Notebook: Bye Week Provides Extra Time For Fundamentals, Miami

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The Packers used their three practices during the bye week to work on essentially three things - corrections from their previous two losses, initial preparation for the Miami game on Oct. 22, and fundamentals.

The last of those was perhaps the most important, as they relate to the Packers' two biggest downfalls thus far in 2006, turnovers on offense and big plays on defense. Hanging onto the ball and staying in the proper position are as fundamental as it gets for Head Coach Mike McCarthy, and he welcomed the opportunity to stress those this week.

"To me, that's what fundamentals are, and when you have the opportunity to correct something, you need the environment to emphasize something as much as possible," he said. "That's what this week was all about."

The Packers also used the practices on Tuesday and Wednesday to go over their mistakes against Philadelphia and St. Louis, and to begin introducing the game plan for Miami. Thursday's practice focused exclusively on Miami.

Having some extra time to prepare for the Dolphins could prove beneficial because Miami is the first 3-4 defense, as opposed to a traditional 4-3, that the Packers are facing in 2006.

In addition, with some veterans and injured players being excused from some of the workouts, many of the younger players benefited from the extra practice time.

"It's been real valuable for a number of reasons," McCarthy said. "I think it's been real productive."

Blackmon back soon?

Rookie cornerback Will Blackmon, who missed all of the June organized team activities and all of training camp with a broken foot, returned to practice and did individual drills early in the week and joined in on some of the team periods Thursday.

Blackmon, a fourth-round draft choice out of Boston College, originally attempted to return to practice during the week leading up to the season opener, but a setback with the injury due to his rehab kept him out until this week.

"We're just bringing him along," McCarthy said. "He's doing more and more each day, and I'm hoping Monday we can get him full time. We'll see if he can go through a whole week of practice."

Should he be fully healthy soon, Blackmon would be a candidate to be the fifth or sixth defensive back in the nickel and dime packages, as well as a contributor on special teams.

Blackmon told reporters earlier in the week that he might be ready for the Miami game, but he has to take it a day at a time. It's hard not to get anxious, though, when the last time he went full speed in pads was the Senior Bowl last winter.

"It's a huge step up, and I'm just excited," Blackmon said. "Hopefully I make the same progress next week and I can get things rolling."

Other injuries

Receiver Koren Robinson (knee) and cornerback Charles Woodson (quad, ribs) both missed practice on Thursday, but neither player is believed to be seriously hurt.

Among other injured players, Brandon Miree (eye), Jason Spitz (throat), Nick Collins (head) and Chad Clifton (shoulder) all returned to practice during the week.

Defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins (ankle) was still very sore, according to McCarthy, and his availability for Miami is uncertain. Abdul Hodge (knee) was still on crutches this week, but McCarthy said he could return to practice next week or the week after.

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