With Reggie McKenzie running the Oakland Raiders, there’s a good chance someone with ties to the Green Bay Packers will be the next Raiders coach.
Before McKenzie was hired as the Raiders’ general manager last week, he never had worked in the personnel department of another NFL team. Though he played for the Raiders, Cardinals and 49ers, he had been with the Packers since 1994.
So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that at least two members of the Packers’ coaching staff are reportedly on McKenzie’s list of candidates. Linebackers coach/assistant head coach Winston Moss was mentioned as a candidate as soon as McKenzie fired Hue Jackson. Now, it appears defensive coordinator Dom Capers could be in the mix. NFL Network reported Friday that Capers is on McKenzie’s short list.
The same report said McKenzie was scheduled to interview Todd Bowles, who finished the season as the Miami Dolphins’ interim coach.
Capers, 61, has held two NFL head-coaching jobs, both with expansion teams. He was the first coach of the Carolina Panthers (1995-98) and the Houston Texans (2001-05). In 1996, he led the Panthers to a 12-4 record and a berth in the NFC championship game, where they lost to the Packers.
“I’ve said in the past that the situation would have to be right for me,” Capers said. “I don’t know much about that situation, so I haven’t been focused on it, so it would be hard for me to comment.”
The 46-year-old Moss, who like McKenzie played for the Raiders, interviewed for the Raiders’ head-coaching job in 2009. Moss also interviewed for the St. Louis Rams’ job in the same offseason. He has expressed a desire to be a head coach some day but wouldn’t entertain those thoughts two days before the Packers’ NFC divisional playoff game against the New York Giants.
“My focus right now is with the playoff game and with the Giants,” Moss said. “That’s all I can think about. I owe the players, I owe the organization, I owe coach (Mike) McCarthy my total focus, and I won’t deviate off that path. At the appropriate time, that can be discussed. But right now, it’s not the time.”
NFL rules prohibit Capers and Moss from interviewing before the Packers’ season ends.
Though his season has been anything but normal, Chad Clifton’s absence from Friday’s practice was part of his normal routine.
Even when healthy, Clifton usually would sit out of the final practice of the week.
The Packers stuck to that even though Clifton has played just one quarter of one game since Oct. 9 because of a torn hamstring and a subsequent back injury that he sustained during his rehabilitation work.
“He practiced Wednesday and Thursday (and was) off on Friday,” McCarthy said. “He looks ready to go. I thought he looked better Thursday than he did Wednesday. I would be surprised if we walk in here (Saturday) and he’s not ready to go.”
Listed as probable on the injury report, Clifton, 35, is expected to return to his starting left tackle position against the Giants. He started the regular-season finale against Detroit and played 25 snaps.
Other than Clifton, the only two players to miss practice were a pair of backups — linebacker Robert Francois and guard Evan Dietrich-Smith.
Francois had been a limited participant in the first two practices of the week because of a hamstring injury. He was listed as doubtful. Francois started against the Giants in place of injured starter A.J. Hawk.
Dietrich-Smith was added to the injury report because of an illness but was listed as probable.
Everyone else on the Packers’ injury report was probable.
The Giants ruled out one player, linebacker Mark Herzlich (ankle). Everyone else on their injury report was listed as probable, including running backs Ahmad Bradshaw (foot/back) and D.J. Ware (concussion), cornerbacks Aaron Ross (concussion) and Corey Webster (hamstring) and defensive end Osi Umenyiora (ankle/knee).
The Packers remained indoors for Friday’s 90-minute practice, but McCarthy said he was able to simulate weather conditions inside The Don Hutson Center.
“We broke a record today; we were able to get the Hutson Center below 25 degrees,” McCarthy said.
McCarthy said he preferred to stick to his regular Friday practice schedule, which requires them to practice inside because of the practice field configurations.
“The format for Friday practices, it doesn’t work with the 40-yard field,” McCarthy said.
As players spoke to reporters after Friday’s practice, many were getting dressed to attend the funeral of Michael Philbin, the 21-year-old son of Packers offensive coordinator Joe Philbin. Michael Philbin was found dead on Monday, when his body was recovered from the Fox River in Oshkosh.
“It’s a challenge, no question about it,” McCarthy said of the emotions of this week. “As we talked as a team Wednesday, it’s important to separate your professional and your personal life. Sometimes it’s not possible. We’ve managed it. … We’ll be there for the Philbin family not only today but long into the future.”
— firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @RobDemovsky.