GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) -The Packers might have to face the rival Chicago Bears on Sunday without Ryan Pickett, a key member of their defense.
The defensive tackle hurt his groin in the Packers' 33-14 victory over the Rams last week and only took part in a limited portion of practice on Friday. He was listed as questionable for Sunday's game.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Pickett, who has started all 30 games since joining the Packers before last season, is one of their top defenders and a central part of their run defense.
``He's clearly the anchor,'' McCarthy said. ``You talk about staying square, all the basic fundamentals and techniques that are important playing defensive tackle, particularly in the run game; I think Ryan Pickett is the perfect fit for our system and has played at a very consistent level for us.''
If Pickett can't play, McCarthy has said first-round pick Justin Harrell would make his first NFL start and take Pickett's spot. But Pickett doesn't want to miss the game against a division rival.
``I don't like taking any time off,'' Pickett said.
McCarthy said Pickett, nicknamed ``Big Grease,'' is lobbying the coaching staff to play even though the Packers have wrapped up the NFC North division title and a first-round bye in the playoffs.
McCarthy said he'll wait until game time before making a decision, based partly on the weather and field conditions at Chicago's Soldier Field.
``That's something you factor into it,'' McCarthy said. ``That's why you get over there early in the morning and you make those calls at the stadium.''
Pickett, who signed with the Packers as a free agent before last season, said he wants to stay on the field so Green Bay can start building momentum toward the playoffs.
``It's time for us to start playing our best ball so it can definitely carry into the playoffs,'' Pickett said. ``You don't want to go to the playoffs coming off a loss or anything like that. You want to have all the momentum you can.''
Harrell said he's not anxious about the possibility of his first start, partly because he won't know until Sunday.
``This is one of the things you kind of find out when you get out there,'' Harrell said. ``I know there's going to be a lot of emotions in this game, I'm going to have to kind of control it and make sure that I'm going out there and doing my job.''
The Packers selected Harrell with the 16th overall pick in April's draft even though he tore a tendon in his left biceps after three games at Tennessee. Harrell said the arm has long since healed following surgery, but he still was inactive for nine games, in part due to the depth at the position.
``Just look at his performance the last two weeks. He's like a number of our younger players. He just needs an opportunity, particularly in live reps, so he's made progress and if Ryan doesn't play, this will be a big step for him because obviously his reps will increase,'' McCarthy said.
Harrell, who will wear a cast Sunday to protect his left thumb that he dislocated against the Rams, said he was fine with being inactive because the organization explained what they wanted him to accomplish while he worked on putting on weight and learned the defensive scheme.
``Talking with family members, veteran guys on this team, coaches, we pretty much all had a good understanding of what was going on earlier in the year. It all happened for a reason,'' he said.
Much was made earlier this season of the Packers' decision to keep 11 defensive linemen on their 53-man roster, and they still carry 10 despite season-ending injuries to defensive tackles Colin Cole (arm) and Johnny Jolly (shoulder).
``We've been fortunate to have our injuries occur at a position where we have a lot of depth,'' McCarthy said. ``Injuries are a part of the game, but yeah, definitely it's worked out to our strength. Going back to the 53-man roster, we kept 11 linemen because we felt that those 11 players were part of our best 53 players coming out of camp.''
Harrell said each of his teammates on the line has made a contribution, and he appreciates a bigger opportunity if he gets it on Sunday.
``It would be my first NFL start, that's always a big thing, a great accomplishment for me,'' Harrell said. ``I'm just going to approach it like every other game, just be out there a little sooner and just be ready to go.''

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