Pregame warmup: Can Packers climb in division standings?

Posted by Mike Spofford on October 20, 2013 – 2:29 pm

Kickoff for Packers-Browns is less than an hour away. Here’s a quick rundown on the key issues and topics for Sunday’s matchup.

Around the NFC North

By day’s end, the Packers could be moving up in the NFC North standings. As the day began, Green Bay at 3-2 was one-half game behind Detroit and Chicago, both 4-2. As of the time of this posting, the Bears and Lions were both engaged in tight, close games in the second half against the Redskins and Bengals, respectively. Also, Bears QB Jay Cutler has left that game in Washington with a groin injury.

Update: The Bears lost to the Redskins, 45-41, while the Lions lost to the Bengals, 27-24 on a last-second FG. Green Bay will move into first place for the first time this season, one-half game ahead of Chicago and Detroit, with a win over Cleveland today.

Minnesota (1-4) plays on Monday night against the New York Giants, and the Vikings will be starting new QB Josh Freeman. The Packers travel to Minnesota next week.

Depth to be tested

The Packers will be without WRs James Jones and Randall Cobb for this game, leaving Jordy Nelson and Jarrett Boykin to start, with undrafted rookie Myles White the No. 3 active receiver. WR Chris Harper, claimed off waivers on Friday, is also active. TE Ryan Taylor is also out, with undrafted rookie Jake Stoneburner promoted from the practice squad this past week, just like White.

The linebacking corps is similarly thin, though LB Mike Neal is active after missing all week of practice with a bruised shoulder. Neal and undrafted rookie Andy Mulumba are slated to start at the two outside LB spots, with rookie Nate Palmer behind them. LB Jamari Lattimore will make his second straight start at inside LB alongside A.J. Hawk and in place of Brad Jones.

Weather update

Temperatures in Green Bay are in the high 40s with cloudy skies. There is a chance of rain during the game, but the rain is more likely to arrive late in the evening after the game has concluded.

Not ready just yet

Among the Packers’ many injuries, CB Casey Hayward (hamstring) remains sidelined and is inactive for the sixth straight game this season. Hayward took more practice reps this past week than in any other week thus far, so he could finally be on the verge of returning.

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