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Friday Cheese Curds: 17th game presents Matt LaFleur with yet another big challenge

Winning over his star quarterback and winning in a pandemic were tests LaFleur passed with flying colors. How will he fare with an even longer regular season?

NFL: Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Matt LaFleur has been wildly successful in multiple areas since becoming the Green Bay Packers head coach in January 2019.

One area he has greatly improved in over that of his predecessor is in terms of overall team health. Under Mike McCarthy, more often than not the Packers were one of the most beat up teams in the league and while that often didn’t slow them down (see the Super Bowl-winning season of 2010), it did take a toll at the end of his tenure.

LaFleur meanwhile has been very good, and perhaps very fortunate, at keeping the amount of damage injuries have done to the team to a lower level.

That skill and/or luck will be tested in 2021 as the NFL confirmed it is adding a 17th regular season game to the schedule beginning this year.

It might look like “only” one more game, but that one extra contest will take a considerable toll on players’ bodies given the natural high contact nature of the sport.

This means LaFleur will be tested managing the workload of his players in both practices and games. It will test the strength and conditioning staff to change their program to get one more violent game out of players that are already pushed to the max.

Oh and this doesn’t even take the COVID-19 situation into play. While vaccinations should be very widespread by fall, there’s still a decent chance it could impact the season again.

The addition of a 17th game is obviously a money grab with little regard to player health but teams will do what they need to in order to keep their guys fresh.

Are the Packers up to the challenge? They had better be.

Matt LaFleur will be put to test by demands of 17-game Packers schedule— (subscription)

The Packers really kind of got screwed with the addition of Kansas City as their 17th game. Now the Packers will face 10 playoff teams from 2020 on this year’s schedule. LaFleur has earned the benefit of the doubt after two stellar years, but this year will test the coach like nothing before.

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