Starter Pack: Preparation plans change

A roundup of what's happening on the Green Bay Packers beat.

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Coach Mike McCarthy couldn't have been happier to see his team's NFC wild-card playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers scheduled for the late afternoon timeslot on Sunday.

McCarthy prefers to keep his team on a regular, seven-day schedule.

But that's only the beginning of what having a full week will do for the Packers. McCarthy gave his coaching staff extra time to break down the 49ers and formulate a game plan for a team that has beaten them three times in past two seasons.

The offensive, defensive and special teams coordinators did not hold their regularly-scheduled sessions with reporters on Monday but instead will do so on Tuesday.

“We backed our schedule up by design because we want to make sure our coaching staff has a large amount of time to prepare for this game, probably a little longer than most,” McCarthy said Monday.

He altered the team's practice schedule, too. There is no practice scheduled for Wednesday, although the players will be at the facility and likely will use the new indoor training area for a walkthrough session before resuming a regular practice schedule on Thursday and Friday.

“I think you have to be cognizant of what we've gone through the last four weeks,” McCarthy said. “We've played four playoff-type football games in cold weather. That's part of training and being on top of where your team is. Our schedule this week will reflect that.”

As difficult as the last month of the season has been on the Packers, who were on the playoff bubble but won three of their final four to clinch the NFC North division title, there was probably no better way to simulate the intensity of the NFL postseason.

“I don't know how we could be better prepared for playoff football than what we've been through the last four weeks,” McCarthy said. “I'd take our four-week experience over everything. So we'll see what happens.”

In case you missed it on ESPN.com:

  • McCarthy called Sunday's game-winning drive against the Bears the finest one he's ever been a part of and proclaimed it to be quarterback Aaron Rodgers' finest hour. However, that drive might not have gotten going if the players hadn't talked McCarthy out of punting early in the possession.

  • The Packers are holding out hope that Pro Bowl linebacker Clay Matthews can still play this season, but they're going to have to make a long run for that to happen. Matthews already has been ruled out of Sunday's wild-card game because of his broken thumb.

  • Even though the Packers have the worst record (8-7-1) of the 12 playoff teams, there are reasons to think they might have a long run in them.

  • Kicker Mason Crosby finished the regular season with an 89.2 percent success rate on field goals to earn back all of the money through incentives that he gave up when he took a pay cut in August.

  • The end of the regular season meant the Packers' 2014 opponents were finalized.

  • At the start of business on Monday, there were 40,000 tickets still available for Sunday's game.


  • At ESPNWisconsin.com, Sarah Barshop chronicled receiver Randall Cobb's remarkable return from his Oct. 13 broken leg.

  • In the Green Bay Press-Gazette, Nathan Phelps reported that by the end of business on Monday, there were still 15,000 tickets remaining for Sunday's game.

  • In the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Tyler Dunne wrote that the momentum the Packers gained from their late-season, comeback victories might be enough to keep them rolling in the playoffs.