Notebook: Woodson Has Toughed It Out Before

In just his 1 1/2 seasons in Green Bay, cornerback Charles Woodson already has established a reputation for playing through injuries, and that will certainly be put to the test again this week. - More | Packers-Lions Game Center


Charles Woodson rips off a 34-yard punt return at Detroit on Thursday but injured his toe on the play.

In just his 1 1/2 seasons in Green Bay, cornerback Charles Woodson already has established a reputation for playing through injuries, and that will certainly be put to the test again this week.

Woodson injured his big toe on a long punt return in Thursday's game in Detroit, and Head Coach Mike McCarthy didn't have any further update on Friday, other than to say he's getting treatment for the swelling and the medical staff will have a better idea of where he stands as the week progresses.

McCarthy obviously hopes Woodson is healthy enough to help defend the Dallas passing attack next week, but he also said he wouldn't make the decision to activate or de-activate an injured player based on the magnitude of a regular-season game.

He also recalled how Woodson played through painful knee and shoulder injuries last year, which perhaps bodes well for his chances of recovering in time. Woodson got into a routine of resting his body for the first two practices of the week and then taking enough reps on the final day of practice to get ready.

For his shoulder injury last year, Woodson wore a harness underneath his uniform, though it was virtually impossible to tell his mobility was limited at all as he intercepted eight passes on the season, including six in the last six games. So even for a difficult injury, Woodson's always going to do whatever it takes to give himself a chance to play.

"At this time, early in the week, when he had the knee injury, (team physician) Pat McKenzie said he won't play for three or four weeks," McCarthy said. "And Charles said he's playing, and when Sunday came around, he played and played well. So you have history that will factor into the decision.

"But once again, it's going to be a decision that's in the best interests of everybody, starting with the player's health."

More on injuries

The Packers are probably more banged-up than they've been at any time this season, but there are some players who could possibly return from injury as well.

As for the Detroit game, in addition to the injuries to Woodson and safety Aaron Rouse, defensive end Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila sustained an ankle and knee sprain on his second-quarter sack and was having tests done on Friday. Offensive tackle and backup linebacker Tracy White both re-aggravated ankle injuries, defensive tackle Ryan Pickett had a re-occurrence of an injury to the back of his knee he's had before, and defensive tackle Colin Cole fractured his forearm.

The only one McCarthy said for sure would be unavailable for the Dallas game is Cole. His injury coupled with last week's shoulder injury to Johnny Jolly will elevate rookie first-round draft pick Justin Harrell into the defensive tackle rotation. Harrell has been active on gameday twice this season, for the Chicago and Washington games, but sustained an ankle injury that stunted his progress and he's been inactive since.

"We're going to need him this week," McCarthy said.

In addition to safety Nick Collins, McCarthy also said tight end Bubba Franks (knee) and cornerback Will Blackmon (foot) may be close to returning and could have a chance to play. Franks has missed the last five games while Blackmon, whose return would at least provide some depth at cornerback if Woodson is unavailable, hasn't played in a game yet this season.

Important, but not a playoff game

McCarthy stressed that the importance of Thursday's showdown with Dallas is not lost on the players or coaches, but that the team will not practice, prepare, make injury-related playing-time decisions, or otherwise act as though it's a win-or-go-home playoff scenario.

{sportsad300}The Packers still will have four regular-season games remaining after the Dallas game, and with both the Packers and Cowboys tied with 10-1 records, nothing will be officially decided on Thursday. It will mark the first time since Dec. 3, 1990, when the San Francisco 49ers and New York Giants squared off, that two teams with records 10-1 or better will go head-to-head.

The team's extensive injury list will result in some adjustments to the practice schedule this week, and the benefit around the corner is the Packers will have 10 days between the Dallas game and their next game, at home against Oakland. That could provide some significant healing and rest time for the players, but not if anyone significantly worsens an injury by playing when he shouldn't.

"It's one of five (games left), it really is," McCarthy said. "I don't think it would be smart to treat this as a playoff game where there's so much that rides on the outcome of this game. We plan on winning the football game. We'll do everything in our power from preparation to win this football game. But we're going to be smart with our football team, because there's a lot of football left to be played.

"We'll have a chance to hopefully get our team back and get ready for the fourth quarter. But this is the last game of the third quarter. It's how we view this game. It will receive a lot of attention, but our preparation will not change."

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