McCarthy, vs. San Francisco, 2013 playoffs. Mike DiNovo/USA TODAY

World’s Best Packers Preview: Cold as Ice

The Packers should excel in cold weather. But do they? How big of a challenge will Green Bay's defense face against Jordan Howard? Plus, deep looks inside the Bears, Lane Taylor vs. Josh Sitton, and much, much more in the biggest and best preview on Earth.

It's going to be cold — damned cold — for the Green Bay Packers’ game against the Chicago Bears on Sunday.

Weather.com predicts a high of 3 — an improvement over the minus-1 projection from earlier in the week but brutally cold, nonetheless. The wind-chill index will be hovering around minus-15.

The Packers take pride in their ability to adapt. They live in the cold, which diminishes the shock value of that cold slap in the face from just walking out the door. They have a heated outdoor practice field, which allows the players to experience the elements without wearing snowshoes to dash through the snow.

“We’re fortunate because the unique thing is we practice in it,” offensive coordinator Edgar Bennett said.

The results, however, haven’t shown up in the victory column.

Since Mike McCarthy took over as coach in 2006, the Packers have played four games with kickoff temperatures of 5 or less, according to Pro Football Reference. Amazingly, the Packers are 0-4 in those games, with Rodgers at quarterback for the first three of this list: a 23-20 loss to San Francisco in a playoff game at Lambeau Field on Jan. 5, 2014 (5 degrees), a 20-17 loss at Chicago on Dec. 22, 2008 (2 degrees), a 24-21 loss to Houston at Lambeau on Dec. 7, 2008 (3 degrees) and a 23-20 loss to the Giants in the NFC Championship Game at Lambeau on Jan. 20, 2008 (minus-1).

Expanding the parameters to 15 degrees brings in just one more game, the Matt Flynn-led victory vs. Atlanta on Dec. 8, 2013, at Lambeau Field (9 degrees). Expanding it to 20 degrees greatly grows the sample size. The Packers are 6-6-1 under McCarthy but 4-1-1 in their last six. But, as anyone who lives in a northern climate can attest, there’s a huge difference between 20 degrees and 3 degrees. Can the Packers truly function in the bitter cold?

Not many players have experience in the conditions they'll face on Sunday. Only 18 players on today's roster were with the team for that playoff loss vs. San Francisco.

“You’ve got to be comfortable being uncomfortable in those situations,” Rodgers said.

Rodgers acknowledged the team was “very uncomfortable” in the losses at Chicago in 2007 (the Packers were crushed 35-7 when it was 16 but with a wind chill of minus-18) and 2008.

“Probably the coldest game I’ve ever been a part of,” Rodgers said of that 2007 game in which he was inactive behind Brett Favre. “In ’08 down there, the night before, it was like minus-40. I remember going to dinner thinking, ‘How the heck are we going to play in this tomorrow?’ It warmed up to about minus-(13) with the wind chill. That was definitely a tough day, as well, and a tough outcome for us.”

The ticket to winning in brutal conditions is running the football. With Eddie Lacy on injured reserve and converted receiver Ty Montgomery serving as far and away the team’s best runner, the Packers might not have that ground-and-pound ability to move the ball. That might put the onus on Rodgers and his receivers to throw a frozen football around windy Soldier Field.

If kicking a football is like kicking a car tire, as Mason Crosby put it, then catching it is like, “Punching your car tire,” receiver Davante Adams said. “It gets to the point where you can’t feel your hands. Does it hurt? You don’t even know.”

Ball security will be paramount. As anyone can attest from just pumping gas for a minute, the feeling in the fingers goes away quickly in the cold. That makes the quarterbacks susceptible to sack-strips and the running backs in jeopardy from having the ball jarred loose. Rodgers, who didn’t practice in the cold this week, fumbled once in the playoff loss to San Francisco. Montgomery’s never played in a game like this, though Christine Michael had no issues on 22 touches in last year’s epic playoff game at Minnesota, when it was minus-6.

“The ball is going to be a lot harder,” running backs coach Ben Sirmans said. “One of the things that you find is that this is when defenders go to tackle you, sometimes they don’t like to wrap up, particularly in this type of weather, so they’ll come in and try to put their hats right on the football. Anytime you’re dealing with footballs that are a lot harder, you definitely want to overemphasize ball security.”

And perhaps the best advice came from Bears guard Josh Sitton, the former Packers standout: “Stay by the heater all the way until the timeout’s over; don’t go on the field early.”

