Notebook: Pack Feels Confident

The Packers get back to work on Tuesday with a three-game winning streak and a chance to recuperate following a grueling stretch. Plus, we have injury updates and more as preparation for the Ravens begins.

The catchword of the day for head coach Mike McCarthy, aka "Mr. Positive," as coaches and assorted players reconvened Monday following the team's three-day break was confidence.

McCarthy uttered "confidence" or "confident" more than a dozen times when addressing various aspects of his team in a news conference at Lambeau Field.

"We feel healthy, and we feel we're confident," McCarthy said. "We're very, very realistic."

The return to work for McCarthy and his staff, whom he had excused from their duties Friday afternoon, was decidedly palatable. Fresh off a 34-12 victory at the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving Day, the Packers are riding a season-best three-game winning streak and in the driver's seat for an NFC wild-card playoff spot with a 7-4 record.

Green Bay's string of wins came in a taxing stretch of 12 days, during which they rebounded from an embarrassing loss at the previously winless Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Nov. 8 and lost Pro Bowl defensive players Al Harris and Aaron Kampman to season-ending knee injuries.

"We knew this three-game stretch was going to be very challenging physically," McCarthy said. "Now, with the time off, we feel like we have a chance to regroup and take a run at these last (five) games. We really like where we are as a football team."

The Packers' stretch run won't commence until they host the Baltimore Ravens on Monday night.

Left with 10 days between the win against the Lions and the next game, McCarthy gave the majority of the players time off Friday through Monday — injured players reported Monday for treatments and individual workouts.

The whole team will be together again Tuesday for an extra practice built into the extended week. The focus will be two-fold, rooted in fundamentals: correcting mistakes from the last game and getting a jump start on the game plan for the Ravens.

"It will be a padded practice," McCarthy said. "It will be a fast, aggressive pace, and we want to get right back into it."

The players will be off again Wednesday, then on their usual three-day practice schedule leading up to a game Thursday to Saturday.

McCarthy's aim this week is to make sure the players don't lose the confidence they have acquired and built on the last three games.

"Confidence is the key, in my opinion, to winning in the National Football League," McCarthy said. "You're always trying to build confidence, whether you are going from spring practice into training camp, from training camp into preseason games, preseason games into regular-season games. You can't buy real confidence.

"We talk a lot about as a football team the difference between false confidence and real confidence. So, confidence is a big part of being successful, and it filters all the way through. All the way through your running the football, stopping the run, big-play opportunities, it's what you're trying to build. To me, it's a major contributing factor in being successful in the NFL."

Line's progress After a game in which he threw for 348 yards and a career-high-tying three touchdowns and the defense generated a season-high five takeaways, quarterback Aaron Rodgers tossed a bouquet of roses in another direction.

Rodgers singled out the strides being made by a previously maligned offensive line in the aftermath of the 34-12 victory at the Detroit Lions on Thursday.

"I think the key to our success has been the offensive-line play," Rodgers said. "When they give me time like that, it allows me to feel very comfortable back there."

Rodgers, who had been sacked a league-high 43 times in the first 10 games, was sacked only once by the Lions. His biggest pass play — a 68-yard downfield throw to a wide-open Donald Driver on a rope to end the first quarter — was enabled by having 6 seconds of pocket time.

A combination of injuries and ineffectiveness resulted in six different starting offensive lines for the Packers this season, but they may finally have some continuity. Left tackle Chad Clifton, left guard Daryn Colledge, center Scott Wells, right guard Josh Sitton and right tackle Mark Tauscher started for the second straight game. Assuming Clifton can overcome a hamstring injury suffered in the third quarter of that game, they'll start a third straight against a fast-improving Ravens defense.

Team doctor Pat McKenzie is expected to re-examine Clifton on Tuesday morning and decide whether the veteran starter will need to be held out of practice in the early part of the week.

Injury updates — Receiver Jordy Nelson apparently won't need to miss much on-field time, if any, this week after coming out of Thursday's game in the fourth quarter with a shoulder injury. — Running back Ahman Green went through a workout Monday and could be cleared to return to the field this week after missing the last two games because of a groin strain.

— Cornerback Brandon Underwood worked out as players began trickling in Monday following the team's extended weekend and might be OK to return to the field at some point this week after leaving the last game with a hamstring injury.

— Deposed right tackle Allen Barbre was another injured player put through the workout paces Monday after missing the last two games with a sprained ankle. Four-point stance — McCarthy reiterated what he said on Thursday: His decision to go for it on fourth-and-4 rather than kick a 49-yard field goal was not a display of lost confidence in kicker Mason Crosby.

"Got the defense we anticipated in that particular situation. I just felt that we were moving the ball very productively, especially I think it was the first seven series of the game, we were moving the ball up and down. I just didn't feel we were producing enough points, and I wanted to keep it going. That had nothing to do with Mason's kick earlier in the game."

— The coaches were off for about two-and-a-half days, returning to work on Monday. Other than the wounded, the players got off until Tuesday.

Brad Jones did well in place of Aaron Kampman at linebacker, and McCarthy liked a rotation that saw Jeremy Thompson and Brady Poppinga get playing time too with starter Clay Matthews III.

— McCarthy has no concerns about Matthews or fellow top pick B.J. Raji hitting the so-called rookie wall. Raji missed a couple games early with a sprained ankle and Matthews didn't become a starter until the fifth game, so their reps aren't that high.

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at and Facebook under Bill Huber.

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