It’s Bears Week.
As such, Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy was a bit grumpy at Thursday’s news conference.
Asked about rookie left tackle David Bakhtiari, who hasn’t allowed a sack in his past three games and kept Minnesota’s Jared Allen off the stat sheet on Sunday night, McCarthy said: “I’m not really in the mood to bang drums about anything. This is the Chicago Bears and Packers playing.”
As a follow-up, McCarthy was asked if his message to reporters was the same as his message to the players.
“That’s my mess …,” McCarthy said, cutting himself off. “I’m answering questions right now.”
Monday night’s game against their longtime rival is crucial for both sides. Green Bay is 5-2 and Chicago is 4-3. From the Packers’ perspective, perhaps McCarthy was making sure his team was still hungry amid a four-game winning streak. Moreover, Green Bay has dominated this series, with six consecutive wins, and the Bears are going with their backup quarterback, with Josh McCown replacing Jay Cutler (groin). However, the Bears are coming off of their bye. They’re second in the league in scoring and remain a turnover juggernaut at plus-7.
“I don't think anybody's getting too high about things,” Rodgers said. “We do a good job of focusing on our week-to-week needs.”
With an acknowledgement of the sign that reads “Bears Week: Intensity” on the locker room entrance, Rodgers continued: “We're going to be intense this week. I'm proud of our guys. We do a good job of preparing. Our coaching staff does a good job of making sure we're ready to play, and not many people are talking about us right now, which is kind of our comfort zone.”
This will be the 187th matchup between these teams, with Chicago owning a 92-88-6 edge.
“I always enjoy the competition, I really do,” Rodgers said. “I’ve seen a lot of them in my time. I think this is No. 18 in my time here. It’s a special game. The fans obviously really enjoy it. As players, we feel the intensity of the game. It’s the longest-running rivalry, I believe, in the NFL. A lot of history and tradition here. I think the teams of yesteryear maybe hated each other a little more than these two do, but I’m sure the fans feel the same way.”
Packers injury report
Out: TE Jermichael Finley (neck), OLB Clay Matthews (thumb). Did not participate: OLB Nick Perry (foot). Limited: WR James Jones (knee), TE Ryan Taylor (knee). Full: ILB Brad Jones (hamstring).
Perry practiced on Friday before the Minnesota game but “he’s just not ready” and is “not moving along as everybody would hope,” McCarthy said.
“I do not have any updates on Jermichael Finley,” McCarthy said. “As far as the organization’s concerned, we’re still gathering information. Saw Jermichael yesterday; looks good. We had our team picture yesterday afternoon, so he was there and getting better. Looks great.”
Bears injury report
Did not participate: LB Lance Briggs (shoulder), LB Blake Costanzo (knee), QB Jay Cutler (groin), CB Charles Tillman (knee). Limited: WR Joe Anderson (abdomen), S Major Wright (knee).
Cutler won’t play and neither will Briggs, who hopes to miss just two or three games with an injured shoulder that originally was diagnosed as a four- to six-week injury.
-- Rodgers, on facing the Bears without Briggs and retired linebacker Brian Urlacher: “It’ll be different. It’s part of the league, though. It’s a young man’s game and it’s tough to stay healthy. It’s a credit to those guys how long they’ve played. Brian, the years and years he played at a really high level, I loved the competition. Lance has been playing at a Hall of Fame level himself for years and unfortunately he won’t be out there for them, and for me, as well. I enjoy the competition. I have a lot of respect for Lance the way he plays, what he’s done in his career, he’s an incredible player; someone you have to account for all the time. For whatever reason, probably hasn’t gotten the due that he deserves over the length of his career for how well he’s played. He has the respect of his peers and look forward to seeing him.”
-- McCarthy said the team is in an “unscouted mind-set” due to the Bears’ change at quarterback and the bye week.
-- While McCarthy wasn’t going to “bang the drum” for Bakhtiari, he did for defensive lineman Mike Daniels, who has a team-high four sacks. “Mike Daniels is a heck of a football player,” McCarthy said. “He’s always had great energy and passion. I do think you’re seeing the man take a step in his second year and I think that’s the progress you want to see in your players and he’s definitely taken that step. But the guy loves football, he loves the work, he’s a joy to coach and just get the hell out of his way. Those are the kind of guys you want to be around.”
-- Against Washington, Bears receiver Brandon Marshall sustained an injured wrist on an illegal hit by Brandon Merriweather, and fellow receiver Alshon Jeffery got hit in the chin by a launching Meriweather, as well. The league suspended Merriweather – who also illegally hit Eddie Lacy – for two games, though it was reduced to one on appeal. Marshall had no interest in talking about it: “I think it would be bad journalism if we go back into the past because there’s so much more to talk about now than a few weeks ago, so I’m not even going to go back there. I don’t even want you to put your name on something that is old because I don’t want you to look bad. That’s yellow journalism right there.”
Agree or disagree?: Discuss hot Packers topics in our, free forums. Leave Bill a question in the subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum.
Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.