Emptying out the notebook

October, 5, 2013
10/05/13
8:00
AM ET
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Here are some odds and ends to wrap up the week before the Green Bay Packers play the Detroit Lions on Sunday at Lambeau Field:

Kick returner by committee: The Packers didn't identify a replacement for kick returner Jeremy Ross, who was released last week after he fumbled a kickoff in Week 3 against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Cobb
That's probably because they don't plan to use just one player for the job.

The Packers likely will use some combination of receiver Randall Cobb, who was the Packers' primary returner for both kickoffs and punts in 2011 and 2012, running back Johnathan Franklin (on kickoffs) and cornerback Micah Hyde (on punt returns).

"It will be situational," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Friday. "We won't put anybody back there that we weren't comfortable handling the ball."

Cobb, who has three career returns for touchdowns, probably would see more action on punt returns than kickoff returns, but the Packers might not want to expose one of their top receivers to extra injury risk.

"I can understand that view, but I would think you'd understand my view on it," special teams coach Shawn Slocum said this week. "Philosophically, you have to make a decision what direction you want to go. Going back to when we first got here as a staff, Charles Woodson was our punt returner. The punt return play, I think, has a little less risk for the big hit for a returner than the kickoff return play."

Burnett's back: Safety Morgan Burnett's return could stabilize things in the secondary for a defense that ranked 28th out of 32 teams in passing yards allowed through Week 4.

Burnett, a fourth-year pro, is the most experienced safety on the Packers' roster. Before missing the first three games of this season because of a hamstring injury, Burnett had played in 35 straight games (including playoffs) the last two seasons.

In July, he signed a four-year, $24.75 million contract extension.

"It gives you a sense of comfort and a sense of excitement because I know he wants to be out there," Packers safeties coach Darren Perry said. "That's going to be a big lift for our defense. The kid's worked his butt off, and nobody wants to sit on the side and watch. It's a great time to come back -- a division opponent, a huge game at home, coming off a loss, we're trying to get back on track. It's good to have one of your best football players back out there playing."

Burnett, who was injured in the preseason, said he does not expect to have any limitations Sunday.

"No, I'm good; I'm ready to go," Burnett said. "I've been participating with everybody throughout practice with our whole schedule. Now, I'm just ready to get it started on Sunday."

The Lions' best: In addition to the Packers' streak of 22 straight home victories over the Lions, McCarthy has a 13-1 record against the Lions, with the only loss coming at Ford Field in the 2010 game that quarterback Aaron Rodgers couldn't finish because of a concussion.

But this Lions team, which comes in with a 3-1 record and already owns NFC North wins over Minnesota and Chicago, looks much different.

"I think this is probably their best team as far as the way they're playing coming into the game, as I recall," McCarthy said. "I can't sit here and tell you off the top of my head how I felt about each and every game. But I will say this is clearly a very talented football team.

"They're very systematic in their approach. Their coaching staff has been together for quite some time, and the way they play on offense and defense is pretty much the same philosophically. I think this is probably the best that I've seen them play coming into a contest."

Rob Demovsky

ESPN Green Bay Packers reporter

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