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Cold Practice Conditions Adapt Players To Game Environment

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Cold Practice Conditions Adapt Players To Game Environment

Last time the Green Bay Packers took on the Chicago Bears in Week 17 of the regular season, they didn't exactly impress with the basic fundamentals of catching and hanging onto the football.

Greg Jennings dropped what could have been long touchdown pass, James Jones dropped a sure first down, Donald Driver fumbled, Aaron Rodgers and Brandon Jackson failed to execute that fake-quarterback-sneak-then-lateral play on a day the Packers won 10-3.

With another cold-weather game on tap for Sunday at the NFC Championship game in Chicago, Packers head coach Mike McCarthy has his team preparing in a similar atmosphere this week.

On Wednesday the team practiced outside on Ray Nitschke Field. On Thursday and Friday they practiced inside the Don Hutson Center with the doors open. The purpose?

"Handling the football," said McCarthy yesterday. "It was 29 degrees in there, so it's very similar to what we're going to play in in Chicago on Sunday, and it's supposed to be 18, 19, 20 degrees down there.

"Practiced outside yesterday, and we just have limited space outside, so some of our team drills are not exactly what you're looking for to go outside. But they open up the doors and it really helps particularly the skill positions handle the football."

Being a particularly cold day in Wisconsin on Friday, it got down 18 degrees inside the Hutson Center.

Similar conditions are expected in Chicago on Sunday with a high of 21 degrees predicted and winds from eight to 10 mph, according to The Weather Channel, which isn't dissimilar from the conditions they played on Jan. 2 in Green Bay when it was 19 degrees with 14 mph winds.

"We struggled catching the football particularly in that game," said offensive coordinator Joe Philbin. "I think we had four drops."

Did the cold weather have anything to do with the drops? It's hard to say. Drops happen when 80 degrees and sunny as well as when it's -20 and freezing.

All things being equal, Rodgers would rather it be warm when he practices, though he's bought into the system implemented by Mike McCarthy.

"I kind of like practicing indoors in the winter," said Rodgers. "Mike created that outdoor area where we can practice outdoors, and as much as I like to fight it sometimes, it really probably does help us to be able to practice in that weather in December and now in January, as well."

Jones, who's had his fair share of drops this season, also agrees with the routine.

"You know the elements are going to be cold in Chicago, and we've got to deal with it," said Jones. "We just want to make sure we're all on page with the frozen ball and all that good stuff, so we'll be ready."

The argument could be made that the practice conditions are so cold that the players are thinking more about their warmth, which may detract from their focus on the task at hand. But rookie running back James Starks debunked that myth, at least from a personal standpoint.

"It was cold," said Starks. "But, you know, after practicing in it, adrenaline rushing and things like that, you warm up fast. You start moving around, and it's not really a factor for me."

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (14) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

hyperRevue's picture

Unless they're practicing in the parking lot, I'm not sure how much good it'll do.

Matheson168's picture

Seems to me the score was 10-3...

Ruppert's picture

I'm a proponent of practicing outside, and I'm glad they did on Wednesday. But it got up to maybe 5 above zero today in Green Bay, and that doesn't even factor in the wind. Given that, I have no problem with opening up the doors and staying in. I thought I read somewhere it got down to 19 inside the Hutson center today. They're calling for 22 on Sunday.

Lynn Dickey 12's picture

I agree. Back in the NFCC vs. NYG in '08 McCarthy kept them inside while Coughlin had them outside.

We all know how that turned out.

sammer's picture

It makes sense to practice in conditions similar to those you're going to play in, I guess. But I'm not buying this whole "you can't pass when it's cold" argument. I was at the Giants game freezing my ass off, but the offense was lighting it up on the field. As long as it isn't too windy, throwing and catching shouldn't be too much of an issue.

Don't get me wrong - the offense will be challenged on Sunday. But I think that will have more to do with Julius Peppers and Brian Urlacher than with the weather.

packsmack25's picture

Jesus. The field, the weather, all of that is irrelevant. The Packers are going to beat the shit out of Chicago. They are the better team. Period.

Lynn Dickey 12's picture

Amen, brother.

FITZCORE1252's picture

Yessir. Other than ST's I see no area where we do not have a decisive advantage. Could be close, could get ugly... either way, we get awarded the Halas on duh bares 50 AND IT WILL BE FUCKING SWEET.


FITZCORE1252's picture

Just watched Dom's presser. Been curious for quite awhile, the time is now... Does that genius wear a hair piece? Anybody know?


Ruppert's picture

I believe Dom's dome has a straight comb-over.

I officially declared a household holiday this afternoon, extending holiday privileges straight through Sunday evening. The bar was indeed opened at 4pm today. I told my wife I'm pretty much going to have a beer in my hand between now and this time Sunday.

And it's not whether we "will not" lose. We "can not" lose. I don't mean that as a guarantee. I mean that as a simple statement that we absolutely, positively, cannot lose to the Bears in an NFC Championship game, this year or any other. We cannot let it happen.

FITZCORE1252's picture

We are kindred spirits Ruppert. Seriously. Though I did just watch a thing on John Wayne Gacy, and I bet all his neighbors thought he was cool too. So as far as Liking the Packers and beer, we're on the same page. If for some reason you have 30+ people dead in a crawl space, I'm not down with that. Not saying you do, just saying... lol. Enjoy Sunday guy, history! And that looks like a dome-piece to me, but if it's a comb-over, who cares. As long as the guy releases the hounds Sunday he could be sportin a 60 year old faux-hawk and I don't give 2 shits. BEAT-THE-BARES (may I Nagler?)... P-E-R-I-O-D


Ruppert's picture

No stiffs in the crawlspace. I'm a pretty normal cat, aside from being a Packers fan and religious homebrewer. My wife and I both have Bachelors Degrees. I have a 7-year old boy. It just so happens that I grew up on a farm in Wisco in a Packers family. I'm mostly German, and I happen to hold that heritage and its beer-drinking/beermaking history in high esteem.

In fact, I think you and I might have swapped Packers blog comments before. I used to post on the JSonline blogs 2 and 3 years ago under "Ouroboros." I seem to recall a Fitzcore back then. I assume that was you. I gave those blogs up when I migrated over here.

NickGBP's picture

Definitely a hair piece. It's not a comb-over.

It looks artificially wiry and flat. Whatever works for him though. He's gotta cover all that knowledge in his dome I guess!

bleedsgreen's picture

Being a Packer means loving the worst elements that the United States offers (well, 'ceptin Alaska).

Embrace that chill! Wisconsin=Packers=JanuaryColdPain.

This Is Who We Are. More than any other team, including Chicago.

Grab the ring, boys.

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"A school without football is in danger of deteriorating into a medieval study hall. "
"I firmly believe that any man’s finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear, is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle – victorious."
"The Bears still suck!"