Notebook: Coach Takes It In Stride

McCarthy says there's nothing wrong with how his players are trained. Plus: Aaron Rodgers looks ready for Sunday; injuries mean shakeup on defense; and much more from Friday.

From the first day of training camp, injuries have been the dominant theme for this year's Green Bay Packers.

Nonetheless, coach Mike McCarthy swears he's not frustrated.

"It's not for me, and I think I answer that question 10 times a year," McCarthy said on Friday. "I don't want to sound malicious toward the individuals that are injured, but I do not concern myself with injuries. I really don't. I think that is what the offseason is for. I think that is the job of the coaches, that's part of our job to plan. We don't go in with a very limited game plan as far as how we line players up, the personnel groups that we play in. I feel we prepare for these types of situations from Day 1. It's part of the game. Yes, we have had a lot, but it is the Packers vs. the Dolphins, period. There are no asterisks in our league, and that's the way we approach it from Day 1."

Many fans have wondered whether the training staff is to blame for the early-season onslaught of injuries, but McCarthy does not share that line of thinking. While this year's injury du jour, so to speak, are shoulder strains, McCarthy found no common ties when reviewing how those injuries occurred to Brandon Chillar, Mark Tauscher and Mike Neal. Other injuries, such as Nick Barnett's wrist ligament, Morgan Burnett's torn ACL or Ryan Grant's torn ankle ligament, are the types of serious injuries that are unavoidable in such a collision-filled sport.

"I think you have to look at the injuries. I think you have to look at your training," McCarthy said. "If you pop up and you have fatigue injuries, if there is something you can run a common thread through your injuries, then you have to look at your training or what you are asking players to do. I do not think that is the case.

"I don't think there is anything wrong with our strength and conditioning or our trainers. Actually I think we probably would rank very high if you are able to test all of those as far as the way our players are treated and the way they are trained. We have upgraded our cafeteria lately and so forth, so we are always looking for ways to improve how our players our treated and how we prepare them to get ready for performance. I just think it is part of the game of football. Ours have come in big numbers kind of quickly. I'm hoping that we are just getting them all at once and we'll be healthy the rest of the year."

Defensive shakeup

The Packers figure to be out with two key defensive starters, NFL sacks leader Clay Matthews (hamstring) and defensive end Ryan Pickett.

Matthews didn't practice all week and almost certainly won't play, though McCarthy called him a game-time decision. Frank Zombo, Brady Poppinga and Brad Jones will rotate through the two outside linebacker positions.

"We've got plenty of outside linebackers to get the job done," position coach Kevin Greene said.

Pickett didn't practice all week after a Redskins lineman dove at his ankle last week. Making matters worse, the unit's primary backup, second-round pick Neal, didn't practice the last two days. To help bolster the depth, the Packers put Barnett on season-ending injured reserve and re-signed defensive end Michael Montgomery.

"Michael Montgomery has been in our program for a number of years," McCarthy said. "He knows our defense. So, we felt he would be able to come in and be able to get ready on short notice and be ready to play Sunday if needed. Really, Michael Montgomery's active status is directly tied to the health of Ryan Pickett and Mike Neal."

Montgomery is the slimmest 6-foot-5, 280-pounder you've ever seen. Montgomery, who was released among the Vikings' final cuts, had been working out with Johnny Jolly.

"I've been staying in shape and preparing for this moment," Montgomery said.

Rodgers good to go

Aaron Rodgers was running the show at Friday's practice. Barring an unexpected setback when he's examined by team doctors following Saturday's light practice, he'll be in the starting lineup on Sunday.

"He's resilient," center Scott Wells said. "He's tough. From what I understand, he played with it during the game. So, he's a tough player."

Really, the only question is at third quarterback. One option would be promoting Graham Harrell from the practice squad. Another is going with a mystery third quarterback. In 2008, when Rodgers was battling an injured shoulder, Charles Woodson hinted that he was that guy. The third option is going with Rodgers and Matt Flynn, like usual, under the assumption that Rodgers won't get hit and suffer another concussion.

Packers injury report

Out: LB Brandon Chillar (shoulder), TE Jermichael Finley (knee). Doubtful: LB Clay Matthews (hamstring), T Mark Tauscher (shoulder). Questionable: DE Mike Neal (shoulder), DE Ryan Pickett (ankle). Probable: T Chad Clifton (knee), S Nick Collins (knee), WR Donald Driver (quad), DE Cullen Jenkins (hamstring/quad), FB Quinn Johnson (glute), TE Donald Lee (chest), QB Aaron Rodgers (concussion), CB Sam Shields (calf), CB Charles Woodson (toe).

Dolphins injury report

Questionable: DE Jared Odrick. Probable: LB Channing Crowder (groin), T Jake Long (knee).

Four-point stance

— McCarthy, when asked if Barnett could have returned late in the season: "It's really once the surgery took place, what they found, and what they found we were hoping not to see. Once the report came back from surgery on Wednesday, we pretty much knew at that time that he was potentially done for the season."

— Shields and Pat Lee are in contention to be the third corner. That was a role Shields held for the first three games before his calf injury. Lee was the third corner last week. Shields played better but only can play on the outside while Lee can play on the outside or the slot, cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt said.

— Tight end Donald Lee was expected to miss a game or two. Instead, he'll be in the lineup on Sunday. "I just prayed and eat my vitamins and feel better the next day," Lee said, sounding a little like Hulk Hogan.

— The NFL fined the Redskins' Jeremy Jarmon $5,000 for his perfectly legal helmet-to-helmet hit on Rodgers.


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.


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