For the second week in a row, one of the main concerns on the injury front for the Packers leading into the weekend is the availability of starting free safety Darren Sharper.
Much like last week, Sharper - who is coming off a knee sprain suffered October 24, practiced for the first time this week Friday afternoon after resting on Wednesday and Thursday.
GM/Head Coach Mike Sherman said in his post-practice press conference that he hopes to have Sharper available for at least as many snaps as the two-time Pro Bowler was in on last Sunday in the win over the Minnesota Vikings, where he played in the dime defensive package.
"I would hope I will be able to use him in that capacity, maybe a little bit more," Sherman said. "We'll see how he feels tomorrow. Today was the first day he really got work, so I really have to wait until tomorrow to see how he came out of today."
Also much like seven days ago, Sharper is a little more optimistic than his coach. The safety said that he plans on being at full speed and in the starting lineup come Sunday night.
"I feel real good, actually," said Sharper. "Much better (than last week). I feel like I'm moving a lot better. I can't put a percentage on it, but I'm pretty close to where I would like to be."
Sharper felt well enough to practice without a knee brace Friday, and plans on taking the field in Houston without the hardware either.
"That's my plan, to play without it," he said. "I practiced without it today and I felt fine moving and breaking and cutting, so my plan is to play without it."
Get Out Of Town
For the second time this season, the Packers will be leaving on their road trip a day earlier than usual. Standard practice has been to fly into the opposing city the day before the game, but the Pack has had success when they have had the extra day to acclimate themselves, so the Friday departure is again in order.
Sherman feels it's good for the players to have some extra time together, and he isn't about to argue with something that has been working.
"I like the idea - first of all, we've done well when we've done it," the coach said. "We did it last year and we just kept doing it. I guess that falls in line with if it's working, keep doing it, and that falls in line with superstition maybe. It gives us an opportunity to get down into the environment we're going to play in and have a good practice.
"The change in venue sometimes is good. The day is spent with players being with players. They're not all going in different directions as they would if we were here. So it gives them a chance to bond and do all the things that football teams are supposed to do."
His players are behind the idea as well, especially when given the chance for a few extra hours in a warmer climate.
"Yes, especially when it's like 30° and raining like it is outside," Sharper said when asked if he preferred the Friday flight. "Yeah, we're going down to about 70° weather."