Starter Pack: The holiday is an off day

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GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Few things are more important to Packers coach Mike McCarthy than his practice schedule and game-week routine.

Family and holidays qualify as such.

That's why his team won't practice today on Christmas. His assistant coaches aren't supposed to work. And everyone else involved in the football operations won't be at Lambeau Field until Friday.

And McCarthy has no concerns that it will disrupt the preparation for Sunday's regular-season finale against the Detroit Lions, a game that will decide the NFC North title and whether the Packers will have a first-round playoff bye.

"I'll tell you what, I'd be concerned if we were working on the holiday," McCarthy said this week. "That's just not right in my opinion. I think our players, coaches, support staff will be where they're supposed to be for Christmas Eve and Christmas."

It's a pattern McCarthy has followed before. On Thanksgiving day this season, he made sure everyone was out of the building by 1:30 p.m.

"I don’t think anybody is going to complain about the Thursday off," Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said.

"I think guys are appreciative of Mike and how he lays out the schedule all the time. It's been a lighter week. We're going to stay a little bit extra Friday to make sure all of our work is complete. But we've had this type of scenario before in the past and had success with it, with a Christmas day off. And Mike has just relied on the veteran guys to bring the same leadership and focus and everybody be ready to play on Sunday, which we will."

The Lions took a different approach to the week. They're practicing on Christmas but not because first-year coach Jim Caldwell is the Grinch. He gave his players the choice, and they elected to practice. Still, he altered the schedule so players with children can spend the morning with them.

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