Green Bay worked at the high school’s indoor facility for the third straight day due to snow and cold temperatures in the area. The practice, which focused on special teams and team (11-on-11) drills with noise pumped in through speakers, was roughly half the length of a normal Friday workout. McCarthy said it was by design because the team went longer than usual in its previous “Friday” workout in Green Bay last Sunday.
“We’ve had an opportunity to go over every situation twice for our game plan, so we’re ready to go,” McCarthy said to pool reporter Jim Trotter following practice. “The one thing you want to see in your football team is that the players have maintained confidence throughout the process. Our guys have done that.
“They totally believe what’s in front of them. They believe in what they’ve seen on film. We respect Pittsburgh, but we feel that this is our time and Sunday will be our night.”
Green Bay listed everyone but linebacker Erik Walden as probable for the game. Walden, who sustained an ankle injury early in the second half at Chicago in the NFC Championship, was limited on Friday for the second straight day.
“We’ll take Erik up the game and see what happens,” McCarthy said. “I have a good feel for what he can and cannot do. Sunday I’m going to trust him and the medical staff to make that call.”
Rookie linebacker Frank Zombo, who missed the final three regular-season games and all three playoff contests with a knee injury, was a full participant for the third straight day and is probable for Sunday. He will likely start if Walden is unable to play.
Wide receiver Donald Driver was also limited for a second straight day with a quad injury, but he's probable for Sunday. He originally sustained the injury in the week of practice leading up to the Miami game in Week 6, but he played in that contest and the next two games before he was sidelined for the Week 9 game vs. Dallas.
“I would be shocked if Donald Driver does not play Sunday,” McCarthy said during his Friday morning press conference. “He would practice today if I would let him. He tweaked it in Wednesday’s practice, and frankly I just do not want to take any chances at this point.
“Donald’s played a lot of football, he knows the offense, he’s had a whole week of preparation with the plan last week, so this is clearly just being safe with him.”
The Packers will have their normal Saturday schedule, with meetings and walk-throughs in the morning and a team meeting at night.
“After today, I know they’re really looking forward to completing today’s work, because they really like Saturday’s schedule, and Saturday’s schedule is very significant,” McCarthy said on Friday morning. “We have a 48-hour rule that we always talk about when we break practice on Friday, and then when we break our meetings on Saturday at 11 o’clock, we’re in the 24-hour rule. It will probably be a 27-hour rule this week.
“Those are targets throughout the week that our players are very in tune with, and everybody, I’m sure Pittsburgh’s the same, is ready to play this game.”
Youth is served
When veteran offensive tackle Mark Tauscher went down with a season-ending shoulder injury early in the season, rookie Bryan Bulaga stepped in to start the final 12 regular-season contests and all three playoff games at right tackle.
If he is in the starting lineup as expected on Sunday against Pittsburgh, Bulaga will become the youngest player to ever start a Super Bowl.
According to STATS, Broncos wide receiver Ricky Nattiel (22 years, six days) holds the current record as the youngest player to start a Super Bowl. That came in Denver’s 42-10 loss to the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl XXII on Jan. 31, 1988.
Bulaga did not redshirt and entered the draft following his junior year at the University of Iowa, and he doesn’t turn 22 until March 21. He will be 21 years, 322 days old on Sunday, besting Nattiel’s mark.
Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey could have been the one to etch his name in the NFL record book by starting on Sunday, but he was ruled out on Friday due to his ankle injury. Like Bulaga, Pouncey didn’t redshirt at the University of Florida and was an early entry in this past spring’s draft. He does not turn 22 until July 24, which would make him just 21 years, 197 days old on Sunday.
Steelers rule two out
With Pouncey sidelined, second-year lineman Doug Legursky is expected to make his first NFL start at center. Legursky, an undrafted free agent out of Marshall, opened four games at right guard earlier this season.
“The NFL is made up of lots of players like him—guys who somehow got an opportunity and seized it,’’ Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said to pool reporter Peter King following Pittsburgh’s practice on Friday. “We’re completely confident that he will seize this opportunity and play well. That’s why we’re not changing what we do.’’
Pittsburgh defensive end Aaron Smith (triceps), who has been sidelined since sustaining his injury at Miami in Week 7, was also ruled out for Sunday. Defensive end Ziggy Hood, who opened nine games during the regular season, is expected to start again on Sunday.
All the same
McCarthy has talked all week about treating the Super Bowl and its surrounding hoopla like just another game. In Thursday’s meeting he tried to drive that point home with an assist from the movie Hoosiers.
“Everybody loves the movie Hoosiers, where the basketball team walks into the arena and they measure the foul line and it’s 15 feet, and they measure the hoop and it’s 10 feet, and everybody goes OK, it’s big in here,” McCarthy said. “That’s our approach. We’re going to play football. When we cross that white line, it’s going to be about playing Packer football, and that’s what we’re focused on.”
The 1986 film is loosely based on the Milan (Ind.) High School team that won the 1954 state championship. In the scene McCarthy referenced, actor Gene Hackman, who plays the part of Coach Norman Dale, takes his team into Butler University’s Hinkle Fieldhouse to show them that all of the measurements on the court are the exact same as their tiny gymnasium back at fictional Hickory High School.
McCarthy confirmed that the Packers will have a guest speaker at their team meeting on Saturday night at the hotel, but said he preferred to keep the identity of the speaker private until after the meeting.
Continuing McCarthy’s tradition of having an assistant coach address the team on Friday, outside linebackers coach and former Steeler Kevin Greene spoke to the team for five minutes prior to practice. The Packers also took their team photo shortly before Friday’s workout.
Additional coverage - Feb. 4