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Black and Blue all over: The string in Green Bay

12/16/2008

Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert
Don't expect a major personnel shuffle in Green Bay over the final two weeks of a lost season. As Jason Wilde of the Wisconsin State Journal points out, the Packers plan to use their normal lineup next Monday night against Chicago and won't set aside the remainder of the season to evaluate back-up players.

Here's what coach Mike McCarthy had to say about the subject Monday:

"Our approach will be to beat Chicago. I'm not going to change the personnel or make roster moves to use this as a developing game. Our full intentions this week will be to prepare to beat the Chicago Bears, to play the players that give us the best chance to win the game, and put them in position to win the game."

McCarthy doesn't have much choice in this matter. If he were in his first season and was still in the early stages of building a program, it might make sense to get some other options on tape as he heads into the offseason. But at the end of his third season, McCarthy's goal must be to get his nucleus of players on the right track. After all, these are the players the Packers thought would take them deep into the playoffs this season and were counting on for years to come.

I know I wrote yesterday that the Packers have some youngsters -- linebacker Desmond Bishop and defensive end Jeremy Thompson among them -- who might benefit from a longer look. But in reality, the Packers don't need to make decisions about their young players so much as they need to determine the future of many current starters.

How many of them should be brought back and how many replaced? That's one way to frame the Packers' final two games. They're not a tryout for young players, but survival for older ones.

(Rather than a flip-flop, consider the above a "re-adjustment" of our thinking. Thanks for your understanding).

Continuing around the NFC North: