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Packers are THIN at Safety- GB Newspaper


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The Green Bay Packers are holding their breath that they don’t experience a rash of injuries in the secondary on Sunday at Atlanta.

Coach Mike McCarthy on Friday all but ruled out safety Anthony Smith because of the ankle injury he sustained in Sunday’s win at Minnesota. This after safety Atari Bigby, who had been splitting snaps with starter Charlie Peprah after coming off the physically unable to perform list on Nov. 6, was already ruled out because of the hamstring injury he sustained against the Vikings.

That leaves McCarthy and defensive coordinator Dom Capers with only three safeties at their disposal, and that includes hybrid cornerback/safety Jarrett Bush as the top — and perhaps only — backup.

Smith was originally scheduled to test his injured left ankle Friday, but that idea was junked.

“We’re really just taking the cautious approach with Anthony because I want to make sure, if we need him to go, that he’s had every chance to get here,” McCarthy said. “He’s doubtful for a reason. But we feel good with Jarrett Bush and the other guys that are available.”

As he has done all week, McCarthy refused to say what other options the Packers would have behind Peprah and fellow starter Nick Collins. The Packers could move Woodson to safety, if necessary, or perhaps they would use one of their other backup cornerbacks, Brandon Underwood or Pat Lee.

“You have to have guys that can play dual positions,” Capers said. “Our guys have done a good job of that. So I think one good thing about our defensive backs is that we’ve got guys who can play dual positions if we need it.”

Health watch

Bigby and Smith weren’t the only players to miss practice completely.

Center Scott Wells, who has battled a foot injury the last two weeks, was held out, but McCarthy said it was not an indication Wells wouldn’t play against the Falcons. McCarthy said Wells, who was limited in practice on Wednesday and Thursday, was held out for rest.

Defensive ends Cullen Jenkins (calf) and Ryan Pickett (ankle) were full go in practice after being limited the previous two days.

Linebacker Clay Matthews (shin) followed the same plan he has the last several weeks. He was limited in practice all three days.

Atlanta's ailments

For the Falcons, two of their best defensive players were listed on the injury report. Defensive end John Abraham (groin) was limited in practice and was questionable, while linebacker Curtis Lofton (knee) was a full participant and was probable. Abraham leads the Falcons with eight sacks.

“He’s a dynamic pass rusher,” McCarthy said of Abraham. “He played very well against us up here two years ago, and he’s playing at a high level right now. Anytime you play against someone like John’s ability, it’s a different game on turf. He’s going to be an excellent challenge for us. (Left tackle) Chad Clifton’s playing, in my opinion, his best football in my time here, and (Abraham) does have the ability to go to the other side. In our last contest, they played him on both sides. That’s something that we’ve prepared for.”

Blown opportunity

When the Packers ran a reverse on a punt return in the first quarter of Sunday’s game at Minnesota, special teams coach Shawn Slocum thought there was an opportunity for a big play.

But as soon as regular return man Tramon Williams handed the ball off to Sam Shields, the Vikings were all over it and stopped Shields for a 1-yard loss.

“Our outside man was inside his block,” Slocum said. “If he would have been outside of it, (Shields) would have been around the corner.”

Given that Shields isn’t normally on the punt return team, it might be tough for the Packers to use that play again since any team that sees Shields run onto the field in return situations would know some trickery is in store.

“I think that’s probably a one-shot deal because you know everybody will be looking for it if they see me in there,” Shields said. “They’ll say, ‘watch the reverse.’”

However, the Packers could combat that by making Shields a regular as a blocker on punt returns.

When asked if he might use it again, Slocum said: “Sure absolutely, and we will. I guess they’ve got to decide (how to play it), huh? What if we fake it


Atari Bigby is one of their best safeties, them not having him hurts, this where Matty needs to go after and leave Woodson be. ;)

Edited by nativefalcon
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