Notebook: Frustrated With Fumbles

Head Coach Mike McCarthy has said after each of the four victories this season that the 2007 Packers are by no means a finished product, and there’s still plenty of work to do. One of the most glaring deficiencies to come out of Sunday’s win at Minnesota was the shaky ball security, as the Packers fumbled five times, fortunately losing only two of them. - More Audio | Video | Packers-Vikings Game Center Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Oct. 1


WR Greg Jennings recovers his own fumble after a 9-yard reception in the second quarter at the Metrodome on Sunday.

Head Coach Mike McCarthy has said after each of the four victories this season that the 2007 Green Bay Packers are by no means a finished product, and there's still plenty of work to do.

One of the most glaring deficiencies to come out of Sunday's win at Minnesota was the shaky ball security, as the Packers fumbled five times, fortunately losing only two of them.

"That's unacceptable," McCarthy said. "We had a couple instances where guys just didn't have the ball high and tight, and we're not happy about it. You can't play like that."

The three fumbles that didn't hurt the team were by running back Vernand Morency (the ball rolled out of bounds), receiver Greg Jennings (he recovered his own fumble) and running back DeShawn Wynn, who the coaches said lost control of the ball on a shovel pass and regained it, but the fumble did not show up in the official NFL statistics.

The two that did become turnovers were by tight end Donald Lee, after a reception that moved the ball inside the Minnesota 10-yard line, and running back Ryan Grant in the final two minutes of the game, when he didn't give quarterback Brett Favre a big enough "pocket" to stick the handoff into.

On all but the Grant fumble, the Packers ballcarrier was trying to get extra yards after a reception. That's something the offense has thrived upon this season, but McCarthy said players can't lose sight of their fundamentals when pushing for those bigger gains.

"We've made so many yards after the catch, but the flip side of it is guys are fighting for extra yards after the first (tackler) comes in," McCarthy said. "That's when you're exposed and your highest rate of a possible turnover occurs. So we're conscious of it, it's being taught. But we need to protect the ball, especially when we're stretching for extra yardage."

Offensive coordinator Joe Philbin said that during the offensive team meeting on Monday, all of the fumbles were shown to the entire offense, with everyone watching. The Packers work on ball security drills in practice nearly every day, and they will do so during all three days of practice this week, McCarthy said.

"A lot of carelessness," Philbin said of what he saw on the video. "We have a certain style of teaching guys how to carry the football when they have it in their hands, and those principles were violated quite often.

"Everybody has to buy into that. It's one thing for me to sit here and blab about it but it's another thing for the players to do it on tape. That's the discouraging thing about yesterday. We want the tape to reflect what kind of team we are and what kind of team we want to be. The way we were carrying the ball yesterday, it's hard to say that's proof of what the Green Bay Packers want to be on offense."

Staying grounded and focused

McCarthy said one of the most revealing moments for him this season, in terms of gauging the attitude and spirit of his team, came Sunday when he walked into the locker room at the end of the game and saw several players happy about the win but upset that they had not played as well as they would have liked.

It was the kind of balance McCarthy appreciated seeing, and a sign that his young team is maturing more and more with each passing week.

"Our football players knew they won a game in a tough environment, they felt good about that," McCarthy said. "But you could just tell by the mode in the locker room yesterday that we did not play our best game."

In addition to the fumbles, the frustrations stemmed from surrendering too many yards on the ground (155), allowing a handful of big plays, and settling for field goals on two possessions in the red zone. McCarthy said he even joked with a few players to remember they won the game, but the lack of satisfaction will pay dividends down the road.

"There's a number of players that were disappointed in the way they played, and now watching the film, I see why," McCarthy said. "There are segments of the game that we didn't play very good football. We made enough plays to overcome some of the situations we were in, but -- I think I'm just being a broken record here -- we need to improve."

Jennings to get healing time

McCarthy said Jennings would be held out of practice both Wednesday and Thursday this week to allow more time for his hamstring injury to heal. Jennings has played in the last two games, catching a touchdown pass in each, but last week his hamstring fatigued when he practiced on Wednesday, and McCarthy wants to avoid that happening again.

{sportsad300}"It concerns me a young player like that not practicing, don't get me wrong," McCarthy said. "But when he's available, we're better. So we need to give him every chance to be available."

McCarthy said one reason Jennings is able to play so well despite limited practice time is his understanding of the game as a whole. He sees things on film and in reading defenses that a lot of young players at his position don't always see, so he's able to prepare adequately to perform even if he doesn't get all the reps on the practice field.

One example was on Favre's record-breaking touchdown pass on the slant to Jennings in the first quarter on Sunday. Right after catching that pass, Jennings came over to the sideline and pointed out to the coaches that the way the route opened up and the leverage he gained for the big play happened just the way they had discussed it at the hotel the night before the game.

"Greg's a very instinctive football player," McCarthy said. "He has what you like to refer to as 'it.' He sees the big picture. He understands."

Injury update

In addition to Jennings, cornerback Al Harris may not practice Wednesday or Thursday in order to rest his ailing back. Fellow cornerback Charles Woodson (foot) also may sit out practice Wednesday.

Safety Nick Collins appears OK after sustaining a knee bruise, though he may be limited in practice this week because of soreness. Same with Morency, who played for the first time this season due to his knee injury.

Running back Brandon Jackson is still recovering from his shin injury and his status for practice this week is uncertain.

See it again

NFL Network's NFL Replay will re-broadcast Sunday's Packers-Vikings game in a 90-minute format on Wednesday, Oct. 3, at 7 p.m. CT.

The abridged version will skip halftime and other non-critical elements of the game, but does include some on-field sound as well as post-game press conference clips.

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