Bay Packers' Jordy Nelson scores a touchdown in front of New
England Patriots' Devin McCourty after a catch during the first
half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014, in Green
GREEN BAY — An
extra day off worked wonders for the Green Bay Packers, especially in
the week after beating the New England Patriots in a heavyweight fight
of a football game.
Break time is over,
Coach Mike McCarthy's
crew returned to the practice field Thursday to prepare for Monday
night's game against the Atlanta Falcons. Around the locker room after
practice, players stuck to a determined "next game"
sentiment, though they seemed to be a little more refreshed after the
"They better be.
They got an extra day off, three days," McCarthy said.
"We've still got some more work to do. They're back. They're into
Well, not everybody.
Starting cornerback Sam Shields sat out practice after getting a
concussion in last week's 26-21 win over New England. Defensive
lineman Mike Daniels, who combined with Mike Neal for a crucial
fourth-quarter sack of Tom Brady, was out with back soreness.
Of the two starters,
the status of Shields might be concerning than Daniels, who McCarthy
thought was day-to-day. As expected, Shields was still working through
the concussion protocol.
This might seem like
bad timing with the Falcons expected to bring their full complement of
top receivers to Lambeau Field. Veteran Roddy White appears ready to
return from an ankle injury to join Julio Jones and Harry Douglas as
quarterback Matt Ryan's top targets.
Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy walks on the field during
the first half of an NFL football game against the Minnesota
Vikings, Sunday, Nov. 23, 2014, in Minneapolis.
The Packers, though,
are relatively deep in the secondary this year. Micah Hyde, who splits
time with Ha Ha Clinton-Dix at free safety, is often on the field at
the same time with Clinton-Dix anyway in five-defensive back sets,
while Davon House and Casey Hayward have already proven to be
dependable subs at corner.
"We have a lot
of depth in our secondary. Just like our whole defense, it's good to
get everybody involved," McCarthy said.
It helps to have a
relatively short injury list, too, especially for December. The
changes in training and conditioning made by McCarthy going into 2014,
which include giving players off two days before a game — rather
than the traditional day before a game — seem to have paid off.
On Thursday, every
offensive player practiced. Having won four straight to rise to the
top of the NFC North at 9-3, the Packers seem to be in good shape
heading into the season's stretch run.
They also realize
that momentum can disappear at any moment. They are not even in the
clear in the division — as long as Detroit stays a game back of
Green Bay, the Lions can still take the North if they can beat the
Packers in the regular season finale at Lambeau.
"We'll hold each
other accountable throughout the week," receiver Jordy Nelson
said when asked about how to avoid a letdown. "We know what we
have in front of us, we have a four-game stretch here. Detroit is
right behind us. We can't let up at all and we need to make sure we
take care of business."
Shields and Daniels, LB Nick Perry was limited with a shoulder injury.
DT Josh Boyd (knee), and backup LB Jamari Lattimore (ankle) also
missed practice. OLs T.J. Lang (ankle) and Josh Sitton (toe) were
limited with recurring injuries. ... QB Aaron Rodgers, who turned 31
this week, will make his 100th career start Monday. "I just
turned 31, I'm getting kind of old in this league here," he
joked. "A hundred starts, that's kind of all it means. I'm not
too excited either way about it. Hopefully get another hundred."