Regardless of what happened last year -- when the Packers went 15-1, rested several key players down the stretch, earned a first-round bye and were embarrassed by the New York Giants at home in the divisional round of the playoffs -- coach Mike McCarthy still wants that bye.
Some pundits thought the Packers had taken their foot off the gas too early last year and considered it a mistake to sit QB Aaron Rodgers and other starters in the season finale because it gave them effectively two weeks off. Green Bay certainly looked rusty and out of sorts in getting upset by the wild card Giants, although New York went on to win the Super Bowl.
Nevertheless, McCarthy reiterated that the focus since clinching the divison title is to get a first-round bye. The Packers are the No. 3 seed but could improve to No. 2 or No. 1 if they win out and get some help.
With so many players injured this season, including veteran DB Charles Woodson, who's been out two months with a broken collarbone, the Packers could use the extra week of rest.
"It's important to have a healthy football team," McCarthy said. "If you have an opportunity to have a bye week, that's what we're working for.”
He disregarded the notion that last year's loss was the result of having a bye.
"I really think what happened last year with the bye week is overblown," McCarthy said. "The Giants beat us. But I've looked at the way we've practiced and all the things leading up to that game. I will do some things differently if I'm in that position again.
"We've got our foot on the gas," McCarthy said. "We're focused on winning football games and improving as a football team. But we want the bye week, make no bones about it."
QB Rodgers agreed.
"When you look at our team, we have some guys who are banged up," he said. "We're not sure Wood's (Woodson) status is going to be and Jordy's (Nelson), and giving those guys another week in the playoffs obviously helps."
Rodgers said the goal is to win the final two games -- against Tennessee on Sunday and next week at Minnesota -- and hope second-seeded San Francisco loses one of its last two games. That and Atlanta losing its last two games would make Green Bay the top seed.
Starks could return for playoffs: RB James Starks suffered a knee bruise in the Dec. 2 win over the Vikings, an injury that appeared season-ending.
But Starks has not been put on IR and he and McCarthy hope for a postseason return. That would be a nice boost, especially if he can reproduce his playoff magic from 2010, when he averaged 78.8 rushing yards a game en route to the Super Bowl.
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When asked if he thought Starks could return this year, McCarthy said, “Definitely. That's what the medical staff is telling me. Starks' situation is to hopefully get him back for the playoffs. That was a decision that was made a few weeks ago.”
Starks said that his knee felt a lot better and the injury looked much worse than it was.
“So, I just thank God for being able to possibly come back and do well,” Starks said. “So no real, serious bad injuries.”
Injury update: The Packers ruled out five players Friday, including three starters for the third straight game. Woodson (collarbone), Nelson (hamstring), Starks (knee), DE C.J. Wilson (knee) and TE Tom Crabtree (hamstring) will not play against the Titans.
LG T.J. Lang (concussion) passed his concussion test and is probable. LB Erik Walden (ankle), who McCarthy indicated earlier in the week needed rest, is also probable, as are WR Randall Cobb (shoulder) and QB Rodgers (ankle).
FB John Kuhn, who's been dealing with travel issues and a personal matter, did not practice and his status for Sunday's game was not available.