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Notebook: Returning Healthy Is Goal Of Bye

Like most bye weeks, the Green Bay Packers’ annual midseason break will be focused on getting players rested and healthy for the remainder of the season, and there are key players who need that rest on both sides of the ball. - More Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Oct. 20


Like most bye weeks, the Green Bay Packers' annual midseason break will be focused on getting players rested and healthy for the remainder of the season, and there are key players who need that rest on both sides of the ball.

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers is the perfect candidate for a break, having played three full games following an injury to his throwing shoulder in Week 4 at Tampa Bay.

Other starters who have played hurt in recent weeks include tackle Chad Clifton (hamstring), linebacker A.J. Hawk (groin), defensive tackle Ryan Pickett (tricep), center Scott Wells (shoulder/chest) and cornerback Charles Woodson (toe).

Pickett and Wells both played Sunday with harnesses on to limit their movement and prevent further injury, but it won't be known until the team returns to practice next week if those harnesses will still be needed.

How much Woodson's broken toe, which was originally fractured in the season opener, will heal isn't known either, but the time off certainly doesn't hurt.

Several other players who have missed games in recent week due to injury should have a chance to return to action following the bye.

The most notable name is cornerback Al Harris, who will continue his rest and recovery with the hope that his spleen injury will be healed enough to allow him to return. Harris hasn't played since injuring the spleen in Week 3 vs. Dallas.

McCarthy said he expects Harris to be able to practice in some fashion next Monday, and getting through a week of practice would determine his availability for the Tennessee game.

Safety Atari Bigby (hamstring) also could be back. He nearly returned this past week but after practicing on Thursday for the first time since Week 2, the hamstring didn't respond as well as he had hoped and he was held out of his fifth straight game.

The status of defensive ends Jason Hunter (hamstring) and Michael Montgomery (ankle), as well as receiver James Jones (knee), is even less certain, but any players who are cleared to practice by Monday, or at least by next Wednesday, stand a reasonably good chance of being available to play on Nov. 2.

Also, defensive end Jeremy Thompson, who left Sunday's game with a stinger, is expected to return to practice next week.

"As a football team, the most important thing (the doctors) feel is a number of these guys just need rest," Head Coach Mike McCarthy said. "Every injury is different, just as far as the treatment that goes on with each guy. But the goal is to have the majority of our football team come off of this bye healthy, and that will start with Monday's practice."

Maybe next week

Defensive tackle Justin Harrell, who has been on the physically unable to perform list since the season began, was not activated this past Sunday. He returned to the practice field last week and had no setbacks with the back injury that landed him on the injured list to begin with, but it's just a matter of getting him enough snaps to get into game shape.

"He was pretty sore, not where his injury was, but he was just sore getting back into football shape," defensive tackles coach Robert Nunn said. "We thought it was a little quick to pull the trigger yet, but we feel good with where we are with him.

"It's mostly the conditioning but also just the timing and playing fast. I thought he had a real good week of work, and if we had to pull the trigger last week, I think we could have, but there was no need to. We felt we were going to be OK and it worked out."

Bye week schedule

Players were off Monday and will be around on Tuesday for meetings before being given off Wednesday through Sunday, returning for practice next Monday.

As usual, players with injuries will have rehab schedules during the down time, with some players staying in Green Bay to do their rehab and others making arrangements elsewhere. All players will have some strength and conditioning workouts to be responsible for, beginning Tuesday before their official break starts.

"The strength and conditioning aspect will be part of their bye week," McCarthy said. "They're not going to just go sit at home for five days, I can promise you that."

McCarthy's assistant coaches also will get some time off at the end of the week. McCarthy said the first part of this week, through Wednesday, will be spent on the normal self-scouting done during the bye week, plus the staff will get a head start on preparing for the Nov. 2 game at Tennessee.

{sportsad300}Ball security

Running back Ryan Grant fumbled on Sunday for the third time in the past five games. Unlike the first two against Dallas and Tampa Bay, the Packers fortunately recovered this one, which came on the game's opening drive.

The fumbles haven't led McCarthy away from Grant and the running game, as he has racked up 64 carries over the past two weeks. But he said Grant needs to keep two hands on the ball in traffic to increase security.

"As far as his technique and the way he's trained, it's high and tight," McCarthy said. "We work on it every day.

"We need to do a better job there. All of our guys that carry the football need to be conscious of protecting. We practice it every day."

As for whether the needed attention to ball security is having an impact on Grant's breakaway abilities - he has just three runs of longer than 10 yards in those last 64 carries - McCarthy said that's not the case.

"I don't think it slows him down where he is now running cautiously," McCarthy said. "No, I don't see that on film."

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