Aaron Nagler talks about the latest Packers-Cowboys news and takes questions from readers on Facebook Live. (Oct. 5, 2017)
GREEN BAY - In Green Bay Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers’ scheme this season, Morgan Burnett has played inside linebacker, nickel cornerback and dime cornerback.
So, when Burnett referred to himself as a safety when answering a question in the locker room Thursday, a reporter asked, “Are you a safety?”
“I’m definitely a safety,” he said.
Burnett has been a little bit of a quarterback, too, among all his other duties. He is wearing a radio receiver in his helmet that allows the coaches to relay the play call to him. He then lets everyone else know what the call is.
In the past, an inside linebacker handled those duties.
“When they first presented it to me, I didn’t know what to expect,” Burnett said. “Then (Capers) told me he did it before with one of his players back with the (Pittsburgh) Steelers and that player happened to be (Packers safeties coach) Darren Perry.
“I was like, ‘All right, that’s pretty cool then.’”
Burnett said he has not had any issues either with getting the calls from the coaches or communicating them to his teammates. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers also receives communication through his helmet when the offense is on the field, and there have been times he has had to get the call through sideline signals.
Burnett said the same safeguard is in place on defense.
“You have to prepare for all types of situations in the game, so we practice for that situation if something were to happen.”
If Burnett comes out of the game, another player can have the receiver inserted into his helmet.
Turning up the heat: Coach Mike McCarthy did not sound like someone who was going to play Week 5 of the NFL schedule the way he had Weeks 1-4.
In his Thursday news conference, McCarthy made it seem like he won’t be holding anything back Sunday in Dallas.
“At the end of the day, the most important thing is beating the Cowboys,” McCarthy said before practice. “We're going to stress our team a little more than we probably have the first couple weeks because of our injuries. We're going to go down and we're going to have a hell of a practice today.
“So we need to improve and that puts us in position to win the game Sunday. That's the only way I know how to do it.”
Actually, McCarthy has had to make some concessions on both offense and defense because of key injuries, none more crucial than the ones to tackles David Bakhtiari and Bryan Bulaga.
However, the only player who missed or was knocked out of the Chicago game last Thursday night who did not practice Wednesday and Thursday was linebacker Joe Thomas.
Receiver Davante Adams (concussion), Mike Daniels (hip), Bakhtiari and Bulaga were in pads Thursday and listed as limited participants. Running back Ty Montgomery (ribs) was not present during the portion of practice open to the media but was also listed as limited.
Cornerback Davon House (thigh) and linebacker Nick Perry (hand) were upgraded to full participants.
McCarthy said he expects the club on Perry’s injured hand to get smaller every week.
For the Cowboys, linebacker Sean Lee (hamstring) and defensive tackle Stephen Paea (knee) did not practice for a second straight day. Left tackle Tyron Smith (back) went from limited Wednesday to did not participate Thursday.
Back-sliding: Cornerback Josh Hawkins may be the fastest player on the team and that has made him an ideal candidate to be a gunner on punt coverage and a hold-up guy on punt returns.
Coach Ron Zook would like to continue to use him there, but McCarthy made it clear that he wasn’t happy with a block-in-the-back penalty Hawkins incurred against the Bears last week.
It’s the only penalty Hawkins has, but he committed several in the preseason and that might be what has McCarthy concerned. Hawkins said there isn’t a lot he can do to avoid the penalty
“You just have to play smart,” Hawkins said. “Sometimes when those penalties occur you’re just playing hard and fast. You don’t mean to do it, it just kind of happens.
“You can’t think about it. You just have to try not to block in the back.”
Pick-me-up: The Packers were penalized for offensive pass interference on two key plays against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 2, prompting McCarthy and his staff to submit them to the league for review.
The first wiped away a 36-yard completion to wideout Randall Cobb when tight end Martellus Bennett was flagged late in the first half. The second erased a touchdown pass to Cobb.
McCarthy wouldn't share the league's findings.
“That’s internal information,’’ McCarthy said. “I think it’s a good process. I know we benefit from it. I use it to coach off of in the meetings and reinforce the proper fundamentals and techniques we need to use, so hey, if you’re stretching patterns (with) what’s getting called and what’s not getting called, we break down the officiating crew just like we break down the opponent. It’s part of competing and part of living in this league."
Michael Cohen of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel contributed.