MR. RED ZONE

In 2014, Jordy Nelson had five touchdown catches of 59-plus yards. That was more 59-yard receptions — touchdown or nontouchdown — than 30 of the other 31 teams.

Talk about dominance.

In 2016, Nelson is dominating in a different fashion.

Sitting at his locker on Friday, Nelson hadn’t seen the numbers — and had no interest in seeing them — but Nelson has been Mr. Red Zone.

Nelson leads the NFL with 10 red-zone touchdown receptions. That’s by far the most in the league, with no other player having more than six. If that’s not enough dominance, check this out: Only three other players started this week with more red-zone receptions than Nelson has red-zone touchdowns. Nelson’s 17 total red-zone receptions are five more than Detroit’s Anquan Boldin.

Perhaps the most noteworthy of those touchdowns came last week against Seattle. It came on what the team calls a “second-reaction play.” After the initial play broke down, Nelson adjusted his route against safety Kam Chancellor. Nelson pointed to a spot for Aaron Rodgers to throw the football, Rodgers saw it and the result was seven points.

“I don’t know why I did it,” Nelson said, adding that he’d never done that midplay before. “Sometimes when you get into scramble mode, it becomes backyard football. I just happened to do it. My main thing of doing it was to let him know, ‘Throw it and then I’m going to react.’ I didn’t want to react and then the DB reacts and then he’d throw it. Chancellor was face-guarding me, so that was my way of communicating of, ‘Throw the ball and I’ll go get it,’ instead of him waiting for me to move and then throw.”

That “backyard football” comparison is a pretty good one.

“I did that when I was, like, 10. I told my buddy to throw it over here, right?” receivers coach Luke Getsy said. “To me, that’s what that reminded me of, just that instinctual football player, two guys that have probably done that a bunch of times on the practice field being able to recognize. He didn’t say, ‘Throw it over here,’ he just put a hand (out), Aaron recognized it and put it to the spot. Jordy did a great job being patient and let the ball be thrown, then go and attack it. He attacked it. That relationship (and) Jordy’s unique instincts make it special.”

With his size and connection with Rodgers, Nelson has consistently produced in the red zone. From 2010 through 2014, he scored 23 red-zone touchdowns. That’s 4.6 per season, which shows you just how remarkable this season has been.

“Because he’s pretty good,” Getsy said in trying to explain Nelson’s production. “He’s a smart player, he’s got great instincts and he catches the ball really well. All those things are really important in those tight windows, those tight spaces. Then, obviously, the time he’s spent with Aaron as much as anything. Their experience of knowing where each other is going to be, when they’re going to be there, what kind of ball to expect. When you get down there, things are tight, and sometimes people react a little different than you prepared. To be able to counteract that quickly is something Jordy does a very good job of.”

HOWARD HAULS THE BALL

Jordan Howard is the NFL’s “other” rookie running back. Dallas rookie Ezekiel Elliott is viewed as the favorite to win NFL MVP honors. A look at the numbers shows you why. Elliott leads the NFL with 1,392 rushing yards and has been the driving force for Dallas’ revival. But a case can be made that Howard has been just as good as Elliott — even if it hasn’t shown up in the win column.

Howard is averaging 4.99 yards per carry compared to Elliott’s 4.86. The difference is that while Elliott is running behind the best offensive line in the NFL, Howard has been running behind a line without its Pro Bowl right  guard (Kyle Long) and with a rookie center (Cody Whitehair). Thus, Howard has had to do more on his own. According to Pro Football Focus, Howard averages 3.06 yards after contact compared to Elliott’s 2.84. That’s nearly one-quarter of a yard difference.

So, while Elliott is running away with the rushing title — he has 257 more yards than runner-up DeMarco Murray — Howard is ninth overall and second among rookies with 969 yards. But Elliott has had nearly 100 more carries than Howard.

“I think we saw early in camp that he had really good vision and good feet,” Bears coach John Fox said during a conference call. “When we had the Jeremy Langford injury, we plugged him in as the starter and he’s handled it really well. He’s a big guy — he’s 235. Kind of more of a Lacy-style of a back as far as real thick lower (body), a little bit hard to take down on first contact.”

