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Packers looking at all options for Lang, Woodson

Dec. 10, 2012

There was nothing new to report, but there was hope in Mike McCarthy’s words Monday as the Green Bay Packers coach outlined the possible return of Clay Matthews, Charles Woodson and T.J. Lang this week .

Whether that actually happens likely will be determined when the Packers return to the practice field this week, beginning on Wednesday.

Although McCarthy had no further information to divulge on the trio’s injuries Monday or that of wide receiver Jordy Nelson, Woodson (collarbone) and Lang (ankle) appear solid bets to be the first to return to the fold after each practiced at different points last week.

Last Monday, McCarthy indicated Woodson could be back in time for this Sunday’s game in Chicago, and following Sunday’s 27-20 win over Detroit, Lang expressed similar optimism that he’s not far behind.

Whenever two return, it likely will have a triggering effect on both sides of the ball with the Packers needing to decide where to lineup Woodson on defense and if Lang should go back to filling in at right tackle or moving back to his natural spot at left guard.

Rookie Don Barclay has been a suitable replacement at right tackle since Lang went down with his ankle injury in the second quarter of last week’s 23-14 win over Minnesota, a spot that was originally vacated last month when the Packers lost Bryan Bulaga to a season-ending hip injury.

“We'll see,” said McCarthy when asked if Lang will move back to his left guard spot. “We've got flexibility. T.J's played pretty much every position for us except center, so he'll be ready for anything.”

Offensive coordinator Tom Clements also shied away from committing to where Lang would fit upon return, but said those conversations will be had this week.

As for Woodson, the 36-year-old defensive back was lining up at safety in the team’s 3-4 base defense and as a slot cornerback in the sub-packages before breaking his collarbone against St. Louis on Oct. 21.

In his absence, rookie Casey Hayward has thrived in the slot while the combination of M.D. Jennings and Jerron McMillian has filled the gap at safety, but all indications are he’ll have a spot waiting for him when he returns somewhere.

“Charles surprises you in a lot of ways,” Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers said. “He’s been running some of the service teams, so we’ll see if he gets the OK. To me probably the biggest question is taking a blow on that shoulder. If they say he’s OK to go, we’ll start working him back in.”

Unlike Woodson and Lang, Matthews has yet to return to practice after missing the last four games because of a hamstring injury. Without him, the pass rush has suffered with only two sacks over the last three weeks.

“I'm hopeful,” said McCarthy of Woodson and Matthews’ possible return to the defense. “Hopeful they practice, hopeful they play.”

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