Packers RB Starks listed as inactive

GREEN BAY, Wis. — The Packers’ inactive list for Sunday’s game against the New Orleans Saints may be a telling glance inside the team’s depth chart.

Running back James Starks was listed as probable after being a full participant in practice all week, yet he is inactive. Starks entered training camp as Green Bay’s No. 1 running back, but he went down with a turf toe injury during the first preseason game and has been out ever since. Days after Starks’ injury in early August, the Packers signed veteran Cedric Benson, who immediately became Green Bay’s starting running back.

“We’re starting to see (Starks) back to where he was before he got hurt,” McCarthy said Friday. “I would say he’s close, but with Cedric and Alex (Green) and Brandon (Saine), they’ve earned this opportunity. We’ll keep working through that.”

So, it appears that until Starks can prove otherwise, he’s at the bottom of the Packers’ depth chart at running back.

Also inactive for Sunday’s game is defensive end Phillip Merling, whose playing time has dwindled in the first three weeks of the regular season. In Week 1, Merling played 29 of 67 defensive snaps. He then played 12 of 63 snaps in Week 2 and just seven of 61 snaps in Week 3.

Merling being inactive is also an early sign that he could be released by Green Bay on Monday. That is because defensive end Mike Neal will be reactivated following his four-game suspension. Neal, the Packers’ second-round pick in 2010, was suspended by the NFL for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances — though Neal insists that he was only taking Adderall due to a diagnosed condition of attention deficit disorder.

Packers tight end D.J. Williams was also inactive Sunday, despite playing 37 of 76 offensive snaps in Week 3. McCarthy opted to keep reserve tight ends Tom Crabtree and Ryan Taylor active instead of Williams.

The other four inactive players for Green Bay on Sunday were less surprising: undrafted rookie wide receiver Jarrett Boykin, rookie inside linebacker Terrell Manning, undrafted rookie safety Sean Richardson — who was listed as out with a hamstring injury — and cornerback Davon House, who is still recovering from a preseason shoulder injury.

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