Injury updates: Clark confident about Week 1

Michael Cohen
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
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Jul 31, 2016; Green Bay,WI, USA; Green Bay Packers nose tackle Kenny Clark (97) is blocked by guard Josh Walker  (79) during the team's 16th annual Family Night practice at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark Hoffman/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel via USA TODAY Sports

GREEN BAY - Though he did not travel to California for Friday’s exhibition win over the San Francisco 49ers, rookie first-round pick Kenny Clark is not worried about the severity of his back injury.

“I feel pretty good,” Clark said Sunday. “I mean, I’m not concerned a lot about it. Just a little tightness in my back and just trying to get everything figured out.”

Clark, who dropped out of practice Aug. 22, said he hurt his back coming off the ball against an offensive lineman. When he made his punch — extending both hands into the chest of the lineman — he felt something uncomfortable in his back.

He sat out of practice for the remainder of the week and stayed in Green Bay to avoid the stress of lengthy flights to the West Coast and back.

“It was crazy, man, just watching those guys out there going to war,” Clark said. “Of course you wanted to be there, but the back is kind of tight and it is what it is. I just didn’t want to sit on that plane.”

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The Packers travel to Kansas City on Thursday for their final exhibition game, and it is unclear whether Clark will play or attend. Most teams withhold their starters in the fourth exhibition game to avoid injury prior to the start of the regular season.

But if Clark does not play — and at nose tackle he is essentially a pseudo-starter for the Packers— he will enter the season opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars with only 39 snaps under his belt. Clark logged 19 snaps from scrimmage against the Cleveland Browns and 20 against the Oakland Raiders. He also played five total snaps on special teams.

Still, Clark believes he is mentally ready for Week 1 regardless of whether he plays against the Chiefs. And he does not believe the back injury will prevent him from being on the field in Jacksonville.

“I feel like I got a lot of work in,” Clark said. “Of course I want to play, but I’m just going to go off what they say. If I play, I play. If I don’t, I don’t. I feel comfortable. I feel good.

“They just want to make sure that everything is set for Week 1, and that’s what matters.”

S Morgan Burnett: Burnett has not practiced or played in more than two weeks since injuring his back shortly before kickoff of the first exhibition game Aug. 12.

His position coach, Darren Perry, expected Burnett to play that night against the Browns.

“Things happen that we can’t control,” Perry said on Aug. 14. “It was a little setback but Morgan will get healthy. When he’s ready to go, he’ll be back out there.”

Burnett has not spoken to the media since the injury, but coach Mike McCarthy said Sunday that worries are minimal as the regular season approaches.

“Just going through the health report this morning with our medical staff, they feel very good about his progress and so forth,” McCarthy said. “I don’t think there’s any long-term concern.”

ILB Joe Thomas: Thomas dropped out of practice last week with a right shin injury, but that was not what kept him out of the exhibition game against the 49ers.

Instead, Thomas is dealing with a muscle problem that, he said, is not very serious. He expects to be a full participant in practice this week.

“I forget the name of the muscle, but it’s somewhere down there,” Thomas said, pointing to his lower body.

Thomas is in the thick of a position battle at inside linebacker, where Sam Barrington, Jake Ryan and Carl Bradford join him in competing for roster spots.

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