Packers closely monitoring forecast for Sunday

Posted by Wes Hodkiewicz on December 9, 2016 – 10:00 am

161209-snow-950GREEN BAY — Winter is coming. Maybe.

Weather projections continue to shift for Sunday’s game between the Packers and the Seattle Seahawks with the current forecast calling for temperatures around freezing and anywhere from 1 to 5 inches of snow.

Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy said he and football administration coordinator Matt Klein are monitoring the forecast, though McCarthy won’t address it directly with the team until Saturday’s team meeting.

The Packers already endured their first snow game of the last Sunday during their 21-13 win over Houston. It snowed continually throughout the game, creating slick field conditions with temperatures hovering around 32 degrees.

“We watch the weather. Rain, wind, you definitely look at those elements and you adjust accordingly,” said McCarthy during his Friday morning news conference. “It’s always built into your winter plan. I don’t really talk about the weather until the team meeting tomorrow. It could change.

“I think when we get to tomorrow, Matt Klein, is our weather man. It’s kind of like your weather man. It changes every day. We try to get him as close to 24 hours as we can to the game.”

Linebacker Clay Matthews (shoulder) practiced on a limited basis Thursday. McCarthy said on Wednesday that he didn’t expect the Pro Bowl linebacker to work until Saturday’s final practice, but Matthews’ shoulder responded well enough to treatment to enable him to get on the field earlier than expected.

“He’s making progress,” McCarthy said. “He’s just working on his strength. He’s getting better. He did all the individual stuff, hit the sleds. He’s improving.”

McCarthy said offensive linemen T.J. Lang (foot) and JC Tretter (knee) continue to make progress with their respective injuries. While their status for Sunday is uncertain, neither player suffered a setback during practice this week.

Cornerback Damarious Randall was largely limited in practice on Thursday due to an illness. McCarthy was optimistic it won’t affect his availability for Sunday’s game.


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Russell Wilson ‘the engine that makes everything go’ for Seahawks

Posted by Mike Spofford on December 8, 2016 – 5:03 pm

161208-wilson-coor-950GREEN BAY — The Packers’ coordinators and defensive assistant coaches spoke with the media on Thursday afternoon. Here’s a summary of their key comments:

Special teams coordinator Ron Zook
(on Seattle PR/KR Tyler Lockett)

“He’s got elite speed. He knows how to run the football. He knows how to follow his blockers. They get on you, and we have to get off them.”

(on the weather’s impact on special teams)

“The biggest difference you have in weather like this, the ball doesn’t carry as far, go as high. It’s harder to place the ball on kickoffs and punts, so you have to cover more field.”

Defensive coordinator Dom Capers
(on Seahawks QB Russell Wilson)

“He’s kind of the engine that makes everything go. Had a chance to be around him a couple times at the Pro Bowl, and you can see his leadership. He has a great feel for people. Guys rally around him and respond to him. He’s a guy that makes plays at key times. He extends plays probably as well as anybody in the league.”

(on having to be careful when rushing him)

“You do. He’s got savvy to him that if you’re four-man rushing and get too aggressive up the field, one of best things he does is he sees the crease, steps up in the crease, and that’s when he’s really effective throwing the ball. He’s good throwing is on the move. He’s very accurate.”

(on TE Jimmy Graham and WR Doug Baldwin)

“Graham is a matchup guy. You could consider both of them, the way they play, as difference-makers. I think Baldwin is one of the underrated receivers in the league. He’s good after the catch, really strong with the ball in his hands.”

(on LB Clay Matthews and his recovery)

“You always like to have Clay at full speed. Last week, I give him credit, he wasn’t full-go, but he gave it everything he had. Our hope is he’s heading in the right direction, getting some strength back in that shoulder. You’d like to have a healthy Clay out there.”

Offensive coordinator Edgar Bennett
(on Seattle’s defense without S Earl Thomas)

“Thomas without a doubt is an impact player. He’s been one of the top safeties playing the game. I’m sure they’ll make some adjustments, but at the end of the day, they’ll stay true to who they are.”

