We're midway through this week's preparation for the divisional round of the playoffs. And even though it's Wednesday, the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers face one another in three days. In an enticing NFC postseason matchup, the Niners will host the Pack at Candlestick Park at 8:00 p.m. ET on Saturday.
After a long season, health often plays a factor in the postseason. It did with the 49ers last year, when they did not have enough firepower offensively to outduel their opponent. On the other hand, the Packers made an incredible Super Bowl run the year they lost several players to the injured reserve.
To make for even more of a storyline, Green Bay lost seven players to IR this year. But still, the 49ers and Packers go into this one pretty evenly matched.
Let's take a look at Wednesday's injury report:
The Packers' marquee defender, Matthews, was limited in Wednesday's session, listed with a knee injury. While he may not be 100 percent on Sunday, his status has not been in question. Matthews should be a full participant in practice before week's end.
Nelson and Cobb were both scratches in Wednesday's practice, listed as "DNP." Nelson has been notably banged up this season, and is continuing to fight through an ankle injury. Packers head coach Mike McCarthy was hopeful that Nelson would return to this week. But come Saturday, Nelson should be ready to go versus the 49ers.
Cobb, on the other hand, caught an illness and was sent home to rest. What Cobb has is nothing more than a flu or a bug. He should return to practice on Thursday or Friday, and will be perfectly ready for the Niners in the divisional round. Green Bay will need both Nelson and Cobb against San Francisco's tenacious defense and their deep cornerback group.
Out: DE Jerel Worthy (knee)
Limited participation in practice: LB Clay Matthews (knee), LB Dezman Moses (hamstring)
On San Francisco's sideline, the headliner is defensive lineman Justin Smith. He makes all the difference for the 49ers, and where he is at healthwise will greatly impact this weekend's matchup. Smith returned to practice last week and has continued to participate with a brace on his left arm.
49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh said Smith "seems ready." Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio did note that if Smith is greatly limited by his injury, he will be pulled in favor of backup Ricky Jean-Francois. Smith is expected to start, but his participation will be based on his ability to perform.
Kicker David Akers has also had a pelvic injury that may or may not be affecting his performance. Akers has been pulling his kicks left, which could be indicative of a lingering injury. San Francisco brought in Billy Cundiff in case Akers is unable to perform to standards.
Lineback Aldon Smith, cornerback Tarell Brown and fullback Bruce Miller all wore black non-contact jerseys at practice. While dinged up, they have not missed any significant time and will be ready for Saturday's game.
Limited participation in practice: CB Tarell Brown (shoulder), S Dashon Goldson (shoulder), LB Clark Haggans (shoulder), FB Bruce Miller (shoulder), LB Aldon Smith (shoulder), DE Justin Smith (elbow, triceps), DL Will Tukuafu (neck)