After reaching his milestone 50th career interception last week, Charles Woodson turned 35 on Friday.
As has been his custom over the last few seasons, he barely practiced this week, getting on the field in a limited capacity on Friday after being a spectator on Wednesday and Thursday.
“It takes players, when they get up above that 10-year mark, a little longer to recover,” coach Mike McCarthy said on Friday, two days before the Green Bay Packers face the Atlanta Falcons. “That’s been our history with our own players. Chad Clifton is in that category. He has some things that he’s working on during the week to get healthy. He practiced today and looked good. That’s been the routine for Charles Woodson. It definitely gives him the opportunity to get his body back and respond accordingly and play well on Sunday.”
Even at an age in which most cornerbacks would be watching football from their recliners on a Sunday, Woodson remains a top-shelf player. He’s tied for the league lead with three interceptions.
“No, I'm really not (surprised),” cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt said. “I see how the guy prepares himself. I know how he takes care of his body. I know how he details his study. So, I actually expect more plays. When you’re a guy his caliber, I expect him to do special things.”
Whitt disputed the notion that Woodson has lost a step in this, his 14th year in the league.
“Since I’ve been working with the group, he runs as well today as he did in ‘09,” Whitt said. “Look at him in the Super Bowl when he hurt his shoulder. He’s running step for step with the fastest guy in the league (Mike Wallace). If it’s a well-thrown ball, it’s an interception. In ‘09, he caught Johnny Knox. Now, sometimes guys get on top of him, it’s not because he can’t run. It’s because of other stuff.”
Matthews misses practice again
Even with a fractured shin, Clay Matthews at least practiced once a week last season.
This week, he didn’t practice at all, and he’s not likely to practice much — if at all — for at least the next couple of weeks.
”Clay Matthews’ medical situation is based on the treatment that he’s receiving early in the week,” McCarthy said. “With the treatment, it’s best that he not practice. That was the decision made by the medical staff. It was a conversation we had Tuesday morning. We’re on a different routine than we had last week.”
Matthews enters this game with just one sack. In the playoff matchup at Atlanta, he had two sacks and a fumble recovery.
“I’m hoping that Clay’s intelligence and instincts and football ability will take over come Sunday night, because we need Clay to play well for us,” defensive coordinator Dom Capers said. “On the injury stuff, I don’t spend any time on that because I know it’s wasted time. We’ll expect him to go out there and play like Clay plays, that’s all I can tell you. We need him to go out there and play like he plays. We went through two months last year of him practicing once a week.”
“The Lights Went Out in Georgia” has been sung by, among others, Tanya Tucker and Reba McEntire.
On Friday, two days before the Packers venture to Georgia for the third time in less than 11 months, the lights went out in the area around Lambeau Field, turning the inside of the Don Hutson Center as dark as night for the final minutes of practice.
“We’ve got a bunch of jokesters on the team, heard a bunch of ghost noises and stuff like that when it went out,” said quarterback Matt Flynn, who was in the huddle ready to lead a scout-team offense against the Packers’ starting defense.
After a few minutes waiting for the power to go back on, the team stepped outside to the Clarke Hinkle practice field to complete preparations for Sunday’s game.
“It made it a little more exciting,” defensive end Ryan Pickett said. “We were out there cheering and just being silly, man. It was fine. We just took it right outside and didn’t miss a beat.”
Packers injury report
Out — RT Bryan Bulaga (knee); S Nick Collins (neck); DE Mike Neal (knee); OLB Frank Zombo (scapula). Doubtful — TE Andrew Quarless (knee). Questionable — OLB Brad Jones (hamstring). Probable — LT Chad Clifton (knee); WR Donald Driver (shin); RB Ryan Grant (kidney); OLB Jamari Lattimore (shoulder); CB Pat Lee (back); OLB Clay Matthews (quad); TE Ryan Taylor (shoulder); CB Tramon Williams (shoulder); CB Charles Woodson (foot/knee).
Falcons injury report
Out — DE Cliff Matthews (knee); C Todd McClure (knee). Questionable — DE John Abraham (hip); DT Jonathan Babineaux (knee). Probable — S William Moore (neck); LB Stephen Nicholas (calf); CB Christopher Owens (ankle); TE Michael Palmer (ankle); RB Jason Snelling (concussion); WR Roddy White (thigh).
Abraham and Babineaux, both starters on the defensive line, were limited at practice and are listed as questionable. Abraham was an addition to the report.
— McCarthy is hopeful that Bulaga can return for next week. “Dr. (Pat) McKenzie’s got to deal with Dr. Bulaga on that one and that’s not going very well. He’s champing at the bit to get out there. Bryan wants to play. He feels he’s ready to go but Pat is concerned. Until that comes together Bryan will not be on the field. I think Bryan definitely has a chance next week.”
— The Packers still have not put Collins on injured reserve. “We have a couple areas we feel we’re potentially stretched on,” McCarthy said. “We want to see how some of the guys — Frank Zombo, Bryan Bulaga — come back from injury. That’s really what we’ve been kind of holding on to it for. There’s a couple different ways we can go with it. We’re just being very cautious with people at a couple positions.”
— Cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt places some of the blame on his position group’s slow start on himself. “I think I’ve talked too much about some of the stuff about how we study and look at things, and people are using it against us. I’ve got to do less talking about how we prepare and we’ve just got to get to playing. If we take care of business, it really doesn’t matter.”
— The Packers Women’s Association is teaming up with Festival Foods for the 25th Annual Food Drive for Paul’s Pantry prior to the Green Bay Packers-St. Louis Rams game on Oct. 16 at Lambeau Field. This year’s effort is headed by co-chairwomen Laura Hawk, wife of linebacker A.J. Hawk, and Martavia Wynn, wife of defensive end Jarius Wynn.
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.