Packers back to work after unusual bye plan

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- While the other three teams with playoff byes have wrapped up their work for the week, the Green Bay Packers are just about to get started.

After giving his players the last three days off, coach Mike McCarthy will have them back at Lambeau Field on Friday and Saturday for a pair of short practices. Each session is scheduled for less than 90 minutes, and then the players will be off Sunday.

"It will be a lot of fundamental work there; it will be a lot of footwork," McCarthy said earlier in the week. "We'll handle the football, and we'll do all the things from a skill development, training standpoint to continue to try to improve as a football team. And then schematically, we have some things we want to get into."

It's unclear how much work, if any, quarterback Aaron Rodgers will get the next two days. He indicated on his ESPN Milwaukee radio show on Tuesday that his strained left calf might not allow him to practice until next week. The only other major injury is to cornerback Davon House, who missed the final three regular-season games with a fractured scapula.

Of the four playoff teams with first-round byes, the Packers, the NFC's No. 2 seed, are the only one that has yet to practice this week.

The NFC's top-seeded Seattle Seahawks practiced twice this week, including on New Year’s Day, and are off until Monday. The AFC's top-seeded New England Patriots practiced Tuesday and Wednesday and had another session scheduled for New Year's Day until coach Bill Belichick canceled it. The Patriots are off until Monday. The AFC's second-seeded Denver Broncos practiced Tuesday and Wednesday and are off until Sunday.

While the Packers' players were off this week, McCarthy and his coaching staff spent two days on a self-scouting project that he said was designed to make "sure we're totally on top of the areas that we feel we may need a little extra work, and we'll apply that to our practices Friday and Saturday."

The coaches also spent time preparing preliminary scouting reports on the three possible playoff opponents: the Dallas Cowboys, Arizona Cardinals and Carolina Panthers.

One of those teams will be eliminated Saturday, when the Cardinals and Panthers play in an NFC wild-card game. The winner of that game would come to Green Bay for the Jan. 11 divisional playoff game only if the Detroit Lions beat the Cowboys on Sunday in the other NFC wild-card game.

"The outcome of the Carolina and Arizona game will take it to two teams, so once that game's decided, we'll lock in on Dallas and the winner of Saturday's game," McCarthy said. "Our goal in our process as a coaching staff is we'll watch the game [at Lambeau Field] at 3 o'clock on Sunday and we'll go right into game plan meetings on Sunday night."