GREEN BAY, Wis. — For the Packers to get back to .500 with an upset win on the road Sunday night over the Houston Texans, they’ll have to do so without at least one of their key players — and possibly without several others.
Two-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Greg Jennings (groin) has officially been ruled out. This will be the third game this season that Jennings will miss due to the groin injury he initially suffered on the team’s final drive in Week 1.
“We feel he’s probably at the spot where he was before he played against the Saints (in Week 4),” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Friday. “So we’re going to go probably another six days before we even attempt to test him. That’s our plan.”
Jennings, who missed Week 2 but returned and re-injured his groin two games later, has been preaching caution before he tries to play again.
“Just making sure that I don’t rush it back like I did before,” Jennings said Thursday. “Trying to make sure that we do the things that we need to do before we go out there and start attacking it physically when it comes to actually running on the field so that we won’t have a setback.
“That’s kind of been the game plan, not to do that too soon, to allow a potential setback. Physically, I feel good, but physically I’ve felt good before. Only time will tell.”
Tight end Jermichael Finley (shoulder) and Pro Bowl nose tackle B.J. Raji (ankle) are both questionable. They each left last Sunday’s game in Indianapolis after suffering injuries. Finley saw limited action in Friday’s practice, but Raji did not participate at all.
“B.J. is a little further behind (in his recovery),” McCarthy said. “He was not able to go through the rehab part of it. We had to prepare all week to go without B.J. That’s the way you have to approach it from a coaching perspective. But B.J. is definitely at the point of his career, if he’s ready to go then we’ll give him the opportunity to do that.”
Raji’s statistics are far from noteworthy this season (seven tackles, zero sacks), but he adds tremendous value to Green Bay’s defense by plugging up the middle with his 337-pound frame. Against Arian Foster and the Texans’ ninth-ranked rushing attack, Raji’s absence would be difficult for the Packers to overcome.
“B.J. is one of our best players,” defensive coordinator Dom Capers said Friday. “You’d like to have your best players playing. Obviously, you have to be healthy, especially in a game like this because you’re going to be running laterally a lot.
“We’ll see where he is before the game. It’s a night game so you’ve got a bit more time.”
Finley was insistent again Friday about wanting to play in this game, which is in his home state of Texas.
“It’s looking good,” Finley said at his locker Friday. “I think they know how bad I want to play. I feel great right now. I think I’m ready. I won’t even think about the shoulder unless it gets pounded pretty hard. I’m ready to go.”
If Finley is not cleared to play, Green Bay may not have his backup available, either. Second-year tight end D.J. Williams injured a hamstring at the end of Wednesday’s practice and is also questionable. Williams had been getting additional snaps in practice this week as the Packers prepared for the possibility of Finley being out.
“This is very frustrating, timing-wise,” Williams said Thursday. “With our tight end situation right now, we need some of us to get healthy soon to help our team out. We’ll see what tomorrow brings. I don’t have that little mirror, mirror on the wall that, who was that, that Cinderella had? Snow White? Something like that. Maybe on eBay I’ll check it out and tell the future.”