a sixth-round pick. Thomas was signed early in the offseason off the street after spending most of last season on the Atlanta Falcons' practice squad.

Safeties: Morgan Burnett, Sean Richardson, Chris Banjo.

Analysis: Easily the thinnest position on the roster, there's still likely to be several additions here, probably via the draft. However, McCarthy said cornerback Micah Hyde will get some work at safety. Whether he's a candidate to start next to Burnett (a strong safety), however, remains to be seen. Burnett needs to bounce back from a disappointing season, but there's little reason to think his job is in jeopardy. Richardson returned late last season from a serious neck injury and showed promise. Banjo played more early in the season than he did late last year.

Cornerbacks: Sam Shields, Tramon Williams, Casey Hayward, Micah Hyde, Jarrett Bush, Davon House, James Nixon, Jumel Rolle, Antonio Dennard.

Analysis: This is among the Packers' deepest positions thanks to the return of Shields, who signed a four-year, $39 million contract, and Hayward, who is expected to be healthy after a hamstring injury limited him to just three games last season. Williams closed the season playing perhaps as well as he did during the Super Bowl season of 2010, which is why they kept him despite a $7.5 million salary. Bush had his best season in coverage last year, while House was a disappointment. Nixon's speed makes him an intriguing prospect. Rolle was promoted from the practice squad late last season, while Dennard joined the practice squad late last season.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Sometimes, NFL players outperform their contracts.

Without tearing up those deals, there is a way for players who fit that description to earn more money. It’s called the NFL's performance-based pay distribution in which each team can allot a total of $3.46 million in additional play to its players.

It typically benefits players in their first NFL contracts or minimum-salaried free-agent signings who become key contributors.

For example, Green Bay Packers left tackle David Bakhtiari, a fourth-round pick with a base salary of $405,000 last year, will receive an additional $256,882.22 in performance-based pay, according to documents obtained by ESPN.com. Bakhtiari started every game last season as a rookie. He received the largest pay increases among Packers' players. According to the NFL, those payments will be made on April 1, 2016.

The smallest distribution to a Packers' player went to backup tackle Derek Sherrod, who will receive $2,154.55. He was active for seven games but only took six snaps on offense all season.

Here’s a list of the top-10 and bottom-10 performance-based bonuses on the Packers’ roster:

Top 10
Bottom 10

Green Bay Packers season wrap-up

January, 8, 2014
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Arrow indicates direction team is trending.

Final Power Ranking: 13
Preseason Power Ranking: 5

Biggest surprise: How many people would have believed the Packers could win the NFC North without the services of Aaron Rodgers for seven-plus games? Maybe it was an indictment on the rest of the division but the fact that the Packers used four different starting quarterbacks this season and went 2-5-1 after Rodgers broke his collarbone on Nov. 4, and they still won the division by beating the Chicago Bears in Week 17, when Rodgers returned, could not have been expected. The saga of when Rodgers would return from his injury dominated the second half of the season.

Biggest disappointment: When general manager Ted Thompson drafted Datone Jones with the 26th overall pick in April, he thought he was getting a defensive lineman who could play on all three downs and would be equally effective against the run and rushing the quarterback. In training camp, Jones looked the part. He stood out in practices, but when it came time to produce, he couldn't deliver. By the end of the season, Jones' playing time was reduced to almost nothing. Fifth-round pick Josh Boyd was playing more snaps than Jones late in the year. Jones finished with 3.5 sacks but two came in one game.

Biggest need: The Packers have many, and they're most on the defensive side of the ball. Their entire starting defensive line -- B.J. Raji, Ryan Pickett and Johnny Jolly -- will be unrestricted free agents. Other than A.J. Hawk, they are weak at inside linebacker. And their safety play was atrocious at times. They don't just need contributors; they need playmakers on that side of the ball. Other than outside linebacker Clay Matthews and perhaps cornerbacks Sam Shields and Tramon Williams, they didn't have many big-play players on defense. Their needs are so great that Thompson, the free-agent averse GM, might not be able to rely solely on the draft to fill them all.

Team MVP: Rodgers is clearly the Packers' most important player, but this honor should go to someone who played the majority of the season. In that case, it has to be running back Eddie Lacy. It has to be rare for a rookie to be a team's MVP, but then again the second-round draft pick from Alabama proved to be a rare talent. Despite missing nearly two full games because of a concussion and half of another game because a sprained ankle, Lacy finished eighth in the league in rushing with 1,178 yards (a Packers' rookie record) and had the second-most rushing touchdowns with 11.

