GREEN BAY – The Packers had to wait a long time – too long – for their bye week, but now that they finally got the chance to rest and recuperate, the hope is that it pays dividends.
When the team returned to the practice field Tuesday, left tackle David Bakhtiari was the only member of the 53-man roster not participating. Bakhtiari had an emergency appendectomy prior to the last game in Chicago and his status moving forward remains uncertain.
But aside from that, the overall health of the team appears to be coming around, which is the best the Packers can ask for with four must-win games on tap.
"I feel like everybody's excited to get back to work," running back AJ Dillon said. "I think it was a good break, physically, mentally for everybody, and now we're excited. We've got a great opportunity in front of us, so just focused and locked in."
Rookie receiver Romeo Doubs, who missed the last four games with an ankle injury, expects to play Monday night vs. the Rams. Running back Aaron Jones, who sat out the end of the Bears game with a leg injury, is back, too.
So is defensive back Darnell Savage, who injured a foot three weeks ago in Philadelphia, where the Packers had missed inside linebacker De'Vondre Campbell (knee) for a fourth straight game until he returned for Chicago right before the bye and apparently came out no worse for wear.
Add to that quarterback Aaron Rodgers, whose injured thumb was not wrapped at practice and who will be three weeks removed from his rib injury when Monday night rolls around, and the Packers are a healthier, rested team in good spirits for the challenging task ahead.
"It definitely feels like a new energy back in the locker room today, and for the rest of the week … knowing what we have ahead of us is very well within our reach," receiver Allen Lazard said.
The Packers, at 5-8, know they must win their last four games and get some help to be able to land a wild-card playoff spot. Some players are scoreboard watching, others aren't, but regardless, the other piece aside from health they hope can fuel momentum was simply getting a win before the bye and feeling positive vibes during their time off.
"We had a week to let that resonate and come back in here and build off it," Dillon said.
Added Doubs: "We got the dub, had a bye. Sure, you see the energy. Everyone is having conversations, feeling good. It was definitely a great reset for us."
Doubs' return ranks as highly anticipated given the offense's top five receivers – Lazard, Watson, Doubs, Randall Cobb and Sammy Watkins – have all been available only once all season, back in Week 2.
The Packers have hardly had a taste of what rookies Watson and Doubs might do on the field together. Watson has eight touchdowns in his last four games while Doubs posted 300-plus yards and three TDs before going down.
"I'm looking forward to it, man," Doubs said. "Christian has been balling. I can't wait to be out there with him because we've been looking forward to that opportunity. I can't wait to see it happen."
It needs to help the Packers start stacking wins, which they've done only once this season, a three-game run from Weeks 2-4. Now it's five in a row or bust.
"It'll be great to have everyone healthy and back out there," Lazard said. "Getting healthy and coming off the win two weeks ago, hopefully we can get a streak going."