GREEN BAY, Wis. -- With four trips to the West this season, the Green Bay Packers don't have the easiest travel schedule.
For the first one, coach Mike McCarthy has decided to break from the norm. He's taking his team to San Jose, California, on Friday, two days before Sunday's game against the San Francisco 49ers.
In his first nine seasons, McCarthy only left two days before a game once (other than Super Bowl XLV, of course). He did it last year in the playoffs for the NFC Championship Game in Seattle.
"Getting acclimated to the environment, crossing time zones, we look at all of those things in the offseason," McCarthy said. "I don't want to get into specifics -- everybody does it a little differently -- but it's part of our preparation."
This was already going to be a truncated week coming off a Monday night game. Players were off on Tuesday and will practice on Wednesday and Thursday in Green Bay. After their usual Friday program of weight training and medical treatments, they will depart late afternoon. It means they will have to find a place to practice in California on Saturday.
McCarthy's predecessor, Mike Sherman, made early departures a regular practice. Sherman started it on long trips and liked it so much he did it for most road games.
"We've always talked about it," McCarthy said. "I think a lot of it has to do with where you are as a football team. There's a lot of input that goes into that, time of year. There's different factors."
McCarthy wouldn't say whether he would follow the same practice for games at Denver, Oakland and Arizona later this season.
The games against the Raiders and Cardinals fall on consecutive Sundays in December, which would give McCarthy option of staying out West rather than making two long trips back to back. However, those games are sandwiched around Christmas, and McCarthy almost always gives his players and staff the day off to spend time with their families.
When pressed about his plans, all McCarthy would say is, "You'll be home for Christmas," which would indicate the Packers will go back and forth that week.
Even with five trips out of the central time zone this season (Carolina is the other), the Packers will travel 15,016 miles this year. That ranks 16th in the league in distance covered, according to information released by the NFL before the season. The 49ers have a league-high 27,912 miles to travel this season.