 
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Two Green Bay Packers' starting defensive players sustained knee injuries on the San Francisco 49ers' opening drive of Sunday's NFC wild-card game at Lambeau Field.

Cornerback Sam Shields sustained a left knee injury and outside linebacker Mike Neal injured his right knee on the same drive.

Both were carted to the locker room and were questionable to return.

Shields was replaced by Davon House.

The loss of Neal is particularly costly because the Packers went into the game with only three outside linebackers. Clay Matthews is out with a thumb injury, while rookie Nate Palmer was a healthy scratch. It leaves them with only Nick Perry and Andy Mulumba unless Neal can return. Perry is playing on a bad foot, and his snaps have been limited in recent weeks.

Packers inactives: Cobb good to go

December, 29, 2013
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CHICAGO -- The Green Bay Packers did not add Randall Cobb to the 53-man roster on Saturday so that he could sit on the bench. A day after he came off the temporary injured reserve list, Cobb will play against the Chicago Bears.

It will be his first action since he broke the tibia in his right leg on Oct. 13 against the Baltimore Ravens.

With the return of Aaron Rodgers from his Nov. 4 broken collarbone, the Packers kept all three quarterbacks – Rodgers, Matt Flynn and Scott Tolzien – active.

The only surprise on the inactive list was linebacker Brad Jones. He was listed as probable on the injury report after he returned to practice on Friday, albeit on a limited basis because of an ankle injury. Jamari Lattimore will start in Jones’ place.

At outside linebacker, rookie Andy Mulumba and Mike Neal will be the starters in place of Clay Matthews (thumb) and Nick Perry, who is active.

Defensive end Jerel Worthy is active for only the second time since coming off the physically unable to perform list on Nov. 23.

Here’s the full inactive list:
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Matthew Stafford tried to go there two plays earlier on first down early in the third quarter, finding Calvin Johnson in single coverage in the end zone. He threw the ball up, but it hit off Johnson’s leaping hands and he couldn’t come down with it.

Two plays later, he had an even better look -- and it resulted in a touchdown, the one that really broke open Detroit’s 40-10 Thanksgiving Day win against Green Bay.

The Lions went to Johnson 10 times Thursday and this was, by far, the most open he had been all game long.

It happened because of a pretty good play call by offensive coordinator Scott Linehan, who saw an opening in the defense right in the middle of the field.

[+] EnlargeJohnson
Andrew Weber/USA TODAY SportsA good play design helped Calvin Johnson get free for a third-quarter TD catch against Green Bay.
Before the play, a third-and-10 from the Green Bay 20-yard line, Detroit lined up in shotgun with three wide receivers and a single back, Joique Bell, to the right of Stafford in the backfield. Kris Durham was out wide to the left with Nate Burleson in the slot to the left. Tight end Brandon Pettigrew was lined up -- with his hand on the ground -- on the right side of the formation.

Johnson was also on the right side of the formation just beyond the numbers. Before the snap, Johnson motioned inside the numbers, a few feet from Pettigrew on the right side. With the design of the play and the formation, this appeared key.

Green Bay had two rushers with hands on the ground and everyone else standing up. When the ball was snapped, the Packers rushed five players at Stafford, so he backpedaled as the routes took shape.

“The way we run the routes, it’s kind of almost a switch-release with him and Grew,” receiver Kris Durham said. “The way they release, they almost switch. It’s basically to cause traffic to free him up.

“That’s what happens, so he was able to get across.”

When the ball was snapped, linebacker Andy Mulumba cut across the field and looked like he might be picking up Johnson, who was crossing the field three yards beyond the line of scrimmage. At the same time, Pettigrew ended up running a deep route, drawing multiple defenders.

Cornerback Sam Shields, who initially lined up on Johnson on the play, also dropped deep as free safety M.D. Jennings stepped up in coverage. For a moment, it appeared as if the route either froze Jennings or he slipped as Johnson was cutting across the middle.

It left him wide open.

“Just zoned it off,” Johnson said. “Saw some space and tried to get across the field to the open space.”

He had a lot of it.

As Johnson ran the route, Stafford moved with him to the left while backpedaling. He threw the ball to him and Johnson was wide open for the reception before turning upfield.

Johnson wasn't the only open option. Trailing a bit behind him was Bell, who was also open had Johnson been covered up by either Mulumba or Jennings.

“Calvin’s a tough look for a D-end dropping, so nobody really had CJ,” Stafford said. “Had to buy a little bit of extra time. Offensive line did a great job of keeping it clean in front of me.

