Frigid practice offers preview for Packers-Bears

Michael Cohen
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
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Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams (17) recovers an onside kick against Houston Texans wide receiver Keith Mumphery (12) late in the fourth quarter as the Green Bay Packers host the Houston Texans on Sunday, December 4, 2016, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis. The Packers defeated the Texans 21-13.
Adam Wesley/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

GREEN BAY — The doors to the Don Hutson Center were propped open Thursday, even as temperatures lingered in the single digits and wind chills dipped into the negative. This is how the Green Bay Packers began their practice.

Then, when they completed their individual drills and walk-through periods, the Packers worked outside as gusts of wind penetrated any amount of clothing. It was, quite simply, abominable.

"It was brutal," wide receiver Davante Adams said. "It was pretty bad today. But I mean it will hopefully help us out a little bit come game time, getting a little acclimated I guess. ... Doors were open when we were inside, so it was still pretty cold. I think inside it was like 7 and -14 outside with the wind. It was pretty bad."

As kicker Mason Crosby and punter Jacob Schum discussed the agony of applying their feet to cold-weather footballs — Crosby said it's like kicking a car tire — Adams went through the challenge of catching said car tires. Of all the weather scenarios the Packers will face, Sunday's forecast in Chicago appears the most daunting. Temperatures will hover around zero; wind chills will make it feel 20 or 30 degrees colder.

If there's a silver lining for a game that might set records, it's that the Packers have played in the throes of winter for their last two games. There were several inches of snow against the Houston Texans and frigid cold against the Seattle Seahawks. Both were played at Lambeau Field; both times the Packers won.

"Practice makes you getting a little bit used to dealing with catching the ball in the cold," Adams said. "I don’t know about (practice makes) perfect, but it will definitely help us out. Obviously there’s a method to the madness.

"At some point you kind of — the nose starts freezing, your face, and then when it gets windy is when it starts cutting through the sleeves and everything. I never wore sleeves in a game before, so looking to keep that going for this game. But we’ll be able to get a full assessment in warm-ups — or I don’t know if you can call it warm-ups for what we’re going to be dealing with out there. Whatever it is, we’ll be ready."

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Much like the choices players have for poor-weather cleats, Adams said there are a number of different options for gloves. Certain gloves are designed with more insulation to combat the cold. There are also pairs that reduce the sting of football against hand.

"It’s like punching your car tire," Adams said with a nod to Crosby. "It’s bad. ... It gets to the point where you can’t feel your hands. Does it hurt? You don’t even know. It’s kind of in the middle. The more reps we get being outside, the better.

"It’s kind of like the rain as far as trusting catching the ball, you know what I mean? When it’s slippery you’re like, ‘OK, am I squeezing?’ Because muscle memory like you said, you get the ball in between (your hands) and you want to squeeze the fat of the ball so you’re going to catch it in the middle. But when it’s raining you squeeze different because you try to squeeze earlier."

The more they practice, the better they'll be, according to wide receivers coach Luke Getsy. But even professionals don't like being out in the cold.

"There’s no other way to simulate that other than being in it, for sure," Getsy said. "Doing it last week before going into this past game helped. Hopefully it helps again."

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