GREEN BAY – The Packers are preparing for veteran Byron Bell to start a third straight game at right guard on Monday night vs. San Francisco.
Bell has taken over for an injured Justin McCray, who is dealing with a shoulder problem, and he may not be giving the job back. Head Coach Mike McCarthy didn’t make any definitive statements in that regard before Friday’s practice, but it’s clear the Packers are pleased with the way Bell has played.
“He’s consistent. He has a lot of experience,” McCarthy said of Bell, who is in his eighth NFL season and with his fourth team. “Byron has played a lot of football. His transition here, getting used to how we do things … he’s comfortable. I like what he’s done.”
McCray missed the Buffalo game two weeks ago, when Bell took over. He was active last week on game day, but only as an emergency fill-in. McCray remains limited in practice with the shoulder injury.
Elsewhere on the injury front, quarterback Aaron Rodgers is scheduled to practice on Friday, but receivers Randall Cobb and Geronimo Allison, who are both dealing with hamstring injuries, would remain limited. McCarthy said they would be in the rehab group Friday, meaning they could do individual drills like they did on Thursday but they are not expected to participate in the 11-on-11 work.
On the practice field, McCarthy said the team is focusing on “the details” and emphasizing the players need to trust their training and instincts to get the job done, particularly at the beginning of games to avoid the slow starts that have plagued the team.
Practice isn’t a cure-all, but it’s where it has to start, and the emphasis remains mostly on what the Packers do and not as much on the opponent, because teams that execute what they do best will have the upper hand.
“You can have a practice that might not be as clean as you’d like and play the game of your life. Let’s not act like that hasn’t happened,” McCarthy said. “Or you can have a great week of preparation and not play your best game.
“But the best common denomination for a healthy performance is healthy preparation. The competition in the NFL is so tight. There’s a very small margin between what a big play is and not a big play. That’s what you have to stay after, just the consistency of the behavior, the training habits. It all carries forward.
“This game is so much about instincts. Trusting your instincts, trusting the guy next to you. When you play instinctive football, you play your best football.”