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Notebook: DBs Continue To Heal Up


The Green Bay Packers are getting closer and closer to having their starting secondary able to play together once again.

Safety Atari Bigby, who hasn't played since injuring his hamstring in Week 2 at Detroit, returned to practice for the first time on Thursday on a limited basis and has a chance to play on Sunday.

Meanwhile cornerback Al Harris, who is still doubtful for Sunday with his injured spleen, went through some limited practice work with a weighted vest on for the second straight day, and he could return after the bye week.

In addition, with safety Nick Collins seemingly putting his back issues behind him, safety Aaron Rouse removed from the injury report Thursday after sustaining a mild concussion in last week's game, and cornerback Pat Lee upgraded to limited practice work following some back spasms, the defensive backfield on Sunday likely will be as healthy as it's been in over a month. And it could perhaps be fully healthy, with the exception of Charles Woodson's bad toe, following next week's bye.

Bigby's return was welcome news after the third-year pro finally passed the running test on his hamstring Wednesday without any issues. Bigby hurt the hamstring while trying to defend a pass in the back of the end zone in the final minute of the first half at Detroit on Sept. 14, and he has been out since, kept off the practice field every time a running test didn't yield the proper results.

"It's good to have him back out there," Head Coach Mike McCarthy said. "He was able to get some work, and we'll see how he responds to it. It's been a while. I know he was anxious to get out.

"It was great that he finally passed his test yesterday. I know he's been frustrated with the injury. It was a big hurdle for him, and hopefully we can get him ready for Sunday."

In his absence, Bigby has been replaced by either Rouse or Charlie Peprah, depending on Rouse's health. Bigby's not out of the woods yet, as the medical staff will see how his hamstring responds to the practice work on Friday morning, but Thursday's return to the practice field was his most encouraging news in the last five weeks.

Harris isn't as close to coming back as Bigby, but he's making progress with his conditioning work. If he's able to come back for the Tennessee game on Nov. 2 and miss only four games with a serious internal injury, that's about the best-case scenario the Packers could have hoped for.

"He just wants to get back to the level of conditioning that he was in before the injury," McCarthy said. "Hopefully we'll start giving him some reps where he can interact and get in football shape. Really the plan for Al this week is conditioning and then hopefully we'll do more football-involved aspects next week and going into the Tennessee week."

Making the throws

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers was limited in practice once again with his sore shoulder, but he did make full-effort throws during practice for the first time since injuring the shoulder in Week 4.

"He threw the ball with velocity and anticipation, no different than he did on Sunday," McCarthy said.

The coach added that Rodgers did a portion of the third-down and red-zone work but then shut it down, in consultation with McCarthy. He could have participated in the entire practice, just like he's played each of the last two games, but with the recovery time that's been needed after each of the last two contests, there was no point in pushing him to the limit in practice.

"The goal in the conversation with the medical staff and Aaron was that on Friday morning, he doesn't wake up and feel like it's Monday morning," McCarthy said. "That's what we did not want to happen, and I think we're safe from that."

More on injuries

Center Scott Wells was added to the injury report Thursday with a muscle strain in his shoulder and upper chest, and he was limited in practice. But McCarthy didn't think the injury was serious enough to keep him out of Sunday's game.

Defensive tackle Ryan Pickett did not practice for the second straight day and is scheduled to test his tricep strain in practice on Friday. The medical staff is working on finding something Pickett can wear that would be effective in protecting the tricep muscle from getting strained any further.

{sportsad300}Linebacker A.J. Hawk (groin) was a full participant in practice for the second straight day and afterwards declared himself 100 percent, saying his body "feels as good as it has all year." Hawk also had dealt with a chest injury the first couple weeks of the season.

Wide receiver James Jones (knee) remained limited in practice and his sprained knee ligament might not be healed enough for him to return until after the bye, McCarthy said. Jones originally hurt the knee during the third week of the preseason and has returned to game action and re-aggravated the injury twice since then.

"The ligament he sprained, when he jams the kneecap -- it's unfortunate, and you can chalk it up to bad luck, however you want to describe it -- but he's reinjured the same knee the same way almost every time," McCarthy said. "We just have to shut him down until we can get all the swelling and everything out of there."

Woodson (toe) and defensive ends Michael Montgomery (ankle) and Jason Hunter (hamstring) did not participate in practice for the second straight day this week, while offensive tackle Chad Clifton (hamstring) was limited.

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