Notebook: Defensive Line In Flux; Wynn Returns


The Packers' defensive line is in a state of flux right now with injuries to starting defensive end Cullen Jenkins and reserve defensive tackle Justin Harrell.

Jenkins, who injured an ankle taking a high-low hit from two Redskins back on Oct. 14, was limited in practice on Thursday and, according to Head Coach Mike McCarthy, "did not have as good a day as we had hoped." His status for Monday night's game is in question, though there are still two days of practice plus the travel day for him to improve.

Meanwhile Harrell, the rookie first-round draft choice, had an offensive lineman roll up on his legs during Tuesday's practice, spraining his ankle. He did not practice Thursday and already has been ruled out of this week's game after having played the previous two contests.

Fortunately the Packers have the depth to compensate for the injuries, having kept 11 defensive linemen on the 53-man roster.

Harrell's absence could lead to non-drafted rookie Daniel Muir making his NFL debut in the defensive tackle rotation. Muir, from Kent State, was a longshot in training camp who made the team but has been inactive for all six games thus far. He could be active for the first time.

In addition, defensive end Michael Montgomery could be active for the first time this season as well. Montgomery has been recovering from a knee injury sustained in the preseason and could provide some valuable depth at defensive end if Jenkins is unable to play.

Montgomery, who was a full participant in practice on Thursday, actually hasn't played since last Dec. 3, missing the final four games of 2006 with a different knee injury.

"Mike's a good football player," McCarthy said. "He can play both end positions for us. He's unique in that he's got a big-body type. He's a good match-up for us on special teams. He's a young player that's really turning the corner. He just had some unfortunate injuries here the last two years."

Other options on the defensive line, should Jenkins not show enough progress this week, include Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila and Corey Williams. 'KGB' was the starter at defensive end before Jenkins took that spot late last season, and Williams has the ability, like Jenkins, to play both inside and outside on the defensive line if needed.

Right back at it

The neck spasm that forced rookie running back DeShawn Wynn to miss practice on Tuesday has sufficiently healed, allowing him to return to full duty on Thursday. Barring another setback, Wynn is expected to start at halfback for the fourth straight game as the Packers try to get their running game going.

"He's in the No. 1 slot right now," McCarthy said. "He has an opportunity to take it and do something with it. We'll see what he can do."

The neck spasm, which resulted from a hit in practice Monday and was re-aggravated in the weight room, is just the latest in a long list of maladies - calf and quad injuries, a stomach virus, dehydration - that have cropped up with Wynn since being drafted in the seventh round in April.

Wynn woke up Tuesday morning unable to move his neck and needed two days of treatments to get his range of motion back. He said he had no problems with the full-contact workout on Thursday, and chalks up his injuries to bad luck moreso than any perceived fragility.

"When you talk about toughness, I don't think injuries have anything to do with being tough," he said. "Tough is something you show when you are able to compete and perform, and I wouldn't think anybody on this team or any coach on the staff would tell you I'm not tough.

"It's just a tough break to have an injury. And this was kind of a freak injury with the neck thing, and I don't think it's set me back at all. I just missed one day of practice."

McCarthy wasn't overly concerned with this latest injury, or that Wynn hasn't been doing everything he can to stay healthy.

"He's been a professional," McCarthy said. "He's been on time. He's done all the things that are asked of him as far as the weight room, training room and so forth.

"He had a neck spasm. He took a shot at practice that was frankly unnecessary. It bothered him in the weight room. It happens. This is not a reflection of anything that's happened in the past."

{sportsad300}Still rusty

Receiver Koren Robinson muffed a few kickoff returns during the special teams portion of practice on Thursday, showing he still has to shake off some rust after having not played for a full year.

"I was just trying to be too smooth, not really concentrating on the ball like I needed to - line up and get up under it and adjust," Robinson said. "I need to work on my technique right now, but I'm still trying not to press."

McCarthy reiterated he plans to wait until the end of the week before deciding whether to activate Robinson for Monday night's game. Robinson was sore after his first two practices on Monday and Tuesday but bounced back from that OK, though McCarthy admitted "he's just not sharp" and that "he just needs to practice."

"I had him go through the ball-security drill three to four times on purpose so he gets used to people tugging on his arms," McCarthy said. "It's one thing to work out and run routes but when you run routes with people leaning on you and tugging on you it's a whole different situation. That's what's referred to as being in football shape and he's not there yet."

Robinson was still holding out hope he'd be active on Monday night, and knows if that happens it will be hard to contain his excitement.

"I'm probably going to need an IV before the game," he said. "I might use up all my energy in pre-game warm-ups. That's how excited I'm going to be if I'm able to dress (for the game)."

Other injuries

Two other players have been ruled out for this week - cornerback Will Blackmon (foot) and tight end Bubba Franks (knee). Two others did not practice at all on Thursday with their status uncertain. They were receiver Ruvell Martin, whose lower back began bothering him early this week, and cornerback Frank Walker, who has a knee injury.

In addition, guard Junius Coston was limited with an ankle injury, and Jason Spitz has been taking the majority of snaps at right guard in his place. Cornerbacks Al Harris (back) and Charles Woodson (foot) were also limited but have been battling those injuries all season and haven't missed a game.

Running back Vernand Morency (knee) remained limited, while center Scott Wells (eye) was a full participant in practice after missing the last game.

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