In preparation for their upcoming NFC divisional playoff matchup against the New York Giants, the Green Bay Packers returned to practice healthy, but also mindful of the tragedy that struck the family of their offensive coordinator, Joe Philbin, earlier this week.
"This is as healthy as we've been in quite some time," Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy said during his Wednesday post-practice press conference. McCarthy said the bye week the Packers earned as the NFC's top seed allowed them to "get guys healthy and get guys fresh," a significant advantage heading into Sunday's game at Lambeau Field.
In particular, McCarthy said that Chad Clifton, the Packers' veteran starting left tackle who missed several weeks during the regular season with hamstring and back injuries, should be ready to play a complete game against the Giants. Clifton was limited to first half action against the Detroit Lions during the final game of the regular season as the Packers sought to get him back to full speed. Clifton's readiness would be a welcome development for a team whose offense will depend heavily on protecting quarterback Aaron Rodgers from the Giants' fearsome defensive front four, which includes All-Pro Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck, and Osi Umenyiora.
Yet, not far from the minds of the Packers players was the absence of Philbin, whose 21-year-old son Michael died tragically earlier in the week. McCarthy revealed that Philbin will be away from the Packers indefinitely and will "return when [Philbin] feels he's ready to return."
Speaking to reporters in the locker room after practice, Packers Pro Bowl outside linebacker Clay Matthews said, "We all feel for Coach Philbin. . . . This game will definitely be played in his honor and we wish him the best."
Rodgers also talked to reporters saying, "We're all affected when your football family deals with tragedy."