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Notebook: Key veterans sit out finale

Aug. 30, 2012
 

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Green Bay Packers defensive tackle B.J. Raji is assisted by team medical staff after getting injured in the first quarter of Thursday's game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Lambeau Field. Evan Siegle/Press-Gazette

Injury report

• New injuries: DT B.J. Raji (ankle).
• Did not participate: DB Charles Woodson (veterans rest), Ryan Pickett (rest), Donald Driver (rest), Jeff Saturday (rest).
• Still out: CB Davon House (shoulder), T Derek Sherrod (lower leg), RB James Starks (turf toe), T Andrew Datko (concussion), ILB Robert Francois (hamstring), TE Tom Crabtree (shoulder).
• Returned: WR Curenski Gilleylen (groin), LB Jamari Lattimore (ankle).

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Sam Shields had been in this spot before.

Fresh off intercepting an end-zone pass from Kansas City quarterback Brady Quinn in the second quarter of the Green Bay Packers’ 24-3 preseason win over the Chiefs on Thursday, the third-year cornerback initially thought about a return.

Then, Shields thought better of it. Shields wasn’t about to revisit last year’s Week 6 encounter with St. Louis in which he sustained a concussion after trying to return an end-zone pick.

So with 67,999 at Lambeau Field watching his every move, did Shields take that into account?

“I did,” said Shields, laughing. “(This) time I was looking and the first time I wasn’t looking. I saw that I couldn’t go anywhere, so I just got down.”

All kidding aside, Thursday’s interception and overall performance was much-needed for Shields, who endured a roller-coaster camp in which he struggled in coverage and with his tackling at some points.

With veterans Tramon Williams and Jarrett Bush playing only one series, Shields saw extensive playing time against the Chiefs and finished with four tackles, a pass deflection and the pick.

Although Bush appears to be the leading candidate for the starting spot across from Williams, Shields made a compelling case to work as the fourth cornerback in the dime defense.

“Whatever the coaches’ decision they come up with, I’m ready to rock and roll,” Shields said. “The finish is what counts. As everybody said, I had an up-and-down start of training camp, but I just took one day at a time. Talked with some of the veterans like (Charles Woodson) with any questions I had about what I need to work on. I listened and I kept going.”

Raji appears OK

The Packers appear to have dodged a bullet with defensive tackle B.J. Raji, who left with an ankle injury on the first play Thursday.

The 6-foot-2, 337-pound defensive tackle was able to walk off the field without assistance and sat on the sideline for the rest of the contest. Afterward, Packers coach Mike McCarthy wasn’t too concerned about Raji’s prognosis, but also admitted it wasn’t what he wanted to see following the team’s injury-riddled camp, either.

“I don’t have a high level of concern about B.J. Raji’s ankle right now based off the information I was given and also talking with B.J.,” McCarthy said. “First play of the game, that’s not a good feeling. Obviously, we didn’t put him back in.”

In Raji’s place, veteran Daniel Muir played the rest of the game at defensive tackle to help his bid to be the team’s sixth defensive lineman.

Woodson, center Jeff Saturday, defensive lineman Ryan Pickett and wide receiver Donald Driver were given a veterans’ night off while cornerback Davon House (shoulder), tackle Derek Sherrod (lower leg), running back James Starks (turf toe), tackle Andrew Datko (concussion), linebacker Robert Francois (hamstring), tight end Tom Crabtree (shoulder) were out with injuries.

Tight ends D.J. Williams (ankle) and Jamari Lattimore (ankle) were active but didn’t play.

IR change approved

Maybe Desmond Bishop’s season isn’t over after all.

On Thursday, the NFL and NFL Players Association agreed to a new provision to season-ending injured reserve that allows each NFL team to designate one player with a “major injury” for reactivation later this season, so long as they’ve been placed on the reserve/injured list as of 3 p.m. CT on Tuesday or thereafter.

The designated player is then eligible to return to practice after at least six weeks since he was placed on IR and eligible to return to the active roster after eight weeks.

Since this rule is being adopted after the cutdown to 75 players, the NFL and NFLPA have agreed to a one-year only transition procedure that permits clubs to return to their 53-player active list one player placed on reserve/injured since the start of training camp. The selection of that player must be made no later than 8 p.m. CT on Friday.

For the Packers, that means they could bring back Bishop, the team’s starting inside linebacker who tore his hamstring against San Diego on Aug. 9 and was placed on IR on Monday.

This past week, however, general manager Ted Thompson indicated Bishop might not have been helped by the proposal after the NFLPA initially shot it down.

Either way, Green Bay can designate any player not already on reserve-physically unable to perform such injured players on the active roster like Starks (turf toe) or Datko (concussion).

In another development to come out of Thursday, the NFL trade deadline has been pushed back from Tuesday, Oct. 16 to Tuesday, Oct. 30.

Finley sees action

Tight end Jermichael Finley was the only starter to play the entire first half after missing the team’s first three preseason games because of injury and later the birth of his son, London.

Finley only had one reception, but it went for 27 yards and helped kick start an 80-yard touchdown drive that propelled a confidence-booster performance for backup quarterback Graham Harrell.

Finley’s presence also helped lighten the load for the team’s other two healthy tight ends, Brandon Bostick and Ryan Taylor, who missed practice earlier this week with a collarbone injury.

“It was beneficial for sure,” Finley said. “It was good to get my feet back under me overall and get the conditioning up. I’m just excited for next week.”

whodkiew@greenbaypressgazette.com and follow him on Twitter @WesHod.

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