McCarthy feels good about Rodgers’ preparation

Posted by Wes Hodkiewicz on December 16, 2016 – 10:26 am

161216-rodgers-950GREEN BAY — Aaron Rodgers fully intends to play Sunday in Chicago, but exactly how much the Packers quarterback does in Saturday’s final practice remains uncertain.

Rodgers didn’t practice Wednesday or Thursday after injuring his calf on the third offensive play in Sunday’s 38-10 win over the Seattle Seahawks, but should work on a limited basis Saturday.

“We’ll see. I would think he’ll take some reps,” Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy said. “Actually just coming from quarterback meeting, we talked about some things that he needs to see in a limited fashion.”

McCarthy, then added: “I’m more worried about the snowstorm,” referring to the incoming 8-to-12 inches of snow that’s expected to fall on Green Bay between Friday and Saturday. McCarthy said the team hasn’t altered its travel plans to Chicago, though.

In lieu of practice, Rodgers has spent his week in the rehab program and dedicated more time to film study of the Bears. Based on Rodgers’ preparation, McCarthy said he doesn’t have any concern about his quarterback’s lack of on-field work.

“It’s been normal except for practice,” McCarthy said. “We still have the same structure in meetings. It’s been more pre-planning for the game than normal just because of the fact he’s not on the practice field, he’s in the treatment and able to watch more tape and more conversation going on Thursday and Friday than Friday and Saturday as how you feel the game is going to go.”

McCarthy said linebacker Nick Perry (hand) isn’t scheduled to practice on Saturday at this time, making it unlikely he’ll be ready to play Sunday in Chicago.

McCarthy added that running back James Starks remains in the concussion protocol. Linebacker Blake Martinez (knee) also is making progress after missing the team’s last two games.

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Jordy Nelson’s ‘unique instincts’ help create big plays

Posted by Wes Hodkiewicz on December 15, 2016 – 5:39 pm

161215-nelson-coor-950GREEN BAY — The Packers’ coordinators and offensive assistant coaches spoke with the media on Thursday afternoon. Here’s a summary of their key comments:

Defensive coordinator Dom Capers

On Chicago’s offense:

They look much different. I think they’re a much improved offense. All you have to do is look at their last two games. A couple weeks ago against Tennessee, they really had a great comeback. They’ve had really good opportunities to win their last two football games. Barkley came into the game (at Lambeau Field) and he’s doing a nice job for them. The combination of the running game with Howard, Barkley is doing a good job with his play-action game. He’s only been sacked three times.

On former Packers guard Josh Sitton:

Josh looks like Josh always did. He’s a savvy veteran guy who knows all the tricks of the trade. He does an excellent job with his hands. He keeps people in front of him. He’s good at picking up stunts. He’s made them better on the offensive line. I think their offensive line is playing much better than when we were getting ready to play them the first time. We have a lot of respect for Josh.

Special-teams coordinator Ron Zook

On the conditions affecting the kicking game:

Strong wind. Obviously the conditions are what they are. The ball is cold. A lot of times it isn’t going to travel as far. It doesn’t bother Mason. He’s done it. Jake is from Buffalo so he’s kicked in the elements as well. Both teams are going to have to deal with it.

On how ILB Jordan Tripp could help on special teams:

Having played Seattle and watching them. I think he’s a guy who can help us. He has a lot of ability. He’s sudden. He can run. He has a great attitude. He was up in my office last night. He’s already on his iPad studying. He has to learn the terminology, but that won’t be an issue.

Offensive coordinator Edgar Bennett

On cold weather games:

It’s part of the preparation. I think the No. 1 thing is we have the opportunity to practice in those type of conditions. You go back to how you train. You want to be fundamentally sound. As far as the mental part of it, that’s part of football.

Associate head coach/offense Tom Clements

On Aaron Rodgers’ performance in face of injuries:

He prepares well. He knows what to expect going into a game. He plays the game all week mentally, so when the game comes he’s already thought through things. He plays through injury. That’s a testament to him getting through it during the week and then being able to fight through it physically.

On Chicago’s defense:

Their whole defense is coordinated very well. They’re very strong upfront. They get a good rush. The guys back there are playing well. They’re playing very well as a defense entirely.

Offensive line coach James Campen

On T.J. Lang playing through foot injury:

That’s T.J. He cares deeply about his team. He wants to win. He’ll do everything he can to play. He made it through fine. He was in some pain I’m sure. He’s played a lot of football and knows how to work around things. Having T.J. back for the game was a plus, obviously.

On whether he played with sleeves or no sleeves in cold weather:

I was a no-sleeve except for one time. Detroit, here, was a cold game. All the linemen ran out without sleeves and then went back into the locker room. There was only one guy who didn’t have sleeves on and that was Sterling Sharpe.

Tight ends coach Brian Angelichio

On Jared Cook’s injury:

I wouldn’t say scare but certainly we were hoping to get him out there in the second half. …He’s been good. In the reps we’ve given him, just trying to see how he feels. He’s been progressing. Certainly on Saturday we’ll make a decision on where he’s at.

On Richard Rodgers’ catch against Seattle:

Rich, in my opinion, really good hands. He did a good job on Wagner. He has strong hands. He wasn’t worried about where Wright was. It was the fundamentals that Coach McCarthy preaches.

Quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt

On getting Rodgers prepared without practice:

Mental reps. That’s the big part; watching every drill we did. Getting him in tune with the game plan and landmarks. Just going over those in the meetings and making sure he’s on top of it.

On Brett Hundley’s work this week:

He’s been sharp on everything we’ve asked him to do this week. … (If he played) you wouldn’t give him the full boat that you would give Aaron. As a young player, I’d always would want the base plays that I have the most reps on.

Receivers coach Luke Getsy

On Davante Adams’ game against Chicago:

Him sticking to his plan. Believing in himself and being aggressive. When he got the ball in his hand, he was relentless. We preach every day and you’ve seen that with him. … The last time we played the Bears, Porter traveled with Jordy. It’s going to be different every week.

On execution on Jeff Janis’ end-arounds:

It’s something we practiced through the offseason. The moment struck again. Mike say that and dialed it up against Seattle with Brett in the game. Jeff ran it better than he did against Houston, and Jordy and Davante had nice blocks.

On Jordy Nelson’s signaling for where Rodgers should throw ball on touchdown against Seahawks:

I did that when I was like 10. I told my buddy to throw it here. It was just an instinctual football player. Two guys who have done that a bunch of times. He put a hand and Aaron recognized it and put it in the spot. Jordy did a good job of being patient. I think that relationship with Jordy’s unique instincts that make it special.

Running backs coach Ben Sirmans

On James Starks’ health after accident:

I’ve talked to him. I talked to him yesterday and after the accident. For him, prior to that, he’s in a good place. His biggest thing is he wants to win. He was really disappointed that this has happened to him.

 On Ty Montgomery officially becoming a running back:

He’s made a good transition. The biggest thing he’s brought besides his athleticism is he has an understanding of the pass game that the other guys don’t. It helps make him more valuable. He’s very, very eager to learn and ask a lot of questions. He still asks the most questions.

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Rookie Jordan Howard impressive as Bears’ new feature RB

Posted by Mike Spofford on December 15, 2016 – 10:49 am

161215-howard-950GREEN BAY — For the bulk of Mike McCarthy’s experience in the Packers-Bears rivalry, Matt Forte was the feature running back for Chicago and a multi-level threat in the Bears’ offense.

But with Forte gone, the Bears have turned over the feature role in their backfield to rookie Jordan Howard, who stepped in early in the season when Jeremy Langford went down with an injury. Closing in on 1,000 rushing yards this season, Howard hasn’t given the job back now that Langford is back on the field.

“Jordan is a good player,” McCarthy said prior to Thursday’s practice. “You watch the tape, he doesn’t waste any steps. He’s decisive with his reads. He’s very comfortable running the football in their offense. Good forward lean. Very good young running back.”

Earlier in the week, Bears head coach John Fox likened Howard to Packers RB Eddie Lacy, not in terms of body type, but in terms of running style, and McCarthy concurred.

“They get north and south and they make good decisions,” McCarthy said. “Both of those guys have a similar running style that way.”

For the Packers at running back, James Starks has been sidelined due to a concussion from a car accident on Monday. Other than the concussion, Starks is fine, but he is in the protocol and did not practice on Wednesday.

Ty Montgomery has taken over as the most-used back in the Packers’ offense, and McCarthy was asked if the converted receiver could handle a 20-carry load in a game.

“That’s a question you really grow into,” McCarthy said. “He’s definitely a durable player. You look at the way he’s built, he returns kickoffs too, so that tells you what we think about his ability to run up in there. We’ll see how it goes this week, but I have confidence he could get to that number if we had to.” will have more following practice and locker room interviews.


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Packers preparing for bitter cold in Chicago

Posted by Mike Spofford on December 14, 2016 – 2:02 pm

161214-soldier-field-950GREEN BAY — The forecast for Sunday in Chicago is for bitter cold, with wind chills and maybe the temperature itself below zero, and the Packers will do their best to prepare for that by practicing some outside this week in chilly Green Bay.

“We’re fortunate we can practice in it. It’s similar to what we’re going to play in,” Head Coach Mike McCarthy said prior to Wednesday’s practice. “The biggest thing is (handling) the football and fundamentals. That’s why it’s important to get outside and practice in it. The wind is what you watch for, especially being down there right on the lake.”

The Packers played in a brutally windy game in Chicago in 2007, and then a very cold night game down there in ’08. McCarthy remembers both very well.

He said the team won’t actually practice outside on Wednesday during a brief workout, because only one period of practice will be 11-on-11 work. Thursday will be the day a lot of work gets done outside, with multiple team periods after individual and fundamental drills are complete.

On the injury front, McCarthy said QB Aaron Rodgers (hamstring, calf) would not practice on Wednesday or Thursday to focus on rehab, but he will play on Sunday.

“We have a plan. Game-plan-wise, his comments were don’t hold anything back,” McCarthy said. “We’re approaching this game no different than we did last week.”

TE Jared Cook (chest) has a chance to play, but McCarthy said it would depend on how things go during practice. LB Clay Matthews (shoulder) will remain on a similar practice plan as last week, while LB Nick Perry (hand) would not be on the practice field until Saturday at the earliest.

“I think Clay is going to be better this week than he was last week,” McCarthy said. will have more following practice and locker room interviews.


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