McCarthy: ‘When Julius Peppers speaks, everybody listens’

Posted by Wes Hodkiewicz on January 6, 2017 – 10:03 am

170106-mccarthy-950GREEN BAY — As has been the tradition under Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy, the team selected its playoff captains prior to Sunday’s Wild Card playoff matchup with the New York Giants.

For the third consecutive year, 15-year veteran Julius Peppers was among the six who were selected in addition to quarterback Aaron Rodgers, right guard T.J. Lang, safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, kicker Mason Crosby and defensive back Micah Hyde.

Peppers is the only player who isn’t a homegrown Packers prospect out of the six who were chosen. However, the nine-time Pro Bowler has grown into a respected member of the locker room during his three seasons in Green Bay.

“I think it shows the impact he has in our locker room,” McCarthy said. “To get a veteran player that late in his career, a Hall of Fame player in my opinion, his approach to the game is so professional. This is the first year we’ve held him out of practice, but he has a great work ethic in practice. When he speaks, everybody listens. He’s done a phenomenal job with our young players. He’s done a tremendous job during his time here in Green Bay.”

The Packers take a different approach with how they select their captains compared to most of the NFL. Each season, they rotate three different captains – offense, defense and special teams – during the regular season before having the team vote who will represent the Packers in the playoffs.

The honor comes added responsibility to the team.

“You put a little more on their plate than you do throughout the season,” McCarthy said. “We have a format where we select three captains weekly. When we go to six playoff captains, there’s more responsibility because the stakes are higher and as far as who speaks to the team.”

McCarthy said Thursday’s padded practice was one of the coldest the team has had during his time in Green Bay with wind chills hovering around minus-20 degrees.

However, he believes the frigid conditions should have the team prepared for whatever weather greets the Packers on Sunday.

On the injury front, McCarthy said both receiver Randall Cobb (ankle) and cornerback Damarious Randall (knee) are continuing to make progress leading into Saturday’s final practice.


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Aaron Ripkowski has shown ‘instincts of a runner’

Posted by Wes Hodkiewicz on January 5, 2017 – 4:57 pm

170105-coordinators-950GREEN BAY — The Packers’ coordinators met with the media late Thursday afternoon. Here’s a sampling of some of their key comments:

Offensive coordinator Edgar Bennett     

On FB Aaron Ripkowski:

First and foremost, it goes back to the instincts, understanding the blocking scheme helps, but the instincts of a runner and natural ability of a runner – he has a really good understanding of that. Then, you go back to what are you doing on your own? You go back to this last game against Detroit, he breaks tackles. It’s very, very difficult to take a big guy down who plays with good leverage and accelerates his feet on contact. Rip does an outstanding job of that.

On practicing outside:

It was pretty cold. It’s always good when you get an opportunity to practice in these type of elements. It helps as far as handling the football and getting acclimated.

On protecting the football:

Coach McCarthy talks about it all the time. You get what you emphasize. I think our guys understand the fundamentals. They understand that. It’s how we practice and the effort they put into it day-in and day-out speaks volumes. It certainly creates a habit.

On Giants safety Landon Collins:

Outstanding football player. He’s physical, tough, smart. He’s very good as far as tackling. Certainly, he’s a Pro Bowl safety. He shows up on tape.

Defensive coordinator Dom Capers

On handling adversity as a head coach:

A lot of times you do your best coaching job during those times of adversity. Your message for the team, how consistent it is, you don’t waver – Mike (McCarthy) has done an outstanding job. What we’ve been able to do speaks to what Mike has done for this team. I don’t think there was anybody who questioned our ability to get things back on track. Every team is going to have bumps in the road. Our guys never wavered. We just stayed the course and kept lining up. Hopefully now that gives us a chance to do what we want to do and that’s finding a way to get a win over a good Giants team.

On whether LaDarius Gunter’s contributions have been a surprise:

It hasn’t because of his demeanor. I liked his demeanor since he came in. He doesn’t say a whole lot. He’s a quiet guy but he’s all business. He really competes on the practice field. That’s a quality at that position. You have to compete every down. The experience has really helped him and benefitted him as the season wore on.

On Giants’ improved run game:

Their offense is different now than when we played the first time. They’re running the ball more. They have Rashad Jennings back. Perkins gives them a little different style of a runner. They’re mixing the run and pass. When you have a guy like Beckham on the outside and his ability to make a big play, they spread the ball around. They’re a more versatile offense now.

