The physical toll of the season and the added challenge of fielding a squad on only three days' rest is making itself known in tonight's game. Nine players were ruled out in advance of Thursday night’s contest, and another four were listed as doubtful and therefore unlikely to play. Eight more are listed as questionable. The Packers have major deficits at running back and cornerback. Eddie Lacy was ruled out early with an ankle injury (and is now headed to injured reserve), as was James Starks, who recently underwent knee surgery. The top three Green Bay cornerbacks will be out as well: Sam Shields (placed on injured reserve with lingering concussion issues), plus Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins (both sidelined by groin injuries).
The Bears have been without QB Jay Cutler since Week 2 and are now thinning at wide receiver. Kevin White was lost in Week 4, presumably for the season, with a fibula fracture, and Eddie Royal, hampered the past two weeks with a calf injury, is missing at least this game because of a toe injury.
Look for names like Knile Davis, Don Jackson and Ty Montgomery to surface, albeit to varying degrees, in the Packers' run game, while now-familiar wide receiver Cameron Meredith and the healthier running back Ka’Deem Carey hope to continue to make an impact on the Bears' offense.
And let’s see if both teams can get through the Thursday night matchup without losing yet another set of wheels to injury.
For questions about the new injury reporting language, click here.
Jay Cutler (thumb; doubtful), quarterback: This comes as no surprise, since Cutler is not even practicing with the team. As his sprained right thumb continues to heal, the Bears will rely on Brian Hoyer. When Cutler is well enough to return to practice, the conversation will no doubt turn to whether he'll return to the starting role or continue to watch from the sideline, as ESPN.com’s Jeff Dickerson notes here.
Jeremy Langford (ankle; doubtful) and Ka’Deem Carey (hamstring; questionable), running backs: Langford remains out of practice due to his ankle injury. The doubtful tag is indicative of the Bears’ expectation that Langford will remain sidelined. Carey’s status isn’t really in question (despite the questionable tag), as he has played the last two weeks with no setbacks. Originally injured in Week 2, Carey sat out Weeks 3 and 4. He returned in Week 5 but was limited to one catch and one carry. In Week 6, Carey touched the ball nine times, and he could continue to increase his volume of work on Thursday night.
Zach Miller (ribs; questionable), tight end: Miller has been on this report for the past two weeks because of his rib injury but has played in each of the past two games, even seeing double-digit targets in Week 6. On Monday, the Bears did not practice, but Miller was projected to be a limited participant. When they did practice Tuesday and Wednesday, he was, in fact, a limited participant. That has essentially been his routine the past two weeks as well, so Miller should again be active for the Week 7 game.
Eddie Royal (toe; out), wide receiver: Royal had been managing a calf injury for the past two weeks but was forced out of Sunday’s loss to Jacksonville with a toe injury. In each of the past two weeks, Royal suited up for the games without practicing during the week. This week, however, there were only three off days, and it simply wasn’t enough.
Green Bay Packers
Davante Adams (concussion; questionable), wide receiver: Adams is listed as questionable for Thursday night’s game after suffering a concussion in Week 6. While it is not impossible for a player to be cleared to play in four days, it is a relatively rare occurrence. It’s worth noting that Adams did participate in a limited form of practice Wednesday. How he responds and whether he receives clearance from an independent neurological consultant remain to be seen.
Players Off Game Status Injury Report
Randall Cobb (back), wide receiver: Cobb was listed as a nonparticipant Monday, but the team did not actually conduct a practice. On Tuesday, he was listed as a limited participant and was upgraded to full on Wednesday. He may not be at 100 percent, given the short recovery period, but he’s healthy enough to no longer qualify for the injury report. In other words, he’ll be active and may see his fair share of work.
Eddie Lacy (ankle; out) and James Starks (knee; out), running backs: The announcement that Starks is out this Thursday comes as no surprise. He missed Week 6 with a knee injury that cropped up in practice earlier last week. Within days, Starks underwent surgery to address a meniscus tear and was projected to miss several weeks.
Lacy toughed it out in Week 6, absorbing the bulk of the running back workload despite a sprained left ankle sustained just one week earlier. His effort didn’t come without a consequence, however, as Lacy required evaluation for further injury. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Lacy will need surgery on his left ankle, ultimately leading to the team’s decision to place him on injured reserve. ESPN.com’s Rob Demovsky reports that a source indicates Lacy should be able to return late in the season, assuming all goes well. Per injured reserve rules, the earliest Lacy can return is in Week 15.
While it was evident early in the week that Lacy’s chances of playing in a Thursday night game were slim, the bigger concern going forward is how the Packers' running offense will unfold in view of Lacy's extended absence. The Packers acquired Davis in a trade with the Kansas City Chiefs earlier this week; the recency of the move implies he will likely have only a limited role in his new offense, which Demovsky confirmed Thursday.
The Packers also elevated practice squad running back Jackson to the active roster before tonight’s game, but he did not play in any preseason contests. The heaviest contribution at running back against the Bears could come from wide receiver Montgomery, who served predominantly as a pass-catcher last week, even when lined up as a running back.
Jared Cook (ankle; out), tight end: Cook’s absence from this game comes as no surprise, as he was originally projected to miss multiple weeks when he injured his ankle in Week 3. He is no longer in a walking boot and is progressing, so his status will be worth monitoring more closely as he approaches a return.