(on CB Richard Sherman, will he stay to one side or shadow)

“He’s done it all. One of the top corners in the game. Very sound, very savvy, very smart.”

Associate head coach/linebackers Winston Moss
(on whether Matthews still influences a game, despite not being healthy)

“To some extent. Go back and look at the film, for a guy they knew was coming off an injury, they still committed a back to him, to chip. They still paid attention to him.”

(on the opportunity now for DE/LB Datone Jones)

“We count on Datone. Datone got after it pretty good (last week). I feel pretty good that if he’s in there and doing his thing, it should help us out.”

Defensive line coach Mike Trgovac
(on Mike Pennel)

“Mike’s a good person. I saw what Coach McCarthy’s comments were on him. I really don’t have anything to add on him. Obviously, he’s a big man, I’d like to have him, but there’s bigger things than football.”

(on Dean Lowry)

“I’ve told you guys all along, I think Dean is a really good football player. He’s been getting better and better and better. When Dean was at Northwestern, he was an outside end for them. We thought he had the ability to come inside from the 5 (technique) to the 3 and do some things inside. He’s extremely smart and he’s been coming on in practice.”

Safeties coach Darren Perry
(on matching up with Graham)

“I think our size helps us. When you get a big tight end like that, you put linebackers on him, he can outrun them. We feel like we match up well. He’s a challenge, but when you’ve got some size you can negate some of that ability to separate a little bit.”

(on defending Wilson)

“He’s going to test your patience and your discipline. You have to be conscious of that. You have to make sure you hold your coverage. Until he gets across the line of scrimmage, you have to stay true. We can’t afford to get nosy and lose our discipline. We know we’re going to see it.”

Cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt Jr.
(on Makinton Dorleant)

“He’s quick. He’s a little guy, but he plays bigger than what he is. He has really good feet, good vertical speed. The things that interest us, you could see those things before he got hurt.”

(on LaDarius Gunter and his press technique)

“He gets his hands on at the line of scrimmage and tries to ride from there. That’s his game. It’s a technique a lot of guys use around the league. He’s getting better at it. He’s a hands-on type player. Each week he’s playing more aggressively. He has mentally what it takes to be a very good player in this league.”

(on Baldwin)

“He’s an above-the-shoulder type player who plays with grit. He’s an underrated player who deserves a lot more credit than he’s been given.”

Assistant linebackers coach Scott McCurley
(on the injuries to Jake Ryan and Blake Martinez)

“We’ll try to get them to the game and try to play through them. It’s not easy, but I appreciate their effort and what they’ve done.

“It’s hard in practice. As much as you’d like it to be a simulation of the game, there’s only so much padded work overall. You trust the feedback from them, the medical opinion, the work on the field, and you make your best decision and go with it. We’re at a point right now where you’re not going to get a full 95, 100 percent recovery anyway. We’re working through it together.”

 


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‘Charles Woodson: A Football Life’ to premiere Friday on NFL Network

Posted by Mike Spofford on December 8, 2016 – 1:17 pm

161208-woodson-950GREEN BAY — The NFL Network series “A Football Life” will feature an episode on former Packers CB and future Hall of Famer Charles Woodson on Friday at 8 p.m. CT.

Woodson signed with the Packers as a free agent in 2006 and played seven years in Green Bay before returning to Oakland, where he began his career in 1998 as  a Heisman Trophy winner out of Michigan. He won the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award in 2009 and a Super Bowl ring in 2010. He’s tied for fourth all-time in Packers history with 38 interceptions, and he set a franchise record with 10 defensive touchdowns.

 

 


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Seattle’s Tyler Lockett a potential game-changer

Posted by Mike Spofford on December 8, 2016 – 11:03 am

161208-lockett-950GREEN BAY — Two weeks ago, the Packers faced an explosive Philadelphia return unit that had returned two kickoffs for touchdowns on the season, and Green Bay held the Eagles in check.

