Packers get good news with banged-up defense
Linebacker Clay Matthews, defensive end Ryan Pickett and cornerbacks Charles Woodson and Tramon Williams participated in Friday's practice and are listed as probable for Sunday's game.
"I have no reason to believe that they won't play," coach Mike McCarthy said.
The lone missing starter is Pro Bowl safety Nick Collins, who is out for the season with a neck injury sustained in last week's victory over the Carolina Panthers.
The status of Woodson and Matthews was up in the air until they practiced for the first time, albeit on a limited basis.
Woodson, who had a big game with two interceptions and a fumble recovery against Carolina, aggravated a foot injury. Matthews, who recorded his first sack of the season, sustained a quadriceps injury.
"To see Clay out there, that always makes you feel a little bit better," Capers said.
Pickett, an 11th-year veteran, left the game in the fourth quarter with a bruised foot and didn't return. He didn't know when and how the injury occurred but said he played hurt most of the game.
Now, he feels a sense of urgency to play Sunday because the Packers will be without Collins, a three-time Pro Bowl selection, as the Packers try to resolve their leaky pass defense. They have given up a league-high 851 yards through the air after ranking No. 5 against the pass last season.
"We pretty much need everybody," Pickett said. "We're going to have to rally up, missing a big-time player like Nick back there in the secondary. That makes every guy that much more important.
"We haven't been playing up to our standard on defense. It's the bottom line. There's no excuses. We just haven't, and we've got to get back to playing our style of football."
Williams, who led the team last season with a career-high nine interceptions, bruised a shoulder in the season opener against New Orleans and didn't play against Carolina. He said Friday it was the first time he has missed a game at any level in any sport going back to his childhood.
"I could have made the decision to go (last Sunday), but I thought it was best that I stay out. I didn't want to risk more injury," said Williams, who revealed he sustained a bruise of a nerve in his shoulder.
Williams said he will wear a protective harness over the shoulder if he plays. He tried it out in practice this week and is eager to get things turned around for the defense.
"It's hard to watch, especially when things aren't in synch," he said.
The Packers overcame 400-yard passing performances by New Orleans' Drew Brees and Carolina rookie Cam Newton to win the first two games.
Capers isn't overly concerned about those high numbers since his defense has limited the damage on the scoreboard with strong play in the red zone.
Capers laughed off a suggestion in an interview with reporters Friday that there's no way Bears quarterback Jay Cutler throws for 400 yards Sunday.
"As long as we win the game, he can throw for as many yards as he wants to," Capers said.
Last updated: 6:17 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012