MILWAUKEE (AP) — Sore shoulder and all, Charles Woodson should be OK for Sunday’s playoff game.
Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Monday that Woodson has a shoulder strain and should be back on the field when the Packers return to Arizona to face the Cardinals for the second time in a week — this time with the playoffs on the line.
“I fully expect him to be ready to go,” McCarthy told reporters in Green Bay.
McCarthy said Woodson’s practice schedule will be similar to recent weeks, meaning he could get some rest.
Woodson, who has been playing with a sore shoulder for at least a month, left the game just before halftime of Sunday’s 33-7 victory at Arizona. He said after the game that he would have been able to return in the second half if needed.
“The shoulder’s already banged up, and you get the sharp pain on the initial blow and it always seems like it’s worse than it is,” Woodson said Sunday night. “I’ll be fine. I could’ve gone back in if I had to.”
With the game essentially rendered meaningless in terms of playoff seeding and the Packers’ return trip to Arizona for the first round of the playoffs looking likely, McCarthy and Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt took opposite strategic approaches.
Whisenhunt pulled many starters early on — including quarterback Kurt Warner, who was relieved by Matt Leinart for the Cardinals’ first offensive series of the second quarter.
McCarthy, meanwhile, kept the majority of his starters on the field deep into the game and said afterward that he wanted the win to give his team momentum going into the playoffs.
Despite the injury, Woodson wasn’t second-guessing McCarthy’s decision to play for the win.
“We kept the same intensity that we played with last week and finished the season the right way and we go into the playoffs with the same intensity,” Woodson said. “I think it was perfect.”
While Packers fans might have spent Sunday agonizing over the potential for injuries in a relatively meaningless game, McCarthy’s play-to-win strategy seemed to go over well in the locker room.
“You know what? Anytime you beat a team, you’ve got to feel good about yourself,” safety Atari Bigby said. “No matter what anybody says about how they took out their starters, we still feel good. We can see ourselves beating them. We’ll have to see what happens next week.”
But it’s hard to imagine anyone saying that if Woodson had been injured more seriously.
“If he wasn’t moving, it would’ve been a little scary,” defensive back Jarrett Bush said. “But we knew he was OK.”
Woodson has been the Packers’ best and most versatile player on defense this season, and Sunday was no different. On the offensive series before he was hurt, Woodson intercepted a pass from Leinart and ran it back 45 yards for a touchdown.
“His teammates are chanting ‘MVP’ every day at practice and he goes out and does it every Sunday,” McCarthy said Sunday. “He went out and played at a high level again today. He’s had a tremendous year.”
And while the Cardinals looked relatively tame in both of their games against the Packers this season — a preseason matchup and the regular season finale — Woodson expects a different story this coming Sunday.
“I think the playoffs are going to be a different monster,” Woodson said. “We’ve got to get this game out of our head, we’ve got to get the preseason game out of our head. And we’ve got to come out in the postseason and understand they’re going to come out fired up. And we’ve got to do the same thing.”