Packers optimistic for return of S Morgan Burnett

Rookie LB Vince Biegel could get more playing time


GREEN BAY -- Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy wasn't quite ready to declare S Morgan Burnett would return from his groin injury this week, but there's definitely optimism in that direction.

"He'll practice tomorrow," McCarthy said on Friday, two days before Green Bay's road game at Pittsburgh. "Until we get through that point, I can't really give you a final answer, but everything sounds good, looks good."

Burnett vowed after Thursday's practice to be ready after missing the last two games, an absence that came on the heels of missing multiple games with a hamstring injury.

McCarthy also suggested that rookie LB Vince Biegel could be in line for more defensive snaps, depending on the availability of starter Clay Matthews, who has a groin injury.

"I love the way Vince works," McCarthy said. "He's into it. He definitely has an excellent understanding of the defense. It says a lot about him as far as his preparation when he was not available. He's on top of that. Based on Clay's situation, he may get a lot more playing time."

On the offensive side, C Corey Linsley was added to the injury report with a back injury and did not practice Thursday. McCarthy said he thinks Linsley is "going to be fine," but Saturday's practice will determine that.

If Linsley can't go, his replacement would be Justin McCray, who has been filling in at right tackle for Bryan Bulaga. It's another example of how "extremely" valuable McCray has been as a versatile lineman this season, which began with him as the backup center but has seen him taking game snaps all across the front.

"He's had to go into games where he hasn't had the practice reps, and now that he's been palying right tackle, he really hasn't had the time that he's had in the past at center," McCarthy said. "So frankly, Corey not practicing yesterday helped us from a preparation standpoint.

"With Justin, I'm just really happy for the level of success he's achieving and just the way he's earned it and fought. He's been a huge, huge asset to our offensive line."

The trip to Pittsburgh is a return home for McCarthy, who plans to have dinner with his family on Saturday night after the team arrives. McCarthy was raised in the Greenfield neighborhood of the Steel City, and this will mark his fourth time going back to Pittsburgh for a game, including preseason contests.

"Anytime you get to see family for a little while the night before the game it's a special opportunity, but we all understand what this trip and this game means," McCarthy said. "We need to be 6-5 when we get on that plane ride coming back home. That's the focus. But definitely, I love Pittsburgh. It's great to go back there and see your family and compete against the Steelers."

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