As if figuring out how to slow down Vikings running back Adrian Peterson wasn’t tough enough, the Green Bay Packers must prepare for two unique variables when they visit Minnesota this weekend.
The Vikings are opening a sparkling new stadium when they host the Packers. They’re also trying to keep mum about who will be playing quarterback on Sunday night.
It could be Shaun Hill. It could be Sam Bradford.
”We’ve taken the approach that we could see either one of the quarterbacks. My understanding is that it’s probably going to be Sam Bradford, but I have a lot of respect for Shaun Hill,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Wednesday.
Vikings coach Mike Zimmer had other ideas.
”You’ll have to wait until Sunday,” he told reporters in Minneapolis.
Let the mind games begin between these longtime NFC North rivals . Even Peterson got in on the fun.
”I’ve been practicing throwing the ball deep and everything. Once I’m back there, I’m just going to let loose,” the 2012 NFL MVP cracked in a conference call.
Starter Teddy Bridgewater’s season-ending knee injury prompted Minnesota to bring in Bradford in a deal with Philadelphia the week before the Vikings’ season-opening 25-16 win at Tennessee. But Hill got the start, going 18 of 33 for 236 yards, with no turnovers.
”You just prepare for both. You really don’t know what you’re going to get,” Packers safety Morgan Burnett said.
They’re also not quite sure what to expect at the new U.S. Bank Stadium, which the Vikings will debut to great fanfare in a Sunday night game to be played on national television.
They do expect it to be loud, though.
”I guess the Viking on the motorcycle is not going to be there, so it will be a little quieter in pregame,” said Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers, referring to the former Minnesota mascot. ”But we expect it to get rocking when we get out there on offense.”
Minnesota fans will be celebrating their team’s NFC North title one last time after the Vikings snapped Green Bay’s four-year reign atop the division last season.
Last week, the Packers had communication breakdowns in the season-opening, 27-23 victory over Jacksonville. Cleaning up those mistakes will be especially important Sunday night amid the din of a noisy stadium.
Green Bay will pump up the noise in practice, like the Packers typically do ahead of games at loud venues. But the Packers don’t plan to see the stadium any earlier than they usually would ahead of a night game.
McCarthy said the team will go through its usual pregame walkthrough on Sunday afternoon. Getting used to the translucent, space-age roof that would allow daylight to stream on to the field shouldn’t be an issue with the evening start, McCarthy suspected.
Rodgers, in his 12 years in the league, has played in just about every conceivable situation. Top priorities in preparing to play in a new stadium include knowing where the play clocks are located, and preparing for the noise.
”And then just withstand the surge,” Rodgers said. ”So it’s a big game, a division game, so we’ve got to withstand the initial surge.”
Veteran Sam Shields remains in the concussion protocol after getting hurt late in Sunday’s win. The Packers’ top cornerback missed four games last season because of a concussion. … S Chris Banjo and LB Jayrone Elliott, two top special teams players, did not participate in practice. Banjo and Elliott, who have hamstring injuries, were inactive last week.
The Packers released third-string RB Jhurell Pressley, who was claimed off waivers on Sept. 5 after being released by the Vikings. Pressley was inactive in Week 1.
”People say, `Hey you reached the top.’ But there’s everyone coming in after you trying to take that spot. I personally always think, I’ve never really seen myself as the guy up on top.” – LT David Bakhtiari on Wednesday. The Packers signed him to four-year contract extension worth up to $51.6 million this week.