The Packers have to deal with an even more dangerous challenge on Sunday with Seattle return specialist Tyler Lockett coming to town. A speedy, shifty, breakaway player, Lockett is a home-run threat anytime he gets his hands on the football. Lockett plays receiver on offense for the Seahawks as well.

“Against the Eagles, we were outstanding that night in our coverage units, and that’s the type of game we’re going to need this week,” Head Coach Mike McCarthy said prior to Thursday’s practice. “Lockett brings a whole new dimension to this game, in this weather, and he’s the focus. We need to win that part of the game. It will obviously affect field position, which will be very important in this game for us.

“They do a good job staying on blocks, and we can’t let them grab us and execute those blocks in the return game. That’s something we’re really emphasizing this week.”

On the injury front, McCarthy said inside LBs Jake Ryan and Blake Martinez are on different practice schedules, with Ryan having returned from his ankle injury last week, but Martinez not back yet from his knee injury. Both are expected to work on Thursday in the padded practice, the longest of the week.

Outside LB Julius Peppers rested on Wednesday but will practice Thursday, and McCarthy suggested that would be the plan with the veteran pass-rusher going forward, even though Peppers would prefer to practice every day.

“He has an old-school approach to that. He does not want to come off the field,” McCarthy said. “He’s a tremendous example for your younger players and a tremendous asset to our program.”

Regarding the suspension of DT Mike Pennel, the second four-game substance-abuse suspension of the season for the third-year pro, and McCarthy said the team wants to help him get past his “issue.”

“It’s disappointing. Mike’s one of our guys, a part of our D-line rotation, a rotation that’s been very healthy, especially since he’s come back,” McCarthy said. “It really creates other opportunities for other players, and that’s the way we’ll go.”

One of those other players would be rookie Dean Lowry, who recorded his first NFL sack and deflected a pass at the line of scrimmage last week, but McCarthy said Lowry was on pace to play more anyway.

“It really has nothing to do with Mike Pennel’s situation,” McCarthy said. “Dean Lowry, based on the way he’s performed deserves more opportunities.”

Packers.com will have more following practice and locker room interviews.


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Packers LB Nick Perry out this week with hand injury

Posted by Mike Spofford on December 7, 2016 – 1:54 pm

161207-perry-950GREEN BAY — Packers outside LB Nick Perry tried to play a few snaps last week with a huge club on his injured hand, but he has to take some time off now.

Head Coach Mike McCarthy announced prior to Wednesday’s practice that Perry would be out this week, unavailable for Sunday’s game vs. Seattle, and the team will be re-evaluating his status next Monday.

“I feel terrible for Nick. He’s having a great season, clearly his best season,” McCarthy said of Perry, who leads the Packers with eight sacks. “He’s had a setback.

“I don’t know the specifics of how long it’s going to be. Talking to Nick, he wants to go. That’s why we’re going to look at it Monday and see where it is.”

McCarthy also said LB Clay Matthews would not practice either Wednesday or Thursday and would try to have his injured shoulder stronger for Sunday’s game than it was last week, when it was a struggle to play.

“He was extremely limited in the game,” McCarthy said. “Each week it’s going to get better. That’s the hope. As far as having a setback, it didn’t help him playing in the game, but I think it speaks volumes about Clay and gutting it out.

“We’ll get to Saturday and see where we are. He wants to try to get some strength back in the shoulder.”

On the plus side of the injury report, offensive linemen T.J. Lang (foot) and JC Tretter (knee) are both expected to begin transitioning from rehab work into practice drills this week. McCarthy did not say their return was imminent, but they continue to make progress.

QB Aaron Rodgers (hamstring) was expected to be limited in Wednesday’s practice, much like he was last week.

Packers.com will have more following practice and locker room interviews.

 


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McCarthy wants crowd noise ‘higher than ever’ on Sunday

Posted by Mike Spofford on December 2, 2016 – 9:58 am

161202-crowd-950GREEN BAY — The Packers are back at home for the first time in four games and for just the second time in their last six games, and Head Coach Mike McCarthy hopes the crowd can provide the home-field advantage Green Bay has come to expect over the years.

