James Starks, Desmond Bishop will sit

Updated: December 9, 2011, 6:13 PM ET
Associated Press

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- If the Green Bay Packers are going to become only the eighth NFL team to start a season 13-0, they will have to do so short-handed.

Running back James Starks and linebacker Desmond Bishop will not play Sunday against the Oakland Raiders, the team said Friday.

Bishop, the team's leader in tackles, will miss a second straight game because of a calf injury. Starks, the team's leading rusher, won't play after reinjuring an ankle in Green Bay's 38-35 win over the New York Giants last weekend.

The Packers also will be without right guard Josh Sitton (knee) for the second consecutive game.

Cornerback Charles Woodson (concussion) is probable to play, and Green Bay's struggling defense also might have linebacker A.J. Hawk (calf) back in action. Hawk is listed as questionable for the Raiders game.

"I thought A.J. looked good in practice today," coach Mike McCarthy said. "We'll see how A.J. feels in the morning. That will determine his status for the game."

Rookie D.J. Smith and second-year player Robert Francois started at the two inside linebacker positions against the Giants. McCarthy said Smith would get another start with Bishop still out.

"D.J. and Robert have taken all of the snaps (in practice), this is two weeks in a row, and we're prepared to go with those two guys," McCarthy said. "Having A.J. up for the game, to me, is a bonus."

Green Bay's defense could use a boost.

The Packers, who can clinch a first-round bye in the playoffs with a win Sunday, rank 31st in the 32-team league for total yards allowed (397.8 per game) and passing yards allowed (292.8).

Dom Capers' patchwork unit, which lost Pro Bowl safety Nick Collins to a career-threatening neck injury in the second game of the season, had another rough outing Sunday. The Giants racked up 447 yards with several big pass plays and pushed Green Bay to the wire before Aaron Rodgers led a drive in the final minute to set up Mason Crosby's game-winning field goal.

"We're in the month of December, and it's time for us to pick it up," Capers said. "Our offense has played so extremely well, but you can't just bank on that every week, and we've got to be ready to pick up and do our share of the role if we have a week where we aren't scoring 35, 40 points."

Notes

Woodson practiced the last three days, including full-time status Thursday and Friday, after leaving Sunday's game with the head injury early in the fourth quarter. ... The Packers also listed rookie OLB Vic So'oto as out for Sunday after he had a previous back injury flare up this week. ... Veteran LT Chad Clifton (hamstring/back), who has been sidelined since early October, might return to practice next week. "He's made a lot of progress here since last week, so we're hopeful," McCarthy said.


Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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