A day after the Green Bay Packers' rookie defensive lineman spoke confidently about playing Sunday night, his status for the season opener against Chicago was unclear.
Week 1 injuries
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Limited in practice for the second straight day because of a sprained right ankle, Raji was listed as questionable on the injury report.
"He feels better today than he did yesterday," coach Mike McCarthy said. "It's going to be close (for Sunday). We're going to give him the next 55 hours to try to get ready."
Raji, the team's top draft choice at No. 9 overall, sprained his right ankle in the Packers' final preseason game Sept. 3. He lost a projected starting job at left defensive end in the Packers' new 3-4 scheme after missing the first two weeks of training camp because of a contract stalemate. But before he was hurt Raji was being used as backup and at his natural position of nose tackle.
McCarthy said this week the team wouldn't risk the long-term availability of any of its injured players by playing them the first week of the season.v "He'll be a game-day decision," McCarthy said of Raji, "and I'd put Will Blackmon in the same boat."
Blackmon, a reserve cornerback who is the team's return specialist, also is questionable for Sunday. He practiced on a limited basis Friday for the first time since a quadriceps injury in an Aug. 22 preseason game and took a few returns at full speed.
"It felt fine," Blackmon said. "One thing I'm able to do is catch the ball, even though I haven't caught it in a while. I exploded a couple of times, and I felt pretty good."
The Packers have used other players on returns this week, with receiver Jordy Nelson a top candidate to fill in.
Running back Brandon Jackson, out with an ankle injury the last two weeks, likely won't play. Backup quarterback Matt Flynn (shoulder) and safety Aaron Rouse (hamstring) are probable.
NOTES: McCarthy said LB Nick Barnett is ready to play Sunday, his first regular-season action since suffering a serious knee injury in a game at Minnesota last Nov. 9. McCarthy, however, has been coy on whether the seventh-year veteran would play every down. ... McCarthy also was mum about what the Packers, who have only two QBs on the roster, would do for an emergency quarterback if both starter Aaron Rodgers and Flynn were injured.
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press