GREEN BAY, Wisc. -- To the reigning three-time NFC North champions goes the spoils of spending time in weather only polar bears would think to be a heat wave.
Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy was vigilant about giving his players extra rest this week, but he isn't holding back in putting them outside in the frigid elements.
McCarthy scrapped the usual Wednesday practice between Sunday games after the Packers weathered a challenging final month of the regular season to rally to repeat as division champions and get back to the playoffs.
On Thursday and Friday, however, the practices will be held in daytime temperatures no higher than 15 degrees and possibly closer to zero with the wind chill.
"You just have to dress warm," quarterback Aaron Rodgers said Wednesday. "The cold is a part of winter in Green Bay. You get kind of used to it. You deal with it."
McCarthy said the team would practice in pads Thursday as it gets ready to play host to the San Francisco 49ers in a wild-card playoff game Sunday.
Kickoff for the game at Lambeau Field is at 3:40 p.m. CST. The forecast for Sunday is a high of only 4 degrees with a low of minus-15 - a far cry from the 60s in San Francisco this week.
"It's definitely going to have an effect on the game," Rodgers said.
However, Rodgers, a Northern California native, isn't sure whether the Packers will have much of a home-field advantage playing in bitterly cold conditions against a team accustomed to warmer temperatures.
"You know, not everybody in this locker room is from the great state of Wisconsin," Rodgers said. "We do practice in it, live in it. I think we're going to be better adapting to it initially, but once the game starts, it's about who can execute in the cold weather. It does some different things to the football. It's about taking care of the football in the playoffs and making some big plays.
"It definitely does change the texture of the football," he added. "So, you have to factor that in when you're tossing the ball to a (running) back or when you're throwing it. You have to make some small adjustments."
--Shivering at the thought of sitting outside in a deep freeze may be a big reason why the Packers had yet to have a sellout for Sunday's game.
The team announced early Wednesday night that it had about 7,500 unsold tickets after it had 40,000 available Monday morning.
Many season-ticket holders took a pass on purchasing potential playoff tickets when they had to submit a payment invoice in early December when the Packers were in the throes of a five-game winless streak and had a 5-6-1 record with Rodgers out because of a collarbone injury.
McCarthy expressed optimism earlier Wednesday that Lambeau would be filled on game day. The capacity at the expanded stadium is 80,750.
"I'm not concerned about it," McCarthy said of the ticket sales. "Lambeau Field, I fully expect and have great confidence that it will be an incredible environment come Sunday. We have great fans. These are the games our fans live for, so I really have no concern about it at all. I have confidence that whatever needs to be done will be done."