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.