GREEN BAY, Wis. — The injury report for the Green Bay Packers has become so lengthy that having 46 healthy players for Sunday’s gameday roster could be a struggle.
It’s not just bottom-of-the-depth-chart players, either. The Packers already knew they’d be without starting outside linebackers Clay Matthews (thumb) and Nick Perry (foot), as well as leading receiver Randall Cobb (fractured fibula), but it didn’t stop there for Green Bay.
Wide receiver James Jones (knee) and outside linebacker Mike Neal (shoulder) were both unable to practice all week and have been listed as questionable against the Cleveland Browns. There was some optimism from coach Mike McCarthy earlier in the week about both Jones and Neal, but neither has been able to participate in a practice.
“If we were to play today, I don’t think any of the three (including cornerback Jarrett Bush) would be available,” McCarthy said Friday. “We’ve got 50-plus hours before the game so that’s where we are.”
McCarthy hadn’t given up on having Neal and Jones available, though.
“Mentally, I trust them,” McCarthy said. “They’re ready to go. They’ve been part of the game-planning. They’ll just be spending time with the trainers and strength coaches. With us having a later game (3:25 p.m. CT kickoff) we’ll have a chance to take a look at them Sunday morning. We don’t have anything scheduled as far as a workout yet. We’ll see how it goes.”
The injuries to Matthews, Perry and Neal — who are the Packers’ top three outside linebackers — leaves Green Bay with just undrafted rookie Andy Mulumba and raw sixth-round pick Nate Palmer at the position.
“Really, that’s where we are,” McCarthy said of the depleted depth at outside linebacker. “We’ve been planning all week. When you get in these types of situations, you plan for every scenario. We’ll be ready to go Sunday, I promise you that.”
If Jones joins Cobb on the sideline this weekend, the Packers will be down to only Jordy Nelson and two very inexperienced receivers catching passes from quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Jarrett Boykin was undrafted in 2012 and has six career receptions. Undrafted rookie Myles White was just promoted from the practice squad this week.
“Jarrett Boykin and Myles did a good job,” McCarthy said. “Myles has done something each day that you feel good about. We have a little history here of players playing in their first game and how they react. How we manage it is something I pay close attention to during the course of the game. We’ve had a couple guys each week it seems like in that situation.
“We’re going to put them out there and cut them loose and see what happens.”
Starting inside linebacker Brad Jones (hamstring) was also ruled out for the second consecutive game. Backup tight end Ryan Taylor, who blocked a punt in Week 6, had knee surgery earlier this week and is out. Backup running back James Starks (knee) is out, too.
Cornerback Casey Hayward (hamstring) hasn’t played yet this season, but he is listed as questionable and was able to be a limited practice participant all week. However, cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt made it sound like he wasn’t planning on having — or at least not planning on using — Hayward against Cleveland.