In a season filled with injuries, perhaps it’s only fitting that there was one more piece of drama added to the story on Friday.
While the Green Bay Packers appear set to go forward with T.J. Lang at left guard and Don Barclay at right tackle, there’s at least a little mystery at right guard. Standout veteran Josh Sitton, arguably the team’s best lineman, was held out of practice on Friday with a hip injury and is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game at Chicago.
Coach Mike McCarthy said it was something that flared up at Thursday’s practice.
“The evaluation this morning was not good,” McCarthy said. “I don’t have all the information but I’m hopeful that he’ll be ready to go. … Talking to Josh, I’m not real concerned. But, as we know, it’s different – I’ve never had a player tell me he was hurt.”
Sitton called the injury “nothing too much” and that he “should be good” for the game.
“It doesn’t matter who we’re playing, man, I want to be on the field. I should be,” he said.
At the part of Friday’s practice that was open to reporters, Lang was at left guard, Barclay at right tackle and Evan Dietrich-Smith took Sitton’s spot at right guard. Lang, however, said he also took snaps at left guard.
Meanwhile, outside linebacker Clay Matthews is listed as probable and is on course to return after missing the last four games with an injured hamstring.
“I think so. I thought he looked good all week,” McCarthy said. “I got no indication from him that he wouldn’t be. I look for Clay to play and make an impact on the game.”
McCarthy said Matthews’ reps probably would be limited. That would be a departure from usual though a logical idea given the team’s closing in on a playoff berth. In the eight games before the injury, Matthews played every defensive snap five times.
“He’s had a good week of practice, and we’ll just have to see how it goes,” defensive coordinator Dom Capers said. “It’s different speed when you’re out there at game speed, but I think he’s had a good week of practice building up, so I’m anxious to see him out there playing.”
Packers injury report
Out: WR Jordy Nelson (hamstring); RB James Starks (knee); DE C.J. Wilson (knee); DB Charles Woodson (collarbone). Questionable: WR Donald Driver (thumb); LB Terrell Manning (shoulder); G Josh Sitton (hip). Probable: CB Davon House (illness); G/T T.J. Lang (ankle); LB Clay Matthews (hamstring); S Jerron McMillian (back); DE Mike Neal (shoulder); T Marshall Newhouse (wrist).
Bears injury report
Out: WR Earl Bennett (concussion); CB Tim Jennings (shoulder); LB Brian Urlacher (hamstring). Doubtful: DE Shea McClellin (knee); DT Henry Melton (chest). Questionable: RB Michael Bush (ribs); LB Geno Hayes (knee); DT Matt Toeainia (knee). Probable: LB Lance Briggs (knee/hip); QB Jay Cutler (neck/knee); TE Kellen Davis (knee); DT Stephen Paea (foot); T Jonathan Scott (shoulder); G Chris Spencer (knee); CB Charles Tillman (shoulder).
Jennings is the NFL’s interception leader, Bennett is their No. 2 receiver and Urlacher is the longtime heart and soul of the defense. Moreover, Melton and McClellin are forces in the pass rush. Melton has six sacks and McClellin got 1.5 sacks against the Packers in Week 2. Neither practiced this week.
-- On Wednesday, as part of a disparaging set of comments about the Packers’ secondary, Bears receiver Brandon Marshall called Capers the MVP of the Week 2 game in which the NFL’s leading pass-catcher was limited to two receptions. “Somebody told me that but I normally don’t pay much attention to the banter that goes on before or after games,” Capers said. “He obviously is a guy that creates a challenge. You don’t have to look very hard at the stats -- the guy’s got 101 receptions – to see that he’s a big part of their offense.”
-- Cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt had little to say about Marshall’s comments, either: “We’re going to play the game on Sunday so nothing really needs to be said. We’re trying to win a football game. He feels a certain way – outstanding – but we’re trying to win a football game. We’re going to do the things that we need to do to win that game.”
-- Tramon Williams will spend most of the game matched up against Marshall. “I think he’s having a really solid season,” Whitt said. “To my count, I think he’s given up 27 completions on our count that were credited to him. He’s been matched up on the top player most of the time. If he’s not matched up on the top player, he’s to the left, where most balls are thrown. We always try to put him in harm’s way. I think he’s gone four games without giving up a completion. He’s had a very, very solid year. I’m pleased with him.”
-- Cornerback Sam Shields appears to have supplanted Davon House as the cornerback opposite Williams in the nickel and dime packages. “He performed well (against the Lions),” Capers said. “That’s normally the way things work: If a guy performs well, you feel better about having him on the field for more snaps. I like the way he performed. It’s good to have him back.”
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.