Facing an interconference opponent such as the San Diego Chargers, who are on the Packers' schedule Sunday, happens as often as a presidential election -- every four years.
In the run-up to the impending matchup at San Diego, however, Green Bay's read on the Chargers may be as insightful as it would be getting ready for a division opponent.
The coaches not only had an extra week to get a jump on San Diego in the midst of doing their self-scout work during last week's bye, but many of them were tuned in until late Monday night watching the Chargers' overtime loss at the Kansas City Chiefs.
"It's good to watch the Monday night or Sunday night game if you're playing that opponent that week or even a week or two out," Packers head coach Mike McCarthy said. "You find out a little bit about the pulse of how they're playing, especially since they (were) playing Kansas City the second time (this season). We had an opportunity to evaluate their first game against Kansas City. You get a lot of information out of division opponents when they play each other, particularly a second time."
What looked to be a sexy midseason matchup when the schedule came out last spring now sets up well for the Packers to build on their league-best 7-0 record coming out of the bye.
The Chargers are slumping. They have lost two in a row as well as their hold on the AFC West lead, falling into a first-place tie with the Chiefs and Oakland Raiders at 4-3.
Besides the detailed coaches, the Green Bay players who took time out to watch the Chargers' late-game collapse Monday surely picked up on how their next opponent is struggling at the moment.
"Game film is your best tool to learn from, but it's always good to watch the TV copy," Packers safety Charlie Peprah said. "You kind of get a feel for the game flow, the emotions, how they're calling the game, how players react. It's just a different point of view."
--Happy to be back on the field, nickel back Sam Shields said he learned a painful lesson the last time he was seen in action.
Shields joined his teammates on the practice field Monday as the players returned from a six-day hiatus for the bye week. Shields had been sidelined since he suffered a concussion in the third quarter of Green Bay's win over the St. Louis Rams on Oct. 16 at Lambeau Field.
The injury occurred when Shields intercepted a pass from the Rams' Sam Bradford in the end zone and then tried to run it out, only to get pasted by St. Louis receiver Brandon Gibson while still in the end zone.
"Everybody said I should've went down (after the interception)," Shields said. "I should've, but things happen. I'm ready to go.
"It's a learning process," he added. "Next time, I'll go down. In my mind, I wasn't thinking about all that. I was thinking about scoring. But, making the right decision is going down and letting the offense go and score."
The team's medical staff cleared Shields to resume football activities before the players were excused for the bye week following meetings Oct. 24, a day after Green Bay beat the Minnesota Vikings to improve its NFL-best record to 7-0.
Barring a setback this week in practice, Shields is expected to be OK to play Sunday, when the Packers will play at the San Diego Chargers.
Head coach Mike McCarthy didn't let the players' first day back on the job go to waste Monday. He had them practice -- and in pads -- for nearly 90 minutes outside with the temperature in the 40s.
"It sends a message to your ballclub, letting us know that, 'Vacation is over now. It's time to get back to work,'" receiver James Jones said. "Get back to doing what we know we've got to do, and that's preparing for the San Diego Chargers."
The players will have their customary day off Tuesday, then practice Wednesday through Friday before leaving for San Diego on Saturday.
McCarthy said he would put the team through two padded practices this week. It will be the one and only time Green Bay will have more than one padded practice in a week this season.
Under the league's new collective-bargaining agreement, teams are allowed to have a total of just 11 padded practices in the first 11 weeks of the regular season -- and two padded practices are permitted in only one week during that time frame.
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