Since the start of training camp, the Green Bay Packers have been on an 11-week grind.
Finally, a break is on the horizon. But first, the Packers must handle their business against the San Diego Chargers on Sunday at Lambeau Field. The Packers have lost their before-the-bye game the last two seasons – at Cincinnati in 2013 and at New Orleans in 2014.
“I hope it’s not a different week,” McCarthy said of the players’ perspective. “From my standpoint, it's definitely a different week. We're playing a different opponent, an uncommon opponent. There's obviously a lot of people in that locker room that have never played against the San Diego Chargers. So, that's really the focus. We're all aware of the bye week. That was touched on briefly. But, frankly, I don't want to hear about the bye week. I don't want to hear about airplane reservations and all that nonsense. We're focused on the Chargers. This is going to be a tough game. They're somewhat like we are. They're going through some injuries and things like that. Not knowing exactly who's going to be playing and how they're going to be lining up is really our focus.”
The Packers are a beat-up bunch. Green Bay was without safety Morgan Burnett (calf) and receiver Davante Adams (ankle) before last week’s win over St. Louis. During Sunday’s game, outside linebacker Nick Perry (shoulder), guard T.J. Lang (knee) and nose tackle B.J. Raji (groin) joined the list of walking wounded.
The bye gives McCarthy the option of giving those injured players a two-week break to get ready for the second half of the season. That, however, isn’t his mind-set.
“My philosophy is that if they’re healthy, they play,” he said before Wednesday’s practice. “If they’re not healthy, then they shouldn’t play. How do you define health? I’m not going to get into that. It’s an NFL season. After the first game, everybody has been through how many car wrecks? What these guys do for a living is so unique. So, no one is 100 percent and won’t be for some time. That’s not the goal. But if you’re healthy enough, they play. That’s always been our status.”
McCarthy said Adams, Burnett, Lang and Raji would test their ailments before practice. Perry is the “farthest” away from returning. Perry had offseason shoulder surgery – it’s not known if this injury is to the same injury -- and is in the midst of arguably the best stretch of his injury-plagued career with 3.5 sacks in the past three games, including a half-sack against the Rams. After sitting out the opener, he has 12 tackles, 3.5 sacks, five tackles for losses and a forced fumble in four games. His play has been a major reason why the Packers have 16 sacks the past three weeks and rank second with 20.
In more injury news, the Packers placed safety Sean Richardson (neck) on season-ending injured reserve. His spot on the roster was filled by tight end Justin Perillo, who was promoted from the practice squad. An undrafted free agent out of Maine in 2014, he opened last year on the practice squad but was promoted to the active roster on Nov. 15 and played in two games. He spent the first five weeks of this season on the practice squad.
To fill the practice squad, Green Bay signed defensive back Kyle Sebetic. The native of Pleasant Prairie, Wis., competed in training camp this summer but was released on Sept. 1.
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PackerReport.