Well-earned vacation for Packers
GREEN BAY With the bye week scheduled so late in the season, Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy always figured he would give players most of this week off to heal.
Then the Packers thrashed the Dallas Cowboys 45-7 on Sunday night, and McCarthy decided to throw in an extra day off for a player-pleasing “Victory Monday.”
McCarthy said after Sunday night’s win that he had already turned his players loose. Now they won’t be back to practice for a full week before they prepare to play at Minnesota on Nov. 21.
“I think it is pretty obvious that this team needed a significant amount of time off,” McCarthy said. “It was something really in the preparation for the season, having such a late bye week, I anticipated giving them a number of days off.”
The Packers have 10 players on injured reserve, including five starters, and several other key players who are fighting nagging injuries.
Still, they’ve managed to rebound from a 3-3 start to win three straight, including an emotional victory over Brett Favre and the Vikings, a road shutout of the New York Jets and Sunday’s steamrolling of a disintegrating Dallas team that proved to be the final game for Cowboys coach Wade Phillips.
Green Bay now heads into the bye week in the driver’s seat in the NFC North.
“Nobody blinked,” McCarthy said. “I think it says a lot about the volume of character in our locker room.”
Defensive end Cullen Jenkins said the team goes into the bye filled with confidence.
“I think there’s still a lot of people that aren’t fully with us,” Jenkins said. “We’ve had all the injuries and are missing a lot of key players and lot of people that had written us off since we’ve had those and think that we can’t rebound from them or recover from them. It just says a lot about our team. That’s how we’re able to play.”
And Charles Woodson knows the rest will help.
“It comes at a perfect time for us,” Woodson said. “We have a lot of banged-up guys. So it gives us a chance for guys to either get out of here or get treatment here in Green Bay and just get themselves ready. Mentally, get away from it a little bit — but not too much — and be ready to come back in a couple of weeks.”
Woodson isn’t worried about the Packers losing momentum with a week off.
“I think the guys in this room, I think we’ve found our focus, and I think we’ll take this game in stride,” Woodson said. “It was a good game. It’s a game you love to have. I think we want more of these types of games. I think guys will be fine.”
The Packers hope to get a few more players back from injury next week, as McCarthy joked that he hoped his list of injured players would go from two pages to one.
Wide receiver Donald Driver sat out Sunday’s game with a quadriceps injury. Right tackle Mark Tauscher and rookie tight end Andrew Quarless also were among the Packers’ inactives.
Defensive lineman Ryan Pickett sprained his ankle during the game, and it’s not clear whether he’ll be available to practice when the team returns.
McCarthy acknowledged that the Packers have been disjointed in practice in recent weeks because of the injuries.
“We’re going to have a couple of guys that still aren’t going to be probably ready, but we’ll definitely be healthy enough as a football team to get back to the practice structure that we are accustomed to around here,” McCarthy said. “I think that is just so important when you get into November and December football that you are spending the proper amount of time on fundamentals and things like that that we really have gotten away from here the last couple of weeks.”