December Is McCarthy's Month
By By Jay Sorgi
Next game: Sunday, December 7th vs. Houston
December in Green Bay, Wisconsin usually means falling temperatures and rising winning percentages.
In a season where four consecutive December wins are critical for the Packers to have any chance to play in January, a home game like Friday's against warm-climated Houston brings a chance to increase Packers Coach Mike McCarthy's already outstanding 7-2 December mark as the head man.
"This time of year, you want to take advantage of playing in cold weather," said McCarthy on 620WTMJ's "Wisconsin's Morning News."
It's also especially important now, with any loss in December all but guaranteeing the Packers will stay in their warm homes in January and not be on the gridiron playing in the 12-team tournament for the Vince Lombardi trophy.
But it's not like, according to McCarthy, the team hasn't played with a heightened level of intensity all year."
"You hate to think you have to get to this point to get a sense of urgency. I think the football team has played physical, has played with energy. There is a heightened sense of urgency, no doubt. It's something that we're hitting on, on a daily basis. We need to come out and win this football game, period."
To McCarthy, punter Jeremy Kapinos to succeed, period, in an area that has been both a point of failure for Green Bay this year and a task that proves especially challenging in cold weather, regardless of how simple the task may seem to be: kicking a football far and high.
"He's just to trust himself, and stroke the football," states McCarthy. "He does have a strong leg. He has been impressive in a short time here."
The punting issue is just one of many symptoms of the disease of failure in special teams that has doomed Green Bay in many situations, including Sunday's loss vs. Carolina.
A kick return to the Panthers' 45 gave the Panthers life in the final two minutes after the Packers took the lead, and Carolina took advantage to produce the score that beat the Packers, 35-31.
"It's been a problem the last two weeks," admits McCarthy.
"That's been the primary focus on special teams, because of the loss of field position that we have played with of late."
New Roster Moves from Practice Squad Give Entire Team Emotional Boost
Coach McCarthy has given two guys who toiled on the team's practice squad an opportunity, as defensive tackle Alfred Malone and cornerback Joe Porter find themselves on the active roster for Sunday's contest.
"It's always great as a football team that we were able to have members of your practice squads come up to your 53 (man roster)," says McCarthy.
"It's really a credit to Alfred Malone, Joe Porter, Danny Lansanah. It proves that young players that were given an opportunity to improve are given an opportunity to compete.
"Hopefully, they can contribute on Sunday."
Just their presence, and the chance to give them a spot on the roster, often gives the entire team an emotional jolt for the positive.
"There's not a better feeling when you stand up there on Wednesday morning and we have a segment of our team meeting that's called 'Team Business" and you're able to acknowledge the fact that these men have moved up on the 53 (man roster)," explains McCarthy.
"It's great respect from their teammates. Everybody feels good because they know how hard these guys have worked, and they earned their opportunity."