Howard was a nonfactor in the first matchup, with seven carries for 22 yards. However, as he’s become more of a focal point of Chicago’s offense, Green Bay’s run defense has gone from impenetrable to vulnerable. In the first four games, Green Bay allowed 42.8 rushing yards per game and 1.99 yards per carry, with both figures leading the NFL by a wide margin. In the first eight games, Green Bay’s run defense was still near the top of the leaderboard with 75.8 rushing yards per game (second) and 3.29 per carry (second). It’s been a different story over the last five games. The Packers rank 26th with 129.0 rushing yards allowed per game and 30th with 4.89 per carry.

Some of that is based on circumstance rather than true weakness. There was a big run early against Tennessee and late against Washington that marred strong overall outings. Houston rushed for 123 yards but No. 1 back Lamar Miller averaged 1.6 yards on his 14 carries. The Packers played six defensive backs against Seattle, sacrificing run defense in favor of containing quarterback Russell Wilson and stopping tight end Jimmy Graham.

“For the most part, I think we’ve been consistent,” McCarthy said. “We’ve had some games where we let some big runs out but as far as the every-play run defense, I feel like we’ve had a good year. We’ve just got to keep the big plays, we’ve got to cut those out. Let’s be honest: They’re going to run the ball Sunday. That’s obviously a focal point for us.”

Given the weather and the quarterback situation, expect the Bears to ride the broad shoulders of Howard.

“Their offense is based off running the football,” defensive coordinator Dom Capers said. “You can see John Fox’s philosophy. Run the ball, play good defense, keep things close and find a way to make plays to win the game. Sunday will be a challenge for us. They do a good job. They have a good offensive line, they have a good blocking tight end, they’ll use the fullback and they’ll use tight ends back there because it complements their play-passing game. So, we know going in it’s going to be important we do a good job in the run game, especially with this big back. If he gets a crease, he’s a pretty patient runner, and the next thing you know it looks like he’s not going to get anything and he gets 4 yards. We’re going to have to do a nice job of making sure we get the second and third hit and not letting him fall forward for 4- and 5-yard gains.

INSIDE THE BEARS

— Chicago ranks sixth in the league in passing defense, which you might not have guessed based on how Rodgers picked apart that unit in the game at Lambeau Field a couple months ago.

For Chicago, it starts with a pass rush that ranks fifth in sacks per passing play (7.57 percent) and fifth in sacks (33). It’s a balanced pass rush, with outside linebackers Willie Young (7.5) and Leonard Floyd (7.0) and defensive end Akiem Hicks (7.0) having seven sacks apiece. The Vikings — next week’s opponent — are the only other team with three members of the seven-sacks club.

The length of Floyd and Young, who are both 6-foot-4, is a challenge.

“They’re able to get on your body really quick and they're able to dictate the rush,” right tackle Bryan Bulaga said. “As a tackle, that's not what you want. You want to be able to dictate to the rusher, not have him dictate what you're doing. Dave (Bakhtiari) and I will definitely have a big challenge this week with those guys. They've been playing really good. It's going to be a big challenge.”

Floyd, the Bears’ first-round pick, and Hicks, a free-agent addition, have been big upgrades to the defense. Hicks is one of the top 3-4 defensive linemen in the league.

“He’s a heck of a player,” center Corey Linsley said. “Heavy dude, big dude. Even though he’s bigger, he’s active with his hands. He’s smart, too. You can tell he reads plays well. He’s definitely a guy we’ve got to look out for.”

The rush compensates for a no-name group of cornerbacks that has played well. Veteran Tracy Porter, who has two interceptions, is the top player. Porter matched Nelson in the last matchup, so Rodgers stayed away from Nelson (one catch, 9 yards) and threw it to Adams (13 catches, 132 yards, two touchdowns). Cre’Von LeBlanc, who had a pick-six vs. Detroit last week, is the other corner. Bryce Callahan mans the slot.

“You’ve just got to keep playing against these guys,” Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio told reporters in Chicago. “He’s so good and so confident and he’s played in one system his entire career. He knows — and they know as coaches — how to adjust. They’ll either just keep sawing wood at what they’ve been trying and do it a little better or go to another part of their playbook. They play a lot of different personnel groups, so they’ve got a lot of offense to prepare for, and when you’re playing a quarterback that’s been in that system for so long, none of it is backlogged to him.”

— The Packers have had a lot of injuries, but at least they’re not down to their third-string quarterback.

