A quick overview of three storylines that could help determine the outcome of Sunday afternoon's showdown between the Green Bay Packers and the Dallas Cowboys.
GREEN BAY - After nearly a full week off, the Green Bay Packers returned to practice Wednesday for the first time since defeating the Chicago Bears last Thursday. And as usual, the early theme for the week focuses on who is healthy after a nasty spate of injuries.
“I think the mini-bye week has helped everybody,” coach Mike McCarthy said at his Wednesday news conference. “I know the conversations that I’ve had, everybody feels good and you really haven’t felt like you practiced in a couple weeks actually because we were in a walk-through mode there on Tuesday (before the Bears game) and very limited on Wednesday before the Chicago game. So really our focus is getting back to practice, getting back to a seven-day routine.
“The importance of the Wednesday practice, the speed, and just the organization and the details of the look teams, that’s the type of stuff that we’ve been talking about. Guys did feel good. There’s a lot of energy. You could feel it yesterday. I thought yesterday was an excellent day, a bonus day to get started on the Cowboys and I’m looking forward to practice today.”
McCarthy extended his optimism about wide receiver Davante Adams, who left the win over the Bears on a stretcher and was taken to a local hospital following a vicious hit. Adams remains in the concussion protocol, but McCarthy was pleased with his progress given the unsavory imagery of the collision.
Adams will continue moving through the concussion protocol by working with the rehab group Wednesday and seeing how he responds.
“The most important thing is Davante is healthy,” McCarthy said. “And speaking to him earlier today, he feels great and he just wants to get back to playing football.
“Everybody’s going to go down to practice and hopefully we’ll have good news when we come out of practice. The goal is to get everybody out there in a limited fashion, and we’ll go from there. … As far as the injured guys, they’ve all been through the weight room, they’ve worked with the trainers and everybody’s progressing forward. This will be our first chance to really get those guys on the field, so we’ll see how it goes.”
Here are a few more thoughts from McCarthy:
(On the reduced suspension for Bears inside linebacker Danny Trevathan) “Discipline action in this league, there’s a process that’s in existence for quite some time and I’m comfortable with the process and understand the decision.”
(On cornerback Damarious Randall) “As far as getting ready for football games, we’re going about it like we always have. Damarious Randall’s situation is, it’s internal, it’s been addressed and we’re moving forward. But as far as everybody on our 53-man roster, we’re focused on beating Dallas. So whatever it takes to beat Dallas, that is my focus."
(On cornerback Josh Hawkins filling in for Randall against the Bears) "I thought he played well on defense. He's got too many penalties on special teams but he's doing a lot of good things. Josh has made a big jump from last year. Really proud with his progress and more importantly his attitude and approach. He did some good things against Chicago that he can build off of, but that's what you look for. You look for guys that when they get an opportunity to take advantage of it. He did that on defense last week."
(On the uncertain status of Dallas running back Ezekiel Elliott’s legal situation) “I mean, I don’t know where it’s at, frankly. I haven’t watched it (play out). It doesn’t factor in. Whatever’s on video, that’s what we’re preparing for.”
(On the young running backs) “I feel like I know all three of the young guys as far as how we want to play them. I think it’s important … really, the attempts in the run game is what you’d like to have more of in the preseason. I mean, we’ve done a good job of that in the past. So, I mean, that’s just being honest. We also practice every day. Jamaal (Williams) and Ty (Montgomery), they’re going to have to go through the process with the medical staff so I’m not even exactly sure how that’s going to shake out.
“But Aaron (Jones) did some really good things. You just look at the goal line run that he had, I mean, he does a jump-cut and he doesn’t lose stride, that’s what you’re looking for. Stayed right in the same time clock as the run pattern and did a nice job of washing the one-technique by. So you know, I feel like I understand what their strengths are, but it’s matching that with how we’re going to play the game, how you want to run block those guys. I mean, the defensive line is the strength of their defense.”