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Packers return from bye mostly healthy

Most of the Packers' injured defensive starters returned to practice, and Jeff Janis shed his club.

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Jacksonville Jaguars Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

When the Green Bay Packers exited Week 3's win over the Detroit Lions, they better resembled the walking wounded than a title contender.

Already down defensive stalwarts Clay Matthews, Sam Shields, and Morgan Burnett, the team went on to lose tight end Jared Cook and fullback Aaron Ripkowski to ankle and back issues. Those absences greatly contributed to the Lions' comeback efforts as well as Green Bay's lack of second-half production on offense after posting 31 points during the opening two quarters.

In that sense, the bye week came at a convenient time for the Packers, allowing them the opportunity to regain most of their injured players and return near full strength for their Week 5 tilt with the New York Giants. As practice resumed Monday, all but Cook and Shields managed to participate in some capacity.

The bye seems to have affected the defense most, with three defensive starters -- Matthews, Burnett and Letroy Guion -- all returning after spending the Lions game in street clothes. However, Shields remains in the concussion protocol and Damarious Randall dropped out of practice twice, finishing the session on the side without his helmet.

On offense, Ripkowski appeared in full pads, suggesting he has overcome the back injury he suffered in the Packers' last game. While never unavailable, wide receiver and special teamer Jeff Janis returned to practice without a cast over the thumb he broke during training camp. If Janis hand responds well, he might see more action on offense in the coming weeks.

Jason B. Hirschhorn is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and covers the NFL for Sports on Earth and SB Nation. He also serves as the senior writer and editor for Acme Packing Company, a Green Bay Packers blog.