GREEN BAY – Mike McCarthy isn’t one to bellyache about injuries, but even the Green Bay Packers coach couldn’t muster another next-man-up cliché on Monday. He had reached his breaking point after fullback John Kuhn departed practice with a sprained ankle, further depleting the running back corps.
With Kuhn leaving practice and newly signed Cedric Benson not allowed to practice in pads on Monday or Tuesday, the Packers were down to two halfbacks (Alex Green and Marc Tyler) and one fullback (Nic Cooper), forcing McCarthy to end practice before the final scheduled team period.
“We’re down to three running backs and one of them, Alex Green, he’s obviously coming off major knee surgery. We cut practice 20 minutes short today because of it,” a visibly frustrated McCarthy said. “So that’s why the last two periods were cut. Right now, we have three running backs. We’ll see where John is the next couple days. I’d like to have four of them going into the game.”
If Kuhn isn’t able to play against the Browns, the Packers would need to add a running back. Benson has been ruled out, and James Starks (turf toe), Brandon Saine (hamstring) and Du’ane Bennett (knee) are already out.
“We’ve been so depleted at every position -- running back, especially, (with us) not having Brandon Saine. (And) Bennett had a promising start to camp and he went down. I think we’re still trying to get a little bit more from that group,” quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. “It’s pretty bad luck. I don’t know if you can put your finger on one thing exactly, but we’ve got to get healthy. We’ve got to get healthy, we’ve got to stay healthy, we’ve got to see who the 53 is going to be.
“I think you feel bad for guys that had a legit shot at either making this team or putting some good film together and getting picked up by somebody else. I was telling Bennett, he was kind of my dark horse to lead the preseason in rushing. We always pick one guy that might play a lot in the fourth quarters and put up some yards. In the past seven years, we’ve put up some big numbers, and I thought he was a guy who could really show some stuff late in games and then get picked up by us or another team. You feel bad for a guy like that.”
While the Packers got left tackle Marshall Newhouse (concussion) and wide receiver Tori Gurley (groin) back for Monday’s practice, they were without defensive tackle Ryan Pickett and safety M.D. Jennings – although at least both of whom were excused for personal reasons, not because of injuries.
Remaining sidelined were WR Shaky Smithson (ankle), WR Diondre Borel (groin), RB Du’ane Bennett (knee), CB Davon House (shoulder), RB Brandon Saine (hamstring), FB Jon Hoese (hamstring), CB Sam Shields (elbow), RB James Starks (toe), ILB Desmond Bishop (hamstring), G Ray Dominguez (ankle), WR Greg Jennings (concussion) and TE Jermichael Finley (quadriceps). In addition, the four players who still haven’t passed their physicals remained sidelined: DE Johnny Jones (knee), TE Andrew Quarless (knee), OT Derek Sherrod (leg) and OLB Frank Zombo (hamstring).
TE Eric Lair (knee) was placed on injured reserve to make room for Benson on the roster.
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