The Green Bay Packers got some good news on the injury front, Wednesday, which is a refreshing change of pace for the team.
The most important development is linebacker Clay Matthews returned to practice after missing last Sunday’s game with Miami. Matthews only took part in the jog through portion of practice, but barring a setback, should be in the Packers’ starting lineup on Sunday.
“Clay had a good workout today,” coach Mike McCarthy said. “Tomorrow, how he feels in the morning will be the true test. But everything went very well in his work today. Hopefully he is past this and we can get him back out on the practice field.”
Matthews is key to the Packers’ chances against the Minnesota Vikings, this weekend. Without him in the lineup, the Packers recorded zero sacks against the Miami Dolphins and rarely came close to quarterback Chad Henne.
Also returning were linebacker Brandon Chillar, who has missed the past three games with a shoulder injury, and tackle Mark Tauscher, who has missed the past two games with a similar injury. Chillar seemingly has an opportunity to play this week, although it’s unclear what his role will be.
A.J. Hawk and Desmond Bishop have been manning the inside linebacker spots in the absence of Chillar and Nick Barnett, who went on injured reserve last week.
Bishop has played well as a starter the past two games, recording 23 tackles, one sack and two deflected passes. Hawk, on the other hand, has been his usual mediocre self, particularly in coverage. When Chillar has been healthy, he’s replaced Hawk on passing downs, but it’s conceivable he could start in place of Bishop if he’s at full strength. The Packers could start Chillar and Hawk and go to a package of Chillar and Bishop on passing downs, getting all three inside linebackers in the mix.
The bad news for the Packers is their two injured defensive ends, Ryan Pickett and Mike Neal, didn’t practice. Pickett seemingly has a shot at playing, but McCarthy has already ruled Neal out for Sunday’s game.
“Mike is just not really progressing. He is out this week,” McCarthy said. ?He really has no chance really to get ready for this week. But he is not making the progress that he had hoped at this point.”
We’ll continue to update the Packers’ injury situation throughout the week.
There is no way they would start Chillar over Desmond Bishop. Bishop is playing out of his mind right now. Hawk has been solid, people assume Hawk isn’t very good in coverage even when he happens to have played well. Brad Jones, Nick Barnett, and Brandon Chillar have all played the pass less effectively this season than Hawk.
Honestly, we have been better off with Bishop than Barnett. Barnett was a top five inside linebacker last year, but no ILB has played better than Bishop this year–nobody. I am not just saying this because I am a Packer fan. The Packers have deficiencies, but ILB is not one of them.