Packers secondary could be down two starters vs. Brees, Saints

BY foxsports • October 24, 2014

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- It certainly helps to be at full strength going into a game at the Superdome against Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints' second-ranked passing offense. However, the Green Bay Packers might find themselves down two starters in the secondary.

Safety Morgan Burnett (calf) is questionable and cornerback Sam Shields (knee) is doubtful. This would be the second consecutive missed game for Shields, but it'd be the first for Burnett.

"Morgan was in here bright and early going through the treatments," head coach Mike McCarthy said. "He's obviously going through the Friday routine defensively with the walkthroughs and the classroom. It's a night game, too. We have more time."

It might take up until Sunday night (90 minutes before kickoff when inactive rosters are due) for the Packers to decide whether Burnett will play.

"It's kind of a time-clock type thing," McCarthy said.

Brees is the wrong quarterback and the Saints are the wrong offense to be facing with a depleted secondary. With 314 passing yards per game, New Orleans trails only the Indianapolis Colts in that category. However, Green Bay's passing defense is ranked fifth in the NFL through seven games.

"Drew Brees is a big challenge for our defense," McCarthy said. "We're excited as a defense for this opportunity. We've been playing better each and every week."

Regardless of Burnett's status, rookie safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix will likely start his second consecutive game. If Burnett is out, that would create a starting safety duo of Clinton-Dix and second-year converted nickel back Micah Hyde. It would also give more opportunities for Sean Richardson to be part of the defensive game plan.

"I think Sean Richardson deserves opportunities," McCarthy said. "It'd be nice to give him those opportunities, and those are conversations that have been going on for quite some time. And that's what you're looking, you're looking for players just to keep battling, take advantage of the plays that they are in on. You look at the play he made on the third down against Carolina (in Week 7).

"Sean deserves it, and we'll see if it happens."

With the likely possibility that Shields is unable to play, Davon House would get another start at outside cornerback. House dislocated a finger last weekend but has practiced all week. Casey Hayward would again play in the nickel packages.

Second-year defensive lineman Datone Jones will be out for a third consecutive game with an ankle injury. Jones practiced Thursday, but it didn't go well for him.

"Datone, actually, he went for it (Thursday in practice)," McCarthy said. "I appreciate him out there pushing through it. Frankly, watching the individual work with Mike Trgovac, our D-Line coach, you could clearly see he's not ready. So he's not going to make it."

The fourth and final player on the Packers injury report is running back James Starks, but he's probable with a left ankle injury. Starks told FOXSportsWisconsin.com on Wednesday that he was going to play, and all work since then has him in position to do just that.

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