Notebook: Morency Appears Ready, Jackson Questionable

It appears running back Vernand Morency will be healthy enough to play on Sunday for the first time in 2007, and the timing of his return couldn’t be better. That’s because fellow running back Brandon Jackson is questionable with a shin injury that has kept him out of practice the past two days. - More Audio | Video | Packers-Vikings Game Center


It appears running back Vernand Morency will be healthy enough to play on Sunday for the first time in 2007, and the timing of his return couldn't be better.

That's because fellow running back Brandon Jackson is questionable for Sunday's game in Minnesota with a shin injury that has kept him out of practice the past two days.

Morency, who injured his knee during the first training camp practice back on July 28, made it through a full week of practice for the first time and has been deemed probable (virtual certainty he'll be available for regular duty) on the injury report.

"Vernand had an excellent day today," Head Coach Mike McCarthy said. "He went through all the reps. He looks like he has his bounce back. It was just good to see him out there knocking the rust off. I thought he had a good day today, and he put together three full days of work."

Over the past few weeks, Morency has practiced on Wednesdays, only to experience soreness in the knee, forcing him to rest and be inactive on Sundays. The third-year back, who has the most experience of any running back on the roster, has been anxious to get back on the field, especially with the team's ground game struggling as it has.

"Right now it's looking good," said Morency, who rushed 91 times for 421 yards as Ahman Green's backup last year. "I'm excited just to be around my teammates and go out there and compete. I'm looking forward to it."

McCarthy said Morency's role would be limited. He hasn't been involved in full contact since that first day of training camp, but that doesn't concern him.

"I've been playing football for a while," Morency said. "I know how a hit is. I know how a hit feels. I'm good."

Meanwhile Jackson's shin, which he originally injured last Sunday against San Diego, flared up on him in practice on Wednesday and has gotten worse. Unless he makes a dramatic turnaround in the next two days, he'll likely be inactive while Morency, DeShawn Wynn and Ryan Grant will be the three active running backs on gameday.

"We're a running-back-by-committee team, and I foresee us being that way every week," McCarthy said.

Held out, but ready

Receiver Greg Jennings hasn't practiced the last two days as a precaution due to his lingering hamstring troubles, but he fully expects to play Sunday and is probable on the injury report.

Jennings missed the season's first two games with the hamstring injury and then returned last week against San Diego, catching the go-ahead touchdown pass from Brett Favre with 2 minutes left.

"I'm just trying to get myself a chance to let fatigue exit out of my legs," Jennings said. "Not having gone in a few weeks, the hamstring is going to fatigue some, at least that's what the doctors say. And it did kind of fatigue on me on Wednesday a little bit.

"But I'm fine. I'm not hurting or anything like that, so that's a plus. We're just being more precautious than anything. I don't want to push it too much to where I end up being in the same situation I was against the Giants and Eagles."

{sportsad300}It's not common for players, especially young ones like the second-year Jennings, to miss practices during the week and still play. Cornerback Charles Woodson is one who has a routine of taking care of his body on Wednesdays and Thursdays, practicing on Friday, and being ready to go, but he's a 10-year veteran. He's adopting that pattern again this season to some extent, and is probable for Sunday despite a bum foot.

But McCarthy has no worries about Jennings being ready to play mentally, and any drop-off in his route-running and timing that would result from missing practice is worth the ability to have him ready for the game.

"I feel like I need to practice as much as possible," Jennings said. "Being young, obviously (we don't have) the timing that we want to have between myself and Brett and the receivers in general, because we're such a young group.

"There's definitely still an urgency for me to practice, but at the same time, I want to be out there on Sunday, so I don't want to push it to where I'm not going to be capable of playing Sunday."

Most probable

In addition to Morency, Jennings and Woodson, 10 other players on the injury report are listed as probable for the game.

They are Favre (cut finger), center Scott Wells (hamstring), linebacker Desmond Bishop (shoulder), offensive tackle Chad Clifton (knee), receiver Donald Driver (toe), tight end Bubba Franks (knee), cornerback Al Harris (back), and defensive tackles Cullen Jenkins (ribs), Corey Williams (knee) and Daniel Muir (ribs).

Wells was a late addition to the injury report after straining his hamstring in practice on Thursday. He was limited in practice on Friday but is expected to play, which would be vital because he'll be mostly responsible for Minnesota's mammoth defensive tackle Pat Williams on the interior of the Vikings' line.

"He's a key decision-maker in our run-blocking schemes and our pass-protection schemes, and has probably been one of our most consistent offensive linemen last year and this year," McCarthy said. "I'm just hopeful he'll have a good 48 hours and be ready to go."

Rookie defensive tackle Justin Harrell, the team's first-round draft pick, also was a late addition to the injury report with a knee sprain. He injured it in practice on Wednesday and it hasn't gotten better, prompting him to miss practice entirely on Friday and be listed as questionable for the game.

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