GREEN BAY - Coach Mike McCarthy and the Green Bay Packers left U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis with bleak postseason prospects and a lengthy list of injuries.
On Wednesday after their 24-17 loss to the Minnesota Vikings, the Packers focused more on film than on practice reps. In fact, they moved practice indoors to the Don Hutson Center, despite returning to outdoor play at Lambeau Field this Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals.
“It’s one of those weeks,” McCarthy said. “What I’m referring to is as we met as a staff Monday and Tuesday, I think we were somewhere around 42 players that we feel good about, that are ready to go.”
The Packers need 46 players to dress come Sunday and as of Wednesday, who will comprise that 46 remains unclear.
Among those whose status is up in the air is left tackle David Bakhtiari, who suffered two knee injuries against the Vikings.
Bakhtiari sustained his first injury during the third quarter and was replaced by Jason Spriggs on the next series. Bakhtiari returned for the first series of the fourth quarter but injured himself again on a play that led to Vikings defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson sacking quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
"Yeah, it was definitely tough," Bakhtiari said. "It's tough physically, and then mentally trying to, getting myself right, because I mean ... getting hurt sucks. I'll just be honest. I expect a lot from myself physically, and when things aren't operating right, it's stressful."
Bakhtiari was part of a group of players who were on the side during Wednesday's practice. After practice, the left tackle refused to get into specifics about his injuries or even if he'll be able to go against Arizona on Sunday.
"I mean, I'm going to do what I can, and control everything I can control," he said. "We'll see whether I'll be able to help or not."
Kick returner Trevor Davis reinjured his hamstring against the Vikings after being activated off the injured reserve during Week 11. According to McCarthy, Davis will not be healthy enough to play against the Cardinals.
The team held a lighter practice Wednesday and listed 13 players on its injury report, including eight who did not practice. Cornerback Kevin King (hamstring), left guard Lane Taylor (quadriceps) and wide receivers Randall Cobb (hamstring) and Equanimeous St. Brown (elbow) were limited.
Out for the Packers were Bakhtiari, Davis, safety Kentrell Brice (ankle/concussion), running back Tra Carson (ribs), cornerback Bashaud Breeland (groin), defensive lineman Mike Daniels (foot), tight end Jimmy Graham (knee/thumb) and safety Raven Greene (ankle).
“As we walked off the field Sunday night, the first two individuals I spoke to was our trainer and our strength coach before I even addressed the team because you have general ... you kind of have a Plan A or Plan B and then obviously you react to how the game went,” McCarthy said. “And obviously we knew, we had a number of players go in and out of the game and didn't finish the game. So you have to keep that at the forefront because at the end of the day, you don’t want to lose the game in midweek.”
Much of the stress surrounding the dubious 46-man gameday roster falls on specials teams coach Ron Zook. The bottom-of-the-roster players tend to be contributors to special teams, so Zook may not have much clarity as to who will be filling out his unit until later in the week.
“Any time you project, it’s been a challenge how you practice, but the benefit of it frankly is your younger players get reps,” McCarthy said. “So there’s definitely an opportunity for some growth and opportunity there."
Packers make roster moves
As the Packers attempt to configure a fully healthy game-day roster this week, they also have some moving parts on their 53-man active list.
General manager Brian Gutekunst announced Wednesday the team released linebacker Korey Toomer, clearing a spot to sign safety Eddie Pleasant. Toomer played in seven games this season, though his last snap on defense came in Week 4 against Buffalo.
Pleasant, a seventh-year veteran, was undrafted out of Oregon in 2012. He spent his first six seasons with the Houston Texans before playing one game with the Arizona Cardinals this fall.
He originally worked out for the Packers during the bye week.
"Football is football at the end of the day," Pleasant said. "I don't care if you have to come off the couch. Everybody can run and jump, so the biggest part is the playbook. I'm going to get with the coaches. It's pretty much all the same. It's just different terminology. Once I pick that up I should be all right."
When asked if he was ready to help out the gameday roster, Pleasant smiled.
"I'm ready. I'm playing," he said. "You'll see me out there. I'm playing. I ain't come here for nothing. I'll be out there Sunday for sure."
The Packers also continued to adjust their practice squad. They signed fullback Malcolm Johnson and put guard Anthony Coyle on the practice squad injured list one day after signing tackle Gerhard de Beer.
Clock ticking on Kumerow
Jake Kumerow remains a popular figure inside and outside of the Packers' locker room, but the clock is ticking for the club to make a decision on whether or not he remains active within it. Though still on injured reserve, the wide receiver began practicing last week. The team will have to make a decision by Dec. 12 whether to sign him to the active 53-man roster, place him on season-ending injured reserve or release him.
Per the NFL, a team is "permitted to return a player to practice for a period not to exceed 21 calendar days."
The Packers can hold off on making a decision after the game against Atlanta, but for the UW-Whitewater product waiting for his first regular season call-up isn't that difficult -- he's been in that boat since coming into the league in 2015.
"I don't even think about it," he said. "I can't really think about it. Just gotta hope for the best and be ready for the worst. And yeah, I try not to think about it and just keep driving the train straight, put in the work, be the same person every day and they'll figure it out."
In order to sign him to the active roster, the club will have to make a corresponding roster move to free up a spot. But as the team tries to find its healthiest 53 players this week, numbers have to also fall Kumerow's way.
And that might happen this week. Davis has already been ruled out for Sunday and Cobb was again limited with his hamstring injury Wednesday, so the Packers only have four fully healthy receivers on the 53-man roster.
"I'm good, just going through the game plan, trying to nail everything down, feeling good physically good, mentally and now it's just a matter of executing," Kumerow said.
And if the numbers don't fall his way?
"You know what's coming if the harsh reality hits," he said. "You're ready for it rather than being surprised like the first time."