Eddie Lacy, James Starks miss Packers practice

Tom Silverstein
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
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Green Bay Packers running back James Starks congratulates teammate Eddie Lacy after Lacy scored a touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys in November 2015.

GREEN BAY - The Green Bay Packers were without Eddie Lacy (ankle) and James Starks at practice Wednesday, leaving their running back position in a precarious spot four days before they play the Dallas Cowboys.

According to the Packers' injury report, Starks has a knee injury. The fact he wasn't at practice at all makes it possible the ailment is significant.

Lacy was at practice and stood around with his helmet, but did not take any snaps during the portion of practice open to the media. Before practice, coach Mike McCarthy said Lacy would just be doing rehab work. The fact he was present and not receiving treatment was a positive sign for him and quarterback Aaron Rodgers expressed optimism that Lacy would play Sunday.

If Lacy doesn't play?

"Well, it’s going to have to be next guy up," Rodgers said. "We’re going to have to see who that is and adjust accordingly. I’m thinking Eddie is going to be OK this week. Hopefully."

Starks did not miss any time on Sunday night against the New York Giants and filled in after Lacy injured his left ankle in the third quarter. He was not on the injury list after the game.

If Lacy or Stark's status remains in question, the Packers could bring up rookie Don Jackson from the practice squad. He took a number of snaps during the early portion of practice. The Packers could get along with Randall Cobb and Ty Montgomery filling in, but might not feel comfortable going into the game with just one true running back.

Asked about any concerns he had with depth, McCarthy said, "We're still evaluating some things. We'll see how Eddie moves around today in the rehab."

Cobb was present at practice and did some rehab work, but he did not take part in any team drills. Cobb got hit in the back of the neck late in the game against the Giants and was extremely sore after the game. He wore his helmet and caught a pass or two with his teammates during individual drills.

Rodgers said he fully expects Cobb to play.

Cornerback Sam Shields remained out, but is attending meetings for the first time since suffering a concussion on Sept. 11 and may be getting closer to a return to the field.

McCarthy said that Shields took part in the meeting and classroom activities that precede practice, which marks the first time he has been able to prepare as though he were going to play on Sunday. McCarthy did not say whether Shields, still in the concussion protocol, would be able to practice at all this week.

Up to this point, teammates have said that Shields has not been in meetings despite weekly reports from McCarthy that the veteran cornerback was progressing. In order to get through the NFL's concussion protocol, Shields will have to be cleared by an independent neurologist.

This is the fifth concussion Shields has suffered since college and Tuesday marked one month since he had suffered his last one. Last year, Shields sat out a month before returning from a concussion he suffered against Dallas on Dec. 13.

RELATED: Cowboys scouting report

RELATED: Lacy ankle injury 'should be all right'

Also missing practice was tight end Jared Cook (ankle) and safety Chris Banjo (hamstring). Cornerback Damarious Randall (groin), who missed the Giants game. was present but did not do any work in team drills.

McCarthy said that defensive end Mike Pennel and cornerback Demitri Goodson, both of whom are coming off four-game suspensions for drug violations, would practice and be evaluated to see whether they are ready to play this week. The practice today is not in pads, but the one on Thursday usually is and so that may be when McCarthy gets a better idea whether either or both is ready.

In order to activate either one, the Packers would have clear a spot on their 53-man roster.

"That’s really one of the things we need to accomplish today," McCarthy said of evaluating Pennel and Goodson. "We need to get down there and get our work done, but we need to see where those two guys are at. We’re going to spend some time after practice just to make sure we have a good feel for where they are.

"It’s important, kind of similar to how we practiced the team last week, when you come off of a break, that first practice back is a real stress point for, in particular, the area of fatigue injuries. So, we have to kind of find a balance there and find out where both those guys are."

The Packers' Wednesday, Oct. 12, injury report
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