GREEN BAY — Mike McCarthy doesn’t know the answer to the Green Bay Packers’ injury woes, but the 12th-year head coach knows this much: His team has no choice but to make do with who it has Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Now, he and the medical staff just have to figure out who’ll actually be able to suit up — because a whopping 13 players appeared on the team’s injury report Wednesday afternoon.
“Trust me,” McCarthy said before practice. “If there was just one thing that was causing these injuries, we would have stopped it a long time ago.”
Eight players did not practice at all on Wednesday: Left tackle David Bakhtiari (hamstring); defensive tackle Mike Daniels (hip); outside linebacker Nick Perry (hand); cornerback Davon House (quadriceps); wide receiver Randall Cobb (chest); safety Kentrell Brice (groin); inside linebacker Jake Ryan (hamstring/concussion); and backup offensive tackle Jason Spriggs (hamstring).
The worst of the news seemed to involve Daniels’ injury, which was initially announced as a hamstring injury during the game. As it turned out, Daniels, who was added to the injury report with a hip injury at midweek but still started against the Falcons, aggravated his hip injury, with the problem spot located close to his hamstring.
McCarthy wasn’t asked specifically about Daniels’ injury or how long he might be sidelined after dominating the line of scrimmage in the Packers’ Sept. 10 season-opening victory over Seattle. Daniels left last Sunday night’s loss at Atlanta during the opening defensive possession and was in street clothes shortly thereafter.
And in what would seem to be a sign that Daniels might be out awhile, a league source confirmed that the team had agreed to terms with veteran defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois, whom the Packers just cut last week to make room on the 53-man roster for practice-squad offensive lineman Adam Pankey, who was added amid the team’s disastrous tackle situation.
It’s hard to imagine the Packers bringing Francois back so quickly if Daniels’ injury is only going to sideline him for a week or two.
Meanwhile, the fact that Cobb’s designation changed from being a shoulder injury during the game to a chest injury on Wednesday’s injury report is significant in that the veteran wideout dealt with two bad shoulders throughout the 2015 season.
Cobb did not speak with reporters while he was in the locker room during the media access period Wednesday, but he didn’t sound overly optimistic in an interview with 540 ESPN Milwaukee that he recorded Tuesday.
“I’m in a lot of pain right now,” Cobb said in the interview, which aired Wednesday morning. “I’m just trying to manage the pain and figure out how I can play with it.”
Asked if he could play against the Bengals, Cobb replied: “It’s a possibility. I’m definitely going to keep that door open. 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. But right now I’m day to day and I’m doing everything I can to get on the field for Sunday.
The stiffer test for everyone involved, including those who practiced Wednesday, will be to get through today’s in-pads practice. Wednesday’s session was an abbreviated, lightened practice because of the late Sunday night game, but McCarthy said he’ll put the team through a normal Thursday practice.
On the bright side, wide receiver Jordy Nelson (quadriceps) was able to practice in full after leaving last Sunday night’s loss at Atlanta on the first offensive series. Nelson, who missed the 2015 season with a torn ACL in his right knee, injured his right quad against the Falcons but even surprised himself with how much he did.
“My expectations are to play, but obviously you don’t know what can happen between now and then. But that was my expectation when I came in here Monday morning as well,” Nelson said. “(I) feel good. Better than probably I and some other people in this building thought I would, so we’re progressing the right way. It was great to get back out there and run around, and everything felt good.”
Also in the good news department: Right tackle Bryan Bulaga (ankle), who has missed both regular-season games so far after going down during an Aug. 23 practice, also practiced fully.
“It was a positive start (to be) moving around and not have too much restricted movement or anything like that. So that was a positive,” Bulaga said. “(I’ll) wake up tomorrow, see how it feels, have the trainers and Doc (Pat McKenzie) look at it, and kind of move on from there.”
Veteran outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks, who missed the Falcons game with a concussion sustained against the Seahawks, also practiced in full after clearing the concussion protocol. That’s significant because if Perry, who played with a large club cast for part of last season because of a broken hand, can’t go against the Bengals, Brooks would be an option to start opposite Clay Matthews. If Brooks isn’t far enough along in the playbook after signing after training camp, Kyler Fackrell would be another option.
“I thought that I was ready to go on Wednesday or Thursday, but they told me I wasn’t ready, so they kept me out last game,” Brooks said. “It’s just unfortunate. I really wanted to come here and show what I was all about from the jump and that’s (what happens) the very first game of the season. I was upset that I couldn’t do that at that time.”