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Notebook: Containing Jones-Drew Will Be Key

With the Jaguars’ second-leading rusher and leading receiver both sidelined for the remainder of the season, running back Maurice Jones-Drew will likely be the focal point of Jacksonville’s offense on Sunday. - More Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Dec. 12


With the Jaguars' second-leading rusher and leading receiver both sidelined for the remainder of the season, running back Maurice Jones-Drew will likely be the focal point of Jacksonville's offense on Sunday.

Fred Taylor, who had rushed for 556 yards this season, tore ligaments in his thumb last Sunday at Chicago and was placed on injured reserve this week. Wide receiver Matt Jones, who led the Jaguars with 65 catches for 761 yards, was suspended for the final three games for violating the league's substance-abuse policy.

That means a bulk of the offensive load will probably fall to Jones-Drew, who leads the team with 607 yards on 142 carries for a 4.7 average. He has rushed for 11 touchdowns, which ranks sixth in the NFL.

"He's a stocky, short guy that bounces off tacklers and has a lot of ability," defensive tackle Colin Cole said. "They like to get him downhill and get the ball in his hands as much as they can to make plays. He's going to be a big key."

With Jones out, the 5-foot-6 inch Jones-Drew is also Jacksonville's leading receiver with 50 receptions, which is third-most in the NFL among running backs.

"(Shorter) guys like that are hard to locate and they are also hard to tackle," said linebacker Desmond Bishop, who played against him in 2005 when Bishop played for California versus Jones-Drew at UCLA. "It's equivalent to tackling a big guy high, tackling a small guy regular."

Florida homecoming

Sunday's game in Jacksonville will be the Packers' first trip to Florida since playing at the Miami Dolphins on Oct. 22, 2006, and the team has plenty of connections to the state.

Eight players on Green Bay's roster attended high school in Florida, the highest representation from any state. California and Texas are tied for second with seven Packers each.

The group includes guards Jason Spitz, who attended The Bolles School in Jacksonville, and Josh Sitton, who went to high school in Pensacola but was born in Jacksonville.

The other six players that attended high school in Florida are safety Atari Bigby (Miami), Cole (Ft. Lauderdale), safety Nick Collins (Cross City), cornerback Al Harris (Pompano Beach), guard Nevin McCaskill (Tallahassee) and defensive tackle Ryan Pickett (Zephyrhills).

The links to Florida extend to Green Bay's coaching staff as well. Running backs coach Edgar Bennett was born and raised in Jacksonville and was an all-state running back at Robert E. Lee High School before heading to Florida State. Assistant head coach/linebackers coach Winston Moss is a native of Miami and was a four-time letterman at the University of Miami.

The last time the Packers visited the state of Florida this late in the season came in the 1994 regular-season finale, a 34-19 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Christmas Eve.

Injury/participation update

Bigby (shoulder) is out for Sunday.

Fullback Korey Hall (knee) did not practice for the third straight day and is doubtful.

Defensive tackle Justin Harrell (hip), linebacker Danny Lansanah (upper arm/ankle) and defensive end Jeremy Thompson (ankle) all participated fully on Friday but are questionable.

Pickett, who missed Thursday's practice due to illness, returned to full participation on Friday and is probable. Linebacker Brandon Chillar (groin), tackle Chad Clifton (knees) and cornerback Charles Woodson (toe) are also probable.

Head Coach Mike McCarthy said Chillar practiced "very well" on Friday, and barring any setback, expects him to play against Jacksonville. Whether Chillar or Bishop will start on the weak side is still up in the air.

"We'll work that out today," McCarthy said. "That's what today's practice was really for. I've talked about it before in here. We have our management meeting at 1 o'clock, and those are the types of things we talk about as far as going from 53 to 45."

For the Jaguars, wide receiver Jerry Porter (groin) is out. Defensive tackle Tony McDaniel (toe) was limited for the second straight day and is questionable. Defensive end Reggie Hayward (head) was added to the injury report on Friday but is probable.

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