Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy addressed the media this afternoon and kicked off the NFC North Championship and holiday week with disconcerting news about Clay Matthews. When recording the 50th sack of his Packer career Sunday, bringing Ben Roethlisberger down, he re-injured his thumb, first broken against Detroit October 6. McCarthy said the evaluation process continues but the training staff, "didn't feel very good" about the injury.
As for Aaron Rodgers, McCarthy said it's the same deal. He, along with General Manager Ted Thompson, team physician Dr. Pat McKenzie and the patient, will continue gathering information and holding conversations about Rodgers returning to the field. McCarthy did say he wants a decision "sooner, rather than later." He knows how frustrated Rodgers is and he doesn't want to string out the deliberation until Friday as was the case the past couple of weeks since he returned to limited practice. Either he's well enough to return or he wants to let the team know as soon as possible who the starter will be in the regular season finale against the Bears in Chicago which, thanks to the Philadelphia Eagles, will be for the NFC North Division crown.
McCarthy said if you heard his post-game speech after Sunday's 38-31 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, you would have believed the season was over. McCarthy said he was unaware of Detroit losing in overtime to the Giants and of course Sunday night, the Bears were blown out by the Eagles 54-11, setting up the winner take all game at Solider Field. Asked if he was surprised that after all the team's been through they are one game away from the playoffs, McCarthy said sure, but nothing amazes him anymore and he seems to think the Pack is just getting started. "That's what I'm selling," he said, "I hope they're (players) buying."
About the final sequence against the Steelers, McCarthy said the team was lined up and ready to snap after the false start penalty and :10 runoff but referee Carl Cheffers and his umpire were not very coordinated at getting the ball deemed ready to play and having the clock start again. McCarthy said there's no way a three step drop pass as was called takes 10 seconds, the team average get off time is 1.7. That doesn't discount the two, horrible pre-snap penalties against Nick Perry which turned a field goal into a touchdown and T.J.Lang's false start which put the offense behind the final play eight-ball. "Critical errors", McCarthy said that decided the outcome.
Two more injury notes: Running back Eddie Lacy's ankle remains sore as it has been for a couple of weeks. The team doesn't have any on field work planned until Thursday which should help. McCarthy also said Randall Cobb will have more on his practice plate come Thursday.
The NFL has moved the kickoff time of Sunday's showdown in Chicago from 12:00 PM to 3:25 PM.
McCarthy is certainly no scrooge. He'll have the team come in Tuesday afternoon for the game plan introduction and preliminary walk through but the entire franchise will be getting Christmas day off. He said it's important for everyone to have family time on the holiday. With an experienced coaching staff that got a head start on the all too familiar division rival last week, the team will have no problem coming back in on Thursday to finish the game preparation.