“Just moved left a little bit and throw it to him, and then he does what he does.”

When Johnson caught the ball and went upfield, Green Bay had two defenders converging on him. At the 5-yard line, Johnson lowers his shoulder into safety Morgan Burnett, who was trying to tackle him.

Burnett bounced off of him, and cornerback Tramon Williams grabbed at Johnson’s back, but couldn’t bring him down as he crossed the goal-line.

The play gave Detroit a 24-10 lead and control of the game for the first time.

Packers inactives: Five starters out

November, 24, 2013
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GREEN BAY, Wis. – Five Green Bay Packers starters were declared inactive for Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings.

They were:
Rodgers, Perry and Barclay were all ruled out on Friday, while Jolly was doubtful. Shields was questionable.

Scott Tolzien will make his second straight start at quarterback, and Davon House will do the same for Shields at cornerback. Marshall Newhouse, who struggled last week against the New York Giants, will start again for Barclay. Mike Neal will start in place of Perry, and Mike Daniels will replace Jolly.

The other two inactives were receiver Chris Harper and linebacker Nate Palmer. Both were healthy scratches.

It was a bit of a surprise that Palmer was inactive because that left the Packers with only three available outside linebackers -- Neal, Clay Matthews, and Andy Mulumba. All three were on the injury report this week, listed as probable.

Also, safety Sean Richardson and defensive end Jerel Worthy, who were activated off the physically unable to perform list on Saturday, will be in uniform.
GREEN BAY, Wis. – A whopping 12 players were listed on the Green Bay Packers’ Wednesday injury report, among them five starters who may be in danger of not playing on Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings.

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers (collarbone), right tackle Don Barclay (knee), defensive tackle Johnny Jolly (groin), linebacker Nick Perry (foot/ankle) and cornerback Sam Shields (hamstring) all missed practice.

“We actually had a good practice, but the list is too long,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. “That’s kind of where we are. Your report usually gets a little longer this time of year.”

McCarthy said both Barclay and Shields were part of the rehabilitation group on Wednesday. Of the five missing starters, they appear to have the best chances of playing against the Vikings.

Here’s the full injury report:
  • T Don Barclay (knee, did not practice)
  • C Evan Dietrich-Smith (knee, limited participation)
  • CB Casey Hayward (hamstring, did not practice)
  • DT Johnny Jolly (groin, did not practice)
  • LB Clay Matthews (thumb, full participation)
  • LB Andy Mulumba (ankle, limited participation)
  • LB Mike Neal (abdomen, limited participation)
  • CB James Nixon (knee, did not practice)
  • LB Nick Perry (foot/ankle, did not practice)
  • DT Ryan Pickett (knee, limited participation)
  • QB Aaron Rodgers (collarbone, did not practice)
  • CB Sam Shields (hamstring, did not practice)

Injury report: Hayward shut down again

November, 14, 2013
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GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Casey Hayward's return from a second hamstring injury lasted three games.

Who knows when the Green Bay Packers cornerback will return from the third one?

Hayward
Last year’s NFL rookie interception leader first pulled his hamstring on the eve of training camp and missed most of the summer practices. He returned for the Aug. 23 preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks, only to pull it again and miss the first six regular-season games.

The latest setback came in Sunday’s loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.

Coach Mike McCarthy said Thursday that Hayward will be lost for “multiple weeks.” It’s possible he could be shut down for the season if the Packers need a roster spot any time soon.

“It was obviously a very significant injury when he did it the first time, and then he did it again in the preseason,” McCarthy said. “To lose a whole year I know is frustrating for him.”

Perhaps more pressing, though, for Sunday’s game at the New York Giants, is the offensive line situation.

Right tackle Don Barclay missed practice for the second straight day because of the knee injury he suffered in the fourth quarter against the Eagles. On Wednesday, the Packers were waiting for a knee brace to arrive for Barclay so he could practice. On Thursday, he did not make enough progress to get out of the rehabilitation group.

“He didn’t probably feel as good today as we had hoped,” McCarthy said Thursday. “So we’ll see how he is tomorrow. I’m going to give him a chance, the full week to try and give it a go.”

Marshall Newhouse, who allowed a drive-killing fourth-quarter sack against the Eagles, likely would start at right tackle if Barclay can’t play. However, Derek Sherrod might be an option. He hasn’t played in 23 months since he broke his right leg, but was activated off the physically unable to perform list last week. It might be too much to ask Sherrod to play a full game, but perhaps he could be in line to take a couple of series.

