GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Mike Daniels either misspoke or slipped up. If it’s the former, then there’s a chance the Green Bay Packers' standout defensive tackle will play Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals. If it’s the latter, then his hip injury will keep him out of a game for the first time since his rookie year of 2012.
When asked about the opportunity to play in the same game as one of his idols, Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins, Daniels said Friday: “Gosh, I was looking forward to that.”
Daniels was among seven Packers listed as doubtful on Friday’s injury report.
Daniels has been studying the Bengals’ Pro Bowler for years thanks to some advice from his former Iowa teammate, Ravens guard Marshal Yanda.
“You should watch Geno Atkins; you two are similar,” Daniels said of Yanda’s message. “That’s what I learned. A lot of respect for him. He’s possibly one of my favorite players in the NFL, so definitely a lot of respect for him, and I’ve learned a lot from watching him.”
Atkins is the perfect model for Daniels. They’re both considered undersized -- Atkins at 6-foot-1 and Daniels at 6-0 -- and both came into the league as unheralded fourth-round picks.
“It’s a short-guy movement,” Daniels said. “It is. We all have each other’s back. It’s not a lot of back to have.”
Sunday’s game was supposed to feature two of the premier interior defensive linemen in the league -- regardless of height -- until Daniels’ hip flared up and knocked him out of last Sunday’s game at Atlanta. The problem first arose last week in practice just as Daniels was coming off perhaps the most dominant game of his career -- a 1.5-sack, seven-tackle performance in the opener against the Seahawks.
“Trust me, that’s been in my head,” Daniels said.
Bengals coach Marvin Lewis sees the similarities, too.
“Those guys all play with great leverage,” Lewis said. “You watch Daniels play up there, you watch Aaron Donald, Geno. When we picked Geno in 2010 and then he became a full-time starter in 2011 and things took off, everybody said, ‘Oh, the guy can do it. He doesn’t have to be 6-foot-4 to do this.’ They play with great leverage, they have great motors and extension and they’re good knee benders.”
Daniels on Friday wasn’t ready to rule himself out. Neither was Packers coach Mike McCarthy.
“I think that that group of guys that haven’t practiced yet, we’re going to give them the week to go through,” McCarthy said Friday. “I’d put Mike right in the same category as Randall [Cobb]. We’ll see what the next two days [bring] ... It will clear up for us tomorrow.”