That hasn’t always been the case this season, as the home fans have expressed frustration at times, particularly in the last home game vs. Indianapolis, but the Packers are hoping their big Monday night win in Philadelphia that kept their postseason hopes alive will help energize the crowd on Sunday vs. Houston.

“When the crowd is into the game, crowd noise is important,” McCarthy said on Friday. “The game of football is done with a lot of communication, so if you can challenge the communication of the opponent, it’s obviously an advantage to the home team. We want the crowd noise to be higher than ever.”

As for the latest injury update, McCarthy said QB Aaron Rodgers “looked good” in his limited reps due to a hamstring injury during Thursday’s practice, while LBs Clay Matthews (shoulder) and Jake Ryan (ankle) did what was expected of them in practice, and LB Blake Martinez (knee) actually did more.

“We’ll see how he comes through today,” McCarthy said of Martinez. “Tomorrow will be key for all those guys.”

G T.J. Lang (foot) and C/G JC Tretter (knee) will have to clear “a big hurdle” in order to return this week, McCarthy added.

Saturday’s practice will be a bit longer than normal, as McCarthy moved a period or two from Thursday’s workout to Saturday’s because the team is coming off a Monday night game.

 


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On Aaron Rodgers in Philadelphia: ‘He was locked in’

Posted by Mike Spofford on December 1, 2016 – 6:05 pm

161202-rodgers-coordinators-950GREEN BAY — The Packers’ coordinators and offensive assistant coaches met with the media late on Thursday after practice. Here’s a sampling of some of their key comments.

Special teams coordinator Ron Zook
(on Texans PR Will Fuller)

“He’s fast. Real fast. They have very, very good skill guys on the edge to keep you from getting down there. We have to place the ball extremely well and make sure he doesn’t have a chance to get going.”

(on coverage teams vs. Philly)

“We challenged them and I thought they took the challenged. We placed the ball well, and they went and covered well. This time of year, we have to play every game like that.”

(on if the return team can break one)

“We’ve been so close. I told the guys (in meetings) I’m so sick of coming in here and there’s one little thing here or one little things there that keep us from taking it where we want to go. You keep working, and then it takes a little lady luck there.”

Offensive coordinator Edgar Bennett
(on Spriggs playing the full game at RG)

“It wasn’t always picture-perfect, but he did a really good job. Overall, it’s about results, and he got the job done. You look at the tape, and you see the effort. We can correct the fundamental and technique errors, but you see the effort.”

Defensive coordinator Dom Capers
(on Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins)

“He’s an elite receiver, obviously. He’s really strong. You probably see more pass interference penalties on Hopkins than anybody else. You see the flags come out because he’s physical. People try to double him, and they do a good job of moving him around where they can get him in one-on-one situations.”

(on Texans RB Lamar Miller)

“He’s got explosive speed. He can really cut and get in and out of his breaks. He’s got such acceleration, if you give him a seam in the defense, he can take it all the way. They utilize him a  lot. He’s carried the ball over 200 times and has 30 receptions or so.”

(on the possible return of LBs Jake Ryan and Blake Martinez)

“We’d love to have them both back. You prepare for the worst, and if you get good news, you’re happy about that. This past week, moving Clay inside was the right move in terms of getting our best personnel on the field.”

Wide receivers coach Luke Getsy
(on WR Davante Adams)

“He understands a lot more of what we’re trying to do and how to do it. Three years under his belt helps. Getting more exposure, not just lining up in one spot, he’s taking advantage of it. I like where his mindset it.

“For every single route, he has an idea what he wants to accomplish. He’s going full speed, and his play speed and tempo are really good right now. He’s attacking. You’re not seeing mental errors, you’re not seeing drops. You’re seeing a guy who has a plan for each person he’s going to line up against.”

Offensive line coach James Campen
(on preparing for the Texans D-line)

“They’re going to roll out a different game plan for everything. You have to watch more tape, more games, more sequences of games. You watch teams that do similar things to us.”

