GREEN BAY — Mike Daniels did his best. Having never missed a game due to injury in his first five NFL seasons, the Green Bay Packers defensive tackle wasn’t about to publicly accept defeat already for Sunday's game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Lambeau Field.
“I’m always optimistic,” Daniels said Friday afternoon despite not having practiced all week, having been forced out of Sunday night's loss at Atlanta on the opening defensive series after aggravating a hip injury he’d sustained in practice a few days before the game.
“It’s definitely tough to not be out there and to know I’ll potentially not be out there (Sunday). It’s a hard thing to do, if you ask anybody in this locker room that’s been in this position. Fortunately, I haven’t had to be in this position in six years now, and it’s just kind of jumped out of nowhere. It’s just a matter of getting healthy and doing everything I need to do to get back out there.”
When it was pointed out to Daniels that Sunday’s game was supposed to be a matchup between two of the league’s best interior defensive linemen — Cincinnati’s Geno Atkins and him — Daniels’ disappointed reply sounded a lot like an inadvertent admission.
“Trust me, that’s been in my head,” Daniels said of sharing the field with Atkins. “Gosh, I was looking forward to that.”
Whether Daniels’ use of the past tense was a slip of the tongue or not, the odds are against him playing — and against wide receiver Randall Cobb (chest), left tackle David Bakhtiari (hamstring), No. 1 cornerback Davon House (quadriceps), inside linebacker Jake Ryan (hamstring/concussion) and safety Kentrell Brice (groin) playing, too. None of them practiced on Wednesday or Thursday, and they were all listed as doubtful on Friday’s injury report.
With a Thursday game against Chicago looming next week, Packers coach Mike McCarthy might be hoping he can get through Sunday’s game and give those players a better chance of playing against the Bears. Nevertheless, McCarthy could have simply ruled them out — as Bengals coach Marvin Lewis did with tight end Tyler Eifert (back), wide receiver John Ross (knee) and guard Trey Hopkins (knee) — but he said he wants to give them a shot at playing if something changes between now and 90 minutes before kickoff.
“That group of guys that haven’t practiced yet, we’re going to give them the week to go through,” McCarthy said. “We’ll see what the next two days (hold). It will clear up for us (today).”
McCarthy didn’t even rule out outside linebacker Nick Perry, who McCarthy confirmed underwent surgery on his broken hand Thursday. Perry also is listed as doubtful.
Cobb did not speak with reporters in the locker room throughout the week, and while he said Tuesday there was a “possibility” he could play, he also quickly added he learned from coming back too quickly from injuries last year.
“I think one thing after last season, dealing with some of the injuries and probably being out there when I shouldn’t have for a game or two, we’re definitely going to be smart with it and make sure that we go about it the right way,” Cobb said. “Right now, I’m day to day and I’m doing everything I can to get on the field for Sunday.”
Bakhtiari spoke to reporters Thursday but didn’t make any promises on returning after injuring his hamstring against Seattle in the opener.
“To have to sit back and watch, especially in that type of environment when you love competing and every week you like being tested, it’s tough,” Bakhtiari said. “But you’ve got to be smart and you have to go through the protocol and face the reality of your situation.”
Meanwhile, it appears wide receiver Jordy Nelson (quadriceps) will play after he practiced in full for the second straight day on Thursday and is slated to practice again today. Nelson is officially questionable, as the “probable” designation was done away with last year.
“Jordy’s progressing. I think he’s definitely moving the way we had hoped,” McCarthy said. “I anticipate him practicing Saturday and we’ll take it from there.”
Right tackle Bryan Bulaga, who has yet to play this season because of an Aug. 23 right ankle injury, also is questionable.
“I think, from a mobility and movement standpoint, I felt good (this week),” Bulaga said.
“(There are) some things we still need to work out, but I think that’s the nature of the beast if you’re dealing with an injury. That’s just kind of what you’ve got to do. It’s not going to heal overnight, you just have to deal with some things.”