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Notebook: Thomas Hopes To Play Against Brother's Former Team


After missing the last two weeks with a quadriceps injury, linebacker Robert Thomas hopes to play this Sunday against the Chicago Bears, the team that drafted his older brother.

"I feel great," Thomas said. "It's been exciting, getting back on the field and being with the guys."

Thomas has practiced all week, but the Packers have listed him as questionable.

"We'll keep him with that status until we look at him tomorrow," Head Coach Mike Sherman said on Friday.

Thomas' return to the lineup takes on greater significance because the Packers likely will hold strongside linebacker Na'il Diggs out of the lineup on Sunday. Injuries to both knees have bothered him all season.

"He's never really been 100 percent," Sherman said. "The kid has fought like heck to get back on the field."

Getting on the field against the Bears carries special meaning for Thomas. His brother, Stan, an offensive tackle, played for Chicago in 1990 and 1991. Robert attended several Bears games and even served as team ball boy.

So, does Sunday's game represent a case for brotherly bragging rights?

"Nah," Robert Thomas said. "He's a Packers fan now."


Franks Practices

Tight end Bubba Franks practiced on Friday but remains questionable for Sunday's game.

After leaving the Philadelphia Eagles game on a stretcher due to a hit from safety Brian Dawkins, he has passed all the concussion tests and no longer suffers from headaches

"I feel pretty good right now," Franks said.

Doctors have cleared him to practice but not necessarily play in Sunday's game.

"They feel pretty confident that his head is going to be okay," Sherman said on Friday. "We're just going to see how his back feels in the morning."

Some feared the worst after doctors and trainers halted last Sunday's game for nearly 10 minutes as they immobilized Franks and wheeled him away on a stretcher. Franks, however, called those actions precautionary and shrugged off the injury.

"It was scary at the time," he said. "But after that, it's just football. Those things are going to happen. You can't avoid those type of situations. If you go out there worrying about when you're going to hit, you're never going to catch the ball."

The six-year veteran has earned a reputation for his toughness and durability. He never missed a game in the NFL before a knee injury caused him to miss two games this season. But he hopes doctors give him the green light this week.

"All I can say is this is the Bears game," Franks said. "And I don't like missing Bears games."


Rookie Runner

The Packers signed running back Noah Herron off of the Pittsburgh Steelers practice squad and on to their active roster on Wednesday.

With ReShard Lee (ribs) on injured reserve, Herron could serve an important role on the team. He has showed good comprehension of the Packers' offensive sets. While admitting he still must master the passing routes, he has learned the more crucial components of the offense for a running back -- the running plays and pass protections.

"I'm picking up the playbook real fast," Herron said. "I'll be ready enough to go out there and help the team."

A seventh-round pick of the Steelers in the 2005 NFL draft, Herron has gone from one rabid football town to another.

"I never thought I could go to a place with crazier fans," he said. "I used to think Pittsburgh was Football Town U.S.A, but this might be."

Rookie linebacker Roy Manning knows what kind of running back Titletown has signed. Manning, who attended Michigan, played against the former Northwestern running back during their Big Ten matchups.

Manning described the 5'11", 224-pounder as a power back.

"(You) can't tackle with your arms," Manning said. "You've got to get a couple of hats on him."

Manning knows from experience. During last year's game, a 42-20 Michigan win, Herron broke a 60-yard touchdown run as part of a 23-carry, 156-rushing yard performance against the Michigan defense.

"I dove out to hit his legs and I missed at about the 7 or 10 yard-line," Manning said. "And he scored. I just remember that. I was mad."

Fortunately for both Manning's temperament and the Packers, Herron will play on their side on Sunday.

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