Notebook: Practices Physical, Spirited Coming Off Bye

text - More Audio | Video | Packers-Broncos Game Center Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Oct. 23


Any concerns about the Green Bay Packers resting on the laurels of their 5-1 start and being a little sluggish coming off their bye week have vanished over the first two days of practice this week.

Head Coach Mike McCarthy said he thought the practices on Monday and Tuesday this week were "probably our two best practices of the year," calling them both spirited and physical, and an indication the players are excited to continue building on the strong start to 2007.

"Success clearly helps that," McCarthy said. "It's important to everybody, but when you do have success, there's more energy. There's no doubt about it. I think it's part of the constant message of our football team of trying to improve. Our players are clearly into what needs to be done. I think that's a reflection of our structure, communication from the coaching staff and everybody being on the same page."

McCarthy said Monday's practice may have been "a little too physical" in some spots, but on Tuesday, the team finished 14 minutes ahead of schedule, which indicates the players were working up-tempo and without having to repeat plays.

The energy and enthusiasm in practice this week tells McCarthy that the players know they have room to improve and are still trying to play a complete game, despite the 5-1 record.

Linebacker Brady Poppinga agrees, but adds part of his own theory.

"It's the kind of guys we have on our team," he said. "We just enjoy playing the game, and (after the bye) all of a sudden you get the chance and it comes back to you, you're just going to let yourself go. I think there's some pent-up energy over the last few weeks, or the last week at least. We haven't played. I think it's due to being pent-up. Cabin fever."

High altitude

Whether or not playing in the high altitude of the Rocky Mountains on Monday night will have an effect on the Packers players' stamina won't be known until probably the second half.

But according to two players who spent their collegiate years in that part of the country, it shouldn't be a factor.

"We're in shape, we're a good team, and you just have to hydrate and make sure you do the same thing you do for every game," said rookie kicker Mason Crosby, who played at the University of Colorado in Boulder. "I've never over-thought stuff like that. I kicked up there for four years, but I felt like the same guy whenever I'd go anywhere else."

Poppinga, a native of Wyoming and former Brigham Young player, believes the altitude only affects players if they let it affect them.

"I've lived in the altitude my whole life, born and raised," he said. "It's your head. You think you're out of breath, but you're really not.

"You have a hard time not getting your air, but you're not tired. It's all mental. People make too much of a big deal about it."

{sportsad300}Another RB shuffle?

Rookie running back DeShawn Wynn sat out practice on Tuesday with what McCarthy termed a neck spasm. That led to more first-team snaps for Ryan Grant and rookie Brandon Jackson, who has not played the last three games due to a shin injury.

The players have a day off on Wednesday before returning to the practice field for three more workouts prior to leaving for Denver, so McCarthy wasn't ready to commit to a running back rotation for the game just yet. But as has been the case all season, it appears health will factor into that.

"We're going to work through that," McCarthy said.

Draft changes

The league announced on Tuesday that the annual NFL Draft would undergo some structural changes beginning in 2008. For starters, the amount of time allotted to each team to make its first-round selection is being reduced from 15 to 10 minutes, and the time in the second round will drop from 10 to seven minutes.

Also, the first day of the draft will consist of just the first two rounds, rather than three, and it will begin three hours later than previously, at 2 p.m. CT. The second day of the draft, consisting of rounds three through seven, will begin one hour sooner, at 9 a.m. CT.

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