The Green Bay Packers (1-2) and Detroit Lions (3-1) are two days away from kickoff at Lambeau Field and the Packers haven't named a full-time kick returner and won't name one before Sunday's divisional game.
Packers head coach Mike McCarthy said the Packers kick-returning game will be "situational" against the Lions on Sunday, as the Packers plan to use either veteran wide receiver Randall Cobb or a pair of rookies, cornerback Micah Hyde and running back Johnathan Franklin. Cobb has plenty of experience and he has had tremendous success returning kicks for the Packers. Cobb currently serves as Green Bay's primary punt-returner.
McCarthy said he has plenty of confidence in Hyde and Franklin returning kicks. "We wouldn't put anyone back there if we weren't comfortable with them catching the football," McCarthy said. "(In practice) Jordy Nelson and Tramon Williams took some opportunities this week and we don't try to lock it on one or two players. I feel good about Micah Hyde and Johnathan Franklin."
Franklin will also serve as the Packers second-string running back behind fellow rookie Eddie Lacy in place of veteran James Starks. Starks suffered a knee injury against the Cincinnati Bengals in week three and could be out for a couple of weeks.
McCarthy said he looks at both Lacy and Franklin as "three-down backs" in the NFL and the bye week ended up benefiting both rookie runners. "I think with the bye week, the most important thing is getting players healthy," McCarthy said. "The health part of the bye week really helps the players, then the ability to step up and come back is always heightened."
McCarthy said he would prefer to have a bye week later in the year but doesn't use this year's early bye as an excuse. "Every season is different," McCarthy said. "The bye week determines how the whole season is laid out. The way we shift gears with time of year as far as the workload, the bye week factors into that and every year is different."
Besides Franklin and Lacy, Packers safety Morgan Burnett, cornerback Jarrett Bush, fullback John Kuhn, tight end Jermichael Finley and All-Pro Clay Matthews are all listed on the official injury report as probable to play Sunday.
Packers wide receivers James Jones though said he believes the Packers health won't be anymore of a gaining factor against the Lions. "Hands down this is the most complete Lions team," Jones said. "They have a real good team. It's a division game, doesn't matter what your record is it'll be tough."
The Packers haven't lost to the Lions at Lambeau since 1991 and they are 13-1 against Detroit under McCarthy. Last season, Detroit only won four games the entire season, but Jones said he isn't surprised by the Lions' fast start. "They have good players and are playing well right now," Jones said. "They're a good and exciting team. I'm not surprised but hopefully they don't get a win on us."
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