Wide receiver Donald Driver was added to the report with a quadriceps injury and was listed as a limited participant. He was held out of the team drills, but Head Coach Mike McCarthy insisted he’s just being extra cautious with his 12-year veteran’s old injury.
“He’s fine,” McCarthy told pool reporter Jim Trotter following practice. “He wants to practice and all that, but I’m not taking any chances with him. I’ll probably hold him out tomorrow, as well.”
Driver’s quad problem dates back to midseason, when he played sparingly against the Vikings on Oct. 24 and saw his franchise-record streak of 133 games with at least one reception (139 including playoffs) come to an end. He then tried to play the following week on the road against the N.Y. Jets, but missed the second half. He sat out the Week 9 contest vs. Dallas entirely.
Meanwhile, outside linebacker Frank Zombo continued to work with the first-team defense as Erik Walden (ankle) sat out team drills and was listed as limited on the injury report for the second straight day.
Walden, who was injured in the third quarter of the NFC Championship in Chicago, backed off on his workload on Thursday after testing the ankle on Wednesday, and it’s unclear at this point whether he’ll be available for Sunday’s game.
“He was very sore, which is why we limited him today,” McCarthy said. “It’s up the air with him right now. We’ll see how he feels tomorrow. Even if he feels a lot better, he’ll be limited. I’m going to hold him back and give him every chance to be ready for the game.”
For the Steelers, center Maurkice Pouncey sat out practice for the second straight day with his ankle injury, and Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin told pool reporter Peter King that “it’s getting to be the witching hour” for him, with his availability for Friday’s practice still in question. “He’s going to have to show us something very soon,” Tomlin said.
Steelers defensive end Aaron Smith (triceps) was limited, sitting out scrimmage work again.
One difference the coaches have revealed as far as the two teams’ schedules is that Tomlin will move the Steelers from their downtown Fort Worth hotel to a secret hotel the night before the game. McCarthy is keeping the Packers at their team hotel in Irving for the duration.
Per Trotter’s report, the Packers focused on red-zone work, blitz periods, and punt return and kickoff coverage in a 1-hour, 45-minute no-pads session. McCarthy indicated the entire game plan has now been installed.
“Frankly, we feel like we’re ready to go,” McCarthy said. “We’ve got everything in, so tomorrow will be completely review for us.”
The only change to the routine was the players dressed for practice at Highland Park instead of at Southern Methodist University, where they dressed on Wednesday. Both days this week, the team has conducted the opening walk-through portion of practice at the hotel.
On Friday, the Packers will take their team photo at Highland Park before practice.
The game-day broadcast crew from FOX was in attendance at Green Bay’s workout Thursday. FOX will be broadcasting Super Bowl XLV. After practice, McCarthy chatted briefly with two-time Super Bowl winning coach Jimmy Johnson, whom he had never met before.
“He had a lot of encouraging words,” McCarthy said. “He was very complimentary. It was neat to have a chance to talk to him.”
The entire experience of practicing at Highland Park has been neat for the players, who were thoroughly impressed with the high school’s indoor facility when they first arrived on Wednesday.
“Most of the high schools from my neck of the woods are rough and when I heard that we were going, I was pretty sure they wouldn’t put us at a rinky-dink field,” said running back Brandon Jackson, a native of Horn Lake, Miss., during his media session Thursday before practice. “When I saw it, it looked like a college campus.”
Receiver Jordy Nelson, who’s from Riley County, Kansas, said Highland Park puts a lot of other places to shame.
“We don’t have that for a game field,” Nelson said. “There’s none of that in Kansas.
“I think it’s funny that the high school that’s 10, 15 blocks away has an indoor (field), but not SMU. The Washington Redskins don’t even have an indoor facility and this high school does, and it’s a great one at that. It’s nothing that they just threw together. It’s top-of-the-line stuff, and we appreciate them allowing us to use it. It’s Texas football for you, I guess. They always talk about it, now we get to see it.”
The Packers backed off on the hitting on Thursday, practicing without pads. McCarthy said during his morning press conference that the players “pushed the envelope probably a little too much in the earlier drills” on Wednesday, but the players said that was just a reflection of not putting pads on since the NFC title game in Chicago.
“It was a very physical practice (on Wednesday),” linebacker Clay Matthews said. “Obviously, we’ve been off for too long and haven’t been in pads for a while. So getting out there, there was a few big hits that I’m sure our coach didn’t want to see.
“But it just kind of shows where we’re at. We’re ready. We need to temper ourselves, but we feel good about where we’re at and where we’re headed and peaking at the right time.”
Additional coverage - Feb. 3