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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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