Notes: Slowik on sideline; no rest for key players

Lost in the considerable shadow of Reggie White's death Sunday, some important news emerged from Packers coach Mike Sherman's Monday news conference.

The big news is defensive coordinator Bob Slowik will coach from the sideline Sunday at Chicago. Slowik, who was stationed in the coaches' box — like most coordinators — for the first 14 games of the season, ran the defense from the sideline Friday at Minnesota.

The Packers won that game 34-31, and using the same don't-mess-with-success logic that kept Sherman calling the plays when the Packers reversed a dismal 1-4 start to the season, Slowik will remain on the sideline for at least the regular-season finale.

"We have to have their attention, and I think that helped having Bob on the sideline," Sherman explained Monday.

Slowik agrees with Sherman's logic.

"I've been on the field for 20 years," Slowik said, recalling his many years as a defensive backs coach. "I was able to talk to the players, see the players, keep them positive even when things didn't look good. I think it helped me tremendously to be down there. I thought I had a better feel for what was happening."

Slowik likes the face-to-face contact with the players. That's the same thing quarterback Brett Favre said earlier in the season when Sherman took over play-calling duties.

Slowik's defense was riddled in the first half against the Vikings, allowing 21 points — including touchdowns on their final three snaps of the second quarter.

The defense allowed just a field goal, however, in the second half. A big reason for that was a switch to zone defense. The zone, which was shredded by the Philadelphia Eagles on the field during their Week 13 game and shredded by the players in the locker room afterward, helped eliminate Vikings receiver Randy Moss and kept Nate Burleson under wraps after he recorded two long receptions in the opening half.

The move earned the approval of standout cornerback Al Harris, who is the secondary's biggest proponent of man-to-man coverage. "The last time we zoned up we got killed, but with (the Vikings') offense — great quarterback, great running back, great wide receivers — it threw them off balance."

INJURY UPDATES

Sherman said wide receiver Robert Ferguson's health is improving following the Dec. 19 clothesline hit by Jacksonville safety Donovin Darius.

"Not great, great improvement but has made some improvement here over the last 24 hours," Sherman said. "He has a little better range of motion. Still has some weakness in his side."

Sherman wouldn't say if Ferguson, who also is suffering from the aftereffects of a concussion, could return to action this season. He remains on the 53-player roster.

Running back Ahman Green, meanwhile, has been playing with fractured ribs, not the sprained rib cartilage the team has reported since Green was injured in the Nov. 21 game at Houston.

When the team returns from their mini-vacation Wednesday, wide receiver Donald Driver, running back Najeh Davenport and quarterback Brett Favre will not be practicing. Driver and Davenport suffered strained right shoulders at Minnesota while Favre's right arm will be rested in anticipation of a playoff game Jan. 8 or 9.

GAME IS NOT MEANINGLESS

Sherman said he most likely would not rest his players Sunday at Chicago. Sherman noted that Denver rested its top players in last year's regular-season finale at Green Bay, then got waxed by Indianapolis in the first round of the playoffs.

While the Packers are locked into the third seed, win, lose or draw, Sherman said Sunday's game is anything but meaningless.

"I don't think there's ever a game that means nothing. I think every game means something — how you play, how you prepare," Sherman said, adding later: "Maybe the score doesn't mean anything, but the game does."

While the game means nothing for the Packers' playoff fate, Sherman said motivation will not be an issue.

"I don't think so because they kicked our butt last time they were here," Sherman said. "They kicked our butt on our home field in our home opener. I think there will be some motivation there. I don't think that will be a problem."


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