Senior writer jclombardi highlights Packers headlines.
Packers get back to work: The Packers enter Sunday’s game at Minnesota with a chance to bury quarterback Brett Favre and the struggling Vikings (3-6) in the division while also being in the thick of the race for the NFC’s top spot in the wide-open conference. The Packers are tied with the Chicago Bears (6-3) atop the NFC North, but only Atlanta (7-2) has a better record in the NFC. The NFC East-leading New York Giants, New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Philadelphia Eagles are all 6-3. It should help that the Packers are healthier than they’ve been all season. They could have their full 53-man roster to choose from when making game-day decisions Sunday. The only players who did not practice Monday were defensive end Pickett (ankle), outside linebacker Matthews (hamstring/shin), tight end Quarless (shoulder) and wide receiver Driver (quadriceps), although McCarthy said Driver was excused for a personal matter. Cornerback/kickoff returner Lee (ankle) was back at practice, as were left tackle Clifton (hamstring/knee), left guard Colledge (back), safety Collins (knee), defensive end Jenkins (calf), halfback Nance (ankle), quarterback Rodgers (ankle) and cornerback Woodson (toe).
Packers are polar opposites of sinking Vikings–Vikings quarterback Brett Favre talks with coach Brad Childress on the sideline during a game on Oct. 31. Favre has gone through a trying season, both on the field and off: There was some pep in their step as the Green Bay Packers returned to practice Monday following their bye week. Coming off three straight victories, rested and healthier than they’ve been in weeks, the Packers (6-3) control their destiny in the NFC North and are looking forward to playing meaningful games in cold weather. “There’s nothing like November and December football,” said coach Mike McCarthy. “I think this is what it’s all about. This is what you come together in March and prepare for. “Everything we want to accomplish is right in front of us.” The Minnesota Vikings, picked by many to win the NFC North, are 3-6 and coming off a dispiriting 27-13 loss to the Chicago Bears. They are a team in turmoil, with an embattled coach in Brad Childress, a beat-up quarterback in Brett Favre and a locker room filled with dissension and doubt. Just about nothing has gone right for the Vikings, most notably a failed four-game experiment with malcontent receiver Moss.
No country for old men: The player sent the message shortly after the news broke, and it likely summed up the thoughts of more than a few of Al Harris’ suddenly ex-teammates. “Wow,” the player wrote after learning that the 35-year-old Harris, a two-time Pro Bowl cornerback and the fourth-longest tenured player on the Packers’ 53-man roster at the time, was being released. “Am I next?” The NFL is a cutthroat business. “It’s part of the game,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy explained. “Mark has had a tremendous career here. They bring so much experience, both to the field and to the locker room. But it’s also the path of our season. Injuries do occur, decisions are made, and we’re always going to operate and do what is in the best interests of the Green Bay Packers from the chairs that we sit in. Al Harris and Mark Tauscher have been excellent Packers, and we appreciate that. But at some point, careers do come to an end and you move on and you appreciate what they have done.”