Walden sits, but Packers encouraged by Zombo’s progress

Walden sits, but Packers encouraged by Zombo's progressGreen Bay Packers linebacker Erik Walden missed Saturday’s practice and has sat out all week with an ankle injury while his team prepares for Super Bowl XLV against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Walden hurt his ankle in last Sunday’s NFC Championship Game victory over the Chicago Bears. His absence chips away at Green Bay’s depth at linebacker, but coach Mike McCarthy is encouraged by the progress of rookie starter Frank Zombo, who returned to practice Friday after spraining his right knee against the Detroit Lions in Week 14.

“Frank looks good. He’s getting better. He had more extended work today,” McCarthy told reporters Saturday. “I really want to see how his body responds to three days of work. Wednesday’s padded practice will be a big day for Frank down in Dallas.”

McCarthy also said safety Atari Bigby (groin) has practiced well but isn’t about to unseat starter Charlie Peprah.

“Atari looks good,” McCarthy said. “He’s ready to go if the opportunity knocks. But Charlie Peprah is the starter and has been for a long time, and that won’t change for this game against Pittsburgh.”

McCarthy also spoke about the value of having defensive end Cullen Jenkins healthy and back with the team for its playoff run after missing the final four regular-season games with a calf injury.

“I think his play the last couple weeks speaks for itself,” McCarthy said. “I think Cullen is definitely a penetrator in our defensive scheme. He has the ability to beat the one-on-one block. He’s our best pass rusher, as far as a down lineman. Very productive player, and when he’s healthy, he’s as good as it gets. So it’s great to have him back.”

The Packers practice in Green Bay this weekend before traveling to Texas on Monday.