Morgan Burnett injury deals another blow to Packers' secondary

Michael Cohen
Packers News
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Green Bay Packers strong safety Morgan Burnett (42) zeroes in to tackle running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) against the Dallas Cowboys Sunday, October 8, 2017 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Tx.

GREEN BAY - The Green Bay Packers will be without starting safety Morgan Burnett for Sunday’s NFC North showdown against the Minnesota Vikings.

Burnett, who injured his hamstring in the win over the Dallas Cowboys, was ruled out on the final injury report Friday. Inside linebacker Joe Thomas (ankle) also was ruled out and hasn’t practiced in two weeks.

“Well, you hate to ever have one of your key cogs not in there,” defensive coordinator Dom Capers said of Burnett this week. “But we’ve gone through a lot of different combinations here in the first five weeks. What it does is the guys have to step up and they have to perform. We went through it very early in the game against Dallas, where we had a number of different combinations in there. I think in the long run it makes you better because guys gain experience.”

Without Burnett, the Packers likely will turn to Kentrell Brice and rookie Josh Jones to fill the voids in various defensive packages. Brice has been the top backup at both safety positions ever since training camp, and Jones has split time with Burnett at an inside linebacker position in the base defense.

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix will take over the communication helmet normally worn by Burnett. He practiced with the helmet all week to prepare for making the defensive calls in what should be a loud environment at U.S. Bank Stadium.

“Ha Ha has been the backup headset guy, Blake (Martinez) is the next guy,” Capers said. “We’ve been working Ha Ha this week, and he’s done a good job. I think he’s certainly up to stepping up and taking the responsibility.”

It’s possible the Packers will enter Sunday’s game down three starters in the secondary. Rookie cornerback Kevin King did not practice this week after suffering a concussion against the Cowboys. He and outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks, who was held out with a back injury, were listed as doubtful and are unlikely to play.

The other starter at corner, Davon House, was listed as questionable with the same quadriceps injury that sidelined him for two games already this season. House dealt with cramps last week against Dallas and played 58 of 74 total snaps.

Left tackle David Bakhtiari (hamstring), right tackle Bryan Bulaga (ankle) and running back Ty Montgomery (ribs) were listed as questionable.

Wide receiver Jordy Nelson (back) was not given a designation after dropping out against the Cowboys. He is available and will play Sunday.

Meanwhile, the Vikings were dealt a serious blow when No. 1 receiver Stefon Diggs (groin) was ruled out Friday. The Vikings have little depth at the position and will need to rely on veteran Michael Floyd or former first-round pick Laquon Treadwell to aid quarterback Case Keenum, who starts for the injured Sam Bradford. 

Starting guard Nick Easton (calf) was ruled out as well.

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