From the Green Bay Packers’ perspective, fundamentals will be the focus of Sunday night’s Hall of Fame against Indianapolis.
“We don’t need to be out there shifting and motioning and jumping all over the place,” coach Mike McCarthy said before Wednesday night’s practice in the sweltering heat of Ray Nitschke Field. “We need to get out there and put our hand in the ground and go play football. That's really been the message that was given in the staff meeting.”
The Packers are in the unusual position of facing an opponent in the preseason and the regular season, with Green Bay hosting Indianapolis on Nov. 6. Playing the Colts again 12 weeks later won’t impact the Packers’ plans at all.
“I’ll be honest with you, this is not going to be a real scheme focus for us at all,” McCarthy said. “This is all about fundamentals. We want to go to Canton and get our fundamental production off the ground. You’ll have a personnel evaluation that hopefully we’ll be able to use once we play them in the regular season. We’ve had zero conversations about what we’re going to do Sunday compared to when we play them – I don’t even know what week it is. We play them pretty far into the season.”
Quarterback also will be on McCarthy's mind as he decides who plays how many snaps. He hasn't decided if Aaron Rodgers will even play, and backup Brett Hundley got "nicked" at Monday night's practice and his availability for practice was "up in the air."
While the fifth preseason game isn’t popular among the veterans, it’s important for the young players fighting for roster spots and playing time. And the coaching staff, which as usual will be leading one of the youngest teams in the NFL, is embracing an extra week of instruction. In their mind, the opportunities for improvement trump the additional opportunities for injuries. So, on two of the hottest days of the summer, McCarthy – who claimed to be unaware of the heat, humidity and lack of even a breath of breeze -- isn’t going to back off on his players.
“I think you have to just keep your eye on the target, and that’s why I’m more focused on these install practices, because we won’t get these opportunities back,” McCarthy said. “These 2-hour and 45-minute practices are critical. You’re not going to do that all through training camp. That’s not the best approach for your football team. These are going to be two knock-down, drag-out practices tonight and tomorrow, and we’ll see where we are come Friday. Come Friday, we might have to adjust our approach to the game. That’s part of how training camp goes and it’s part of the developing of training a team, and that’s part of the risk that’s involved in going through an NFL training camp.”
Bill Huber is publisher of 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 www.twitter.com/PackerReport.