Thursday, October 16, 2008

The walking wounded report

It's no surprise to any Packers fan that there are a host of injuries on the team. So far, those players having to step in have performed well for the most part. Tramon Williams, replacing Al Harris, for example, has had three interceptions in the last three games. But Harris might be back sooner than expected from his spleen injury. Harris actually participated in practice today for the first time since being injured in the Dallas game on September 21. According to reports, he wore a protective jacket around his abdomen while doing individual running and pass-catching drills. Head coach Mike McCarthy told reporters that they would follow the doctors orders, of course. Translate that into Harris possibly seeing some limited action against the Titans after the bye week, which gives him another three weeks to heal.

Atari Bigby also seems closer to playing this week than the last several. He had some limited practice yesterday and McCarthy said if Bigby can practice this week he may see action against the Colts on Sunday.

QB Aaron Rodgers threw for the first time in practice today, albeit lightly. McCarthy said Rodgers took about 50 percent of the first team snaps. It's a good sign. But Rodgers has performed spectacularly well without practice the last two weeks. He'll likely need to light it up Sunday in what could be a high-scoring game.

The news isn't so promising, though, for nose tackle Ryan Pickett and his triceps strain. Coach McCarthy said Pickett was probably 50-50 for the Colts game. Not having Pickett available for a game like this would be a definite blow to the defense.

As to the return of DT Justin Harrell and how it might affect the defense, no one knows for sure. Not even Harrell. The oft-injured and top Packers' pick in the '07 draft saw his first practice of the year yesterday. But apparently, according to McCarthy, he looked good. Harrell admitted to tiring, which is not surprising. Whether Harrell sees any action Sunday is still to be determined. But at this point, given the thinness on the defensive line, even getting a few snaps out of Harrell would be a plus. Heck, that would be a plus whether it's this game or any other.

Now, to be fair, all those who are close to the scene -- including normally cynical sports pundits -- have said repeatedly that Harrell is a young man who you just have to root for. He has faced injuries in college and in his pro career, such as it has been. It's not his fault that GM Ted Thompson decided to roll the dice and take him at #16 in the 2007 NFL Draft, which many fans and analysts all felt was a reach. But reports are that Harrell has worked hard to recover from the two off-season back surgeries he had and is in very good physical condition. So, all we can do is to hope Harrell finally catches a break and stays healthy...for both his sake and the Packers.