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Packers plan to 'recharge the battery' during playoff bye

Head Coach Matt LaFleur wants to maximize on rest and recovery opportunity

Head coach Matt LaFleur
Head coach Matt LaFleur

GREEN BAY – The Packers have clear priorities for their playoff bye week: Rest and recharge.

Those are at the top of Head Coach Matt LaFleur's list as the top-seeded Packers wait until next weekend to find out their opponent in the divisional round of the NFC playoffs.

The players and coaches aren't disappearing from 1265 Lombardi Ave. by any means, but there is some down time built into the schedule.

Everyone is off on Tuesday, and the players will have their film review of the previous game on Wednesday before practicing on Thursday and Friday. Then the Packers will learn their opponent next weekend and go into full-fledged prep mode from then on.

"I think this week's a really good opportunity to recharge the battery," LaFleur said Monday. "It's been a long season. It's been a long time since we've had a bye week.

"I do want the guys to take care of themselves, not only our players obviously but our coaches as well, kind of get recharged and ready to go hopefully here on a nice run. You need guys fresh. You need people sharp."

The Packers' regular-season bye was back in Week 5, almost three full months ago, so it's easy to understand LaFleur's approach. Every precaution with the coronavirus will continue to be taken and stressed as well.

Green Bay has four possible playoff opponents for the divisional round Jan. 16-17 – Washington, Tampa Bay, Chicago and the LA Rams – but LaFleur suggested the coaching staff won't be studying too extensively until this weekend.

By the time Saturday's wild-card games (Buccaneers vs. Washington, Rams vs. Seahawks) are done, the Packers' possibilities will be narrowed to two. At that point, the studying will begin in earnest on the one remaining possibility from the Saturday group with the second option, the Bears – whom the Packers just faced – playing late Sunday afternoon.

In the meantime, LaFleur wants the coaches doing some self-scout work and the players healing up.

The Packers won't be getting left tackle David Bakhtiari back, but right tackle Rick Wagner recovered quickly from a knee injury last week vs. Tennessee to start at Chicago. Then early in the game, he got rolled into from behind in pass protection and went down in a pile of bodies, but he stayed in and played the whole contest.

"I tell you what, that guy is as tough as they come," LaFleur said of Wagner. "I think this bye week will really do a guy like him a lot of good. And he's not the only guy."

Undrafted rookie linebacker Krys Barnes led the defense with 14 tackles against the Bears, but he exited the game briefly before returning.

The defense has hit its stride of late with Barnes taking over the middle/communicator spot and veteran Christian Kirksey playing more weak side.

LaFleur likes the progress he's seen from the unit as a whole over the last month, and he believes the next step is to play a little more aggressively, possibly with more press coverage on outside receivers in certain situations.

But it's going to take good health and fresh legs to continue making those strides, so that's the focus for this week.

"There's a lot of guys that need this time to really let their body heal up a little bit more than what you typically would have," LaFleur said. "By not having to go out there this weekend and play a game, I think it's gonna be really, really good for us."

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