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Notebook: Pickett's Availability In Doubt

Starting nose tackle Ryan Pickett missed practice for the third straight day due to a hamstring injury and is doubtful for Sunday’s contest at Chicago, but Head Coach Mike McCarthy said the team will wait until the morning of the game before deciding on his status. - More Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Dec. 11

Starting nose tackle Ryan Pickett missed practice for the third straight day due to a hamstring injury and is doubtful for Sunday's contest at Chicago, but Head Coach Mike McCarthy said the team will wait until the morning of the game before deciding on his status.

Pickett sustained the injury midway through the fourth quarter against Baltimore on Monday night and didn't return to the game. Pickett hasn't missed a game this season and has started nine contests, the only three non-starts coming when the defense opened up in their nickel package. He has missed just two games in his eight-plus seasons because of injury, both in 2007 due to a groin injury,

"I talked to Ryan at the middle part of practice before he came up top to conclude his rehab, and we're going to take him all the way to the game," McCarthy said. "I'm going to visit with him when he gets to the locker room at Soldier Field, and we may or may not work him out.

"We're going to use the next 48 hours. We're going to give him a chance to go."

Pickett, who said he has battled hamstring injuries before in college and in the pros, hopes a combination of rest and treatment the next two days will help him get out on the field for his 29th straight regular-season game.

"Most definitely I think there is a chance," Pickett said. "I have a couple more days left. We're going to test it out (Saturday) and see how I feel, and then they're going to do it Sunday and see how I feel again. I feel great. I feel like my chances are good that I might play.

"I think it is rest and treatment on it, just get it a little stronger. That's the thing with hamstrings; they're always kind of tricky a little bit. It's all you can do is pretty much rest. One day you can feel good, and then the next day you could come in and you might tweak it. This is a funny injury, but I felt great. I felt like night-and-day different from yesterday to today, so hopefully I can continue to make that same progress."

Because a hamstring injury can linger, there is always a risk of getting back out on the field too soon and re-aggravating it. Although the Packers have plenty of other important games down the stretch for their push to the playoffs, Pickett said he is not overly concerned about making the injury worse by playing.

"It's not even about chancing anything," Pickett said. "You want to be a part of it. We're the No. 1 defense. It's like you don't even want to miss a snap, and definitely not a game. If I can get out there, I'm going to be out there."

Pickett has been part of a front that has helped Green Bay's defense be the stingiest against the run in the NFL over the last nine games. After allowing an average of 128.7 yards on the ground through three contests, the Packers defense has given up just 73.3 yards per game since then, which ranks No. 1 in the league over that span. The Packers have held opponents to under 90 net rushing yards in nine of 12 contests, which ties them for the second-best mark in franchise history (11 in 1996).

If Pickett cannot play on Sunday against the Bears, rookie nose tackle B.J. Raji is expected to get his first NFL start. Raji has played primarily defensive end and as a down lineman when the team goes to nickel to this point. He suffered an injury of his own on Monday night against Baltimore when he hurt his ankle, but participated fully in Friday's practice and is probable for Sunday.

Raji sustained an ankle injury in the preseason finale and was sidelined for the first two games of the season. After being limited to just over 16 plays a game for the first five contests as he worked his way back from the injury, his snap count and production have been on the rise of late.

The 6-foot-2, 337-pound rookie has averaged over 26 snaps in the last five games, including a career-high 34 on Monday night against the Ravens. He has posted a tackle for loss in each of the last two games and registered his first career sack against San Francisco in Week 11.

"It looks like to me that he feels a lot more comfortable out there," defensive end Cullen Jenkins said. "He is starting to get that experience and get that feel for the game speed and the system. I think he's only going to continue to improve."

{sportsad300}Jenkins also missed some practice time this week due to a hamstring injury, but did some work on Friday and is probable for Sunday. Fellow starting defensive end Johnny Jolly was limited again on Friday because of a knee injury and is questionable.

"I did a lot of rehab (Thursday) and the day before, and it feels good," Jolly said. "I got a lot of strength back in it, so I feel good. I went through practice, so I feel pretty good."

The Packers have kept only four defensive linemen active for every game this season but one, the lone exception being the Week 10 contest vs. Dallas when they had all five linemen up on the 45-man roster. If Pickett can't play, rookie defensive end Jarius Wynn and veteran end Michael Montgomery would likely be active and could see more playing time. Green Bay also has nose tackle Anthony Toribio on the practice squad.

"Injuries are something you can't predict," Jenkins said. "It's something you can't control too much, so when they come, they come. You've just got to try to weather the storm and hopefully they're not too serious.

"We've got to (be ready). We're still going to have to go out and expect to play at a high tempo and with high energy and a high level without him. It may call for a little more workload from us. If not, we've got guys that can step in and take on more of a role."

Injury/participation update

Linebacker Jeremy Thompson (neck) is out for Sunday.

Linebacker Nick Barnett (knee), tackle Chad Clifton (hamstring), tight end Jermichael Finley (knee) and cornerback Charles Woodson all participated fully in Friday's practice and are probable for Sunday.

For Chicago, wide receiver/punt returner Devin Hester (calf) did not participate in practice for the third straight day and is questionable. Tackle Orlando Pace (groin) is also questionable.

Linebackers Lance Briggs (knee) and Hunter Hillenmeyer (groin) and defensive tackles Tommie Harris (knee) and Israel Idonije (knee) were all full participants in Friday's practice and are probable.

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