|Packers regain momentum, but remain on guard with O-line injuries|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 31 December 2007 14:01|
Well, almost perfect.
Yes, the Packers were able to rest several key players in their regular-season finale and erase memories of the previous week's rough loss in blustery conditions at Chicago. But two of their top three guards left Sunday's game with injuries, and the availability of Jason Spitz and Junius Coston is in doubt for Green Bay's first playoff game Jan. 12.
``I don't think it could have played out much better, outside of the injuries,'' Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Monday.
McCarthy said the players corrected some of the fundamental mistakes they made against Chicago, allowing them to go into the playoffs with more momentum and confidence.
``It was an excellent finish to the regular season,'' McCarthy said. ``We accomplished everything from that standpoint that we were looking to accomplish.''
But McCarthy and the Packers could have done without the injuries at guard, which present yet another complication at what has been a tricky position all season.
The team's best guard, Spitz, is out indefinitely with a strained quadriceps. McCarthy said he was hopeful Spitz could play in the first playoff game but said the injury needed further evaluation. He also said Coston could be out ``a couple'' weeks because of the calf he strained against the Lions.
Spitz, a third-round draft pick out of Louisville last year, has established himself as the starting right guard. Coston, a third-year player, has been alternating with 2006 second-round pick Daryn Colledge at left guard.
If Coston can't play in the first playoff game, Colledge will replace him.
But if both Spitz and Coston were to sit out, the Packers would have to dig deeper into their bench and use a player with far less game experience - second-year player Tony Moll or rookie Allen Barbre.
``We'll just have to make plans with what we have,'' offensive coordinator Joe Philbin said. ``If they're not available, we'll have to go to plan B and C and see where it takes us.''
The injuries come at a time when the Packers had hoped to be settling on a starter at left guard instead of continuing to rotate Coston and Colledge.
``I think all of us offensively on the staff agree that that's probably not the ideal situation in terms of rotating guys through,'' Philbin said.
Coston said after Sunday's game he was frustrated that both he and Spitz got injured in a game where the Packers were going out of their way to avoid injuries.
``It's definitely not what we planned,'' said Coston, who also has been bothered by an ankle injury for much of the season. ``We planned the complete opposite. But we're both going to try to get back, and we'll see.''
Center Scott Wells is hoping the Packers' first-round bye in the playoffs will give Spitz and Coston enough time to heal.
``Fortunately for us, we've got time,'' Wells said. ``Hopefully they're just bruises and we're just being very precautious - if 'precautious' is even a word. I might've just made it up. Hopefully it's nothing, but we have time to heal up.''
McCarthy gave the players Monday off, and the team will not practice again until Friday.
Coaches already are preparing for potential playoff opponents; by noon Monday, they had finished looking at Seattle and were moving on to Tampa Bay. By the end of the week, they also will have done some preparation for the New York Giants and Washington.
Players, meanwhile, are being asked to stick to a workout schedule during their four days off but are free to go home - as long as they come back ready for practices in pads on Friday and Saturday.
``The energy will really show up in Friday's practice,'' McCarthy said. ``I have no problem if they stay here or go home.''
Defensive end Aaron Kampman, one of several Packers stars who was held out of Sunday's game, said the time off is a welcome break.
``It doesn't hurt to get some days off, kind of get your mind off things and come back with a real sharp ax, so to speak, so you can cut more wood rather than being a little dull,'' Kampman said. ``This really makes a big difference for our team.''