Raji returns to practice; still no Bakhtiari

Weston Hodkiewicz
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Green Bay Packers defensive tackle B.J. Raji.

B.J. Raji returned in time for Thursday’s padded practice inside the Hutson Center, a promising sign for the Green Bay Packers defensive tackle's progress in the concussion protocol.

He and cornerback Sam Shields (concussion) practiced albeit in what appeared to be a limited capacity. While Packers coach Mike McCarthy said on Thursday morning that both players remain in the latter stages of the protocol, their participation on Thursday increases the chances of their availability for Sunday’s NFC North title game with Minnesota.

Meanwhile, left tackle David Bakhtiari (ankle) was one of five players who didn't practice Thursday, casting doubt about whether he’ll be available to play against the Vikings. The Packers struggled without Bakhtiari in Sunday’s 38-8 loss to Arizona with quarterback Aaron Rodgers being sacked eight times.

If Bakhtiari can’t go, the Packers will have to decide whether to stick with his backup Don Barclay, shift backup center JC Tretter to left tackle, or promote tackle Jeremy Vujnovich from the practice squad. Theoretically, they also could move Bryan Bulaga from right tackle, but he’s been limited in practice this week with his own ankle issue.

Defensive lineman Mike Daniels (hamstring), outside linebackers Mike Neal (hip) and Jayrone Elliott (quad), and tight end Justin Perillo (hamstring) were the only other non-participants. The rest of the individuals on Wednesday’s 16-player injury report were in pads.

The full injury report will be released later today. and follow him on Twitter @WesHod.

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