McCarren sees 'encouraging signs' in 'banged-up' Packers
GREEN BAY - Yes, the Green Bay Packers are 6-3 and firmly entrenched in the playoff hunt. Yes, they have won four straight games.
But they enter their unofficial second half of the season with the potential of not having key cogs such as Clay Matthews, Charles Woodson and other critical players due to injury.
Still, Newsradio 620 WTMJ Packers Radio Network color voice and TODAY'S TMJ4/NBC26 reporter Larry McCarren says that Monday's mini-practice gave some positives for the team's long-term health.
"There were encouraging signs when they re-convened, people who during the bye week were not in the neighborhood of practicing - Sam Shields, John Kuhn," said McCarren on Newsradio 620 WTMJ's "Wisconsin's Morning News."
"(We) got a look at Derek Sherrod. He went through some drills for the first time."
Sherrod will have to play a key role for an offensive line which lost right tackle Bryan Bulaga for the season with a hip injury.
He says the piece to watch in today's practice is Matthews, the Pro Bowl linebacker who is known for causing havoc for opponents.
"The biggest name out there, a guy who's still in the mix as playing goes, is Clay Matthews. He did not work Monday. He has a hamstring history with the Green Bay Packers. He's had previous issues. It would be interesting to see if he's out there at all today."
The missing pieces of the Packers' defensive puzzle may provide holes which the Detroit Lions can take advantage of on Sunday.
"They're going to say 'Green Bay is not the usual without these people,' " said McCarren.
"It's a luxury when you face a team without a couple of its playmakers. From their perspective, you've got to take advantage of that and not take the foot off the gas."
Keeping the foot on the gas has proven to be the best response to injuries so far this year - as it was when the Packers won Super Bowl XLV two years ago with 18 injured players by the end of the ultimate game.
"The Packers have showed a mentality of dealing with this stuff. The next man up stuff can get trite, but certainly guys buy in, and they've been able to win four straight games while being pretty banged up."