Packers coach Mike McCarthy said that although rookie running back James Starks has missed a lot of football, he’s competing for playing time now that he’s on the 53-man roster. Starks was elevated to the roster from the physically unable to perform list after missing all of training camp and a portion of the offseason workouts. McCarthy said at his press conference today that Starks has a lot to learn and needs to work on details in his game, but he’s a talented back and there’s a reason the Packers promoted him. In other items from McCarthy’s press conference today: *Although the Packers will play three of their next four games indoors, McCarthy didn't hesitate sending his team outside for its first practice today after the bye week off. McCarthy said there is nothing like fresh air and practicing on grass. He added that his team will get plenty of indoor practice time this week. *He watched the Vikings-Bears game on television on Sunday. McCarthy said the Vikings are a different team on grass compared to turf and that playing in the Metrodome is a big advantage for them. The Packers’ next game is on Sunday in Minnesota. *Safety Charlie Peprah has played his best football as a Packer in recent weeks. He’s an excellent communicator and has contributed to the defense, according to McCarthy. It’s not a given that Atari Bigby will regain his starting job from Peprah after coming off the PUP list. *Clay Matthews' health regarding his hamstring is about the same, McCarthy said. *He’s hoping Ryan Pickett can practice on Thursday. Pickett said he’s hoping he can play against the Vikings. *McCarthy said his optimal time for a bye is after six games. He said it was a challenge to wait until after nine games before getting a break. *He said the Packers have been up and down on special teams and need to fight for consistency.
*Tight end Andrew Quarless and cornerback Pat Lee are not quite full go.*Donald Driver missed practice today due to a personal matter. *McCarthy said he talked to Al Harris today. The team cut Harris last Monday and the veteran cornerback was signed by the Miami Dolphins. McCarthy, who makes a point of speaking face to face with each player that gets cut during training camp, said he didn’t have a chance to talk to Harris and was following up. McCarthy said Harris is doing fine and he wished him well. *Mark Tauscher, who was placed on injured reserve on Friday, is scheduled to have shoulder surgery possibly as soon as Tuesday. McCarthy said the team asked Tauscher to remain part of the team this season by attending meetings and traveling with the Packers. McCarthy said the team determined Tauscher probably wouldn’t have gotten to the point where he could play wearing a harness and that was a reason he was placed on IR.