HIGHLAND PARK (PFWA) – The Packers were wide-eyed to start their first practice of Super Bowl week.
It had nothing to do with Sunday’s game against the Steelers. Rather they were impressed with the indoor training facility at Highland Park High School.
“The players rolled their eyes at first when I told them where we were going to work,” coach Mike McCarthy said afterward. “I said, ‘Now, just hold on. This is Texas football.’ My daughter went to Lake Travis High School (in Austin), and their facilities are similar to this. I don’t think anybody was disappointed when they walked through the doors.”
Players smiled and shook their heads after entering the glass doors to the building. Once inside, the Packers got down to work with a fast-paced but relatively-quiet two-hour workout.
McCarthy sought to simulate a normal Wednesday practice by focusing on base packages, third-down situations and specific special teams scenarios. The session was roughly 25 minutes shorter than a usual Wednesday practice because the team did its preliminary work at the hotel (the Omni Mandalay in Las Colinas) before busing to Southern Methodist University, where the players changed into their practice gear for the short ride to Highland Park High.
“The guys are fresh, they’re ready,” McCarthy said afterward. “I want to keep the risk for injury low leading up to the game, which is why we shortened some things today. But it was good to get back in pads. The guys were flying around; they were banging pretty good. I feel very good about the quality of work, particularly up front. I did not put the pads on them last week because we were coming off a situation where we had played five must-win games in a row, and our linemen were beat up. I wanted to make sure I gave them a chance to get back, and it definitely paid off today.”
The Packers listed only four players on the injury report: tackle Chad Clifton (knees), guard Jason Spitz (calf) and linebacker Erik Walden (ankle) were limited, and linebacker Frank Zombo was a full participant. The only one who bears watching for Sunday in Walden, a starter who worked primarily with the second team Wednesday.
“How Erik responds to this practice will be big,” McCarthy said. “He practiced and took reps in every team drill. That was the high end of what we were going to try to give him today. It’ll be great if he feels good tomorrow.
“Frank looks good. I wanted to get him as much padded work as possible. It seems like Dec. 12th is the last time he’s been in pads. We even got him a bunch of reps on special teams, too.”
Kicker Mason Crosby and punter Tim Masthay worked out at Cowboys Stadium beforehand and could do so again this week. Meantime, the team will return to Highland Park High on Thursday and Friday.