Four days after the so-called Fail Mary against the Seahawks, the Green Bay Packers wrapped up their on-the-field preparations on Friday for Sunday's home game against the New Orleans Saints.
During the brief portion of practice that was open to reporters, there was plenty of chatter and lighthearted banter. That continued throughout the 70-minute practice, according to coach Mike McCarthy, which would seem to be a sign the team has moved past the shocking outcome at Seattle.
"It was a good practice," McCarthy said. "The six-day week is different. It doesn't matter, regardless what the outcome was (on Monday). I thought we did a good job bringing them in later (for Wednesday's practice). I thought they definitely were chippy today, which is a good sign as a team. The energy is back up. Yesterday's practice was better than Wednesday's. You always look for progress in your preparation throughout the week. I feel very confident that we're ready."
With McCarthy's steady approach, the team tried to quickly move beyond the controversy and look ahead to what's an enormous game. McCarthy said he was "proud" of how his players handled the shocking loss and media onslaught.
That was a necessity. In a tough NFC, with nine teams boasting winning records, the loser between the Packers (1-2) and Saints (0-3) is going to be in a big hole.
"Actually, I think our locker room's strong," McCarthy said. "I think the character in the locker room is very high. It definitely was emotional, but when it was time to turn the page, they turned the page. I think that was probably the most important part of it, because any time you go through a challenge and it doesn't go the way you'd like, letting things linger is just really a waste of time and energy."
Packers injury report
Out: S Sean Richardson (did not participate; hamstring). Questionable: CB Davon House (shoulder; limited). Probable: T Bryan Bulaga (knee; full); TE Tom Crabtree (shoulder; full); WR Greg Jennings (groin; limited); LB Jamari Lattimore (ankle; full); RB James Starks (toe; full); DE Jerel Worthy (shoulder; full).
Bulaga and Worthy, who were limited on Wednesday and Thursday, were listed as full for Friday.
Saints injury report
Hawthorne and Casillas are listed as one-two on the depth chart at weak outside linebacker. Will Herring, with eight starts in six seasons, will get the start. "Seattle gave us a good blueprint to get after (Aaron Rodgers)," Herring told reporters. "Hopefully, we can get to the quarterback and make them one-dimensional. I'm excited. What better opportunity than going to Lambeau and getting our first win."
— Defensive coordinator Dom Capers said he was happy with how his players defensed the Hail Mary, except for one thing: "Well, Sam (Shields) can not get pushed in the back," Capers said with equal parts humor and sarcasm.
— Starks is healthy but what's his role? Cedric Benson has 46 of the 51 non-quarterback/non-receiver carries. "We're starting to see (Starks) back to where he was before he got hurt," McCarthy said. "I would say he's close. With that, Cedric and Alex and Brandon, they've earned this opportunity. We'll keep working through that."
— The Packers will have to make a roster move when Mike Neal is reinstated next week from his four-game suspension.
— The Packers and Saints, a combined 1-5, aren't used to slow starts. The Packers haven't been 1-3 since McCarthy's first season, 2006. The Saints have been 0-4 just twice in the last 16 seasons, including 2007. The teams went a combined 18-8 in September games the previous four seasons.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.