Special-teams coordinator Ron Zook

On how Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy rallied team when it was 4-6:

I’ve done this for a long time. Sometimes it’s really been great and hasn’t been so good. I can’t say enough about the job Mike did. I know from my own experience, the energy the staff takes, he gave it. It was positive not only with the coaching staff, but the players as well. He didn’t flinch. He said this is what we have to do. This is what we have to get done. You keep doing what you have to do.

On returner Dwayne Harris:

Obviously, we played them a long time ago. They’re a little bit different. Our guys know how good he is as a returner. Our guys are going to have a great challenge. You have to tackle him to the ground. You can’t think you’re going to knock him down because he’s strong.

On whether Herb Waters could help on special teams:

He’s going to have to. Once again, I was watching him cover kickoffs in the Kansas City game. He’s been around. He’s a great attitude and effort. He’s a guy who wants an opportunity. He’s going to have to play.


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Packers to practice outside in the cold on Thursday

Posted by Mike Spofford on January 5, 2017 – 11:07 am

170105-mccarthy-950GREEN BAY — As usual when the Packers are preparing for a cold-weather game, they’ll do the 11-on-11 segments and some other portions of practice outside on Thursday at Ray Nitschke Field.

Temperatures are in the single digits in Green Bay on Thursday. Sunday’s high for the wild-card game against the Giants is expected to be in the teens, but the forecast has been dropping that number during the week.

“We’ll go outside. It’s a normal Thursday winter practice for us,” Head Coach Mike McCarthy said.  “We’ll do all the work indoor that we need to (first). We need the field space (in the Don Hutson Center) to do all individual drills and fundamentals and special teams work. We’ll go outside for the team, field goal, field goal block, and ball drills.”

The Packers have protected the football extremely well given the winter conditions they’ve played in during most of their six-game winning streak. Their only turnover was a fumbled snap early in the Houston game on Dec. 4.

WR Randall Cobb (ankle) and CB Damarious Randall (shoulder, knee) both returned to practice on Wednesday on a limited basis and are expected to practice again on Thursday. McCarthy said they both had “a good day” and their evaluations will continue.

The coaches are also taking a close look at DT Mike Pennel, who is coming off a four-game suspension and is practicing but has not yet been re-activated to the 53-man roster.

“We’re going to take the full week,” McCarthy said. “He’s working, and we’ll see where Mike is.”

One of the most-talked-about matchups for Sunday’s game involves Green Bay’s receivers and New York’s cornerbacks, led by Janoris Jenkins, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Eli Apple. The latter two were trying to play through injuries when the Packers and Giants met back in Week 5.

“They’ve got three corners that you’d classify as starting corners,” McCarthy said. “They match you coverage-wise, they match your routes and they’re aggressive with it. This is an excellent defense.”

McCarthy added the Packers would have options built into the game plan if the Giants decide to match up their top corner, Jenkins, on the Packers’ top receiver, Jordy Nelson. That’s a normal phase of preparation for any matchup.

“You have adjustments you may make in run game at the line of scrimmage, adjustments you may make in protection, and also with the routes,” McCarthy said. “That’s all part of the game.”

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


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McCarthy: Packers will promote CB Herb Waters from practice squad

Posted by Wes Hodkiewicz on January 4, 2017 – 2:05 pm

170104-waters-950GREEN BAY — The Packers are promoting converted cornerback Herb Waters from the practice squad, Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy said at his Wednesday news conference.

Waters (6-0, 188) initially went to training camp with the Packers as an undrafted receiver out of Miami (Fla.), but converted to cornerback after signing onto the team’s practice squad at the beginning of the regular season.

A college teammate of Packers’ second-year cornerback LaDarius Gunter, Waters started 20 of 47 games played for the Hurricanes, totaling 99 receptions for 1,534 yards (15.5 avg.) and nine TDs.

The Packers will place cornerback Makinton Dorleant (knee) on injured reserve to make room for Waters on the 53-man roster.

“It’s a great credit to Herb and a credit to (cornerbacks coach) Joe Whitt,” McCarthy said. “He’s a young man with a lot in front of him. I’m excited for him personally. I know what he’s put into it. He’s worked his tail off. You talk about practice squad players and what they have to do in practice. It’s about opportunities and Herb has done a great job of making the switch and doing the extra stuff.”

McCarthy said cornerback Quinten Rollins has entered the concussion protocol after being carted off the field during last Sunday’s 31-24 win over Detroit.

Receiver Randall Cobb and cornerback Damarious Randall will try to practice during Wednesday’s practice, according to McCarthy. Cobb has missed the last two games with an ankle injury, while Randall exited against the Lions with a knee injury.


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