With Jay Cutler and Brian Hoyer on injured reserve, the Bears have turned to Matt Barkley, who they signed to the practice squad after he was released by Arizona on the final cuts. Barkley was a fourth-round pick by Philadelphia in 2013 who threw 49 passes as a rookie, one pass in 2014 and zero passes in 2015. He was thrust into service in the Week 7 game at Green Bay when Hoyer was sandwiched by Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers and suffered a broken hand. He completed 6-of-15 passes for 81 yards with two interceptions and a passer rating of 18.3.

Barkley has started the last three games and done well. In his first career start against Tennessee, the threw for 316 yards and three touchdowns but tossed two interceptions in a 27-21 loss. The Bears might have won that game if not for Josh Bellamy dropping a pass in the end zone with about 40 seconds to play. The next week, Barkley had a 97.5 rating in a snowstorm as the Bears routed San Francisco 26-6. Last week at Detroit, Barkley had a 92.2 rating and had the Bears on the move in the final moments before two holding penalties and a dropped pass led to a 20-17 loss.

“It’s been close but it hasn’t been good enough,” Barkley said. “Given our situation with the injuries we’ve had and the lack of depth at some positions, I’m definitely proud of how our guys have fought. When it comes to the little details that separate good teams from great teams, we haven’t been great. That starts with me up top and trickles on down to the little details, whether it’s the run game or the pass game.”

There’s no doubt what Green Bay’s defensive game plan will be

“When you look at Jordan,” offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said, “I think he’s gained respect across the league with the run game and people are going to try to load up and take that way first and see if a guy playing quarterback for the first time can beat you.”

If he can pull it off, it’d go a long way toward Barkley being in the mix to be the Bears’ starting quarterback next season. Not that that’s Barkley’s focus.

“I’m taking this one game at a time, to be honest,” Barkley said. “I’m not looking ahead. I think when I do that, I lose track of trying to accomplish what the goal is here and now. I’m just taking this one game at a time. Once we get to the end of the year, we’ll see what happens then.”

— The return of receiver Alshon Jeffery from a four-game suspension will provide a real shot in the arm to Barkley and the offense. Receiver Kevin White, the Bears’ first-round pick last year, is on injured reserve. So, too, is tight end Zach Miller, who has team highs of 47 receptions and four touchdowns. Veteran receiver Eddie Royal has been ruled out.

“Biggest challenge will be getting their timing down,” Loggains said. “Matt's never thrown him the ball since he's been here.”

Jeffery was limited to three catches (11 targets) for 33 yards by LaDarius Gunter in the first matchup. After catching 89 passes for 1,421 yards in 2013 and 85 passes for 1,133 yards in 2014, Jeffery caught 54 passes in nine games last season and 40 passes in nine games this season. He could use a strong final three games as he seeks a big contract in free agency this coming offseason.

“Al came back looking really strong, fast and lean,” Barkley said. “He took his break seriously and came back ready to go. We stuck around after practice a little bit today to get some extra reps and make sure that we were on the same page, timing, so I could see when he gets in and out of his breaks. We’ll be good to go. He’s the type of guy if you throw it anywhere near him, he’ll go get it.”

— After going 13-19 in his two seasons, Marc Trestman was fired following the 2013 season. The Bears haven’t done any better under Fox, though. He’s 9-20, with that .310 winning percentage well behind Trestman’s .406.

Still, Fox likes the team’s direction.

“I really am,” Fox said. “Obviously, like you mentioned, it’s no fun, especially when you’re used to winning, being 3-10. We’re definitely not pleased with our record. We’ve had some misfortune or whatever you want to call it as far as injury-wise. I think culturally, our guys compete. Now, we’ve just got to do the things necessary to win. I think we’re making progress in areas as a football team in building some depth. I think we’re getting close to striking distance now both cap-wise and talent level-wise moving forward.”

The big strides have been on defense. Under Trestman, the Bears gave up 478 points in 2013 and 442 in 2014. Under Fox last year, the Bears yielded 397 points. This year, they’re on pace to give up 357. They enter this game ranked sixth against the pass (219.5 yards per game) and seventh overall (326.5 yards).

Fangio took aim at the Trestman regime, including then-defensive coordinator Mel Tucker.

“You know, when you have our record, nothing seems rosy,” he said. “But I think we've made improvements. I think there's only one or two guys that we inherited still playing on defense. And I think those are mainly backups. So, there's been a big transition. I think the scheme thing is overblown because you're playing a lot of nickel right now, and the group we inherited wasn't built for the 4-3, either, obviously, by the two years they had prior to us getting here. So, they weren't built for anything. We had to start at ground zero.”

