Rookie running back DeShawn Wynn returned to practice for the first time in three weeks on Sunday, and the seventh-round draft pick now has one preseason game to earn a spot on the final 53-man roster.
When he's been on the field, Wynn has shown the type of power and explosion the Packers were hoping they were getting from the national champion Florida Gators. But the problem is Wynn hasn't been on the field enough.
He missed most of the spring workouts with a calf injury, then was in and out of practice when training camp began with a stomach virus. His latest injury, a rather significant quadriceps strain, forced him to miss the first three preseason games and, along with Vernand Morency's knee injury, had left the Packers thin at running back.
"It definitely felt good to be out there," Wynn said. "One thing I was really trying to focus on today was getting my wind back and my legs under me. From a football conditioning standpoint, I did a lot of running inside, but it's a different type of conditioning when you're actually out on the field."
Wynn showed a little rust, dropping one pass in the flat, and he said his legs felt a little heavy, though his wind was good. He said he was actually cleared to return to practice just before the Jacksonville game on Thursday, but he was held out because he wouldn't be playing in the game anyway.
He's spent the past couple of days doing a lot of running, knowing he'd be getting a hefty workload with only a few days for the coaching staff to evaluate him.
"He had a full load, so I'm really curious to watch the film," Head Coach Mike McCarthy said. "It was good to see him back out there. This is a big week for him."
Wynn said he was five to six pounds lighter than when he was last practicing three weeks ago. That was a conscious effort on his part to monitor his conditioning.
"I definitely didn't want to be heavy coming back, eating too much, (because) I would have really looked sluggish," he said.
That's a look Wynn can't afford to have in Thursday's game against Tennessee, to be sure. Whether or not he can show enough in one preseason game to make the team, even he's not sure.
"All I can pretty much do now is get these practices in and get the reps in on Thursday, and it's their call from there," Wynn said.
Favre to play some
McCarthy said quarterback Brett Favre likely would play a series or two on Thursday in Tennessee, mainly because there are so many young players on offense Favre hasn't worked with much in games.
Normally the starters play very little in the preseason finale, and that will probably hold true, though McCarthy said the offensive starters will play a little longer than the defensive starters. There are more jobs open on the defensive side, so more players need to be rotated through for one final look.
"You still want to be smart and cautious," McCarthy said.
Thompson playing for a job
No. 3 quarterback Paul Thompson will enter Thursday's game probably sometime in the third quarter and finish it out, hoping to lock up a job. But McCarthy echoed General Manager Ted Thompson in saying keeping only two quarterbacks was a possibility, or bringing back Ingle Martin, who was released on Friday, could happen as well.
"We feel that we have a pretty good grasp on where Ingle is in his development," McCarthy said. "I do not have those answers for Paul Thompson. That's why, in my view, why we're giving Paul this opportunity."
McCarthy remains hopeful receiver Donald Driver (foot) will be recovered in time for the regular-season opener against Philadelphia on Sept. 9. Ditto for Morency (knee). Neither is expected to practice or play this week.
With Driver out, rookie James Jones moved into the starting lineup at receiver alongside Greg Jennings, and Ruvell Martin moved up to the No. 3 receiver.
Right guard Jason Spitz (calf) also will be held out this week, but he's expected to be ready for the opener as well. Junius Coston replaced Spitz on the No. 1 offensive line in practice on Sunday.
Also on the offensive line, Tony Moll (neck/stinger), Tony Palmer (hamstring) and Orrin Thompson (knee) remained out.
Others missing practice included linebackers Abdul Hodge (knee) and Spencer Havner (back), and safety Aaron Rouse (hamstring).
Cornerback and return man Will Blackmon has a sprained left thumb and was practicing with his left hand taped up.
Did you notice?
With so many injuries on the offensive line, there was a ton of position shifting going on throughout practice. At one point, starting center Scott Wells was working at left guard with the No. 2 line. Wells started eight games at that spot in 2005 before becoming the starting center last year.
During seven-on-seven drills, linebacker Carl-Johan Bjork put a red stocking cap over his helmet to signify he was switching sides and played tight end. He made a nice catch on a deep out route from Aaron Rodgers that drew a high-five from the backup QB.
2-minute drill comes up short
Sunday's 2-minute drill saw the offense down 21-17 and needing a touchdown to win. Consecutive passes from Favre to Jones, the second a deep sideline route, gave the offense a first-and-goal at the 6. But two runs gained just 3 yards, a pass into the end zone to Jennings was incomplete, and with just seven seconds left, linebacker Desmond Bishop broke up the fourth-down throw to Zac Alcorn over the middle.
Rookie running back Brandon Jackson was down for a few seconds after one of those short runs but got back up and appeared to be OK.