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Packers won't rush injured players back for Bears game

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Associated Press
December 20, 2007
— Green Bay Packers defensive tackle Ryan Pickett was limited in practice on Wednesday because of a groin injury, and doesn’t expect to find out if he’ll be playing on Sunday until the last minute.

“I want to play every snap, every game,” Pickett said. “If it were just totally up to me, I wouldn’t miss a game or a play. I definitely want to play.”


But with a first-round bye and at least one home playoff game already clinched, Packers coach Mike McCarthy won’t rush Pickett back into the lineup for Sunday’s game at Chicago.


“Big picture-wise we’re going to be smart with him,” McCarthy said. “He’s champing at the bit to get back in there. We’ll take the week to see where he is.”


The same goes for quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who was limited in practice on Wednesday because of a lingering hamstring injury from two weeks ago.


“Aaron’s getting better,” McCarthy said. “Big picture, I don’t know if it would be smart to play him this week. It’s something we’ll discuss again next week. The playoff run is our big-picture focus.”


Craig Nall would serve as the backup quarterback if Rodgers doesn’t return, and McCarthy said first-round draft pick Justin Harrell likely would start if Pickett doesn’t.


Harrell has been inactive for nine games this season, but has been playing more frequently of late after season-ending injuries to defensive tackles Colin Cole and Johnny Jolly.


Harrell, whose selection was booed by Packers fans on draft day, said he’s happy to finally be contributing.


“It feels real good,” Harrell said. “Coming in, it was hard, trying to sit down and really take aspect of what was happening to me. But everything happens for a reason, and it’s all come to light right now, what they were doing. I’m just trying to take advantage of this opportunity.”


And making his first career start would be even bigger.


“You always want to go out and play,” Harrell said. “Getting my first NFL start would be special to me. But starting or not, I’m going to go out and approach the game the same way – go out there and try to make plays and help this team win.”


Harrell dislocated his left thumb in the Packers’ victory over St. Louis on Sunday, and is wearing a cast this week.


“It’s a nuisance because I use my hands every play – every time I hit somebody I feel it,” Harrell said. “But people play through a lot worse things than a dislocated thumb.”


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MVP’S RSVP?: Brett Favre is back in the Pro Bowl.


But will he actually play?


Favre said he is focused on the Packers’ game in Chicago on Sunday, and isn’t ready to ponder anything beyond that.


It is Favre’s ninth Pro Bowl selection and his first since 2003. But Favre has skipped out on his last four chances to play in the Pro Bowl because of fatigue and lingering injuries.


“I haven’t gone since ’96, and really by the time the season’s over, I’m burnt out. It’s been more what I have put into my individual game as well as the team.”


Favre fondly recalled the first time he was named to the Pro Bowl.


“I couldn’t wait to get on the phone and call people and tell them and was so excited, I don’t see how a first-time player can look at it much differently,” Favre said. “I mean, it is an exciting time. But you’ve got to play another game, and we’re in the thick of things. And my direction is Chicago, and we’ll see what happens at the end.”


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NOTES: Cornerback Jarrett Bush was limited in practice on Wednesday because of a calf injury but said he will play on Sunday. “I’ll be back,” Bush said. “You can’t hold me down this week.” ... Starting fullback Korey Hall has officially been ruled out for Sunday’s game and will be replaced by John Kuhn. “I’m glad that they have the confidence in me that they can just throw me into the fire and not really worry about it,” Kuhn said. “I’m confident I’ll be able to do a good job.” ... Also limited in practice on Wednesday were LT Chad Clifton (shoulder), G Junius Coston (ankle), TE Bubba Franks (knee), CB Al Harris (heel), WR Koren Robinson (knee), S Aaron Rouse (shoulder), RT Mark Tauscher (ankle), LB Tracy White (ankle) and CB Charles Woodson (toe). ... McCarthy said he still isn’t sure if Franks, who has been out since hurting his knee against Washington Oct. 14, will be ready. “Bubba had a better day today,” McCarthy said. “I know I’ve said that on a couple Wednesdays. We’ll give him the week to try to get ready. I’m hopeful he can go but I’m not sure.”



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