GREEN BAY, Wis. — Green Bay Packers defensive lineman C.J. Wilson arrived at Lambeau Field on Sunday morning excited for the regular-season home opener. That was until the fourth-year veteran got into the locker room and found out that — despite having a clean bill of health — he was not going to be in uniform against Washington.
“It was very disappointing,” Wilson told FOXSportsWisconsin.com this week.
The Packers’ decision to make him inactive for the game was especially confusing to Wilson because everyone had told him that he put together the best training camp of his career. He thought so, too.
“This year, I had my best camp, I did, and I feel like my best football is ahead of me,” Wilson said. “I feel like I had a great camp.”
Wilson, 26, had several coaches pull him aside Sunday to try to keep him from getting discouraged. They explained to him that it was just about the numbers and that Green Bay didn’t expect to play a lot of its 3-4 ‘Okie’ defense with Robert Griffin III running Washington’s offense.
Defensive coordinator Dom Capers said that Wilson is “playing the best that he’s played,” yet the circumstances of that game kept him from being among the 46 players in uniform.
“C.J., he’s a quality guy,” Capers said Monday. “He understands. He’s a team guy.”
Wilson was trying to take it in stride, but his disappointment was apparent. He knew that friends and family members would worry and ask questions, adding that “all of it; everything” was the toughest part of dealing with the aftermath of being inactive.
“More so than anything, I love to play,” Wilson said. “I’ve been playing football since I was 9 years old. This is what I do. This is my life, my passion. Football is who I am. Not being able to play Sunday was bad.”
Last season, Wilson played 280 snaps, recording 24 tackles and 2.5 sacks. The grading system at ProFootballFocus.com gave Wilson a positive rating for the 2012 season and ranked him as the eighth-best player on the Packers’ defense.
But, with the return of Johnny Jolly after a three-year absence and the team drafting Datone Jones in the first round, Green Bay’s defensive line group got a lot more crowded this season.
“If you’re fortunate enough to have depth, and we have some depth on our defensive line, it’s a lot better than when you’re having to search or bring someone in here off the streets when you get a guy hurt,” Capers said.
Injury Updates: It’s not looking good for Packers safety Morgan Burnett to make his season debut Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Burnett, who has been battling a hamstring injury since the third preseason game, did not participate in Thursday’s practice.
“I think he’s going to be a long shot this week,” coach Mike McCarthy said.
Though running back Eddie Lacy hasn’t practiced yet this week after suffering a concussion Sunday, he hasn’t been ruled out to play in Cincinnati.
“Eddie Lacy took a step today in the protocol, so we’ll see where he is (Friday),” McCarthy said. “The medical staff still feels like he has a good opportunity, so he has to practice (Friday) for us to be able to gauge him.”
Fullback John Kuhn (hamstring) and cornerback Jarrett Bush (hamstring) both didn’t practice Thursday. Right guard T.J. Lang (back), defensive lineman Johnny Jolly (neck) and tight end Jermichael Finley (toe) were all limited.
Cornerback Casey Hayward (hamstring) was already ruled out for the game earlier this week.
No more brown Packers helmets: When Green Bay wears its throwback uniforms Oct. 20, there will be one noticeable difference from recent years. The players will be wearing their gold helmets (minus the logo), instead of the brown helmets — which were meant to look like the old leather headgear.
For health and safety reasons, the NFL will require players to wear their same helmets all season.
By midweek, that news had not yet reached quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
“We don’t get to?” Rodgers asked. “Why not? Safety? . . . I will say this: Whoever’s making the pants this year for the Packers, I got some yellow ones, they had to be new, because they fit like the brown ones, so I’m really excited. Thankful to whoever’s making the pants. But I still love the brown pants as well.”