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Notebook: Wynn Stepping Up As Opportunity Arrives

Like a lot of young players, running back DeShawn Wynn has had some ups and downs during his first two seasons. After not getting many opportunities this season since being signed back to the active roster, Wynn made his most significant contribution last Monday at Chicago and looks to build on that on Sunday vs. Detroit. - More Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Dec. 26

Like a lot of young players, running back DeShawn Wynn has had some ups and downs during his first two seasons, starting four games as a rookie in '07 before being released in training camp and landing on the practice squad this year.

After not getting many opportunities this season since being signed back to the active roster, Wynn made his most significant contribution last Monday at Chicago and looks to build on that on Sunday vs. Detroit.

With Brandon Jackson sidelined against the Bears because of a wrist injury, Wynn moved into Jackson's third-down role and is expected to do so again vs. Detroit with Jackson listed as doubtful for Sunday.

"DeShawn Wynn, he hasn't had a lot of opportunities this year, but when he has, I really like the way he's stepped up, particularly on special teams," Head Coach Mike McCarthy said. "He's doing some things he hasn't done a lot of in the past. He works extremely hard.

"Also with the opponent squad, a lot of that stuff sometimes goes unnoticed. But I think DeShawn Wynn is clearly an ascending player in our program. He had the one opportunity in Chicago, and I think he showed what he's capable of doing."

Wynn's chance in Chicago came on a 4th-and-1 at the Chicago 9 in the fourth quarter when he picked up four yards on his first carry of the season. He also caught a 7-yard pass on a slant on the previous play.

"He's just a young player that's developing," McCarthy said. "I've stood here before and said I'd play him in any situation. We put him in the fourth-and-one. That should tell you what we think about him."

Wynn played in seven games as a rookie last season, but injured his shoulder in Week 8 at Denver on his first carry of the game and was placed on season-ending injured reserve. In Week 4 against Chicago, Wynn posted 78 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries, and he finished the season with 203 yards and four touchdowns on 50 carries (4.1 avg.).

Wynn entered training camp competing for a spot in a crowded backfield along with veterans Noah Herron and Vernand Morency as well as undrafted rookie Kregg Lumpkin. Wynn was released on Aug. 25 with Lumpkin eventually winning the third running back spot, but Wynn was signed back to the practice squad after the final roster cutdown, where he spent the first five weeks of the season.

"It's definitely something that happens to a lot of people (getting released)," Wynn said. "I know a lot of guys on this team have been through that and practice squad and all of that, but you've just got to find a way to stay focused and keep working toward a goal every time you go out.

"One thing that helped me move up was how I was working on the practice squad and giving a good look. It gave the coaches confidence that they could move me up."

Wynn was signed back to the 53-man roster the day before Green Bay's game at Seattle in Week 6 when Lumpkin was placed on injured reserve with a hamstring injury. He was pressed into duty right away with Jackson inactive due to illness, and made a key blitz pickup of Seahawks safety Brian Russell on a third-down play in the third quarter that provided quarterback Aaron Rodgers time to find wide receiver Greg Jennings for a 45-yard touchdown.

Wynn said one change he made this season that paid dividends on the field were adjustments to his diet that have him at 228 pounds, down 10 from the weight he entered training camp at.

"When something is not working, you've got to change and that's what I did," Wynn said. "I changed my diet, and once I did that I started to feel a lot quicker on my feet and felt better playing in general. I found it to be helpful for me."

As he looks ahead to his first chance this season to serve as the third-down back in two straight games, Wynn said he is hoping to have a solid showing against the Lions and carry that over into 2009.

"It's just getting an opportunity and knowing that I am actually going to play," Wynn said. "I'm just very excited about that. The last game is what the coaches are going to remember you by for the most part and how you finish up, and I definitely want to leave a good impression."

Marks within reach

Several Packers have a chance to reach milestones on Sunday against the Lions in the season finale.

Wide receiver Donald Driver is 99 yards shy of 1,000 yards receiving for the season, and if he is able to hit that mark it would be his sixth 1,000-yard season in his career, which would be a franchise record.

If Driver gets to 1,000 yards on the season, it would also give the Packers a pair of 1,000-yard receivers (Greg Jennings currently has 1,191) in the same season for just the fourth time in team history. Driver teamed up with wide receiver Javon Walker to each hit 1,000 yards receiving in 2004.

Defensive end Aaron Kampman needs just a half-sack for his 10th of the season, which would give him three straight seasons with double-digit sacks. He would become only the third Packer (Reggie White, Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila) to accomplish that feat since sacks became an official statistic in 1982.

Running back Ryan Grant is 103 yards shy of the 1,200-yard mark. Only three other players in franchise history (Ahman Green, Dorsey Levens, Jim Taylor) have topped that mark in a season.

If cornerback Tramon Williams is able to post an interception in the finale, it would give the Packers three players with six interceptions each on the year as cornerback Charles Woodson and safety Nick Collins each already have six. The last time Green Bay had three players record six-or-more interceptions in a season was in 1943.

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers is 270 yards shy of 4,000 yards passing for the season. He would become only the fourth quarterback in Packers history (Lynn Dickey, Don Majkowski, Brett Favre) to hit the 4,000-yard mark and the youngest quarterback in team annals to accomplish the feat.

With one reception on Sunday, tight end Donald Lee would hit the 40-catch mark for the second straight season. Jackie Harris (1992-93) was the last Green Bay tight end to post back-to-back 40-catch seasons.

{sportsad300}A first time for everything

Detroit's visit to Lambeau Field on Sunday will be the fifth straight year that the Lions have visited Green Bay for a game in December.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Packers have never hosted a team in the month of December in five consecutive seasons.

Injury/participation update

Driver (knee), cornerback Al Harris (illness), Jennings (concussion), defensive tackle Johnny Jolly (ankle) and safety Aaron Rouse (ankle) were all taken off the injury report on Friday and will play on Sunday.

Tackle Breno Giacomini (ankle) and defensive tackle Justin Harrell (hip) are out for Sunday, and Jackson (wrist) is doubtful.

Fullback Korey Hall (knee) is questionable for Sunday.

Tackle Chad Clifton (knees),linebacker Spencer Havner (ankle) cornerback Joe Porter (concussion), guard Jason Spitz (knee) and cornerback Charles Woodson (toe) are probable.

For Detroit, cornerback Travis Fisher (concussion), linebacker Ernie Sims (knee), defensive end Corey Smith (hamstring), running back Kevin Smith (ankle) and defensive end Dewayne White (calf) are questionable.

Wide receiver Calvin Johnson (knee) and defensive tackle Chuck Darby (calf) are probable.

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