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Notebook: Starters Poised To Return

The Packers should receive a boost on Sunday from the return of two starters, one on each side of the ball, with left tackle Chad Clifton and safety Atari Bigby both expected back on the field against Detroit after making it through the week of practice without any setbacks. - More Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Oct. 16


The Packers should receive a boost on Sunday from the return of two starters, one on each side of the ball, with left tackle Chad Clifton and safety Atari Bigby both expected back on the field against Detroit after making it through the week of practice without any setbacks.

Clifton, who suffered a sprained ankle on the Packers' first offensive play of the second half against Cincinnati in Week 2, was limited in practice on Friday, but did participate fully in Thursday's padded practice, and is probable for Sunday.

"I think Chad's ready," Head Coach Mike McCarthy said. "He had an opportunity to go in the jog-through today, and everybody feels good. I think clearly he'll need the next 48 hours to get ready. That will help him."

Clifton isn't the only starting offensive lineman fighting through an injury, with both center/guard Jason Spitz (back) and Scott Wells (hamstring) sustaining injuries on Thursday. Spitz did not practice at all on Friday while Wells was limited, and both are listed as questionable.

McCarthy said that he thought both Spitz and Wells just needed the next 48 hours to get ready and would be "surprised" if either one was not able to play.

If Spitz is able to play, along with Clifton's expected return, the starting offensive line would go back to how the Packers opened the season with Clifton at left tackle, Daryn Colledge at left guard, Spitz at center, Josh Sitton at right guard and Allen Barbre at right tackle.

Another offensive player expected to return and play a significant role on Sunday is running back Brandon Jackson, who has not played yet this season after sustaining a high ankle sprain in the preseason game at Arizona on Aug. 28. With DeShawn Wynn out for Sunday with a knee injury, Jackson will assume the third-down back duties.

"Brandon has been here a long time," McCarthy said. "He knows our offense. The only thing you want for Brandon is to get back into the live action, and that will be the case Sunday. But I think he's done everything we've asked leading up to this, from a preparation standpoint, so he's ready to go."

McCarthy said earlier in the week that Bigby would play if he could make it through the week of practice, which he did on Friday by participating fully for the third straight day. He has been out of the lineup since injuring his knee in the fourth quarter of the season opener vs. Chicago, but is listed as probable for Sunday.

Drive for the record

Wide receiver Donald Driver needs just one catch to become the all-time receptions leader in franchise history, but McCarthy said he is not overly concerned with trying to get Driver the ball early in the game.

"I think those things usually just take care of themselves," McCarthy said. "I think if you put too much into it ... that's not what Donald wants. Really, Donald is going to have opportunities to catch the ball in this game. I'm pretty confident in that."

Driver is currently tied with wide receiver Sterling Sharpe for most receptions (595) in team annals. He also enters Sunday's contest with a streak of 115 consecutive games with a reception, a team record.

"I think anytime you say all-time in the history of the Green Bay Packers, regardless of the category, I think that speaks volumes," McCarthy said. "The tradition and the history of the Green Bay Packers, the players that have played before the players that are here, I think it speaks volumes about Donald's performance, and even moreso as a person, the way he goes about his business."

Driver and McCarthy started their careers in Green Bay together in 1999 when Driver was a rookie out of Alcorn State and McCarthy coached the Packers quarterbacks.

"Yeah, we talk about those days," McCarthy said. "He's a lot bigger. That's what I remember, how light he was when he came in. But boy was he gifted. The thing I remember about Donald in '99 was his ability to go get the football. He had incredible leaping ability. I know he was a high-jumper, and that's the thing that really stuck out.

"He had a huge heart. He was definitely undersized, but what he's done with his body and just to play at the level he has throughout his career, it's been really fun to come back and be part of it."

Welcome home

When the Packers take the field Sunday against Detroit, it will be their first game at Lambeau Field in nearly a month.

Green Bay hosted Cincinnati on Sept. 20 before back-to-back road games (at St. Louis and at Minnesota) and the bye, a stretch of 28 days since they have played in front of their home fans.

{sportsad300}"Coming to a place like Lambeau, we definitely have an advantage," nose tackle Ryan Pickett said. "In the past we haven't been taking advantage of it as much as we could. Coach is always on us (about how) we have to use the crowd and the fans to our advantage, and we haven't been.

"We're excited to get back home. It feels like we haven't played here in forever."

This is the third straight year that the Packers have had exactly 28 days between home games at some point in the season, and each time they have faced a division rival upon their return. Last year, after beating the Colts at home on Oct. 19, the Packers had their bye, followed by back-to-back road games (at Tennessee and at Minnesota). They returned home to beat Chicago, 37-3, in one of their most impressive wins of the season.

In 2007, Green Bay played Washington on Oct. 14, had their bye, then consecutive games on the road at Denver and Kansas City, before coming back to Lambeau to shut out the Vikings, 34-0, on Nov. 11.

Injury/participation update

Fullback Korey Hall (calf) and tackle Mark Tauscher (knee) are out for Sunday.

Colledge (knee), defensive end Cullen Jenkins (ankle), Pickett (hip), and linebackers Brady Poppinga (illness) and Jeremy Thompson (knee) were all full participants on Friday and are probable.

Fullback Quinn Johnson, expected to make his pro debut with Hall sidelined, missed Friday's practice because he had to travel home to Louisiana for a personal situation. McCarthy said Johnson would be back on Saturday.

For Detroit, two key offensive players, quarterback Matthew Stafford (knee) and wide receiver Calvin Johnson (knee), are both questionable. Stafford did not participate in practice the last two days and Johnson didn't participate all week.

Defensive tackle Sammie Hill (ankle), defensive end Jason Hunter (ankle) and safety Ko Simpson (hamstring) are doubtful.

Fullback Jerome Felton (shoulder), tight end Casey FitzSimmons (thigh), running back Maurice Morris (hip) and defensive end Dewayne White (hamstring) are also questionable.

Tackle Gosder Cherilus (shoulder), linebacker Jordon Dizon (foot), defensive tackle Grady Jackson (knee) and linebacker Ernie Sims (shoulder) are probable.

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