T.J. Lang was able to move back to right guard thanks to the return of center Evan Dietrich-Smith, whose knee injury against the Eagles forced Lang to play center for the first time.

Here’s the full injury report:
  • T Don Barclay (knee, did not practice)
  • C Evan Dietrich-Smith (knee, limited participation)
  • CB Casey Hayward (hamstring, did not practice)
  • DT Johnny Jolly (groin, did not practice)
  • OLB Clay Matthews (thumb, full participation)
  • OLB Andy Mulumba (ankle, limited participation)
  • OLB Mike Neal (abdomen, did not practice)
  • OLB Nick Perry (foot/ankle, did not practice)
  • DT Ryan Pickett (knee, limited participation)
  • QB Aaron Rodgers (collarbone, did not practice)

Rapid Reaction: Green Bay Packers

November, 4, 2013
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GREEN BAY, Wis. -- A few thoughts on the Green Bay Packers' 27-20 loss to the Chicago Bears on Monday night:

What it means: The Packers are in serious trouble if the left-shoulder injury quarterback Aaron Rodgers sustained in the first quarter is serious. If it turns out to be something like a broken collarbone, Rodgers almost certainly would miss multiple weeks. Rodgers landed hard on his left shoulder after he was sacked by Bears defensive end Shea McClellin on the game's opening series and did not return. Based on what we saw from backup quarterback Seneca Wallace, it will be incredibly difficult for the Packers' offense to function at anything close to a high level in the passing game. The loss dropped them to 5-3 and into a three-way tie for first place in the NFC North with the Bears and the Detroit Lions.

Stock Watch: So the Packers' running game is for real. Even without much threat of a passing game, the Packers still ran the ball at will. After Rodgers left the game, James Starks had a 32-yard touchdown run, and Eddie Lacy ripped off a 56-yard run in the third quarter to set up his 1-yard touchdown run that tied the game at 17-17 with 13 minutes, 8 seconds left in the third quarter. The Packers rushed for a season-high 199 yards, including 150 by Lacy on 22 carries.

Gutsy call: After Lacy's game-tying touchdown, coach Mike McCarthy made the bold decision to try an onside kick, which worked to perfection. Mason Crosby hit the kick that was recovered by Packers linebacker Jamari Lattimore. The Packers turned that into a field goal that gave them a 20-17 lead.

Injuries galore: Rodgers wasn't the only player the Packers lost to injury. Right guard T.J. Lang sustained a concussion and did not play in the second half. Right tackle Don Barclay moved to right guard, while Marshall Newhouse came off the bench to play right tackle. Linebackers Andy Mulumba (ankle) and Sam Barrington (hamstring) also were injured.

What's next: The Packers host the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday at Lambeau Field.
GREEN BAY, Wis. – When Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews emerged from the visitor’s locker room at Mall of America Field on Sunday night, he was still wearing a small cast on his right hand.

That makes sense, considering he told ESPN.com on his way out of the stadium that he will have the pins that were surgically implanted removed next Monday.

Less certain, however, is what kind of protection Matthews will have to play with when he is cleared to return, which could be as early as the Nov. 10 game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

“A normal break is about 4-6 weeks,” Matthews told ESPN.com. “So we’d obviously be on the shorter end at four weeks.”

Matthews confirmed that he sustained a Bennett’s fracture, which is a break of the bone at the base of the thumb, when he was injured on a sack of Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford on Oct. 6. He underwent surgery the next day. The pins were inserted to stabilize the bone and expedite the healing process.

Matthews said he would have a better idea about a timetable for his return once the pins are removed. He ruled out the possibility of playing against the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football, which is the same day he will have the pins taken out.

When he returns, he almost certainly will have to wear some kind of protection. He said he did not yet know whether it would be as large as the club cast safety Morgan Burnett wore when he broke his hand during the 2011 season or as small as the cast he currently wears. The size of the cast could determine how effective he could be, especially as a pass-rusher.

Either way, the Packers should be glad to have their best pass-rusher back on the field soon.

While their pass rush has been more than adequate with 11 sacks in the three games without Matthews, only one of those came from an outside linebacker. And it was courtesy of Nick Perry, who injured his foot on the play against the Baltimore Ravens and hasn’t played since that game. Mike Neal, Andy Mulumba and Nate Palmer have combined for zero sacks in that stretch, and they have just four quarterback hits in the last three games, according to ProFootballFocus.

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