Leading up to their Sunday afternoon tilt with the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Green Bay Packers are still unsure if they will have two key contributors available to return to action. Starting 'Will' linebacker Na'il Diggs and valuable sixth offensive lineman Kevin Barry were listed as questionable on the team's Friday injury report.
GM/Head Coach Mike Sherman said both players would be tested further at Saturday morning's practice to determine if they could rejoin their teammates for the regular season home finale at Lambeau Field after both players missed last week's win over Detroit due to injury.
Barry and Diggs were forced out of the game at Philadelphia two weeks ago, the lineman with a quadriceps strain and the linebacker with a kidney contusion.
If the regulars are required to miss a second game, Sherman is confident that their replacements, linebacker Paris Lenon and lineman Brad Bedell, will continue to fill in well.
"I thought Paris played well," Sherman said of Lenon's 12-tackle performance against the Lions. "He's not Na'il Diggs. Na'il Diggs in our defense is a difference-maker. But Paris is a guy who comes to work every day, gives you everything he has and I thought he played very well, made a lot of tackles, (with) very few mistakes.
"He's someone you can depend on. He's exactly the guy you want in the role that he's in as far as a guy that you can throw in the game. If you lose your 'Mike' linebacker, your 'Buck' linebacker, your 'Will' linebacker - he knows all those positions and can play them all. So I'm pleased with him and if he has to play, he'll do fine."
Lenon said the experience of playing a full game in the defense and two weeks of practice with the starting unit has been very beneficial to him.
"It was very valuable," said the linebacker. "I had the opportunity to go out there and play a lot of snaps. Any time you can play a lot of snaps, it's helpful. You learn a lot from that."
Bedell said he felt very good about his contribution in his 13 snaps as the extra lineman in the team's "U-71" package, a lineup named after Barry's uniform number.
"They asked me to step in and I thought I did a nice job with it," Bedell said. "I just love playing. To get out there in the huddle with these guys is a lot of fun."
When asked the difference between himself and Barry, the former University of Colorado Buffalo had a quick response.
"About 30 pounds," replied Bedell jokingly. "He's a big guy, so it's a little different but technique-wise it's the same."
Right tackle Mark Tauscher, who lined up next to Bedell on the majority of the snaps Bedell was on the field for also felt he did an admirable job in his relief role.
"Brad Bedell stepped in last week and did a good job," said Tauscher. "Obviously Kevin brings a different dynamic, but Bedell steps in and we're not missing a big beat there. It is "U-71" and Brad's been petitioning to get it changed to "U-72" when he's in there, but it's a case where we're still going to stick with it and we're still going to be effective."
In other news on the injury front, defensive back Michael Hawthorne missed practice Friday after being kicked in the shin during Thursday afternoon's session. Sherman listed the defender as probable and that he expects him to play, but the coach said if Hawthorne is unable to go he would be replaced in the "dime" defense by first-year cornerback Jason Horton.