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McCarthy takes care of veterans

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Associated Press
November 20, 2007
— Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy might be Pittsburgh Macho, but he’s no drill sergeant.

Keeping veteran players such as left tackle Chad Clifton and cornerbacks Al Harris and Charles Woodson rested and happy has been an integral part of the Packers’ 9-1 start, so McCarthy isn’t about to start pushing them harder—even with the team not having a full week to prepare for Thursday’s game at Detroit.


“We’ll always do what’s in the best interests health-wise for our football team,” McCarthy said Monday. “Preparation is very important, I know I’ve talked about that a lot, but the most important is to make sure we’re ready to go on Thursday.”


Clifton, Woodson and Harris are part of a small group of veteran players who typically sit out Wednesday practices to rest their nagging injuries.


McCarthy—a blue-collar Steel City native who famously was described by Packers general manager Ted Thompson as “Pittsburgh macho” when he was introduced as the Packers’ coach—has taken an enlightened approach to resting players with chronic injuries, deciding that resting Clifton’s knee, Harris’ back and Woodson’s hip is more important that whatever they might get out of a full week of practice.


He’ll stick with his philosophy as the Packers prepare to play the Lions.


“They’re going to have to get their rest,” McCarthy said. “I think it makes sense not to try to push them on a Tuesday—which is equivalent to a Thursday practice, on a (regular) schedule.”


And McCarthy won’t overwork those players who are able to practice. He’ll keep the Packers out of full pads all week and will cut back their schedule.


“I’ll probably even cut back even more in Tuesday’s practice than I originally anticipated,” McCarthy said.


The Packers have a few more injuries to deal with this week after a 31-17 home victory over Carolina on Sunday. Running back Ryan Grant has what McCarthy termed a “mild” ankle sprain, and should be able to play on Thursday.


But Packers defensive tackle Johnny Jolly has a shoulder strain that McCarthy called “significant,” keeping him out “at least a couple of weeks.”


McCarthy said Jolly hurt his shoulder on the Packers’ first defensive series, and made it worse throwing a block on Tramon Williams’ 94-yard punt return for a touchdown. His shoulder swelled up overnight.


Jolly, a sixth-round pick in last year’s draft, has started seven of 10 games at right defensive tackle for the Packers this season. But Green Bay’s defensive line is extremely deep, and tackles rotate frequently during games. Among Jolly’s potential replacements are Corey Williams, Colin Cole and first-round rookie Justin Harrell.


“I feel bad for Johnny Jolly,” McCarthy said. “I thought he was having an excellent year. But it’s an opportunity for one of the other guys to pick it up.”


Grant’s injury appears to be less serious—and that’s good news for the Packers, as Grant rushed 20 times for 88 yards on Sunday and is looking more and more like a permanent answer at a position that has hindered the Packers all season.


Beyond dealing with injuries, the short week is hectic for McCarthy and his assistants. And it doesn’t get any easier next week, as the Packers play another Thursday game in Dallas.


“I think it’s a challenge for everybody,” McCarthy said. “You come off a Sunday game, play a short week, it’s definitely a challenge for the players. And it’s a challenge for the coaches. Everybody is creatures of habit. So it’s a challenge, but they have to go through it also.”


Jim Ringo dies at 75

Jim Ringo, a Hall of Fame center who played 15 seasons for the Green Bay Packers and Philadelphia Eagles, died Monday morning after a short illness. He was two days shy of his 76th birthday.


Former Packers teammate Willie Davis said Ringo, who lived in Chesapeake, Va., had been battling Alzheimer’s.


“One minute, you’re reliving an experience,” said Davis, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame with Ringo in 1981. “And the next minute, he’d be asking, ‘Who’s this?”’


The Packers drafted Ringo out of Syracuse in the seventh round in 1953, and he became one of the league’s best centers despite being undersized at just over 200 pounds.


“But what tenacity he had,” Davis said.



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