Players Eager To Bounce Back, Build Momentum

Though it can’t officially affect the playoff picture, Sunday’s game can accomplish two valuable goals. - More Audio | Video | Packers-Lions Game Center Notebook: Lions Plenty Motivated Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Dec. 26


This week's regular-season finale against the Detroit Lions can't affect anything in the official sense as far as the upcoming playoffs for the Packers, but the players feel it can accomplish two valuable goals.

One is to bounce back from the disastrous game in Chicago and perform in such a way that the defeat is placed even further in, if not erased from, the rear-view mirror. The other is create some positive vibes, some momentum, heading into the bye week prior to the team's first playoff game on either Jan. 12 or 13.

"Bill Russell came and spoke to us one time when Mike Sherman was here, and he said, 'If you're going to play the game, you might as well win it,'" defensive end Aaron Kampman said. "It's kind of the same motivation. It's on the schedule.

"We have a chance to go out and hopefully get a victory and get some momentum. We had a game last week that didn't go our way, so it will be a chance for us to kind of get things back in the right order."

Head Coach Mike McCarthy didn't reveal anything Wednesday as far as how long he would play the starters on Sunday, but he was rotating a lot of players through the repetitions during the jog-through portion of practice, so multiple substitutions are part of the plan.

He has said the team's health is a top priority for the postseason, but it's also important to get things going in the right direction again after last weekend's 35-7 loss, and the starters are taking that approach, even if they aren't necessarily going to play the whole game.

"We want to correct the mistakes we made last week and go out there and show that we're a lot better team than what we showed last Sunday," linebacker Nick Barnett said.

"There's a lot on the line for us, and we definitely don't want to go out there thinking this game doesn't mean anything, because it does. Anytime someone lines up in front of your face getting ready to throw a punch, you'd better be ready to throw a punch back, and we're going out there ready to do that."

As for getting out of the game healthy, Barnett said that's not something the players can be concerned with when they're on the field. Changing the way you play will only invite trouble.

"I think the smartest way you can play is hard," he said. "Once you get out there trying to play smart and trying to play safe, that's when you get hurt. You just go out there and play the same way you've been playing every week, and you don't have to worry about getting hurt."

The players also aren't getting overly concerned about the pending cold weather this week and in the upcoming home playoff game. The team has admitted it didn't handle the cold and ridiculous wind in Chicago last week as well as it should have, but the players also are not buying into the talk that cold weather will now work against them.

{sportsad300}"That was our first game in that weather, so if anybody wants to over-react, then go ahead and do that," center Scott Wells said. "But that was one of hopefully many opportunities in that type of weather. I'm not jumping to any conclusions if the team is built for cold weather or not, and I don't think anybody else should either.

"That was obviously one poor performance on our part, but at the same time it was one. We have opportunities ahead of us."

The players may be taking some of their aggression out in practice. McCarthy, who put the players back in full pads to increase the focus on fundamentals, felt Wednesday was a productive workout and he's looking for more of the same the rest of the week.

Because the loss last week has solidified the Packers as the No. 2 seed in the NFC, in many respects the preparation for the playoffs is beginning now and will carry through this Sunday's game.

"I think we're a team that's realizing what's here," Kampman said. "The reality is this game is in front of us, but we also realize what's to come. That's why I think there's excitement. Practice today was spirited. Tomorrow we'll be in pads again and have a chance to get after it a little bit. Again, this is a really good chance for us to get that feeling we want to have going into the playoffs.

"We get a chance to really tune-up here, focusing on ourselves. Big picture, we want to really make sure we're playing well."

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content