GREEN BAY, Wis. — The Green Bay Packers’ roster is running short on healthy cornerbacks going into an important game this weekend at Minnesota.
Top cornerback Sam Shields remains in the NFL’s concussion protocol after getting hurt late in the season-opening win over Jacksonville. Backup corner Josh Hawkins hasn’t practiced yet this week because of a hamstring injury that kept him out last week, too.
It left coach Mike McCarthy with three healthy corners in Damarious Randall, Quinten Rollins and LaDarius Gunter going into practice Thursday ahead of the showdown on Sunday night against the Vikings.
McCarthy said that he’s comfortable with the depth.
“Yes, just the way we’re working yesterday and today, so far so good,” he said Thursday before practice.
Having jack-of-all-trades defensive back Micah Hyde at the ready helps. The fourth-year player can corner or safety. He’s comfortable in the box or on the perimeter.
Perhaps most important of all for the defense, Hyde doesn’t care if he’s a starter.
Hyde could get thrust into a bigger role if Shields can’t go. Shields, perhaps the Packers’ best cover corner, also missed four games late last season because of a concussion.
“Everybody knows that Sam is one of our best defensive players, one of our best players overall,” Hyde said. “If he’s back, he’s back, we’ll love it. But if not, it’s the next man in.”
Dime linebacker Joe Thomas also had a strong game last week against the Jaguars, while Morgan Burnett and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix are a solid tandem at safety.
“That’s why you practice, and these are things really when you go back to training camp and you’re in your installation phase, that’s what you rely on,” McCarthy said. “You have to have different combinations of personnel and the ability to move guys around.”
The Packers are preparing for a Vikings offense with questions at quarterback. Minnesota coach Mike Zimmer has said that he doesn’t plan to name a starter between Shaun Hill and Sam Bradford until Sunday.
Besides Shields and Hawkins (hamstring), two special teams standouts in S Chris Banjo and LB Jayrone Elliott also missed practice. Banjo and Elliott also have hamstring injuries. … Rookie WR Trevor Davis (shoulder) was a full participant in practice for the first time this week.
“Sometimes it’s his cuts, or his reads aren’t where the play is designed to go, so I think that’s what makes him very dangerous and just overall it doesn’t look like he ages at all, just continues to run hard,” — LB Clay Matthews on Adrian Peterson, the Vikings’ 31-year-old star running back.
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