HISTORY LESSONS

— The history of this series is lopsided and unbelievably close.

First, the close part: The Bears lead 94-93-6, meaning the Packers could tie the series on Sunday. The series hasn’t been tied since 1933, when Chicago won 14-7 at Green Bay. That was the second game of a six-game winning streak in the series by Chicago, which broke open the series for good.

Close, Part 2: Those 191 games have been decided by a mere one point, with Green Bay holding a 3,305-3,304 advantage.

Now, the lopsided part: Green Bay is 14-4 against Chicago with Rodgers at quarterback. At one point when Brett Favre was the quarterback, the Packers won 10 in a row. They’ve needed that dominance to catch up. From 1945 until Vince Lombardi’s arrival in 1959, the Bears went 21-5-1. The Bears swept the two-game series six out of seven times from 1985 through 1991.

— In regular-season play, this will mark the 100th time Chicago has hosted the rivalry. The Bears have been gracious guests of late: With Favre and Rodgers, the Packers have returned from Chicago a winner in 18 of their last 22 trips — including their last six.

— In 17 regular-season games against Chicago, Rodgers is 13-4, with one of those losses being the 2013 home game in which he sustained a broken collarbone. In those 17 games, he’s completed 68.0 percent of his passes for 4,165 yards with 38 touchdowns, nine interceptions and a 106.8 passer rating. He’s topped a 100 passer rating in seven of the last 11 games.

In eight games at Chicago, Rodgers is 6-2 with 18 touchdowns and five interceptions.

— By defining a “cold-weather” game as 5 degrees or less, the Packers’ last victory was the 1996 NFC Championship Game against Carolina, a 30-13 win at Lambeau with a kickoff temperature of 3. On Dec. 26, 1993, the Packers routed Oakland 28-0 with a kickoff temperature of 3. That was the day when LeRoy Butler originated the Lambeau Leap.

That aforementioned game against the Bears in 2008 is Chicago’s only “cold-weather” game over the past 11 years. The coldest game in Bears history was minus-2 at Minnesota on Dec. 3, 1972.

Sticking to the cold-weather story line, since 1940, the Packers and Bears have met five times with a kickoff temperature of 5 or less, according to Pro Football Reference. Chicago is 5-0, with wins in 1976, 1977, 1978, 1983 and 2008.

STATS THAT AREN’T FOR LOSERS

— Well, this stat is for losers: The Bears have led in 11 of their 13 games, meaning they’ve lost eight times via a blown lead this season, according to STATS. Only San Francisco (nine) has more fall-from-ahead losses. Only two teams are worse than Chicago’s minus-40 scoring differential in the fourth quarter.

— With Rodgers’ limited mobility, pass protection will be paramount against the aforementioned Bears pass rush. Green Bay has allowed zero or one sacks in three consecutive games. That’s the first time since doing it in the final four weeks of the 2014 season, when Rodgers also was battling a calf injury.

In a way, the line’s job becomes easier if Rodgers can’t move around.

“It’s a double-edged sword,” Bakhtiari said. “We don’t know where he is, but I’d be lying if I said there aren’t times when he bails us out, whether that’s with his arm or his legs. But we don’t know where he is, so when he does scramble, it creates stress because it’s not like we have eyes in the back of our head. You guys are watching the game and you can see where he is but we can’t. We have to go based off of feel.”

— The intriguing situational matchups will be when Chicago is on offense. The Bears aren’t good on third down (24th, 36.7 percent conversions) or in the red zone (24th, 51.4 percent touchdowns). The Packers’ defense isn’t good, either, on third down (25th, 42.1 percent conversions) or in the red zone (tied 28th, 63.6 percent touchdowns).

On the other side of the ball, Green Bay ranks second on third down (47.1 percent conversions) and is up to 14th in the red zone (58.5 percent touchdowns) after going 4-for-4 vs. Seattle. Chicago’s defense has been solid, ranking 16th on third down (38.9 percent conversions) and eighth in the red zone (51.2 percent touchdowns).

— The Packers have moved up to eighth in yards after the catch, with 1,707 for the season. Some of that is due to the volume of the Packers’ pass-happy attack, with Rodgers ranking 14th with 5.17 YAC per completion. YAC could be a critical part of the passing attack, considering the weather’s potential impact on the downfield passing game. It won’t be easy. Chicago is giving up 4.3 YAC per completion, which trails only New England

FOUR-POINT STANCE

— It’s two months later than expected, but Sitton will face his former team for the first time after missing the Oct. 20 game with an injured ankle. If he’s holding a grudge about his surprise release at the end of training camp following three consecutive All-Pro seasons, he’s hiding it pretty well.

