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Cheese Curds, 1/15: Packers are getting healthy as NFC Championship approaches

The illness that swept through the locker room seems to be running its course, and key players should be ready for the 49ers on Sunday.

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NFL: DEC 01 Packers at Giants Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Bryan Bulaga’s day last Sunday had to be as frustrating as one can get for an NFL player. Waking up with the flu bug that has gone around with the locker room and landing on the injury report must have been frustrating. But gutting it out all day to give yourself a chance to play when the inactive list comes out 90 minutes before game time shows resilience and toughness.

But then at game time, he just couldn’t make it happen, and the Green Bay Packers turned to Jared Veldheer with about 30 minutes to go before kickoff to hold down the right tackle spot, and hold it down he did. Veldheer’s quality play as a backup tackle must give the Packers a great deal of confidence in the offensive line as they approach Sunday’s NFC Championship Game against the San Francisco 49ers.

Still, the Packers would love to have Bulaga available, and it appears that all systems are go for him to return to practice fully this week. Likewise, wide receiver Allen Lazard — who was limited to just 20 snaps last Sunday — appears to be fine and full-speed for the week of preparation. It’s another good sign for a team that has been fortunate on the injury front all year and that is facing a 49ers team that also is getting healthy at just the right time.

We have that and much more for you in today’s Curds.

Green Bay Packers tackle Bryan Bulaga on the mend; receiver Allen Lazard good to go Sunday |
Bulaga should be ready to go in practice this week, according to Matt LaFleur, while Allen Lazard could have returned from his ankle injury in the second half of the last game if he were needed. That puts him on track to be fully available in the NFC Championship as well.

Why the right tackle position could be a turning point for the Packers-49ers matchup | Packers Wire
Last time in the Bay Area, the Packers lost Bulaga to an injury early and had to rely on Alex Light to hold down the right side against the likes of Nick Bosa. With Bulaga back, the 49ers should have less success pressuring Aaron Rodgers. And even if something happens to him, Green Bay now has a steadier backup in Jared Veldheer, who played every snap against Seattle without allowing a pressure.

Three reasons Packers are better equipped to handle 49ers this time around – The Athletic (subscription)
Davante Adams’ resurgence, the right tackle position, and Tyler Ervin’s explosiveness are the big changes from the Packers’ loss seven weeks ago.

How the Packers overhauled everything to get back to the NFC Championship Game - ESPN
Here's a look at the timeline for Mark Murphy's big decisions over the past two offseasons, which have brought the Packers back from the doldrums of two losing seasons to the verge of the Super Bowl.

Carolina Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly is retiring after eight seasons - Cat Scratch Reader
Kuechly is calling it quits after a stellar eight-year career that saw him make seven Pro Bowls and be named first-team All-Pro a whopping five times. As one of the best middle linebackers of the decade, he'll have a shot at the Hall of Fame even despite his retirement at 29 years old.

Three Coyotes Fail to Impress Unfazed Cat Named Max in This Showdown | Yahoo
Max wasn't going to take any crap from the neighborhood invaders, as he was caught on camera fighting them off in an alley. After this incident, he's now going to be an indoor cat, hopefully with an outdoor enclosure.