Notebook: Starting Strong, Especially At Home, A Must

You have to go back five years to find the last time the Packers were above .500 through September, a trend that will be no easier to reverse this year with games against 2006 playoff teams in four of the season’s first five weeks. - More Audio | Video | Packers-Eagles Gameday


No one needs to remind the veterans in the Packers' locker room how they've struggled to get off on the right foot in recent years.

They began 1-4 last year, 0-4 in 2005, 1-4 in 2004, and 1-2 in 2003. You have to go back five years to find the last time the Packers were above .500 through September, a trend that will be no easier to reverse this year with games against 2006 playoff teams in four of the season's first five weeks.

"We know these games count toward our playoff run, and we want to come out and start fast," guard Daryn Colledge said. "We've got a tough beginning schedule, and we know that. We want to go out and try to prove ourselves right away."

The Packers have plenty to prove against the Eagles in Sunday's opener. Philadelphia is a team that has beaten Green Bay five straight times over the past four seasons, and has reached the playoffs six times in the past seven years.

Head Coach Mike McCarthy feels he's put his team in position, physically at least, to start strong. He changed the training camp schedule this year to give the players the first three Wednesdays off, lengthening many practices to two hours, 45 minutes (or more), but giving the players' legs a break in the middle of the week.

"There's a lot of energy in the building," McCarthy said. "A confident bunch."

The hope is the players are in peak shape for the opener without being run down from five full weeks of camp. If so, a win would continue the momentum built from finishing 2006 on a four-game winning streak, rather than feeling like the team is starting from scratch again.

"This one just has a lot of significance," defensive end Aaron Kampman said. "Based on how we ended the season last year, based on the way the offseason and preseason have gone, it's kind of culminating for us in some ways -- that we're building, that there is positive momentum.

"But that doesn't win ballgames. We need to go out and play extremely hard and smart, and hopefully that will translate into good things for us on Sunday."

Home games paramount

In addition to needing a fast start, the Packers also need to re-establish the home-field advantage that became almost a given from 1992 through 2002. But over the past four years, the Packers haven't won more than five regular-season home games, and they've been .500 or worse at home the past three seasons.

Last year, Green Bay was a solid 5-3 on the road, but just 3-5 at home with some rough losses that snowballed on the team. Shutout defeats to the Bears and Patriots, along with a blowout at the hands of the Jets, all came at Lambeau Field, and if the Packers are to return to the playoffs for the first time in three years, performances like that can't happen, especially at home.

"We have a great home-field advantage here, great energy," McCarthy said. "We just didn't handle the adversity, that's what I'm most disappointed in. When things don't go right we need to keep playing and keep rolling. We'll do a better job of that this year."

{sportsad300}New injury report

The NFL has changed the format for the weekly injury report during the regular season.

In the past, beginning on Wednesday, all injured players received a designation of either "out," "doubtful," "questionable," or "probable" as to their chances of playing in that week's game.

Now, the injury report will indicate a player's level of participation in practice - whether he didn't practice at all (out), practiced but was held out of some work (limited), or went through the entire practice (full) - from Wednesday through Friday, adding the traditional designation of their playing chances only on Friday.

On Wednesday, defensive end Michael Montgomery did not practice because of his knee injury. Six players were limited - receiver Donald Driver (foot), running backs Vernand Morency (knee), Brandon Jackson (concussion) and Ryan Grant (hamstring), tackle Tony Moll (neck) and safety Aaron Rouse (hamstring).

For the Eagles, the only player on their injury report is defensive end Jevon Kearse (limited, shoulder).

The Injury Report can be found each week during the regular season in the Gameday section on

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