Notebook: Back-to-basics practice

McCarthy puts focus on fundamentals after back-to-back losses; 14 on initial injury report.

After two consecutive losses, Packers coach Mike McCarthy gave his team a kick in the butt.

So, his struggling, injury-ravaged team went through a long, back-to-basics practice on Wednesday.

McCarthy liked what he saw.

"We practiced today like we need to practice," he said. "It reminded me of training camp, and that was the challenge that was given to the football team. If we can take one of our night practices at training camp and get it to show up on Sunday, I think everything else will be just fine."

The offense has been miserable the last two weeks, stymied by busted running plays or penalties — the 35 penalties accepted against the Packers are third-most in the NFL — that are creating too many second- and third-and-longs.

"The one constant, the thing you have to always look for when you evaluate mistakes, is are they the same mistakes or are they, like you said, maybe a better to describe it is a bunch of little things," McCarthy said. "The negative as a team, the mistakes that are common, are the penalties. That is the one thing that we have had to address every week. I know that ours and the timing of them has been hurtful, and it's really affected our down and distance and things like that. So, that is the thing that we have focused on. ... So with that, the second part of it is the little things, footwork, pad level. I thought the line work today was outstanding. Just the team run was very good."

Same line, more work

As part of the back-to-basics practice, the offensive line spent extra time working on the fundamentals after the running game churned out all of 1.6 yards per carry last week at Tampa Bay.

"We got back to doing some stuff that we know how to do that sometimes, when you're in a hurry or on a roll, you kind of skip over. Today, it was nice to get back to that. It was a good practice. The pads popped and everybody had a lot of energy."

Meanwhile, McCarthy said the starting line will remain the same as week. Rookie guard Josh Sitton, a starter for half of training camp before missing a few weeks with a knee injury, is healthy but apparently will not be added to the mix.

Hawk, Bigby update

McCarthy remains hopeful weak-side linebacker A.J. Hawk will be able to play this week. He has a groin injury of unknown severity. Hawk was a limited participant at practice.

"I think A.J. will do everything he possibly can to play. No different than Aaron (Rodgers)," McCarthy said. "I'll give him every chance to play. I think any time you have a little bit of history, A.J. hasn't been hurt a whole lot here. He just had the one injury in training camp, so you have a pretty good barometer, a pretty good read on him. We'll give him every chance to get ready to play."

The Packers are in wait-and-see mode about safety Atari Bigby, who did not participate at practice with a hamstring injury sustained in Week 2 at Detroit.

"He's getting close," McCarthy said, echoing what he said last week. "Atari would like to try to go this week, just the communication that has been given this week. Hopefully, he'll be able to put it through the test process and we'll see where he is, whether it is (Thursday) or Friday.

Packers injury report

Including defensive end Cullen Jenkins, who the Packers placed on injured reserve on Wednesday, the Packers listed 14 players on their initial injury report.

Out — Cornerback Al Harris (spleen); Jenkins (chest).

Did not participate — Bigby; fullback Korey Hall (knee); defensive end Jason Hunter (hamstring); running back Kregg Lumpkin (hamstring); cornerback Charles Woodson (toe).

Limited participation — Tackle Chad Clifton (knees); safety Nick Collins (back); Hawk (groin); defensive tackle Ryan Pickett (knee); quarterback Aaron Rodgers (shoulder); safety Aaron Rouse (knee).

Full participation — Receiver James Jones (knee).

Noteworthy — McCarthy said Hunter, who would fill some of the snaps left in Jenkins' absence, likely would not play this week.

Falcons injury report

Did not participate — Tackle Sam Baker (illness); defensive tackle Jason Jefferson (ankle); safety Lawyer Milloy (rib); receiver Laurent Robinson (knee).

Limited participation — Defensive tackle Grady Jackson (knee); tackle Todd Weiner (knee).

Bill Huber is editor of Packer Report and PackerReport.com. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com


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