FOXBOROUGH — The tundra will not be frozen.
All the other notable characteristics of Lambeau Field, however, will be on full display Sunday in balmy Green Bay, Wis. (temperatures are expected to be the mid-60s) when the Patriots visit the Packers’ famous home field for just the fourth time.
The meticulously manicured Kentucky bluegrass field (mowed every other day to a height of 1⅛ inches), the bronze statutes of Curly Lambeau and Vince Lombardi, and the ring of honor.
Bill Belichick couldn’t help but be struck by the traditions as he began game-planning this week.
“We have been looking at all of our film here on the Packers,”Belichick said. “To start off with, you see the films scan on the scoreboard and you see those names up there, and the great players and coaches they’ve had there. It really brings back a lot of memories and appreciation for what this franchise has done and really how great they’ve been. [Cecil] Isbell, [Clarke] Hinkle, [Don] Hutson, Lambeau, Lombardi. You just go right down the line.’’
Patriots quarterback Brian Hoyer, who took first team reps Thursday for the second straight practice with Mac Jones recovering from a high ankle sprain, could make his second career start at Lambeau.
In 2016, Hoyer stepped in for the Bears’ Jay Cutler to start in Green Bay in the NFL’s oldest and most storied rivalry. Hoyer suffered a broken left arm in that game, though he didn’t let that dampen his excitement for his potential start this weekend.
“Anytime you get a chance to play at Lambeau, I think that’s a pretty cool experience there,” he said. “It’s a historic place. A historic organization. Obviously my first and only time, I didn’t get to finish it off the way I like due to the injury. But it’s a great opportunity.
“They’re obviously a great team. They have gone deep in the playoffs for however many years. They have a great quarterback in Aaron [Rodgers]. Their defense, you look all around, they’re very solid. Whether it’s the D-line, the linebackers, the defensive backs. It’s a unique challenge.
" I think I heard today they’re like 13-2 in their last 15 home games. So, it’s obviously a hostile environment to go into. But it’s always a great opportunity to see where you’re at, too.’’
Judge on preparing three QBs
With Jones’s status in question, coach Joe Judge gave a glimpse of what it’s like dividing reps and getting multiple signal-callers prepared.
“Right now, we have three quarterbacks on a roster,” he said. “So, you try to bracket all three of them to make sure they get the reps. Obviously, Mac’s [normally] going to take the majority of them. That’s just the reality of what it is. In the league, the starting quarterback takes the majority of them, and the backup quarterback will get to sprinkle in through team periods.’’
Hoyer normally is charged with giving the starting defense good looks by mimicking the opponent’s quarterback during the week. Bailey Zappe has assumed that role this week.
“[Hoyer] will take a lot of the scout team periods, he’ll get some stuff through, you know, individual and different drills that you set up to simulate what he may have missed, you know, from a team period,’’ Judge said. “But [the backups] have to get a lot of mental reps.’’
Judge noted that practice time is not unlimited, so it’s important to be efficient with the time they have — approximately two hours.
“The reality in the NFL is practice is not like colleges now,” he said. “You go out there and have 100 reps every day, our offense and defense or our special teams, we have to work with each other.
“So, you try to apply all your techniques and all of our offense system to anything you can run. Now, there’s always some specifics on a scout card. If you’re running a scout team card, you may have to do something to simulate the opponent in a specific way. But until that’s dictated, you try to work all of our own techniques, all of our own calls, our own communication, and that way it’s your practice within it.’’
Mac Jones misses practice again
Jones missed his second straight practice, as did defensive lineman Lawrence Guy (shoulder). Reserve offensive tackle Yodny Cajuste (thumb), who was limited Wednesday, also did not practice.
The club did have seven players limited: safeties Kyle Dugger (knee), Adrian Phillips (ribs), and Joshuah Bledsoe (groin): cornerback Jalen Mills (hamstring); linebacker Raekwon McMillan (thumb); defensive tackle Davon Godchaux (back); and receiver Jakobi Meyers (knee).