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Vacation plans vary for Packers

By Lori Nickel, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel –

GREEN BAY, Wis. — Cornerback Davon House walked out of the locker room Sunday after the Green Bay Packers’ fourth straight win with his team playbook — the iPad — under his arm and big plans for the bye week (after he checks with his wife first, of course).

House will go fishing back in New Mexico, where he went to college.

“They have a couple of good lakes over there and I have to get off the feet a little bit,” the second-year player said.

With red-hot Green Bay beating Arizona on Sunday for its fourth straight victory, coach Mike McCarthy made good on his promise to give the players the entire week off. Everyone is in some way taking advantage of that time, but not everyone is treating the week the same.

House will take a break in the middle of the week and the iPad will not go on the boat with him.

“I could but, I don’t know if it’s safe to bring along this $20,000 iPad onto a fishing boat,” House said.

He’ll save his study time for the weekend when he comes back.

The Packers face a critical and strange part of their season when they return to work Monday. Five of their final seven games are against NFC North opponents. Chicago has run out to a 7-1 lead; the Packers sit in second place at 6-3. Minnesota is 5-4 and Detroit is 4-4. It should be a wild and fun unfolding of the season in November and December.

Ask 53 Packers how they’ll use the bye week as their best approach to the second half of the season and you’ll get 53 answers.

With the news that linebacker Clay Matthews will be out a couple weeks with an injured hamstring, his backup, rookie Dezman Moses, will rest a lot this week but will crack open the iPad a lot, while waiting for his food at a restaurant, or while on his flight to New Orleans to visit friends at Tulane.

“That’s the advantage of having the iPad, all this technology. Even when you’re away you can still mentally prepare,” Moses said. “We need this physical break but mentally we’re still engaged.

“It is important for me to rest, but I’m not worried about hitting the rookie wall. College season would be done by now. It’s all how you approach it. For me it’s another opportunity to play football. That’s a blessing I don’t take it for granted.”

Though he’s in his fifth year, 27-year-old linebacker Erik Walden shares that same enthusiasm. He will remain in Green Bay for most of the week to rest and watch football. He watched the Monday night game and he will watch every other game he can this weekend.

“Anytime you can you can see your opponents coming up, you want to take advantage of it,” Walden said. “You want to see the tendencies they’re working with. Also, being not just a player but a fan of the game, I can’t just not watch football.”

Others are taking a half-and-half approach. McCarthy and his staff will be in Green Bay this week working and then will be off for the weekend.

“We’ve never played this many division games in this period of time, so that’s part of our emphasis,” McCarthy said.

“This is always a good break to be able to reflect and look at the things you’ve done well and areas you feel you need to improve,” said defensive coordinator Dom Capers. “Obviously, it gives us a chance to evaluate where our injured guys are and what the possibilities are in different combinations of guys coming back.”

Some players are doing the same balancing act as the coaches.

“It’s important to get a little time away,” said tight end Ryan Taylor, who will stay in Green Bay for the first half of the week and then go home to North Carolina later. “We’ve been going six, sometimes seven days a week for months now.”

Offensive lineman Evan Dietrich-Smith’s plans haven’t changed just because it looks like he will be playing more. Right tackle Bryan Bulaga has a hip injury and his status appears very much up in the air, which has meant a shuffling of the line and more playing time for Dietrich-Smith. He’s ready.

“I’m going to work out; you need to, they tell us we have to,” he said. “I’ll be sticking around Green Bay, maybe heading out of town for a day or two. I didn’t really have any plans for the bye week of really taking off and going anywhere.”

But others feel differently. Sixth-year veteran Tramon Williams is among a large group of Packers who see this time as their first break since training camp opened in late July.

“Get away from football. You need a mental break more than anything,” he said. “Mentally more than physically. Physically, anyone who is in the NFL is gifted and can play. A lot of guys don’t have it mentally, though. That’s kind of what separates the great from the good. I’m going to take a break — physical, mental, everything.”

Backup quarterback Graham Harrell said the same thing. Second-year all-everything player Randall Cobb said he probably won’t watch or think about football for a second.

“A bye week is a break,” defensive end C.J. Wilson said. “You’ve got to get away from football, you’ve got to get away from it all. But don’t think for one second it won’t be on everybody’s mind, what we’ve got to come back to keep this train rolling.”

“That’s the advantage of having the iPad, all this technology. Even when you’re away you can still mentally prepare. We need this physical break but mentally we’re still engaged.”

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