(on Jason Spriggs at RG vs. Fletcher Cox in Philly)

“He had his moments, which you would expect for a first start when he’s never played guard. You have a 6-6 ½ guy in there at guard, I’ll say this, the guy battled. He used his strengths, which is good for him, and he’ll only improve from that experience regardless if he’s playing guard or tackle. When you play against one of the premier players in the league your first start, you have to look at that as a great opportunity and a great learning experience. I know he’ll take that experience and apply it to the next game.”

Associate head coach/offense Tom Clements
(on the third-down success in Philly)

“I think what happened primarily is we got the first third down converted, so we felt good about that, but we were in a lot of manageable situations. We were in third-and-short a number of times, not too many third-and-longs. That’s what we said going in the game. Guys made plays. Aaron ran for two or three first downs. That’s always a bonus. He was on, the guys were catching the ball, and the line was blocking. Everybody was doing what they were supposed to be doing.”

Quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt
(on Rodgers’ performance in Philly)

“I thought it was his best performance of the year. He was locked in. He was almost perfect with the ball. He did everything we ask him to do. He operated at a high level. This last month, he’s played outstanding. Hopefully we continue to keep that trend going.”

(on the effect on himself of his comments before the game)

“When he makes a statement, he backs it up. That’s my experience with him over the last few years.”

(on Rodgers’ release time on the quick throws)

“That’s a unique trait of his. From the time he gets it to the time it comes out, it’s lightning quick. Sometimes he’ll throw it by an unblocked defensive end, and he won’t even see it because it comes out so fast.”

(on Rodgers vs. the blitz)

“Best I’ve been around, by far. He understands it. He sees it before it happens sometimes. He studies it. He’s dialed in as well as anybody I’ve ever seen.”

Tight ends coach Brian Angelichio
(on Cook’s impact on defenses)

“They have to make a decision with the safeties, which way they’re going to lean. I think that showed up a little bit in the Washington game. But we’ll see a little bit as we move forward.

“Targets are dictated where the coverage goes and where the progression goes. With this offense, it can go to any of the receivers. Some weeks it might be this position, or this receiver in the plan, other weeks it might be others.”

Running backs coach Ben Sirmans
(on Starks, pass protection, and taking the most reps in Philly)

“Sometimes dealing with a guy who’s seasoned in a role, particularly in a game like that, you have a tendency as a coach to go with your comfort level. Christine has gotten a lot more reps this week, so we should be able to get him in there a lot more.”

(on Lacy, now that he won’t be coming off IR)

“He’s still in the meetings. He’s still involved. It’s good for him, good to be around the guys. They like his presence in there, and it keeps him around football.”

(on Michael picking up the offense)

“I think he’s learning the offense pretty well. Some of the things we do, there’s some carryover. Maybe some terminology is different. We’ve been spending some extra time together. The quarterbacks have been working with him. The other running backs, if he has a question on something or we’re going through a walk-through, they’ll come in and say this is what we’re talking about. Somebody is always interacting with him. He’s a sponge learning. He wants to play, and he knows the only way to play is to understand the offense.”

 


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McCarthy wants to get more running backs involved

Posted by Mike Spofford on December 1, 2016 – 9:51 am

161201-michael-950GREEN BAY — Head Coach Mike McCarthy confessed on Thursday that he wants to get more of the Packers’ running backs involved in the offense.

On Monday in Philadelphia, RB James Starks had 17 carries, while Ty Montgomery and Christine Michael had just one apiece. That wasn’t the plan going in, and it won’t be the plan going forward, based on what he said before Thursday’s practice.

“We need to find a healthy flow there,” McCarthy said. “That’s what the week of practice is for.

“James knows the offense inside and out, so you don’t blink when he’s in there. I feel the same about Ty. Christine Michael has picked it up really fast. I’ve been impressed with what I’ve seen there.”

With the calendar turning to December, McCarthy feels there needs to be more focus on running the ball.

“We have to figure out ways to get the ball in our playmakers’ hands,” he said. “We need to run the ball more as a football team, not only for our offense but also for our defense. Hitting the 35 (minute) mark in time of possession last week, you’d like to be there every week ideally. It’s a part of the offense we haven’t been able to use as a primary focus. It’s important to get that going.”

