Packers notebook

McCarthy focuses on Bears; Hall out for two games; Franks may return

By the time the Packers play their next game, they could suddenly be in the driver's seat for gaining home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.

That would be a remarkable change of events, considering where Green Bay stood following their 33-14 win at St. Louis on Sunday.

In turn, NFC front-runner Dallas lost at home to Philadelphia, pulling the Packers into a tie with the Cowboys at 12-2. Dallas has the tiebreaker edge on the Packers because of its head-to-head victory Nov. 29, but the pressure is on the Cowboys in the final two weeks of the regular season to keep Green Bay from passing them.

While the Packers will be in a Chicago hotel Saturday night awaiting their game against the Bears the next day, Dallas will be playing at Carolina.

Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy said Monday he wants to keep his team's focus this week off the postseason implications.

"I'm going to make a big deal out of beating the Chicago Bears, and everything else comes off of that," McCarthy said. "I think it's important to stay focused on the immediate target because (if you don't) that's how you set yourself up for not playing your best football.

"I wasn't particularly happy with the way we started the St. Louis game. So, we will be focused on the Chicago Bears. (Getting to) 13-2 is important, and we'll see what Dallas does Saturday night."

The Packers have the luxury of playing the two worst teams in the NFC North -- a home game with Detroit, which hasn't won in Wisconsin since 1991, concludes the regular season Dec. 30. Dallas, meanwhile, is on the road for back-to-back games, finishing with division rival Washington.

Given the importance of the remaining games, McCarthy changed his tune about having a preference for giving some veteran players rest to ensure they would be healthy for the playoffs after the team clinched a first-round bye Sunday.

"We've got two teams that are 12-2. We're playing for home-field advantage, and that will be our focus," McCarthy said. "But, with that, we have been playing pretty much almost everybody at most of our positions, and we'll continue with that mindset."

Hall to miss next two games
The interchangeability of the tight ends to line up at fullback in an assortment of formations should help the Packers get by without rookie Korey Hall for an indefinite period.

McCarthy said Monday that Hall, who has started 11 games at fullback, suffered a strained hip in the second quarter of the 33-14 win at St. Louis on Sunday. The injury could keep Hall out for the final two weeks of the regular season.

McCarthy indicated that the team wouldn't have to put Hall on injured reserve.

"I think we're fine there," McCarthy said. "It's a little bit of a different muscle strain. I'm confident that he'll be on the roster as we move through the playoffs."

The other natural fullback on the roster is John Kuhn, who has emerged as a strong blocker and had been splitting time at the position with Hall the last few games.

Injury update
-- Rookie defensive tackle Justin Harrell isn't expected to miss any time after suffering a dislocated left thumb Sunday.

Harrell briefly left the field to have the thumb X-rayed but returned to play with his hand wrapped in a splint.

"I'm not sure if it's going to be casted or wrapped," McCarthy said. "That's something I think through the week of practice will be determined."

-- DT Ryan Pickett is considered day to day after sustaining a groin strain in the game Sunday.

-- FS Nick Collins is expected to be OK for the upcoming game Sunday at Chicago. He was rested for most of the second half at St. Louis after experiencing some lower-back pain.

-- QB Aaron Rodgers has a chance to be activated for game duty Sunday behind Brett Favre. Rodgers was deactivated as the No. 3 QB in the last two games because of a strained hamstring.

-- TE Bubba Franks is looking to be cleared for game action for the first time since he suffered a sprained knee Oct. 14. Franks had a setback in practice late last week.

-- LB Tracy White continues to recover from a lingering ankle injury, which has sidelined him the last two games.


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