“It’s just another game,” Sitton told reporters in Chicago on Thursday. “I don’t think too much about that. I’m not really that type of person in general. I don’t get too emotional or get too high or low about anything. So, it’s just the next game for us, a division opponent.”

Sitton received a three-year, $21 million deal upon signing with Chicago. Despite missing four games due to the ankle, he might be headed to a fourth Pro Bowl. According to STATS, he has allowed zero sacks and been flagged four times (all holding).

“Josh is a good football player. We know that,” defensive tackle Mike Daniels said. “Just got to make sure I play my best game.”

“Josh looks like Josh always did,” defensive coordinator Dom Capers said. “Josh is a savvy, veteran guy who knows all the tricks of the trade. He does an excellent job with his hands and (is a) very good pass protector. He keeps people in front of him (and is) very good picking up stunts due to his experience. He’s made them better on the offensive line. I’ve got a lot of respect for Josh as a pass protector, savvy offensive lineman.”

However, there’s no arguing the Packers are getting the better value with Lane Taylor, who is playing under a two-year, $4.15 million contract. He has allowed one sack and been penalized twice (both holding). His solid play has come as a surprise to nobody with the team.

“There’s a job requirement for each position and certainly we wouldn’t put him in there if we think that he couldn’t fulfill that requirement,” offensive line coach James Campen said. “But there’s always a validation period that you go through with players (until) see them do it. But really for me, it’s if you make a mistake, can you correct it the next time that situation happens? That tells you a guy’s advancing, in my opinion.”

— The Packers have allowed 36 points the last three weeks after giving up 42 at Washington and 47 at Tennessee. This isn’t the first time a Capers-led defense has shown late-season improvement. In 2014, the Packers allowed 19.6 points per game during the final eight games. In 2012, they gave up 18.2 points per game during the final five games. In 2010, the Packers gave up seven points or less five times in the final nine games.

“One of the things that we do, and we’ve talked about this many times before, we play so many young guys early and that’s not the easiest thing to do in the NFL, because we all know, one, two, three plays can really determine the outcome of a game,” Capers said. “The benefit of that is hopefully you get to this point of the year and rookies aren’t rookies anymore. They’ve played, they know what’s expected, they know more about the speed and the tempo of the game, the preparation element of it.”

— The Packers unleashed Ty Montgomery against the Bears two months ago, and he piled up nine carries for 60 yards and caught 10 passes for 66 yards.

Montgomery has emerged as by far the Packers’ best runner, and his versatility can put defenses in a bind. Even Seattle, which has the athleticism at linebacker, could handle Montgomery, who finished with 86 total yards.

“They’ve continued that package since that game,” Fox said. “It can be a potential matchup problem. It doesn’t take much to motion him out of there and, all of a sudden, now you’re in four or five wideouts, depending on who else is in with him. It’s a good package.”

— The Bears are 3-10, but McCarthy’s preaching that the Bears are playing their best football of the season isn’t just empty words. While Chicago is 1-3 in its last four games, the losses were by six points to the Giants, six points to the Titans and three points to the Lions. Those teams are a combined 25-14.

“I don’t believe in the spirit of giving up or hanging your head or just waiting of the next year,” Barkley said. “We’re trying to make the most of what we have now. A lot of these guys are kind of in a desperate situation where we’re going to give it our all no matter what. That’s the attitude this team has of not giving up and we’re going to fight until the end.”

QUOTEWORTHY

RB Christine Michael, who carried the ball 21 times (and didn’t fumble) in last year’s Seahawks-Vikings game when it was minus-6, on playing in the cold: “It wasn’t bad. As a professional, you don’t like to make the weather a big deal. You’ve still got to go out there and play and perform. It was tough, but once you’re out there and the adrenaline’s rushing, you don’t forget about it but you ignore it and just do your job. ... The ball’s definitely hard to secure, but you’ve got your team, you’ve got the staff, and they need you to do your job. You’ve got to focus on the most important thing and that’s ball security, knowing your assignment, picking up blocking and not turning the ball over.”

Bill Huber is publisher of 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 www.twitter.com/PackerReport.




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