Jermichael Finley said there’s “fire in the belly.” Randall Cobb’s making sure to “take care of the little details.” T.J. Lang called it “getting back on pace.”
Whatever words were used on Wednesday to describe the Packers’ first practice following a loss this season, everyone could agree they all meant pretty much the same thing.
It’s time to zone in, again.
“They’re back at it,” Head Coach Mike McCarthy said. “It’s business as usual, but a little more ... I don’t want to say quiet. Focused, I would say. (Practice) felt good coming off the field. They’re looking forward to Sunday night.”
Two notions weren’t being received as agreeably, though, as the team prepares to play the rival Bears at Lambeau Field.
One is that the defeat in Kansas City last Sunday could be a “good loss,” because of what the Packers supposedly can learn from it.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers was asked twice about a so-called “good loss,” and he wasn’t interested.
“I don’t know what that means,” he said. “I really don’t.”
Rodgers, who received McCarthy’s unequivocal MVP vote as his coach called him the best player in the league, wasn’t buying that a loss has taken the pressure off the Packers. He said the team relished everyone trying to knock them off and predicting the undefeated season couldn’t be done.
Rodgers believes the Packers rallied around that with a sort of collective defiance, the same way they did last season as the final team to sneak into the playoffs.
“That’s what’s made us great the last couple years,” he said.
“I think Vince Lombardi once said, ‘You show me … a person who’s OK with losing, and I’ll show you a loser.’ Something to that effect. I’ve never been OK with losing.”
He also isn’t OK with this notion that the Chiefs gave the rest of the league a “blueprint” on how to beat the Packers, with their press-man coverage/strong pass-rush combination on defense, plus ball-control execution on offense.
“I think it’s baloney,” Rodgers said.
His receivers, who didn’t have their best day against the Chiefs’ talented secondary, agreed.
“What Kansas City did I think teams have tried,” said Jordy Nelson, who only had two receptions on Sunday, both in the fourth quarter. “We were a little undermanned and we didn’t perform the way we needed to perform, across the board.”
Not having an injured Greg Jennings was a factor in, but not the reason for, the Chiefs limiting Rodgers to a season-low 80.1 passer rating. Dropped passes played a part, including a few by Finley, who said, "That's not me." The Packers, in essence, were saying they’re 13-1 because they’ve had far more success than not against schemes like Kansas City’s, and it’s going to take more than X’s and O’s to beat them that way again.
“There’s no blueprint,” Cobb said. “We had them where we wanted them, we just didn’t do it. Not taking anything away from them, because they played a great game. They played hard, they gave us their best punch, and we weren’t able to take it.”
What Rodgers saw from the Chiefs wasn’t a foolproof plan for beating the Packers but a darn good way to win games, period.
“Other teams have played similar style of coverages, and ideas of rushing four and dropping seven, or rushing three and dropping eight, or playing man with two high safeties,” Rodgers said. “We beat those teams. We just didn’t execute very well. They did. They controlled the football. They didn’t turn it over to our defense.
“I don’t care who’s playing who, that’s a recipe for success.”
The Packers hope their recipe this week includes some players returning from injuries.
The offensive backfield got reinforcements on Wednesday as James Starks (knee/ankle) was a full participant in practice after missing the last two games, and Brandon Saine (concussion) was back on a limited basis.
Inside linebacker Desmond Bishop (calf) also returned to practice as a limited participant for the first time in a month, and McCarthy said he “has a chance” to play on Sunday. Defensive lineman Ryan Pickett (concussion) still is not back on the field, however.
On the offensive line, Bryan Bulaga (knee) has been ruled out for this week, so Lang will swing out to right tackle with Evan Dietrich-Smith taking Lang’s regular left-guard spot.
Veteran left tackle Chad Clifton (hamstring/back) was a limited participant in practice for the first time since Week 5, though McCarthy said it’s too early to project when he might be ready for game action.
“There’s a plan in place for him, as long as he keeps moving forward,” McCarthy said, without elaborating.
The plan for the Packers is to move forward as well. Wednesday was the transition day to begin doing that.
“I think everybody is ready to bounce back,” safety Charlie Peprah said. “Nobody likes losing, especially in the fashion that we lost. The Chiefs beat us. You have to give it to them.
“They outplayed us, so everybody’s got something to prove right now. Guys have a chip on their shoulder to go out and play Packer football.” Additional coverage - Dec. 21