GREEN BAY, Wis. Nearly four weeks into the regular season, the Packers have surprisingly become a relatively healthy group. Entering their game Sunday at home against the New Orleans Saints, coach Mike McCarthy had to list only one player as out (rookie safety Sean Richardson) and one player as questionable (cornerback Davon House).
Aside from those two, the other six players on Green Bay's injury report are probable, with the remaining 45 on the roster playing without any notable issues.
Sunday will likely be the 2012 regular season debut of running back James Starks, who has been out of action since the second week of the preseason with a turf toe injury. Starks, the team's leading rusher last season, was a full participant in all three practices this week and is probable.
Starks entered training camp as the No. 1 running back, but when he got hurt, the Packers signed veteran Cedric Benson, who has since become the starter.
"We're starting to see (Starks) back to where he was before he got hurt," McCarthy said Friday. "I would say he's close (to being healthy). But with Cedric and Alex (Green) and Brandon (Saine), they've earned this opportunity. We'll keep working through that."
Wide receiver Greg Jennings, who missed Week 2 with a groin injury but returned last Monday night with six catches for 35 yards, is probable against the Saints.
The one new injury suffered during Green Bay's Week 3 loss was to starting right tackle Bryan Bulaga, who hurt his knee. Bulaga, however, was a full participant in Friday's practice and is probable.
"Bryan Bulaga's knee is something that's bothered him, but I expect him to play through it," McCarthy said.
Against Seattle on Monday, Bulaga gave up two sacks and eight quarterback hurries, according to statistics from ProFootballFocus.com. But Bulaga would not attribute his poor performance to his knee injury.
"I think I didn't use any fundamentals for most of the first half," Bulaga said. "I was just out there. I don't know what I was out there doing. I just wasn't playing my game. I know that's not going to happen again."
Reserve tight end Tom Crabtree, who was inactive in Week 3 due to a shoulder injury, has been able to take full participation in practice all week and is listed as probable.
"It feels awesome," Crabtree said of his shoulder. "I think (the week off) really helped. It was tough last week not being able to practice and honestly not being able to play in the game. I'm not used to being in that position. It was frustrating for me, but I understood why. I talked with Coach McCarthy before the game and he kind of put my mind at ease a little bit.
"I'm feeling great this week, and I know we're not in pads or anything, but I've been being as rough on it as I can, just to test it out. It's been feeling great."
Crabtree injured his right shoulder during the third preseason game when he was hit hard while attempting to catch a pass. Since then, his shoulder has bothered him.
"It was my AC joint," Crabtree said. "The way I understood it was a possible separation or even tear in the cartilage there. Everything is intact now and in place. The doc explained that the joint is so small that it's possible there's some cartilage issue there, but he said you can definitely play with it, it's not anything to be concerned about going forward.
"The biggest thing was the inflammation. That's what was causing the pain and limiting my range of motion. There were times when I couldn't extend for a ball or block.
"It used to feel like a golf ball sitting on my shoulder, but now the swelling is way down. I hardly notice anything now."
The Packers' Week 4 injury report concludes with rookie defensive lineman Jerel Worthy (shoulder, probable) and inside linebacker Jamari Lattimore (ankle, probable).
Last week, Green Bay's injury report included 11 players, with five listed as questionable, one as doubtful and one as out. At one point during training camp, when rosters could still hold 90 players, 22 of them were held out of practice due to various injuries.
With players getting healthy, this is a step in a positive direction for the Packers. However, it will force McCarthy to put healthy players on the gameday inactive list, a move he's said on many occasions is very difficult to make.
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