GREEN BAY – Morgan Burnett broke his right hand in practice Thursday, but the Green Bay Packers second-year safety intends to play in Sunday’s game against the St. Louis Rams wearing a club cast for protection.
“They’re telling me I’m able to go,” Burnett said after sitting out Friday’s practice as trainers worked on various casts for him. “That’s why they’re trying to find a way to just keep it wrapped up and keep it protected and secure so I can go.”
Burnett was listed as probable on the team’s official injury report by coach Mike McCarthy.
Already without three-time Pro Bowl safety Nick Collins, who was lost for the season and whose career is in jeopardy after a Sept. 18 neck injury at Carolina, the Packers now have to hope that Burnett can be effective with only one good hand. Charlie Peprah has taken over for Collins, and the only other true safety on the roster is undrafted rookie free agent M.D. Jennings.
If Burnett struggles and has to be replaced, the Packers could also use their “Corner Okie” defense, in which cornerback Charles Woodson shifts to safety and No. 3 cornerback Sam Shields takes his place on the corner.
“This will be my first time going through it so we’re going to have to wait and see and see how things unfold,” safeties coach Darren Perry said of having one of his players trying to play with a cast. “(Jennings) is prepared and he’s been doing all the things necessary to go out there and perform. From that standpoint, we’ll let the chips fall where they may and keep him in the best position where he’s effective and he can go out there and have a chance to succeed.
Burnett, who suffered a season-ending torn ACL in his left knee in Week 4 as a rookie third-round pick last season, has played well during the Packers 5-0 start, with only a handful of glaring mistakes. He said the cast “feels funny” but expressed confidence that he can catch an interception or tackle and wrap up a receiver or ballcarrier.
“It’s just some adjusting I have to get used to and a little more focused,” Burnett said.
Burnett suffered the injury during a blitz drill toward the end of practice. He said he and defensive lineman Jarius Wynn were rushing the passer and collided, and his right hand was smushed between shoulder pads.
“When it happened, you felt it, it hurt it. I’m just thinking it was probably just a bruise or knot on my hand,” Burnett said. “That’s when I came in, we did the X-ray, and that’s when we found out everything.
“It doesn’t hurt as bad as when I first did it. It’s just a little sore. It’s getting better as the time goes by. Yesterday, it was in a lot of pain, but right now, the pain is easing up.”
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