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Packers' preparation for London 'absolutely critical'

Discipline required, on and off the field

Head Coach Matt LaFleur
Head Coach Matt LaFleur

GREEN BAY – Head Coach Matt LaFleur isn't sharing how he plans to prepare the Packers for their first trip to London, but he's made significant adjustments to the team's normal routine, and he's taking every decision in that regard very seriously.

"The approach you take, the preparation's going to be absolutely critical – especially the mental preparation because you're going to be out of rhythm in terms of just your schedule, the practice schedule," he said.

"You try to keep it as normal as possible, like typical. But let's face it, it's anything but."

What's been shared is the team is flying to London on Thursday after practice, with the time change making it a Friday morning arrival in the UK.

That's been the plan all along, one LaFleur has experienced on previous trips to London with other teams. He's drawn on that history as well as the experiences of other coaches on his staff to put together this week's outline, which also could be impacted by the fact the Packers have played two consecutive physically demanding games the last two weeks – one in the Florida heat, and then a full 70-minute overtime affair on Sunday.

"A lot of it is who handles this trip the best is going to be able to play to the best of their abilities," LaFleur said. "Bottom line is you've got to be disciplined in whatever it is you're going to do just to try to show up and be the best version of you on game day."

Over the season's first few weeks, the Packers have seen their best version of run defense come and go, and the inconsistency continued during the Patriots game.

While New England put up 167 rushing yards, 75 of them came on back-to-back drives in the second half that produced touchdowns. After reviewing the film, LaFleur saw multiple issues with the struggles – physicality, scheme and discipline.

"Quite frankly, I think we've got to play more physical," he said. "We can't just sit back and catch (blocks)."

He also mentioned discussing more flexibility with defensive coordinator Joe Barry to shift out of the defense's usual two-deep safety look to add another defender to the box when an offense is loading up to run the ball, like the Patriots did in sending in an extra offensive lineman regularly.

As for discipline, he pointed to Kenny Clark's untimely personal foul, which gave the Patriots an automatic first down on what would've been second-and-18 following a sack.

But the discipline was team-wide in his view, including his mistake with the ill-fated challenge decision late in the game and a special-teams penalty on rookie Tariq Carpenter that affected field position in the waning seconds of regulation.

"You've got to learn along the way, and you've got to improve," LaFleur said. "You can't have some of the mistakes we made in this past game show up (in) five, six, seven, eight weeks or at the end of the season.

"You've got to continually learn, grow, improve. We're not going to gloss over any of that."