Packers warm up to cold practice

Updated 1/21/2011 6:42 AM
  • The Bears and quarterback Jay Cutler worked outside on Thursday while the Packers stayed indoors but kept the doors open to a chilling 29 degrees.

    The Bears and quarterback Jay Cutler worked outside on Thursday while the Packers stayed indoors but kept the doors open to a chilling 29 degrees. Associated Press

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- While the Bears went outdoors Thursday to prepare for the NFC championship game on Sunday, the Packers had the outdoors come to them.

With the wind chill plunging below zero in northern Wisconsin Thursday morning, Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy kept his players inside but flung open all the doors to the Hutson Center.

"We had the temperature down to 29 degrees," McCarthy said. "It was quality work. A very crisp practice."

McCarthy opted for the unhappy medium because it allowed the footballs to become almost as frozen as they'll be Sunday.

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers playfully tweaked McCarthy for his decision to spend part of Wednesday's practice outdoors, so he must have been pleased with Thurday's decision.

"You just have to understand how to be effective in those conditions," Rodgers said. "As the ball gets colder, it gets a little slicker.

"Mike created that outdoor area where we can practice outdoors. And as much as I like to fight it sometimes, it really probably does help us to be able to practice in that weather in December and now in January as well."

Wide receiver James Jones, who lost a fumble during Green Bay's visit to Soldier Field on Sept. 27, declared he'd rather get to play inside for the second consecutive week.

"Do we wish it was a dome or something? Yeah, sure," Jones said. "But this is what we got and we've got to go out there and still continue to play hard."

That admission came, however, at the end of a discussion about how Sunday's conditions shouldn't favor either side.

"We're a cold-weather team, too, so we know how to work with the field," Jones said. "It'll be no excuses come Sunday. They're playing on the same field we're playing on.

"They've got the same cleats we've got. They're sponsored by Nike and Reebok like us, too, so they don't got no special cleats or nothing over there."

If McCarthy has his way, Mother Nature can turn down the thermostat all the way to zero on Sunday ... as long as the wind stays away.

"I think anybody would be happy to play in Chicago with no wind," McCarthy said. "Wind is, to me, the biggest factor that changes the way you call a football game.

"Field position. Special teams. Everything involved. It's a challenge ... I'm all for no wind."

Green Bay punter Tim Masthay explained why a windy day makes it next to impossible to avoid kicking the ball to Devin Hester.

"When I'm talking about trying to get your perfect mechanics down, particularly in the cold and wind, you try to drop the ball pretty flat," Masthay said. "If you're trying to drive the ball, you might drop the nose a little down. If you're not trying to drive it, you might...

"I just mean it becomes that much harder because the wind can, and the feeling in your hands, if that drop moves just a little bit on you, you might still hit a good punt. But you're not going to hit it exactly where you were aiming.

"That's why you don't see guys hitting 40-yard punts out of bounds on a routine basis. It's that hard to do. Especially when it's cold and windy."

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