Packers' James Jones, Neal questionable for Sunday
- Article by: TODD McMAHON
- Associated Press
- October 18, 2013 - 6:45 PM
GREEN BAY, Wis. — The injury-riddled Green Bay Packers might have to scramble to fill their roster for Sunday's game against the Cleveland Browns.
Wide receiver James Jones and linebacker Mike Neal are among four players listed as questionable. Five players on the 53-man roster have been ruled out.
NFL teams are allowed to suit up 46 players for games, but the Packers' biggest problem for this weekend could be finding enough healthy bodies to reach that number.
"It's a good question. I've never asked," coach Mike McCarthy said Friday when asked if the Packers need to have a full complement of players on game day.
McCarthy indicated the decisions on Jones and Neal, who both didn't practice this week, could go right around game time.
The Packers (3-2) don't play the Browns (3-3) until the late afternoon at Lambeau Field.
"Mentally, I trust 'em," McCarthy said of Jones and Neal. "They're ready to go. They've been part of the game planning. They'll just be spending the time (this weekend) with the trainers and the strength coaches. With us having a later game, we'll have a chance to take a look at 'em Sunday morning. We don't have anything scheduled as far as a workout yet. So we'll see how it goes."
Jones sprained a knee in the Packers' win at Baltimore last Sunday.
Coupled with the loss of Randall Cobb until at least mid-December because of a leg fracture, the Packers were going to be down to Jordy Nelson, Jarrett Boykin and newly added rookie Myles White at receiver if Jones can't play.
But later in the day Friday, Green Bay acquired rookie receiver Chris Harper off waivers from the San Francisco 49ers, who released him the previous day. Harper was a fourth-round draft pick by the Seattle Seahawks, who cut him at the end of the preseason.
Nelson is confident the Packers' offense can function without his fellow playmakers — Cobb and perhaps Jones — on the field Sunday.
"I think it's going to be business as usual," Nelson said.
Boykin, a second-year player who has played sparingly this season, had to step in against the Ravens after Jones and Cobb were injured in the first half. Boykin responded after some tough moments in that game by turning a short pass from Aaron Rodgers into a 43-yard gain.
Meanwhile, Green Bay promoted the undrafted White from the practice squad this week.
"I don't know how much advice I have (for them), but it's just football," Nelson said. "Those guys have played before. The big thing is just to keep them calm. They're going to have a lot of energy, probably a lot of nerves, especially someone like Myles who hasn't been on the field since preseason."
The outlook is just as tenuous at outside linebacker, where the Packers are without starters Clay Matthews and Nick Perry due to significant injuries.
Not having Neal on the field this week because of a bruised shoulder left Green Bay with only two players — rookies Andy Mulumba and Nate Palmer — at the position in practice.
"It was kind of freaky. I had some shoulder pads and a helmet actually in my locker this morning, what are they trying to say?" outside linebackers coach Kevin Greene cracked.
The 51-year-old Greene was a standout linebacker during a 15-year NFL playing career that ended in 1999.
With Neal unable to practice after he helped fill a void when Matthews was lost to a broken thumb Oct. 6 and then Perry to a foot injury in the last game, the Packers prepared this week to give Mulumba and Palmer their first pro starts.
"You just have to ride through, fight your way through, find a way to play good while you're combatting some of these injuries," defensive coordinator Dom Capers said.
NOTES: TE Jermichael Finley said after Friday's practice he planned to appeal a fine he received this week from the NFL office. A league spokesman said Finley was fined $15,750 for unnecessarily striking a defenseless player in the head and neck area, pertaining to a block Finley put on Ravens LB Terrell Suggs on a run play to end the first quarter. "I really don't care about it, but just the fact that if it was a play where I was trying to do it (on purpose), I'd take the fine, but I won't take it," Finley said. ... To make room for Harper on the 53-man roster, the Packers released RB Michael Hill on Friday. Hill, a rookie, appeared in the last two games with Green Bay and had one kickoff return in Sunday's game. . CB Casey Hayward (hamstring), who hasn't played this season, also is questionable for Sunday. Hayward practiced on a limited basis this week. Other Green Bay players ruled out for the game are RB James Starks (knee) and TE Ryan Taylor (knee).
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