DT Ryan Pickett tackles Chicago RB Cedric Benson in the first Packers-Bears game this season, on Oct. 7 at Lambeau Field.
Run-stuffing defensive tackle Ryan Pickett is listed as questionable on this week's injury report with a groin injury, but Head Coach Mike McCarthy said Pickett feels ready to play and could get the go-ahead come game time Sunday.
"He feels very good about the progress that he's made throughout the week," McCarthy said. "Ryan wants to play, he feels that he's ready to play, and (doctor) Pat McKenzie is a little more cautious at this point. We'll take him all the way to the game because we still have two days left."
At 340 pounds in the middle of the defensive line, Pickett is the anchor to the Packers' run defense because he either gets a good push at the line of scrimmage when single-blocked, or he takes up two blockers to free up teammates to make tackles.
McCarthy said he's been a consistent performer against the run, but if potentially wet weather conditions move in over the weekend at Soldier Field, that could factor into whether or not he plays. Pickett has done minimal work in practice this week, working mostly on his rehab.
Pickett has not missed a game since the middle of his rookie season in St. Louis in 2001, but if he's held out, rookie first-round draft pick Justin Harrell would start in his place. Harrell has received increased snaps at defensive tackle over the last couple of games, and he's excited about the possibility of a larger role and a first NFL start.
"I know there's going to be a lot of emotions in this game," Harrell said. "I'm going to have to control it and make sure I'm going out there and doing my job."
Soldier Field in Chicago has natural grass, so if a lot of wet weather hits the area it could make for a muddy track on Sunday.
Green Bay's Ryan Grant proved two weeks ago against Oakland he could shine as a cold-weather back, gaining a career-high 156 yards in 18-degree temperatures. Can he do the same in the mud?
"I hope so," said Grant, who needs 201 yards over the final two regular-season games to reach 1,000 on the year. "I'm going to find whatever it takes. If the weather is nasty, and we have to run the ball, we have to run the ball. Whatever it takes to get the win."
Grant's position coach, Edgar Bennett, was known as a good "mudder" in his days as a Packers running back. Grant said Bennett hasn't shared too much advice, but told him the keys are to keep driving the legs and not try to make too many moves.
"It's just running downhill, not trying to do too many extra things," Grant said. "If we execute from an offensive level, getting bodies on bodies, everything will work out."
More on injuries
The Packers removed six players from the injury report on Friday, and all are expected to play. Taken off the report were offensive linemen Chad Clifton, Mark Tauscher and Junius Coston, cornerback Al Harris, linebacker Brady Poppinga and receiver Koren Robinson.
Of the other eight players on the report, cornerback Charles Woodson (toe) and safety Aaron Rouse (shoulder) are probable (virtual certainty they'll be available for regular duty). In addition to Pickett, cornerback Jarrett Bush (calf), tight end Bubba Franks (knee) and linebacker Tracy White (ankle) are questionable (50 percent chance of playing).
Backup quarterback Aaron Rodgers (hamstring) is doubtful, and fullback Korey Hall (hip) is out.