The Packers hope James Starks’ return will boost the running game, and the offense. (US Presswire)

The Packers may not have all been in good spirits this week after their controversial loss to the Seahawks on Monday night, but they are in good health heading into their Week 4 game against the winless Saints.

In a bit of a surprise, RB James Starks (toe) is listed as probable. Starks developed a turf toe injury after the first preseason game. At the time, he was out indefinitely and only returned to practice last week. But he was a full participant each of the past three days and could see his first game action in more than a month and a half.

”We're starting to see [Starks] back to where he was before he got hurt," coach Mike McCarthy said. "I would say he's close. With that, Cedric and Alex Green and Brandon Saine, they've earned this opportunity. We'll keep working through that.”

McCarthy was encouraged to have a full stable of running backs available. Against the Saints, who have the league’s worst-ranked run defense, RB Cedric Benson is still expected to start and receive the bulk of the carries.

The team released its official injury report Friday, showing six of the eight players listed on it as probable and only one ruled out of Sunday’s game. WR Greg Jennings (groin) and RT Bryan Bulaga (knee), two important starters on offense, are probable for Sunday despite having been limited in practice most of the week. Jennings was questionable heading into last week’s game but started and played. Bulaga hurt his knee during the Seahawks game, possibly one of the reasons he allowed three sacks in the first half.

The only players on the injury list that weren’t probable were CB Davon House (shoulder), who’s questionable, and third-string S Sean Richardson (hamstring), who’s out. Richardson, the undrafted rookie, didn’t practice at all this week.

House injured his shoulder in the preseason opener and has been adapting to wearing a protective harness. He’s been a limited participant at practice for the past few weeks, but McCarthy said he’s improving. House probably won’t play this week because the Packers’ other cornerbacks, notably Sam Shields and Casey Hayward, have played so well.

“Those are good situations to be in,” McCarthy said of the cornerback depth. “Davon is making progress. I thought he definitely practiced better this week than he did last week, so he’s close.”

Script flipped: Last year, the Packers and Saints met in the first game of the season and it was an offensive fireworks display. QBs Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees combined to throw for 731 yards and six touchdowns in the Packers’ 42-34 victory. Rodgers set the single-season passer rating record, was named league MVP and led the Packers to a 15-1 record, while Brees broke the single-season passing record and marched the Saints to a 13-3 record.

This year, it’s a different story. Neither team is clicking, with the Packers offense ranked 26th and the Saints defense ranked last. Rodgers has put up pedestrian numbers for the 1-2 Packers, while Brees has already been intercepted five times with a passer rating of just 77.0 for the 0-3 Saints.

Packers DT B.J. Raji said it’s going to be a high-intensity matchup, since neither team can afford to lose another game this early in the season.

“I think we’re looking in the mirror almost -- they’re wounded, we’re wounded,” Raji said. “They’re coming up here, which is great on our part. We’ll have the home support and the fans behind us.”

Rookie praise: S Jerron McMillian had a great game against the Seahawks, with a diving pass breakup and an interception that was nullified due to penalty. He was lined up in the right places, communicated effectively with the other defensive backs and was great in coverage.

McCarthy  said he’d expected McMillain to mostly contribute on special teams but has been impressed with the rookie fourth-rounder’s ability to play four secondary positions on defense.

“[McMillian’s] done a really good job,” McCarthy said. “I was glad to see him just really take advantage of his opportunity. I don’t know how many safeties through my career come in and come in and play three positions. Four positions: free, strong, nickel and dime. He has that kind of ability. That’s unique. He gives us diversity how we can use him. He’s also done a good job on special teams. I don’t think he even realizes how good he can be.”

Follow Packers reporter James Carlton on Twitter: @CBSPackers and @jimmycarlton88.