Head Coach Mike McCarthy has indicated the starters will play into the third quarter Monday night at Cincinnati, but that won't be the case for running back Ahman Green and safety Marquand Manuel, who will be seeing their first game action.
Green, coming back from a torn quadriceps tendon that ended his 2005 season prematurely, and Manuel, who missed the first two weeks of training camp with a calf injury, will play one or two series each. McCarthy indicated neither would be pushed too far in his first game back.
"We played the starters 18 to 20 plays that first game, so that's what we're looking at," McCarthy said.
Green's mantra throughout his recovery has been to take baby steps in order to avoid any setbacks, and he has accomplished that thus far. He says with each passing day he gets re-accustomed to getting knocked around on the field, and he has rather simple goals for his first game action since last October in Minnesota.
"I just want to have good solid plays, finish my plays," he said. "If it's a run play, or if I'm making a fake, or if I have to pick up a blitz, do what I do in practice, just execute everything the play requires."
Green said he feels fine physically, and the more he's out on the field the more he focuses on the small details of playing his position.
"I just make sure I ask a lot of questions about how I'm hitting the hole, how I'm picking up the blitz, making sure I have my feet set in the right position so I won't be off-balance when I have to pick up a blitz, or make sure I'm not favoring anything when I'm running through the hole," he said.
"I talk with EB (running backs coach Edgar Bennett) a lot, I talk with Coach Jags (offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski). They'll give me an honest opinion of what I'm doing or what I'm not doing out there."
Manuel's last game was Super Bowl XL while with Seattle, which ended for him with a leg injury unrelated to this summer's calf problem.
He's less concerned with how many snaps he plays than with using those snaps to get his body ready for full contact.
"Mentally you're right where you need to be, but physically you need to do everything, play in games and get in game shape," Manuel said. "I'll just play until the coaches tell me to come out."
Like he never left
Backup linebacker Brady Poppinga also will see his first game action on Monday, in a sense completing his recovery from a torn anterior cruciate knee ligament.
Poppinga's injury came with just three games remaining in 2005, so he looks at his rapid eight-month recovery as nothing more than a regular off-season because he's missed so few games overall.
"I feel like I never left, felt like I never had the injury," Poppinga said. "It's a blessing and I never want to take that for granted."
McCarthy said Poppinga will be on the same plan as Green and Manuel as far as playing time on Monday.
Two big pass plays highlighted the end of practice Wednesday.
On the second-to-last play, new receiver Carlton Brewster made a spectacular catch on a long pass. While being covered tightly (and perhaps held) by Ahmad Carroll, Brewster was falling to the ground and hauled in the pass one-handed, an eye-popping play by any standards but especially by a player practicing for only the second time after being acquired via trade with Cleveland on Tuesday.
"He made a nice play today and he's fitting in," McCarthy said of Brewster. "We're going to try to get him some work on special teams on Monday night. He's off to a good start."
Then on the final play of practice, tight end Zac Alcorn made a tough catch over the middle despite a near-clothesline hit from Manuel.
Tight end Bubba Franks (foot) returned to practice, as did cornerbacks Mike Hawkins (knee) and Patrick Dendy (ankle), though the DBs did not participate in team drills.
Running back Najeh Davenport, who dropped out of practice Tuesday night with a hip injury, remained out. Running back Arliss Beach was wearing a red no-contact jersey to protect some shoulder tendonitis on his right side, though he didn't shy away from any contact to his left side.