Friday, October 14, 2011
Packers safety Burnett has broken hand
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Green Bay Packers right tackle Bryan Bulaga is expected to return for Sunday's game against St. Louis after missing two games with a knee injury.
However, second-year safety Morgan Burnett broke his right hand in practice Thursday and didn't participate in Friday's workout. He is listed as probable for the game and expects to play, but he was fitted for a cast that could limit his ability to defend passes.
"It's no biggie," said Burnett, who hit the hand on a shoulder pad in a blitz drill. "It could happen to anybody, at any time."
Burnett is tied for the team lead with three interceptions.
"He clubbed (the hand) today," coach Mike McCarthy said. "Any time you have a broken bone in your hand, there's things you have to look at, but he feels and (team) doctor (Pat) McKenzie feels that he can potentially play with this."
Burnett is having a productive season thus far, a year after his promising rookie season ended after only four games because of a knee injury. Besides the interceptions, Burnett has a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and ranks second on the team with 39 tackles.
Burnett said wearing the club-like cast Friday felt funny, but he is optimistic the covering on the fractured hand won't be a hindrance to making plays.
"Just try to focus on the ball a little more, focus on the threads and just try to make the best of those opportunities, the same way if you had both hands," Burnett said.
The Packers' depth at safety already has been thinned after losing Pro Bowl player Nick Collins to a season-ending neck injury after just two games. Charlie Peprah, who started 13 games with Burnett out last season, has filled in for Collins and played well of late with an interception in each of the last two games.
Undrafted rookie M.D. Jennings is the only backup safety on the depth chart. He filled in for Burnett in Friday's practice and has been strictly a contributor on special teams after 15 tackles and an interception during the preseason.
"We were impressed with him in camp," defensive coordinator Dom Capers said. "He kind of falls under that philosophy of `next man up' for us if Morgan goes out or Morgan's having a hard time playing with his cast."
The Packers (5-0) will be without veteran left tackle Chad Clifton for an indefinite period because of a hamstring injury. Marshall Newhouse, who replaced Bulaga in the starting lineup, is expected to take over for Clifton against the Rams (0-4).
First-round rookie Derek Sherrod played well at right tackle when Newhouse moved to the left side after Clifton was hurt in the first half of last Sunday's win at Atlanta. McCarthy said he's eager to have Bulaga back.
"When he's cleared to play, he's cleared to play, and we need to play him," McCarthy said. "Bryan Bulaga is ready to go. He'll play in this game. That's what he was told at the beginning of the week, and that'll be the approach."
Bulaga said he will continue to wear a protective brace on the knee that he had in practice this week and is planning to play the full game Sunday.
"I haven't gotten any official word on what's going on, but if I do happen to start the game, I would like to ride it out and finish it," Bulaga said.
LB Frank Zombo is expected to make his belated season debut for the Packers on Sunday. Zombo suffered a broken shoulder blade Aug. 19 and returned to practice last week. "I truly feel like it's 100 percent," said Zombo, who is probable for the game. "I don't feel any pain. It's not weak or anything." . LB Clay Matthews (quadriceps) and CB Charles Woodson (foot/knee) practiced Friday after being out the last two days. WR Greg Jennings also was back on the field after dropping out of Thursday's practice with a groin injury. All three players are probable for the game.