Packers notes: Joe Philbin reflects on finishing out season as interim coach

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Green Bay Packers head coach Joe Philbin talks to Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy after the Bears beat the Packers at Soldier Field on Sunday, December 16, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois.

GREEN BAY – Nearly four weeks ago, an emotional Joe Philbin took to the podium inside the Lambeau Field media auditorium and was asked what the next month or so would be like as he guided the Green Bay Packers to the end of the season after replacing his good friend Mike McCarthy as interim head coach.

Now, with a couple days left in that tenure — Philbin is still considered a candidate to be the full-time head coach — Philbin took a moment Friday to reflect on that time.

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“Hey, look, to represent this organization as the interim head coach is an honor,” Philbin said. “To lead this staff and group of players has been a lot of fun. It’s certainly been a privilege. For however longer it lasts, the next two days…again, I told the guys that this morning. They came to report, a lot of the veterans, 257 days ago. It was April 16 and that’s really when this journey began. Those days are gone. We’re not going to undo any of those days, but the next three days — what we do today, what we do tomorrow, what we do on Sunday — still matters.

“Like I’ve said before, you take advantage of the opportunities that you have and you do the best you can. Then you can go to bed at night and deal with whatever happens. I think if you approach it that way, whatever happens will happen and you’ll be prepared for it and you’ll deal with it and you’ll move forward. If you like football and you like coaching, coaching for the Green Bay Packers is a pretty good deal.”

Adams questionable for Lions

If the Packers were to have practiced Friday, wide receiver Davante Adams still would have missed the session due to a knee injury. Philbin said Saturday’s practice would be the key marker for Adams, so he is considered questionable for Sunday’s season finale against Detroit.

Adams is in line to set a franchise record for receptions in a season if he plays.

Jason Spriggs and Equanimeous St. Brown are doubtful as they are still recovering from concussions. Spriggs, who suffered from symptoms after the game against Chicago, practiced on a limited basis Thursday but would not have practiced Friday. Part of the concussion protocol is the resumption of physical activity and progressing through that, and the backup tackle likely needs more time to be cleared for play. St. Brown took a vicious hit to the head against the New York Jets and immediately left the game. He has not practiced.

Joining Adams as questionable for the Lions game are cornerback Jaire Alexander (groin), left tackle David Bakhtiari (hip flexor), defensive lineman Fadol Brown (toe), guard Lucas Patrick (abdomen), safety Kentrell Brice (ankle/not injury related) and guard Lane Taylor (knee). Taken off the injury report were tackle Bryan Bulaga, wide receiver Randall Cobb, tight end Jimmy Graham, linebacker Clay Matthews and wide receiver Jake Kumerow.

Morrison hasn’t looked too far ahead

Acquired on Aug. 26 from Indianapolis, linebacker Antonio Morrison enters his final regular-season game having played 271 defensive snaps for the Packers, sixth among linebackers and only 27.3 percent of the team’s total defensive snaps.

More an inside linebacker in a base 3-4, the third-year player has seen his snap counts and production swing wildly in defensive coordinator Mike Pettine’s matchup-based scheme. Morrison didn’t play at all against the Los Angeles Rams on Oct. 28, then played a season-high 46 snaps at Minnesota four weeks later.

Despite his varied play time, he is tied for eighth on the team in total tackles with 41, and tied for seventh with three tackles for loss. He also has one sack.

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“I didn’t contribute as best I could’ve,” he said. “We did a lot of one-linebacker stuff, matching personnel, so my main role is in a backup role. Mainly, helping Blake (Martinez), helping with the schemes, helping with what I’m seeing that maybe he’s not seeing. I’m definitely all in. From what y’all see, I’m not out here as much. That has to do with me as well. Blake is a good player. That’s it.”

The 24-year-old has one year left on his rookie contract from Indianapolis, where he was drafted in the fourth round. He is owed $720,000 in 2019, but if he’s released the Packers would not carry any dead money. Despite the impending head-coaching change, and perhaps a trickle-down change through the defensive scheme that could impact him, Morrison said he hasn’t thought beyond the week ahead.

“No, I’m not one of them (who thinks about it),” he said. “I’m just thinking about winning our games and whatever role and my job was during the games. That’s what I was focused on. I love football, man. Wherever that is. I’m going to train and whatever happens, that’s what it is. You feel me? I’m not hoping, looking, nothing. I’m going to train and whatever it is, that’s what it is.”

Appreciation for Clark

Defensive tackle Kenny Clark was presented with the 2018 Tom Mulhern Stand-Up Guy Award by the Green Bay chapter of the Pro Football Writers Association.

The award is given to a player for his professionalism in helping pro football writers do their jobs covering the team.

“A lot of it is trying to connect with the fans, and just trying to be a good guy all-around,” Clark said. “You guys come and talk to me, I know you guys have a job to do, and it’s my job to talk. I’ve got to do my job, be serviceable.”

The award is named in memory of Tom Mulhern, who covered the Packers for the Wisconsin State Journal, the Green Bay Press-Gazette, the Milwaukee Sentinel and Appleton Post-Crescent and State Journal from 1986-1998. Mulhern died in October 2014 at age 56.

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