Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) throws a fourth
quarter shuffle pass to tight end Andrew Quarless (81) during an
NFL divisional playoff football game against the Dallas Cowboys,
Sunday, Jan. 11, 2015, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis. The
Packers won 26-21.
GREEN BAY — The
Packers will get a head start out West to prepare for the NFC title
game against the Seattle Seahawks.
Green Bay plans to
leave for Seattle on Friday, one day ahead of when the team would
usually fly out for Sunday road games.
This is no ordinary
road game. The winner goes to the Super Bowl.
Coach Mike McCarthy
is hoping this trip to CenturyLink Field has a different outcome than
the previous one in September — a 36-16 loss in the league opener to
"You learn from
past experiences," McCarthy said Monday. "We evaluate every
schedule, every practice. We're always looking to try to get
Just like quarterback
Aaron Rodgers, whom McCarthy said felt well a day after the 26-21 win
over Dallas that clinched the Packers' first trip to the NFC
championship game since their most recent run to the Super Bowl title
after the 2010 season.
Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) with guard Josh
Sitton (71) celebrates a touchdown during the second half of an
NFL divisional playoff football game against the Dallas Cowboys
Sunday, Jan. 11, 2015, in Green Bay, Wis.
Dealing with a
lingering left calf injury, Rodgers once again proved Sunday that he's
better than most healthy quarterbacks in the league even if he's less
than 100 percent. He finished 24 of 35 for 316 yards and three
Rodgers said the calf
felt better as the game progressed. A practice plan for Rodgers will
be determined on Wednesday.
"I think he
feels better at this time this week than he did last week,"
For as good as
Rodgers was against the Cowboys with limited mobility, the Packers may
need him to be even better against Seattle's rugged defense on the
Rodgers was 23 of 33
for 189 yards with a touchdown and interception in the opener against
Seattle. Back then, the Packers offense was still trying to find its
rhythm. Eddie Lacy got knocked out of that game with a concussion.
Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy, right, watches a missed
field goal by Dallas Cowboys during the first half of an NFL
divisional playoff football game Sunday, Jan. 11, 2015, in Green
Things have changed
dramatically. The offensive line has played well all season. Jordy
Nelson and Randall Cobb are one of the top receiving tandems in the
league, and Lacy has gotten stronger in December and January.
And now, rookies
Davante Adams and Richard Rodgers have proven they can produce in the
postseason after good games against Dallas. Fullback John Kuhn and
tight end Andrew Quarless have also emerged late in the season to help
diversify the attack.
"You know, this
team from Week 1 has grown a lot, so we're definitely looking forward
to it," said Quarless, who had four catches for 31 yards and a
touchdown against the Cowboys. "Just to see the growth and
resilience of this team throughout the postseason is a positive."
The tweaks that
McCarthy made to the training schedule and conditioning program have
also paid off. Not counting Rodgers' lingering injury, the Packers for
the most part haven't been hit by long-term or season-ending injuries
to key players that seemed to slow them down in recent years.
The move to fly out
on Friday fits the pattern of McCarthy trying new things to give his
team an edge. The practice schedule will be normal otherwise, given
that Friday is usually a day off the field. The team will then run
through a practice on Saturday in Washington.
"Just the fact
that we're trying to get better at everything we're doing,"