Weather puts chill on Packers' prep

The weather in Green Bay and Dallas put a chill on the Packers' early-week preparations, but there were a couple of players giving the cold shoulder to each other as well.

The Packers couldn't win this week as they set out on their first trip to the Super Bowl in 13 years.

An approaching blizzard in Wisconsin pushed aside the team's arrival in North Texas as the top story on the nightly newscasts in Green Bay.

Even several hundred miles away, the Packers aren't able to escape Mother Nature's wrath. An unusual winter storm watch was issued for the Dallas area, and a combination of possible subfreezing temperatures and snow could force the team inside for practice this week.

Head coach Mike McCarthy had been optimistic Sunday that the team would be able to practice outside Wednesday through Friday.

"The thing I always look for in weather is injury risk, and anytime the risk for injury increases, then it's time to go inside," McCarthy said. "That's the No. 1 factor, and second is the quality of practice. I don't really worry about the temperature or even moisture. Wind is usually the indicator that takes us from outside to inside."

Although they would have more practice space at SMU's stadium, going inside wouldn't be a detriment to the Packers. Most, if not all, of their practices the latter part of the season are held in their indoor facility near Lambeau Field.

Plus, Super Bowl XLV against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday will be inside at Cowboys Stadium.

No matter the location, Green Bay won't have a lot of on-field practice time this week.

"We've taken the jog-through component of our practice and moved it to the hotel," McCarthy said. "So, when we hit the stadium field, we'll go right into practice. There won't be a jog-through and so forth, so we'll be operating probably 15, 25, depending on the day, 20 minutes shorter."

McCarthy reiterated Monday that 90 percent of the game plan was installed during the off week after the NFC Championship win over Chicago on Jan. 23.

The team's departure from the Green Bay airport incidentally was delayed about an hour because of wintry weather.

"It's exciting to know we were finally coming here," quarterback Aaron Rodgers said after the plane ride. "It's been a long week. A lot of media, a lot of distractions, as far as getting tickets for people and hotel rooms and all of that stuff. It's nice to be here. Hopefully, after tomorrow, we can start focusing on football."

NOTES

  • The much-speculated and reported selection of second-year linebacker Clay Matthews as NFL Defensive Player of the Year never came to pass.

    Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu was the surprise winner of The Associated Press award in a live announcement on the NFL Network on Monday night.

    Polamalu received 17 of a possible 50 votes and edged fellow long-haired Matthews by only two votes. Steelers linebacker James Harrison (eight) was third among seven players who received votes.

    Had Matthews won, a year after cornerback Charles Woodson earned the honor, the Packers would have been the first team to have the league's top defensive player in back-to-back years since the Baltimore Ravens' Ray Lewis and Ed Reed in 2003 and '04.

    Matthews, a two-time Pro Bowl selection, ranked fourth in the league this season with 13.5 sacks and had a 62-yard interception return for a touchdown in the Nov. 7 win over Dallas. He has a team-high 3.5 sacks in the postseason.

    Before learning of the voting outcome, Matthews downplayed the significance of potentially winning the individual honor as he instead looked forward to the Packers' game against the Steelers in Super Bowl XLV on Sunday at Cowboys Stadium.

    "I'm happy the fact that we're in the Super Bowl, one of two teams out of 32 that's in this position right now," Matthews said. "That's what (I'm) looking forward to the most, is playing in this game."

  • Quarterback Aaron Rodgers, one of a few players who met with a throng of media at the team hotel shortly after the Packers' arrival in North Texas on Monday, quickly tried to extinguish the ongoing flap revolving around Green Bay's Super Bowl photo.

    "It's resolved. That's the only comment I have," Rodgers said. "It's not an issue. I never felt like it was. There was just nothing going on in Green Bay that could be reported on besides that."

    The whole issue started early last week when linebacker Nick Barnett and tight end Jermichael Finley, both on injured reserve, expressed disappointment via Twitter posts that the Packers' IR players weren't going to be included in the team photo. The picture was scheduled to be taken Tuesday during Super Bowl week before the IR players would join the team in Texas on Thursday.

    Head coach Mike McCarthy, at the urging of playoffs captains Rodgers and Woodson, pushed the photo take back to Friday so all players - active and IR - would be in the photo.

    Rodgers, though, made comments after practice Saturday that were critical of unnamed injured players who haven't been doing their rehab in Green Bay during the season.

    That set off more unrest on the Internet, as Barnett and Finley resorted to Twitter to fire back at what Rodgers had to say. Both Barnett and Finley have been rehabbing away from team facilities the last several weeks.

    Barnett later apologized with another Twitter post, writing that he didn't mean to be a distraction for the team as it prepared for the Super Bowl. What's more, Rodgers said Sunday he made contact with Barnett and ironed things out.

    "It's comical to me," Matthews said of the nearly weeklong flap. "Just back and forth, and it's been blown out of proportion and what-not. I think it's comical. But, it's not going to distract us from our ultimate goal."

  • The success of the Green Bay defense this season has created a pre-Super Bowl buzz around a few of the assistant coaches and purported interest other teams may have in courting them.

    The names of safeties coach Darren Perry, assistant head coach/inside linebackers coach Winston Moss and defensive line coach Mike Trgovac have been linked in various reports to openings for defensive coordinator with the Philadelphia Eagles, Arizona Cardinals and Oakland Raiders.

    Perry wouldn't say Sunday, before the Packers left Green Bay on Monday afternoon, whether he's been contacted by any teams. Interviews can't be held until after the Super Bowl.

    "I'm going to kind of let that one go," Perry said. "I'm not going to spend too much time talking about that because, right now, I'm consumed about winning this football game. We don't win this one here, all is for nothing. We've got to make sure we don't lose sight of the job at hand. All of the other things will take care of itself."

  • OLB Erik Walden will be checked out Wednesday morning by the team's medical staff before a decision is made on whether he can practice that day, the team's first workout in North Texas before Super Bowl XLV. Walden has been out since suffering a left ankle sprain in the second half of the Jan. 23 win over Chicago in the NFC Championship. Coach Mike McCarthy said Walden remains the starter on the right side, provided he's good for the game Sunday.

  • OLB Frank Zombo, who returned to practice last week, would be the fallback starter on the right side if Erik Walden (ankle) can't play. The rookie lost the starting job to Walden after missing the last six games because of a right knee sprain.

  • WR Greg Jennings was on a modified practice schedule when the team had its workouts in Green Bay from Friday to Sunday. Jennings suffered a knee bruise in the NFC Championship Game but missed only a few plays. He should be good for extended work this week, entering the Super Bowl with a league-high 17 catches for 239 yards in the playoffs.

  • LT Chad Clifton was held back some in the Green Bay practices in the aftermath of suffering a neck stinger early in the last game. Clifton finished that game after missing a couple series and figures to be OK to practice later in the week.

  • SS Charlie Peprah received high acclaim from safeties coach Darren Perry.

    "On the field, he's been about as consistent as any player we've had on our defensive unit," Perry said Sunday before the team left for North Texas. "He doesn't get some of the accolades and recognition that he (deserves), but I think Charlie's had as fine a season as really any safety in the league."

    Peprah, a fifth-year player with only one career start before this season, has been the starter alongside Pro Bowl free safety Nick Collins since rookie Morgan Burnett suffered a season-ending knee injury in Week 4.


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