Notebook: Coaching Staff Preparing For All Possible Opponents

The Packers could play any one of three teams in the Jan. 12 NFC Divisional Playoff game at Lambeau Field, and the coaching staff is spending this week doing some early preparation work on all three. - More Audio | Video | Packers-Lions Game Center Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Dec. 31


The Packers could play any one of three teams in the Jan. 12 NFC Divisional Playoff game at Lambeau Field, and the coaching staff is spending this week doing some early preparation work on all three.

Head Coach Mike McCarthy said on Monday that the staff has done some scouting work on Seattle already and will continue to work on Tampa Bay and the New York Giants as the week continues.

The Packers will play Seattle on Jan. 12 if the Seahawks beat Washington next Saturday in the Wild Card round. If the Redskins win, the Packers get the winner of the Sunday game between the Buccaneers and Giants.

The players have four days off this week before returning for two fundamental-oriented practices on Friday and Saturday mornings. Then the coaches will spend Saturday afternoon watching the Seattle-Washington game, and if necessary, the Tampa Bay-New York game on Sunday.

"We're just prepared for all those teams, and any unusual things that we feel we need to work on schematically, we'll build that into our practice structure Friday and Saturday, with the other focus being on fundamentals," McCarthy said.

The practices on Friday and Saturday will be in full pads, and with the players getting Monday through Thursday off (with the exception of injury treatments and some cardiovascular work), McCarthy expects them to return energized for those two workouts.

"I'd say 40 percent of it is going to be competitive drills -- the offense versus the defense," McCarthy said of the two bye week workouts. "I'm more interested in the fundamentals, the speed, and the competition in these two practices just to make sure we stay sharp."

McCarthy added that he likes the fact that the Packers got the Saturday slot for the Divisional round, because he expects the players and coaches to be eager to play by the middle of next week, so it shortens the wait by a day. Playing on Saturday also will give the team an extra day of rest and/or preparation prior to the NFC Championship, should the Packers win on Jan. 12.

Health watch

Offensive guard Junius Coston's calf strain is significant enough that his availability for the playoff game is in question, but that appears to be the worst of the injury news from the regular-season finale.

Fellow guard Jason Spitz's quad strain also will require extensive treatment all week, and it could keep Spitz from practicing at the end of this week, but McCarthy said he was "hopeful" Spitz would be recovered in time for Jan. 12.

With Coston likely out, Daryn Colledge, who McCarthy felt played well on Sunday, is expected to start the playoff game. If both Coston and Spitz are not ready, McCarthy said he would either start Colledge at left guard and Tony Moll at right guard, or rookie Allen Barbre at left guard and Colledge at right guard.

Cornerback and punt returner Will Blackmon has an "irritation" to the foot he has broken twice in the past two years, and the early word is Blackmon could be ready to practice on Friday.

Running back Ryan Grant's stinger is not a concern and shouldn't limit his availability.

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers is scheduled to test his injured hamstring on Wednesday, and how he responds on Thursday will determine his status for the Friday and Saturday practices.

Cornerback Charles Woodson continues to receive treatment on his sore toe and he likely will sit out the two practices late this week. Woodson could have played against Detroit on Sunday, though, and should be ready to go for the playoff game.

Showing some depth

McCarthy singled out two backup defensive players for taking advantage of their extended playing time against the Lions - middle linebacker Desmond Bishop and cornerback Tramon Williams.

{sportsad300}Bishop and Williams tied with safeties Nick Collins and Aaron Rouse with a team-high four total tackles apiece in the game. McCarthy noted that Bishop continues to improve on special teams, where he could make a contribution in the playoffs.

"I think Desmond is clearly an ascending player for us," McCarthy said of the rookie sixth-round draft pick out of California.

Meanwhile Williams got his first NFL interception, on a ball batted at the line by defensive end Cullen Jenkins, and posted two passes defensed. The performance will earn him a game ball from McCarthy.

In essentially one calendar year, Williams has gone from the Packers' practice squad to the active roster to a regular contributor as a return man and a reliable backup defensive back.

"Tramon Williams, I can't say enough," McCarthy said. "I think he's a perfect example of what you want to accomplish with your young players. What he's gained through the offseason, through training camp, no one even knew about him, and he makes your football team, and every opportunity he gets in the football game, he continues to improve."

New gig

Former Packers defensive back Jerry Holmes, who played two seasons for Green Bay in 1990 and 1991, has been named the new head football coach at Hampton University. He replaces Joe Taylor, for whom he worked as Hampton's defensive coordinator the past three seasons.

Holmes played 10 seasons in the NFL, including six with the New York Jets and two with the Detroit Lions before coming to Green Bay. He had four interceptions and one sack in his two seasons with the Packers.

Earning his first head-coaching job, Holmes has been an assistant coach at the collegiate and professional levels for 16 years, including stints as the defensive backfield coach for the San Diego Chargers (2002-03), Washington Redskins (2001) and Cleveland Browns (1999-2000).

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