McCarthy also expects the Houston Texans to come to Lambeau Field on Sunday wanting to run the ball with RB Lamar Miller “and keep running it. We need to stop the run.”

On the injury front, G T.J. Lang (foot) and LB Blake Martinez (knee) are making progress and could practice on Thursday in a limited fashion, but their status hadn’t been determined yet. They were going to start in the rehab group and see how things go from there. Both rookie Jason Spriggs and Don Barclay would continue to work in practice at right guard throughout the week in Lang’s stead.

Packers.com will have more following practice and locker room interviews.

 


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Rodgers, Matthews expected to play vs. Texans

Posted by Wes Hodkiewicz on November 30, 2016 – 11:40 am

161130-rodgers-950GREEN BAY — Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy didn’t have an update on the health of quarterback Aaron Rodgers and linebacker Clay Matthews other than both are expected to play Sunday against the Houston Texans.

Rodgers tweaked his hamstring in the third quarter of Monday night’s 27-13 win over Philadelphia, but finished the game. He said afterward he thought he’d be “good to go” for this week despite the injury.

Asked on Monday whether the muscle injury could limit Rodgers like the calf strain late in the 2014 season, McCarthy said: “I don’t think we’re back in 2014.”

“There will be a lot of communication,” said McCarthy about the plan for Rodgers against Houston. “I’m in all the meetings. We’ll be talking about the game plan as we go. There was a lot of conversation last night with (quarterbacks coach) Alex Van Pelt and Aaron. The calf injury was a big injury. We made a ton of adjustments. For him to play through that was extraordinary.”

Matthews left briefly in the first quarter with a shoulder injury against the Eagles, but returned and played 44 defensive snaps.

The Packers won’t practice on Wednesday due to the short week and coming off back-to-back night games. Instead, they’ll conduct their walkthrough in their conditioning, rehab and instruction center.

McCarthy said this week is the team’s “biggest challenge” given the schedule and the fact the Packers are playing Houston for the first time in four years.

“When you look at schedule, we’re not only coming off a Monday night game on the east Coast, it was a Sunday night game on the road,” McCarthy said. “Stress adds up. This plan was in place in the spring when the schedule came out. We knew this was going to be a unique stretch. We’re fortunate to have the CRIC, so we’ll work exclusively in-house. We moved it back, gave those guys a chance to sleep in. They had weight room this morning.”


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McCarthy ‘optimistic’ on LB Jake Ryan, ‘hopeful’ on CB Damarious Randall

Posted by Mike Spofford on November 26, 2016 – 10:19 am

161126-ryan-950GREEN BAY — Head Coach Mike McCarthy expressed optimism on Saturday that LB Jake Ryan would be able to return to the field on Monday night after missing two games with an ankle injury.

“Talking with Jake, during practice, after practice, he feels good,” McCarthy said. “I’m very optimistic that he’s going to go. He’s a tough guy. Practice tomorrow, God forbid something happens, I see Jake playing.”

McCarthy also said he’s “very hopeful” CB Damarious Randall would be able to return to action also. Randall has missed the last five games, and six of the last seven, with a groin injury.

“Randall had a good day yesterday,” McCarthy said. “I feel good about the work he’s put in this week. He’s making progress and getting better.”

At right guard, the Packers are still undecided on starter T.J. Lang’s replacement. Lang is expected to miss a second straight game due to an ankle injury, with Don Barclay and rookie Jason Spriggs both taking snaps in practice to prepare. Barclay tried to play through a shoulder injury last week and was replaced by Spriggs at halftime, but Barclay has made progress in his recovery.

“Donnie practiced very well yesterday,” McCarthy said. “We’ve rolled Jason in there a little bit. Donnie is a little further ahead than I anticipated. We’ll take the full week of preparation.”

The Packers have one more on-field workout Sunday before boarding the team charter to fly to Philadelphia for Monday night’s game.

 


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