With wildly varying weather reports for Sunday’s game at Lambeau Field, the Green Bay Packers headed outside to practice in Friday’s snowstorm.
“I thought they worked through it pretty good,” defensive coordinator Dom Capers said. “It’s different. That’s why you want to practice outside so guys have been through it. When we go outside, we do our ball drills and try to handle the ball as much as possible so it’s not a shock when you deal with that on Sunday.”
The forecast for the 3:25 p.m. kickoff against Pittsburgh would be listed as questionable, if on an injury report. On Wednesday, a forecast model had the storm dumping anywhere from 6 inches to a foot of snow on Green Bay throughout Sunday. The latest from the Weather Channel, however, has a 90 percent chance for morning snow. WBAY-TV in Green Bay said the heavy snow should be over by 5 a.m., long before kickoff, though meteorologist Rebecca Schuld said there will be snow showers on and off throughout the day.
First-round pick Datone Jones grew up in Los Angeles and played at UCLA.
“I played in a bowl game in (Washington) D.C. my sophomore year and we probably had 5 inches of snow on the field,” Jones said. “Throughout the week of practice, there was nothing but snow practices. There’s really no way to prepare for the snow. You’ve just got to go out there and play man-up football.”
In a bad-weather game, logic dictates an increased emphasis on running the ball. That might not be the case, though, as a pass gets the ball to a receiver isolated against a defender. Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders are playmakers with the ball.
“You’ve got to play with good leverage and you’ve got to play your leverage,” Capers said. “You don’t want one-on-ones, especially if you have conditions like we had out there today.”
In the trenches, defensive line coach Mike Trgovac didn’t think field conditions would be a big problem for his unit.
“Obviously, you’ve love to have a great-traction field to rush the passer but they can slip, we can slip. Everybody’s on the same surface,” he said. “We’re not a little 250-pounder rushing off the edge, totally committed to quickness. It’ll slow us down; it could slow them down a little bit, too. When we do a move and they try to stop our move, they could slip. We’re all in the same elements. The size of my guys, I don’t think it will be a huge factor.”
Special teams become tricky on a bad field, too. The ball doesn’t carry well through the snow, doesn’t bounce much if it hits a snow-covered field, and can be affected by the wind. And, as is the case for a defensive back trying to tackle a wide receiver, the coverage players – generally running full speed – have to throttle back to keep their feet.
“I think it’s advantage with the guy that has the ball, because he knows where he’s going and his cuts are deliberate and you’re reactionary as far as coverage,” special teams coordinator Shawn Slocum said. “I think the guy with the ball in his hand has got an advantage.”
Packers injury report
Out: TE Brandon Bostick (foot), DT Johnny Jolly (neck/shoulder), QB Aaron Rodgers (collarbone). Questionable: DE C.J. Wilson (ankle). Probable: ILB Brad Jones (ankle), RB Eddie Lacy (ankle), OLB Mike Neal (abdomen), OLB Nick Perry (foot), DT Ryan Pickett (knee).
Jones, Lacy, Neal and Perry were limited on Friday after being held out of practice on Wednesday and Thursday.
Steelers injury report
Probable: T Kelvin Beachum (knee), WR Jerricho Cotchery (shoulder), T Marcus Gilbert (ankle), DE Brett Keisel (foot), NT Steve McLendon (ankle), TE Heath Miller (not injury related), S Troy Polamalu (not injury related), WR Emmanuel Sanders (foot).
All were full participation on Friday.
-- Bostick’s injury will end his season. With Jolly out for the season, too, the Packers have room to make some personnel moves. McCarthy said Randall Cobb’s status would be discussed at the game-management meeting held Friday afternoon. Cobb remains on injured reserve-designated to return.
-- Wilson has missed the last three games with an ankle injury sustained against Minnesota on Nov. 24. Without Jolly, he figures to have a key role in slowing Pittsburgh’s running game. “It was a great relief when I found out it wasn’t broke,” he said. “High-ankle bruises are pretty bad.”
-- Capers, on getting production out of Neal even while he’s barely practiced for several weeks: “We’re trying to get Mike to game day as healthy as we can. Mike’s role, he’s played an awful lot more outside than we anticipated, but he’s also going inside and rushing some inside. We like that combination of Clay (Matthews) and Mike with Mike inside and Clay outside. We think that creates some problems for people. When we’ve had that, it’s been pretty good for us. You just have to keep in mind if Mike hasn’t practiced all week how much you ask him to do assignment-wise on Sunday.”
-- Jordy Nelson, on quarterback Matt Flynn: “He just continues to get more and more comfortable. He’s been here, he knows the offense but we tweaked some things. He just has to get comfortable with us again, the way we do things here, and you can tell it’s picking back up. He’s more comfortable, more confident and chemistry has grown. It’s great to see. Every week’s going to get better and it’s going to show on the field.”
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