The Green Bay Packers will be without a defensive end and possibly two starting defensive backs when they travel to face the New Orleans Saints' potent offense on Sunday night at the Louisiana Superdome.
Datone Jones will miss his third consecutive game with the sprained ankle he sustained earlier this month against Minnesota. He participated in Thursday's padded practice, but the coaching staff felt he wasn't quite ready after watching film of his individual work.
Because the Packers no longer practice on Fridays, coach Mike McCarthy estimated Jones would have been a non-participant.
Cornerback Sam Shields was listed as doubtful with the strained patellar tendon that held him out of Sunday's 38-17 win over Carolina. Strong safety Morgan Burnett is questionable with a calf injury after sitting out of Wednesday and Thursday's practices.
"Morgan was in here bright and early through the treatments," McCarthy said. "He's obviously going through the Friday routine defensively with the walkthroughs and the classroom, so we'll give him every, plus it's a night game, too. We have more time."
Running back James Starks is probable to play through the sprained ankle he sustained against the Panthers. He returned to practice Thursday after sitting out Wednesday.
McCarthy spoke to the media on Friday morning. Here are some highlights:
Out: DE Datone Jones (ankle). Doubtful: CB Sam Shields (knee). Questionable: S Morgan Burnett (calf). Probable: RB James Starks (ankle).
On whether Jones suffered another setback:
He went for it yesterday. I appreciate it out there. Watching individuals, you could see he's not ready. Won't make it.
Morgan was in here bright and early. Plus, it's a night game. More time. He's making progress. Time clock-type thing.
On backup safety Sean Richardson:
Sean Richardson deserves opportunity. It would be nice to give him those opportunities. We've talked about it for some time.
Is that a luxury after injuries the past few years?
This is the way it's supposed to be. You can never have enough good, healthy players. Sean Richardson deserves opportunities.
On defensive tackle Mike Daniels taking on an expanded role:
Mike Daniels is exactly what you're looking for. His toughness, passion for football. He's had some big-time performances. Like what he's done.
On continuity with a quarterback:
Continuity with your quarterback is obviously very important. To have continuity, it means that the player is high value. (Packers quarterback) Aaron Rodgers, (Saints quarterback) Drew Brees definitely are in that category.
On the challenge of stopping Brees:
Drew Brees is a big challenge for our defense. Excited for this opportunity. We have to stop the run. He gets ball out of his hands.