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Clifton, Bishop, Starks, Saine All Return

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Clifton, Bishop, Starks, Saine All Return

A quartet of injured players returned to the practice field on Wednesday as the Packers began their first day of preparation for the Chicago Bears on Christmas Sunday.

Offensive lineman Chad Clifton, linebacker Desmond Bishop and running backs James Starks and Brandon Saine all took part in today's outdoor practice session at Ray Nitschke Field.

Clifton practiced for the first time since leaving the Week 5 game with a hamstring injury and later dealing with a back injury on his road to recovery. The veteran tackle reportedly only took part in individual drills.

"He's making strides," said head coach Mike McCarthy during his press conference. Clifton wasn't ruled out, but McCarthy indicated he wasn't ready yet.

The potential return of Clifton is getting extra attention due to the injury situation along the offensive line. Any chance that Bryan Bulaga might return in time for the Bears was quashed when the right tackle was officially ruled out, along with wide receiver Greg Jennings.

Starting along the offensive line from left to right figures to be Marshall Newhouse, Evan Dietrich-Smith, Scott Wells, Josh Sitton and T.J. Lang. McCarthy said newly acquired tackle Herb Taylor will probably be active on Sunday.

Also participating on a limited basis on Wednesday were Bishop (calf), Saine (concussion) and defensive lineman Mike Neal who was a new addition to the injury report with a shoulder injury sustained during last Sunday's loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.

For Bishop and Saine, it was a step in the right direction as two players who missed the Chiefs game altogether. McCarthy said Bishop has a chance to play on Christmas if he continues to progress.

Starks practiced on a full-time basis, which should give the Packers more depth at running back than they had in Kansas City when Ryan Grant and John Kuhn shared the running back roles almost exclusively.

"Two running backs is not enough," said McCarthy who added that it will be good for Starks to be back.

Defensive lineman Ryan Pickett remained out after sustaining a concussion in the Week 14 game against the Raiders and missing the Chiefs game. McCarthy declined to elaborate on Pickett's status other than to say he's making progress.

Brian Carriveau is a writer for Cheesehead TV. To contact Brian, email carriveau@uwalumni.com.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (24) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

packsmack25's picture

I'm telling you, Clifton and Bulaga will be fine come playoff time, and everything will be back to awesome.

Idiot Fan's picture

Man I hope you're right. Though Cliffy's going to have some serious rust to shake off.

FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

That's what I've been telling myself, throw 85 in there too.

Bearmeat's picture

I sure hope so PackSmack. They need them.

MM/AR do need to adjust. The downfield throws are great, but they only work if everything goes right beforehand: Pass Pro/WR's get off jams/run right route/pass is accurate.

That's a lot that can go wrong. Much easier to check down and run the ball - especially in colder weather.

tony's picture

I agree here... they normally dink-and-dunk to the WRs then unleash Finley against Chicago, so this should be a nice "baby steps" game getting used to the OL and Jennings-less receivers.

I couldn't be less worried about this team going forward. Everyone's ALMOST healthy, and it's the perfect time to get everyone back in the saddle.

Nerd's Laptop's picture

It's a Festivus miracle!

fish/crane's picture

+3 around the Festivus pole

darrin's picture

Neal injured? The hell you say. How did that one slip in there? But I'm sure he's really just fine...

NoWayJose's picture

Sad thing is that it's getting hard to care anymore with Neal this year...

Mojo's picture

According to McCarthy it's a different shoulder injury than the one from last year. Whew!, that makes me feel better.

dgtalmn's picture

Potential is a word that will kill Neal, almost like that other guy...

Jake's picture

So should we assume Clifton isn't playing this weekend? It would be amazing if he could come in and play LT, then we could leave Lang at LG and put Newhouse at RT until Bulaga is back... Just a pipedream I assume...

Anyway I do wonder what the offense is going to look like on Sunday with no Jennings and such a banged up line. It just seems like with how banged up they are and how they played against KC, Rodgers is gonna be in all kinds of trouble...

chuck's picture

I know we are only suppose to focus on this year, but am curious about LT next year. I would think with Sherrod injury and the way Newhouse plays, perhaps Bulaga gets a sniff at LT next spring.

packsmack25's picture

I'm betting this next draft is heavy on the heavies.

BubbaOne's picture

W/ most likely 12 picks...that's a lotta heavies.

Actually there are potentially a lot of players to replace: Collins, Clifton, Flynn, Lee, Grant, Driver, Wells, maybe even Woodson. And it's likely Quarless, Sherrod, and even Green could end up on the PUP list to start next season.

packsmack25's picture

Willing to bet Quarless and possibly Sherrod are on IR next season. Both had catastrophic leg injuries that will require at least a calendar year to completely heal/rehab. Then again, EJ Henderson was back in record time, so who knows?

Jake's picture

I've wondered this same thing and I've kinda hoped Bulaga would get a chance at LT as he's the best tackle on the team...

66Mesa's picture

Hopefully the O Line will hold up to the Bears pass rush. Definitely need Clifton back soon. Though Peppers didn't practice today for the Bears - non-injury related (probably Christmas shopping or team shopping)...Can the Pack defense create a shut out?!? McCown hasnt seen action since last year with the Hartford Colonials-Arena. So it should be easy to read him - the Bears wont give him too many checkdowns. I think we can expect short passes to the flats and over the middle. He hasnt had enough first team snaps to have the timing to go deep, though they may try. The Pack needs to deliver a whole lot of coal to the Bears at Lambeau Sunday night. Show no mercy like they did last year!

lmills's picture

I'm hoping this next draft is only "heavies"!

FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

Might want to address OLB and S too, might not be a bad idea.

BubbaOne's picture

See my response above to @packsmack25

and we could use an ILB who can cover.

BTW-Woodson will turn 36 during next season so maybe this off season he converts to S. If he does along w/ having Burnett, Peprah, and Jennings drafting a safety gets pushed down the list of needs.

bryce's picture

please play clifton, please

nerd's phone's picture

Yeah at least give him a series or two.

fish/crane's picture

Last year- nobody came back from injuries.....GROWL!

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