Packers getting healthier at outside linebacker

Posted Nov 10, 2017

Justin McCray 'focused on playing' against Bears

GREEN BAY – Help could be on the way for the Packers’ pass rush with Ahmad Brooks returning to practice this week.

The 12th-year linebacker has missed the last three games due to a back injury, but was a limited participant on Wednesday and Thursday.

It comes days after rookie Vince Biegel made his debut on Monday night against Detroit. The Wisconsin Rapids native earned rave reviews for associate head coach/linebackers Winston Moss, who said Biegel received 17 ‘plus’ grades on the first 18 defensive snaps of his NFL career.

If the Packers are able to add Brooks to the linebacker rotation this Sunday in Chicago, it would provide a boost to a pass rush that’s leaned on Clay Matthews and Nick Perry this season.

“Pass-rushers, elephant, outside linebackers are primary positions in our defense,” Head Coach Mike McCarthy said. “You like to have six on your football team you’re rolling through there. When you’re short two guys pretty much the whole year it definitely stresses other areas. Clay and Nick have played a lot of snaps.”

The Packers will conduct their final practice Saturday, but McCarthy sounded optimistic about the prospects of Justin McCray playing against the Bears.

The first-year offensive lineman, who injured his ankle on the final play against the Lions, likely would start at right tackle in place of Bryan Bulaga, who suffered a season-ending knee injury on Monday night.

A rash of injuries on the offensive line has led to McCray playing more than 400 offensive snaps this season at three different positions (left and right tackle, and left guard).

“I thought he did some good things yesterday at practice,” said McCarthy of McCray. “Today is built into the week; really to get through these type of situations and give guys a chance to recover. (Saturday’s) practice will be important for him. But he’s focused on playing. Knowing Justin, he’ll do everything to be out there lined up.”

The Packers have two roster spots available with Bulaga likely headed to injured reserve and Martellus Bennett’s release earlier this week, but McCarthy said he doesn’t anticipate the team making any roster moves on Friday.

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