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Carolina Panthers' Cam Newton (1) is hit by Green Bay Packers' Josh Jones (27) during the second half of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Dec. 17, 2017. (AP Photo/Mike McCarn)

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GREEN BAY — Mike McCarthy wants his guys to be confident and competitive, and that’s how the Green Bay Packers coach views comments made by safeties Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Josh Jones this week.

McCarthy expressed no concern that Clinton-Dix predicted he won’t be re-signed by the team in 2019, despite being tied for the NFL lead in interceptions (three), or that Jones spoke out about his desire to play more after sitting out the first two games of the season with an ankle injury and scarcely playing on defense since returning.

Clinton-Dix told the State Journal earlier this week he doesn’t expect the team to re-sign him after the season and that he’s playing with added urgency knowing free agency awaits.

“Right now, I’m playing each and every game like it’s my last. I don’t think I’m going to be here next year,” Clinton-Dix said. “That’s how I look at it. I just (have to) be honest with myself. You’ve got to play it game-by-game. Whether we’re losing by 60 points, you’ve got to go out there and perform. This is my biggest interview of my career. So I’ve got to perform, regardless of what the record says.”

Then Jones, who has played just four snaps this season on defense (all in last Sunday’s loss at Detroit), vented on the weekly USA Today-Wisconsin “Clubhouse Live” show he hosts that he would like to play more.

“That’s what I’m here for. You ain’t going to (draft) a player in the second round to not contribute to the team,” Jones said. “I mean, am I right or am I wrong? Everybody plays this game for different reasons. Some guys play this game because of what comes with it and what they can get out of it. Some guys, they enjoy just getting a check every two weeks. They’re OK with just being mediocre and not improving and just being one of the guys on the team.

“Me? I want to work for what I get. I don’t just want to get a check and feel like I didn’t do nothing for it. Especially when you know you can be out there, you can contribute to the team. That’s what hurts the most. It’s tough, trust me. It’s real tough.”

Asked about Jones expressing his feelings about his lack of playing time, McCarthy responded with a lengthy answer in which he pointed out that Jones’ status as a 2017 second-round pick who played more than 700 snaps on defense as a rookie last year doesn’t guarantee him playing time. Instead, while Jones was injured, Kentrell Brice and Jermaine Whitehead moved ahead of him on the depth chart.

“(Jones) really wasn’t ready there early in the season. When you leave the door open for opportunity and guys like Whitehead and K.B. jump through it, you have to recognize that, too,” McCarthy said. “It’s never really just about one player, it’s about creating opportunities for all your players. And draft status doesn’t equate to game-day opportunities or responsibilities each and every week.

“Josh, he’s a battler. I really like the things he’s doing on special teams. … His chance to play again will be there, we’ve just got to make sure he’s ready, and that goes for everybody that is not playing as much as they’d like to play.

“So I like the fact that Josh Jones is (ticked) off that he’s not playing because if he wasn’t, then I’d be concerned. The fact that he’s hungry and wants to get out there, I think that shows you something about him.”

As for Clinton-Dix, McCarthy said: “Like anything that’s in the paper, when a player probably gives an honest answer to a question or answers a question, when it comes to business, I don’t ever comment on those types of things. But I just trust the relationships and the conversations that I have with each and every player. And that’s no different with Ha Ha.”

From the infirmary

The good news? Wide receivers Randall Cobb (hamstring) and Geronimo Allison (hamstring) were each able to take part in Thursday’s practice on a limited basis and may get more work today after missing last week’s game.

The bad news? Quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ injured left knee kept him from practicing after suffering a “setback” — his word — Sunday, when he was tackled awkwardly early in the game.

So instead of practicing Thursday, Rodgers worked with athletic trainer/director of rehabilitation Nate Weir and he may not practice today, either. Rodgers also said he may have to revert to the bulkier brace he wore before the Lions game, having switched to a lighter brace before that game because of the progress he’d made.

With the Monday night game, the Packers will practice Friday and Sunday this week.

“Kind of a setback last week (for) the beginning of (this) week. Got to be in the rehab group again today, got a lot of good work in with Nate,” Rodgers said. “(I’m) just hoping I get back out there (for practice) and be good to go – hopefully back to where I was (before) Detroit.”

The only other player not to practice was tight end Jimmy Graham (knee), who is on a maintenance schedule and is expected to practice Thursday. Three defensive backs who missed last week’s game – cornerback Jaire Alexander (groin), cornerback Baushad Breeland (hamstring) and Whitehead (back) practiced on a limited basis.

Wide receiver Davante Adams, who was questionable last week because of a calf injury, isn’t even on the report this week.

Jason Wilde covers the Packers for ESPN Wisconsin. Listen to him with former Packers and Badgers offensive lineman Mark Tauscher weekdays from 9-11 on “Wilde & Tausch” on your local ESPN station.

This article originally ran on madison.com.

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