Head Coach Mike McCarthy said during training camp and again on Wednesday that the Packers have more depth at defensive tackle than at any other position on the roster.
That depth is going to get a serious test this week.
On the Packers' injury report for Monday night's game at Philadelphia, Kenderick Allen is out with a sprained foot and Ryan Pickett is doubtful with a sprained ankle, which he sustained in the Detroit game. Pickett fought through the injury during the game, but apparently the ankle swelled considerably afterwards.
That leaves Cullen Jenkins, Corey Williams and Colin Cole to handle the workload, along with rookie Johnny Jolly, who may be active on game day for the first time this season.
Pickett will be the toughest to replace if he's not able to play. McCarthy said he's been the most consistent interior defensive linemen against both the run and the pass thus far. But even with two of his top five defensive tackles likely out, McCarthy feels the Packers have quality players to pick up the slack.
"Corey Williams was our defensive player of the week this past week, so he had an excellent game, and he will start this week," McCarthy said. "With Cullen Jenkins and Colin Cole, and like I said Johnny Jolly is coming along, we feel like we have excellent depth there, and they will all play."
The depth of the unit has actually forced the Packers to de-activate one of the top five - first it was Allen, then Cole - each of the last two weeks, a decision the coaching staff hasn't relished but now won't have to make.
"It's good to know that with a couple starters down we have guys to back them up who can come in and play just as good as they can," Williams said. "I'll just try to keep the same attitude, whenever they call my name, just be ready to go. We're all going to have a big opportunity this game."
Williams had perhaps his best game as a pro against Detroit, recording two sacks and another tackle for loss. Meanwhile Jenkins has made steady contributions each game, and Cole was a key run-stuffer in holding the Bears' ground game to just 3 yards per carry in Week 1.
"I can't say enough about that group," McCarthy said. "You'd like every position to look like that, quite frankly."
Spitz working his way back
Rookie guard Jason Spitz returned to practice on Wednesday but only on a limited basis. He has been out since the beginning of Week 2 with a severely bruised thigh suffered against the Bears on Sept. 10.
Spitz is listed as questionable on the injury report, and McCarthy said he'll pick the best two of the three rookie guards to put in the starting lineup, with a final decision to be made Thursday or Friday. With Spitz out, the last two weeks the Packers have gone with Daryn Colledge at left guard and Tony Moll at right guard.
"We're trying to work him back in," McCarthy said of Spitz, whom he referred to as the most consistent of the three rookie guards up until his injury. "He's back, it's just how far can he push it."
When he was initially hit in the thigh during a Bears' interception return in the season opener, Spitz had no idea the injury would be this bad. He went to bed that night knowing he'd be sore in the morning, but he had no idea he'd struggle to even get out of bed.
But Spitz feels he's rounding back into form, and he said he's not as concerned about his starting job as he is about getting back to full health and simply being able to play at a high level again.
"Right now my main goal is to get back to where I was," Spitz said. "It's getting close.
"Obviously not being in there, you lose a little timing. You're not growing like the other guys, but hopefully I'll gain that back with a little hard work."
In addition to Spitz's return, backup lineman Junius Coston also returned to practice. Coston had done some individual drills last week but hadn't participated in a full practice since late in the preseason, when he sprained his knee.
McCarthy said Coston had a "good day," and that he's closer to full strength than Spitz.
A first for Favre
For a quarterback who seemingly has accomplished everything, Brett Favre broke new ground these past two weeks.
Throwing for 340 yards and three touchdowns against both the Saints and Lions, Favre for the first time in his career put together consecutive 300-yard games in which he threw for three touchdowns and no more than one interception in each game. Favre has just one interception in the last two weeks, against New Orleans.
The only two-game stretch in his career that comes close statistically to his 680 yards, six TDs, and one INT the past two weeks was in December of 1995 in games at New Orleans (308-4-0) and vs. Pittsburgh (301-2-0), in which he totaled 609 yards, six TDs, and no INTs.