Packers may have trouble finding 46 players

GREEN BAY, Wis. – The Green Bay Packers are concerned they might have trouble coming up with a full 46-man, game-day roster for Sunday against the Cleveland Browns.

Teams must declare seven players inactive from the 53-man roster 90 minutes before kickoff.

The Packers already have ruled out four players – linebacker Clay Matthews (thumb), linebacker Nick Perry (foot), running back James Starks (knee) and tight end Ryan Taylor (knee).

Three other players – linebacker Brad Jones (hamstring), receiver James Jones (knee) and linebacker Mike Neal (shoulder) – did not practice on Thursday. If none of them plays on Sunday, that would be seven inactives right there.

Then there’s cornerback Casey Hayward, who was listed as a limited participant in Thursday’s practice and has yet to play this season because of a hamstring injury. The Packers haven’t said whether he will be cleared to play.

Coach Mike McCarthy said he and general manager Ted Thompson spent time Thursday discussing the options if the Packers have more than seven players who can’t suit up.

Safe to say it’s an unusual situation.

“I don’t recall it,” McCarthy said when asked if it’s ever happened to him.

The issue is that the Packers have so many injured players, but all of them could return at some point this season so they don’t want to put any of them on season-ending injured reserve.

The impact will be felt mostly on special teams. The Packers like to use linebackers and tight ends on special teams, and those positions have been hit by injuries.

“We’ll have enough,” special-teams coach Shawn Slocum said. “We’ll be OK. We’ll still get it done.”

McCarthy said Neal’s shoulder is improving, and he may try to practice on Friday. He was less certain about James Jones. “It’s going to be close,” McCarthy said when asked whether Jones will practice on Friday.

Also, Derek Sherrod practiced in pads without restrictions for the first time since he broke his right leg on Dec. 18, 2011. Sherrod, who is on the physically unable to perform list, can practice for three weeks before the Packers have to make a decision on him. He tried to come back last year but practiced for only two weeks before the Packers shut him down. He appears to be moving much better this season.

Here’s the full injury report:

  • CB Jarrett Bush (hamstring, full participation in practice)

  • CB Casey Hayward (hamstring, limited participation)

  • LB Brad Jones (hamstring, did not practice)

  • WR James Jones (knee, did not practice)

  • OLB Clay Matthews (thumb, out)

  • OLB Mike Neal (shoulder, did not practice)

  • OLB Nick Perry (foot, out)

  • RB James Starks (knee, out)

  • TE Ryan Taylor (knee, out)