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Packers focus on recovery, mental game in advance of trip to Seattle for crucial Thursday night game

November 14, 2018

GREEN BAY — The ice machines and whirlpools will be working overtime over the next few days at Lambeau Field. So will the players’ brains.

With a quick turnaround from Sunday’s 31-12 victory over the Miami Dolphins to Thursday night’s road game against the Seattle Seahawks in noisy CenturyLink Field, the Green Bay Packers are focusing on getting their bodies to recover and getting their minds prepared for a crucial game far from home.

“I don’t think anyone likes the turnaround of a Thursday night game. It’s tough, especially we’re flying (almost) four hours,” veteran right tackle Bryan Bulaga said Monday as the Packers (4-4-1) prepared for a Tuesday evening flight to the Pacific Northwest. “It’s tough to hop on a plane and go out and play a Thursday night game when it’s two time zones different. It’s tough.

“I’m not making excuses because that’s not what I do, but we’re going to have to get our bodies ready to go back out there, make that flight and play a good game. Bottom line.”

In hopes of having his team ready for the Seahawks — a team coming off a Sunday loss at the Los Angeles Rams that dropped them to 4-5 on the year — Packers coach Mike McCarthy had the players in Monday morning for a light strength-and-conditioning workout, meetings and walkthrough-speed installation sessions for normal down-and-distance and third-down situations for both offense and defense. Players then were to do their injury-prevention STAA (Soft Tissue Activation and Application) program Monday evening before a scaled-back Tuesday practice in advance of their flight to Seattle.

“Full speed ahead,” McCarthy said. “We don’t have any time to spend on (Sunday’s game). We have to get right into Seattle.”

McCarthy said the game is “absolutely” a mental challenge for players, and for some, both a physical and mental challenge.

“You really have to focus on the mental,” McCarthy said.

Asked which is the bigger obstacle to overcome — mentally being prepared or physically recovering, left tackle David Bakhtiari replied: “It really depends on the player, depends on what they’re dealing with throughout the week. If you’re a veteran guy who’s banged up, it’s physically. If you’re a younger guy who’s fresh, it’s mentally.”

Added second-year running back Aaron Jones, who had a career-high 145 rushing yards against the Dolphins: “I’ve never had that quick of a turnaround, I don’t think. That is kind of trippy that I’m going to be on a plane in (less than) 48 hours. You just live in the cold tub, hot tub. Live in the weight room — not just lifting but a lot of stretching and foam rolling and massages.”

Returning returner

The Packers are expected to activate wide receiver/returner Trevor Davis from injured reserve in time for Thursday night’s game. Davis, who had been sidelined by a hamstring injury, was designated for return from IR last week and is eligible to play against the Seahawks. Green Bay has only 52 players on its roster so no corresponding roster move will be required.

“I feel good,” said Davis, who returned to practice last week, which included an in-pads practice on Thursday. “I think I can make a big impact, but you’ve got to just go out there and let the plays come to you. I can’t go out there trying to chase plays because I lost half of my season. Plays will come. I can’t go out there trying to make plays because I’m trying to make up for plays that I missed.”

From the infirmary

The Packers had five players who were unable to finish Sunday’s game: cornerbacks Jaire Alexander (concussion evaluation) and Bashaud Breeland (groin), safety Kentrell Brice (ankle), outside linebacker Nick Perry (knee) and guard Lucas Patrick (concussion evaluation). Alexander was cleared and is not in the concussion protocol but Patrick is.

The Packers also played without cornerback Kevin King (hamstring) and wide receiver Randall Cobb (hamstring), who were inactive.

McCarthy acknowledged the short week makes it difficult to game plan because it’s hard to predict who might be available.

For instance, Alexander should be good to go, but King might not be and Breeland, despite saying after the game he was fine, might have felt differently once the game-day adrenaline wore off.

Brice was unable to put any weight on his ankle as he came off the field and left the Packers sideline on a cart, which is not a good sign for his availability. NFL Network reported Monday that Brice sustained a bone bruise and is week-to-week.

“Every injury’s different, so I think it depends on the injury that we’re talking about. (But) you want your players to practice to play in the game,” McCarthy said. “That’s something that I’m never very comfortable with, players that don’t practice. You have veteran players, but still, there’s a timing not only for themselves, their internal time clock, but the ability to be in sync with the speed of the game (and) also with their teammates.”

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