GREEN BAY, Wis. — While the Green Bay Packers’ defense received unexpected good news Friday on the recovery of outside linebacker Nick Perry, their offense isn’t likely to get wide receiver James Jones back in time for Sunday night’s game in Minnesota.
Jones, who injured his knee in Week 6, didn’t participate in practice all week and has officially been listed as doubtful against the Vikings.
“When it’s the right time, I’ll be back,” Jones said Wednesday. “This week, next week, the week after, the week after that, I’ll be back.
“When you come back you want to make sure you’re at your best, you don’t want to re-aggravate an injury and now you’re out longer. So you want to come back at the right time, when you feel healthy.”
This would be the second consecutive game that Jones misses. A week ago, Jones was listed as questionable heading into the Packers’ eventual win over the Cleveland Browns.
“I really don’t know how long the process is going to be,” Jones said. “When you’re dealing with a knee injury, you never know how long it’s going to be, how early you can come back. We’ll see what happens.”
Without Jones, Aaron Rodgers’ receiving options are very limited. Tight end Jermichael Finley is out for an unknown amount of time after suffering a spinal contusion and spending four days in the hospital this week. Wide receiver Randall Cobb is on injured reserve with a designation to return in Week 15 due to a fractured fibula.
Therefore, of the four starters and primary playmakers that Rodgers was relying on at the beginning of the season, only Jordy Nelson remains. If that results in the Vikings double-teaming Nelson throughout the game, he’s fine with that.
“Then I’ll let the rest of the guys beat ‘em,” Nelson said. “There’s nothing you can do. You watch it all the time with Atlanta, what (opposing teams) do to Tony Gonzalez in the red zone. I don’t expect that. You can’t do anything about it. If they decide to put two, and I think I’ve seen sometimes three guys like on Calvin (Johnson) in the red zone. There’s 11 guys on the field for a reason.
“The other guys will step up and make plays and we’ll just have to take a feel for it.”
Though Nelson had 1,263 receiving yards in 2011, he’s never been the clear-cut No. 1 receiver before. With the other weapons that he’s been surrounded by in recent years — including now-Vikings wideout Greg Jennings, Nelson will be the receiver that Minnesota locks onto.
“It doesn’t bother me,” Nelson said. “To me, that’s not important at all, I guess. I don’t know. It’s just go out and play football. If I’m the third receiver or the No. 1 receiver, whatever you want to call it, I’m going to go out and do my job. Nothing is going to change the way I go and approach the game.”
On defense, Green Bay is still far from being completely healthy. Star outside linebacker Clay Matthews remains sidelined with a broken thumb and starting inside linebacker Brad Jones is questionable with a hamstring injury. This will be the third consecutive game that Matthews is out for, and it would be the third missed game in a row for Jones if he doesn’t play Sunday.
However, Perry’s return to the practice field Friday and his questionable status for the game is a very quick turnaround. Perry suffered a foot injury in Week 6, one that a local radio station and one local television station reported was a broken foot.
“You always hold out hope until the game comes, we’re just going to have to wait and see,” defensive coordinator Dom Capers said. “I think Nick’s felt better, he’s progressing all week. Sometimes you might take a guy right up to game time before you have to turn in the inactive list.”
Cornerback Casey Hayward, who was the third-place finisher in the Defensive Rookie of the Year race last season, is set to make his season debut after being out for two months with a hamstring injury. Hayward was a full practice participant all week and is listed as probable.
“I’m ready,” Hayward said Friday. “Whenever Coach tells me that I’m up, I’m going to be ready. Hopefully — I’m not sure if it’s this week, but hopefully.”
The rest of Green Bay’s injury report includes cornerback Jarrett Bush (probable; hamstring), safety Jerron McMillian (probable; personal reasons), running back James Starks (probable; knee) and tight end Ryan Taylor (out; knee).