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Mike Spofford

Mike Spofford has worked as a sportswriter in Wisconsin since 1995 and has been a packers.com staff writer since 2006. He has covered the Packers' last two Super Bowl appearances, XXXII and XLV.


Starks might play on Thursday

Posted Nov 21, 2011

Running back James Starks not only appears to have avoided a serious knee injury, but he might play on Thursday in Detroit.

Head Coach Mike McCarthy said Monday that Starks, who is listed on this week’s injury report with knee and ankle injuries, is “sore” but could be back on the practice field as soon as Tuesday.

“We’ll see what he can do tomorrow at practice,” McCarthy said. “It feels like a normal day after a game. He tested out well and he has a chance to possibly do something on the field. That’s our plan with him.”

Starks went down awkwardly in a pile after getting stopped for no gain with just over three minutes left in Sunday’s game against Tampa Bay. He had to be helped off the field. On the next snap, quarterback Aaron Rodgers hit Jordy Nelson with a 40-yard touchdown pass that sealed the 35-26 win.

“It’s better than what it looked,” McCarthy said, referring to Starks’ injury. “If you watch the tape, obviously the TV copy didn’t look very good.”

McCarthy did like the way Starks looked in the game. He rushed for 38 yards on 11 carries and added 53 yards receiving on six catches, both career bests in the receiving category.

On the Packers’ first touchdown drive in the fourth quarter, Starks accounted for a combined 55 yards from scrimmage, touching the ball on six of eight plays – four receptions and two rushes.

“I thought he was good with the ball in his hands … not only running the ball but the checkdowns, which to me is an extension of the run game,” McCarthy said. “He’s making people miss. He’s stepping out of arm tackles.

“We didn’t have 100 percent clean looks yesterday running the football, but I think James is getting better and stronger each week, and hopefully he can play this week.”

Two other additions to the injury report did not seem to have McCarthy concerned. Receiver Greg Jennings and left tackle Marshall Newhouse are both listed with knee injuries, but McCarthy said he expects both to play.

The Packers will return to the practice field for non-padded workouts on Tuesday and Wednesday to get ready for the Lions in this abbreviated workweek. Monday was not the usual day-after film review day but was more focused on game-plan meetings for Detroit.

McCarthy said the position coaches will review the Tampa Bay film with players individually, but it won’t be glossed over, particularly after the defense gave up 455 yards.

“We don’t react any differently to the way we grade the tape based on the outcome of the game,” McCarthy said. “We have to do some things better. There is a tendency of too many yards on defense, yes. We’re addressing it, and we’re working on it.”

More time will be spent in meeting rooms and walk-throughs than at practice to ease the physical toll on the players. McCarthy, who is preparing the Packers for a Thanksgiving game for the third time in the last five seasons, called it a “mental week” as the team wraps up the vaunted three-games-in-11-days stretch.

“I’m not going to lose the game on Tuesday and Wednesday because we practiced too much,” he said.

“We’ve got one game. The last two are in the past. We knew the Tampa game was going to be a little bit of a hump game, and it was.”

Additional coverage - Nov. 21
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