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Notebook: Chillar On The Mend

It appears linebacker Brandon Chillar’s chances of playing on Sunday have improved, as his groin injury healed enough to allow him to participate fully in Thursday’s padded practice. Provided Chillar’s body responds without a setback on Friday morning, it leaves the coaching staff with a decision whether to start Chillar or second-year pro Desmond Bishop at weak-side linebacker on Sunday in Jacksonville. - More Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Dec. 11

It appears linebacker Brandon Chillar's chances of playing on Sunday have improved, as his groin injury healed enough to allow him to participate fully in Thursday's padded practice.

Provided Chillar's body responds without a setback on Friday morning, it leaves the coaching staff with a decision whether to start Chillar or second-year pro Desmond Bishop at weak-side linebacker on Sunday in Jacksonville.

"I think we'll use the week of practice really to determine that," Head Coach Mike McCarthy said. "I think it's very obvious, you don't (ever) have enough good quality productive football players. So we'll find a way to make that work."

When middle linebacker Nick Barnett was lost to a knee injury last month, A.J. Hawk took over as the starter in the middle, with Chillar playing the weak side. The Packers used that lineup for three games, until Chillar strained his groin during practice last week, forcing Bishop to make his first career start against Houston.

Bishop had a handful of impact plays in making a career-high 12 tackles against the Texans, including a tackle for loss on third-and-1, a sack, and two forced fumbles (one went out of bounds, the other was recovered by the Packers). But he also was responsible for a 15-yard facemask penalty while making a tackle, and for allowing Houston tight end Owen Daniels to break free for a 27-yard completion that set up the game-winning field goal.

Bishop knows as well as anyone that consistency will be the key to his playing time as the season winds down, but he feels he'll get there.

"It's more mental than anything," Bishop said. "I just have to focus a little bit more, focus on the details a little bit more. I think it just comes with more reps.

"If I get the opportunity I'm going to go out and do what I always do, fly around and have fun."

Chillar was doing that at Thursday's practice, saying he feels much better this week than he did last week.

"I thought Brandon Chillar practiced well today," McCarthy said. "He was flying around and made a couple plays in the blitz drill. Actually made a play in the blitz drill (on the scout team) against us. He looked like he was back to full speed. I'll be curious how his body responds tomorrow. That will be the big test."

Chillar is known as a very durable player. He's missed two games this season after missing only one in four years in St. Louis.

Covering tight ends is one of Chillar's strengths, and he leads the team's linebackers with six passes defensed. In his three starts on the weak side before the groin injury, Chillar recorded 22 tackles and a sack. Provided he's fully healthy this week, he isn't sure whether or not he'll get his starting spot back, but he isn't preoccupied with it. He's also tied for the team lead with 13 tackles on special teams.

"I guess we'll have to find out," he said. "(Bishop) did a good job stepping in and playing, so we'll see where it leads us. I'll try to help the team wherever I can, and that's been my stance the whole year."

Top vote-getters

Online fan voting for this year's Pro Bowl closed on Tuesday this week, and Packers cornerback Charles Woodson was the top vote-getter at his position in both the NFC and the league as a whole.

Woodson is one of three Packers with five interceptions this season, and he has returned two for touchdowns.

The next-highest vote-getter for the Packers was free safety Nick Collins, who finished third in the NFC at his position. Like Woodson, Collins has five interceptions this season, with two TD returns.

Others who cracked the top five in the NFC at their respective positions included wide receiver Greg Jennings (5th), kicker Mason Crosby (5th), fullback Korey Hall (5th), and special teamer Jarrett Bush (4th).

Online fan voting counts one-third in the Pro Bowl selection process, with voting by players and coaches counting the other two-thirds. Green Bay's players and coaches cast their votes Thursday morning during team meetings prior to heading out to practice.

The final Pro Bowl selections will be announced next Tuesday.

{sportsad300}Not quite ready

With Tony Moll set to take over Mark Tauscher's starting spot at right tackle for the remainder of the season, McCarthy said this week that second-year pro Allen Barbre would most likely be his backup.

Barbre has worked mostly at guard in his two seasons in Green Bay but was a left tackle in college at Missouri Southern State.

It appears rookie fifth-round draft pick Breno Giacomini hasn't quite reached the point of being a primary backup, though the coaching staff has been impressed with the improvement he's made during his first season.

Giacomini, like Moll, is a converted tight end who played just one year in college at tackle. But as a member of the scout team working against the Packers' No. 1 defense, he has gone nose-to-nose on a daily basis with defensive end Aaron Kampman, and that has accelerated his development.

"You couldn't wish for something any better than that," said Giacomini, a Louisville product. "I'm coming in trying to learn the tackle position, here's this guy, a Pro Bowler lining up (across from me) every day. I just keep getting better and I love it."

Injury/participation update

In addition to Chillar, defensive end Jeremy Thompson (ankle) was upgraded to full participation on Thursday.

Defensive tackle Ryan Pickett, who has been ill this week, did not participate in practice at all.

The rest of Green Bay's injury report remained the same as Wednesday, with Hall (knee) and defensive tackle Justin Harrell (hip) not participating, Woodson (toe) and linebacker Danny Lansanah (arm/ankle) listed as limited, and tackle Chad Clifton (knees) a full participant.

Bigby (shoulder) is out this week, while Tauscher was officially moved to season-ending injured reserve.

For the Jaguars, defensive tackle Tony McDaniel (toe) was upgraded to limited participation, while receiver Jerry Porter (groin) missed practice for the second straight day. Running back Fred Taylor (thumb) was placed on injured reserve.

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