Packers, Vikings' injuries lead to unusual measures for McCarthy

Green & Gold 1-Minute Drill/Wis. Morning News

 

Injuries run rampant across the NFL. It's a way of life in the league.

It also makes you do unusual things sometimes in your preparation, like it is with the Packers for their showdown in Minnesota on Sunday (10 a.m. on 620 WTMJ and your desktop computer, Second Screen on WTMJ Mobile).

Coach Mike McCarthy and his team is trying to prepare for the potential of one of two starting quarterbacks - incumbent but injured starter Sam Bradford (knee) and healthy backup Case Keenum, who led Minnesota with a 17-21, 140 yard performance leading three scoring drives in Minnesota's 20-17 win at the Chicago Bears on Monday.

"You really prepare for both. You always have to, especially when you have a starter that's out and a No. 2 that is playing," said McCarthy on WTMJ's "Wisconsin's Morning News."

"I think if Sam didn't practice yesterday, I think it pretty much points to the direction they're going. You saw Monday night against Chicago, it was definitely bothering him."

Then, there are Green Bay's own injuries. The Packers have been riddled with at least 10 players on the mid-week injury lists since Week 2. They hope to get healthier, since they've had to go to seemingly unusual methods to make sure they can practice.

"The focus is getting the team to practice the right way. Frankly, being healthy helps that, because you don't have a bunch of defensive linemen playing offensive line, a bunch of guys playing different positions during the course of practice," said McCarthy.

He has shepherded his team past major injury issues many times in the eight consecutive years the Packers have made the playoffs - the second-longest streak in NFL history. Partially, that has been due to players stepping up when others are injured.

One example: Aaron Jones Sunday against Dallas filling in for the injured Ty Montgomery (ribs, though he practiced Wednesday).

"You have to find ways to win games early in the season. That's each and every year. It's a young man's league. There is a lot of transition...injury this year, but the guys have done a good job getting opportunities," said McCarthy.

Of course, it helps to have No. 12 - the NFC's offensive player of the week - in the backfield, too.

Aaron Rodgers has played like an MVP for nearly all of the 300-plus minutes of Packers football so far this season. He's 5th in passing (104.1 passer rating) and has led his teams to two last-minute drives to tie or win games in the last 17 seconds of regulation (Sept. 24 vs. Cincinnati, Oct. 8 at Dallas), along with an overtime drive to beat the Bengals.

McCarthy credits Rodgers' calm under pressure during the two-minute drill.

"That's a big part of playing the position. He obviously plays it at the highest level," said McCarthy.

"Aaron has a tremendous amount of time invested in the two-minute drill. You can see his confidence when he gets under center at that time."

Additionally, both the coach and quarterback make it a point to succeed on the first play of a two-minute drill.

"You make sure you focus on the first play production. As long as you have time and downs, you have a chance to get it done. I thought the execution of the two-minute drill, especially Aaron's key to that, was tremendous."

Listen to McCarthy's full conversation below with Gene Mueller, Jane Matenaer and Doug Russell on Wisconsin's Morning News.

 

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