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GREEN BAY, Wis. — The Green Bay Packers might get injured inside linebacker Oren Burks back for their game Sunday against the Washington Redskins.

The rookie appeared to be in line to open the season as the starter inside alongside Blake Martinez when he hurt his shoulder during warmups before a preseason game last month in Oakland.

He was cleared on Wednesday to return to practice as a full participant.

Depth has also been replenished at running back, where Aaron Jones figures to return on Sunday after missing the season’s first two games after being suspended by the NFL for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.

At the least, the returns of Burks and Jones will help the Packers on special teams. They have each shown the talent to contribute in other ways too.

Jones, who was also bothered by a hamstring injury in the preseason, ran for 448 yards and four touchdowns on 81 carries last year. He had two 100-yard games, including 125 and a score on 19 carries in a win at Dallas on Oct. 8.

Coach Mike McCarthy has said that Jamaal Williams and Ty Montgomery will remain atop the depth chart. Jones gives the Packers another option in the backfield with his slashing ability.

“Give the defence a little bit more to worry about,” Williams said Thursday. “Aaron’s just a sparkplug, really. He’s always trying to open holes, especially if one’s closed, he’ll find another one really and bounce it outside.”

A third-round pick out of Vanderbilt, Burks moved up the depth chart after Jake Ryan was lost for the year in training camp with a torn ACL. The Packers traded for Antonio Morrison from the Colts to help with depth at inside linebacker after Burks went down. They also picked up Korey Toomer and James Crawford before the season started.

Burks remains atop the depth chart inside next to Martinez, having raised his profile during the preseason.

“We’ll see what the week brings us, McCarthy said before practice on Thursday. “You could see him progressing through training camp, so it will be great to get him back out there.”

Burks played inside linebacker and safety in college. His experience in coverage could help against the Redskins and running back Chris Thompson, who leads Washington with 19 receptions.


McCarthy expected quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who is playing with a left knee injury, to follow a practice plan similar to last week before the Vikings game. Saturday was the only day that Rodgers practiced last week. He played well, especially considering the injury, completing 30 of 42 passes for 281 yards and a touchdown in the 29-29 tie with Minnesota.

This week, McCarthy gave the whole team off from practice on Wednesday and elected to do a walkthrough instead, feeling that his players could use a break after a season-opening night game followed by the overtime game against Minnesota. Rodgers was due to focus on rehab on Thursday.

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With an abundance of fantasy football information online, it’s not as though players are unknown when draft day approaches. At the same time, there are always players that could slip through the cracks in relative terms.

Maybe it’s because they are older. The NFL is most certainly a young man’s game, but there’s nothing wrong with having reliable consistency even if it’s not the flashiest fantasy pick.

Maybe it’s because they are competing for playing time, because opportunity plays such a big part of an NFL player’s success.

Maybe it’s a young player who hasn’t done much in the league. Without an established track record, there’s a better chance that they might avoid detection from other fantasy owners.

Maybe it’s due to injury, either their own or an opportunity created by another player getting hurt.

Whatever the reason may be, here are some sleeper candidates for the 2018 NFL season:

Philip Rivers, QB, L.A. Chargers – It’s not like he’s unknown since he’s passed for more than 50,000 yards in his career, but he’s also a 36-year-old that doesn’t make it as a flashy option at the marquee position. Nevertheless, he’s thrown for at least 4,000 yards and 28 touchdowns in each of the past five seasons and has played every game for 12 straight seasons.

Alex Smith, QB, Washington – He threw for a career-high 4,042 yards and 26 touchdowns last season, but Smith moves to D.C. this year and that could still be okay because the Washington offence has helped Kirk Cousins put up big numbers in recent seasons.

Adrian Peterson, RB, Washington – After rookie Derrius Guice suffered a torn ACL in the preseason, the door was opened for Peterson, the 33-year-old who struggled to 3.4 yards per carry with New Orleans and Arizona last season. Maybe he’s done, but it’s worth finding out if the 2015 rushing champ still has something left in the tank.

Carlos Hyde, RB, Cleveland – He has yet to rush for 1,000 yards in a season, but Hyde has 2,439 yards and 17 touchdowns over the past two seasons in San Francisco, and starts this season atop the Browns’ depth chart.

Chris Carson, RB, Seattle – First-round pick Rashaad Penny is knocking on the door, but he suffered a broken finger in camp, so Carson has the opportunity to start. He had a solid showing in brief action as a rookie, putting up 267 yards from scrimmage in four games.

Aaron Jones, RB, Green Bay – He is suspended for the first two games of the season, and is facing competition from Ty Montgomery and Jamaal Williams, but Jones averaged an extraordinary 5.5 yards per carry as a rookie, so he may be the upside play in the Packers’ backfield.

Mike Williams, WR, L.A. Chargers – The seventh pick in the 2017 Draft, Williams had 11 catches in 10 games as a rookie, but the 6-foot-4 receiver has big-time talent and should be a red-zone threat for the Chargers, especially after tight end Hunter Henry suffered a season-ending torn ACL.

Allen Hurns, WR, Dallas – The last time he had more than 500 yards receiving in a season was 2015, when he had 1,031 yards and 10 touchdowns for Jacksonville. Now in Dallas, where the Cowboys have precious few proven receivers, Hurns may end up as Dak Prescott’s best option in the passing game.

Danny Amendola, WR, Miami – The 32-year-old vet had 659 receiving yards for the Patriots last season, his most in a season since 2012, but he’s also had trouble staying healthy. If he stays on the field this year, he could be a reliable slot performer for the Dolphins.

Ryan Grant, WR, Indianapolis – The 27-year-old had a career-high 45 receptions for 573 yards in Washington last season and now moves to the Colts, where he should have a starting job. If quarterback Andrew Luck is back to something approaching previous form, Grant could exceed last year’s numbers.

Keelan Cole, WR, Jacksonville – In the wake of Marqise Lee’s knee injury, Cole – and Dede Westbrook – should move into a more prominent role in the Jaguars offence. Cole was a big-play threat as a rookie, averaging 17.8 yards per catch.

John Ross, WR, Cincinnati – He could be the fastest receiver in the league, but also didn’t catch a pass as a rookie, but as a late-round flier, why not take a chance that Ross can emerge as a big-play threat for the Bengals?

Eric Ebron, TE, Indianapolis – The 2014 first-round pick has spent most of his career on the sleepers list, showing enough flashes to think that he could bring more. In the Colts’ offence this year, he just may have a better chance to produce.

Jake Butt, TE, Denver – Although he missed his entire rookie season, the Broncos tight end was a productive receiver at Michigan, catching 97 passes for 1,200 yards and seven touchdowns in his last two seasons for the Wolverines. Now healthy, he has a chance to become a reliable receiving option for Case Keenum.