Jclombardi highlights Packers headlines.
Guest senior writer jclombardi @ http://lombardiave.com
Gurus Capers, Martz ready to square off: Monday night will mark the first time Chicago Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz and Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers have matched wits. So seeing Martz and Capers locked in a chess match will be something to behold, even if Martz is just two games into installing his offense in Chicago. “I’m looking forward to seeing our defense with Dom calling it, competing against their offense,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. “Yes, I’m looking forward to that.” Packers player Ryan Pickett played under Martz in St. Louis. Pickett knows one thing from watching Martz’s offense. If the Packers don’t get enough pressure on the preferred five-step drop in Martz’s offense , “There’s going to be trouble,” Pickett said. Because of the coverages Capers prefers to play behind his zone blitz scheme, it’s paramount that the Packers get home against Bears quarterback Jay Cutler. It’s because the Martz offense prefers to use five- and seven-step drops to time their lethal downfield passing.
Linemen Raji, Pickett play larger roles: Packers coach Mike McCarthy often speaks of being strong up the middle, and if you take into account the size and power of B.J. Raji, Ryan Pickett and Mike Neal, you’d have to say the defense has that covered. Raji is the nose tackle and Pickett the left end in the “Okie” or 3-4 base defense, but in the nickel (five defensive backs) they either line up together in the middle or one with Jenkins and try to gum up the middle on running plays and collapse the pocket on passing plays. “I think B.J. has put together two good games,” McCarthy said. “They’re playing a lot more snaps than they’ve played in the past, which I know they’re excited about. “Ryan’s done a good job kicking out there to the end in the Okie. We haven’t played a whole lot of it, just because of the way the first two games have gone. I think they’re off to a good start.” The Packers lead the NFL with 10 sacks and rank third in the NFL in passing defense. Their weak spot has been run defense, which ranks 28th.
Packers notes: Rookie OT Bulaga–the door hasn’t been closed on Chad Clifton lining up at his customary spot at left tackle when the Green Bay Packers visit Chicago on Monday night. But if Clifton’s achy knees aren’t fit enough for the big NFC North clash, then Bryan Bulaga’s first NFL start will be extra special. Bulaga was born in the Chicago suburb of Barrington, Ill. and played at Marian Central Catholic High in Woodstock, Ill. Bulaga’s family remains in nearby Crystal Lake, Ill. Packers injury report–Thursday practice, did not participate: FB Korey Hall (hip), LBBrady Poppinga (knee). Limited participation: LT Chad Clifton (knee), TE Tom Crabtree(arch), DE Cullen Jenkins (hand), LB Brad Jones (knee), DE Mike Neal (side/rib). Full participation: LB Desmond Bishop(hamstring), S Derrick Martin (ankle), LB Clay Matthews (hamstring), CB Brandon Underwood (shoulder), CB Charles Woodson(toe). Rookie DE Neal on comeback trail–Neal, who hadn’t missed a game since his freshman season at Purdue, missed the first two games after suffering what he called separated ribs. “I’m playing, there’s no doubt in my mind.”
Packers notes: ‘Committee’ to replace running back Ryan Grant: When he took over as the Green Bay Packers starting halfback last week, Brandon Jackson assumed a bigger workload would be part of his new job description. That didn’t prove to be the case during the Packers’ 34-7 victory over the Buffalo Bills last Sunday, when Jackson had just two carries in the second half and 11 total. A day later, Packers coach McCarthy used the word “committee” to describe the team’s approach to replacing Grant, who suffered a season-ending ankle injury during the team’s Week 1 victory at Philadelphia. Joining Jackson on that committee are Kuhn and Nance. Kuhn, who moved over from fullback to serve as Jackson’s backup, had nine carries for 36 yards. Nance had two carries for 6 yards. “Well, it’s a team game and if he feels that way, that’s what we have to roll with,” Jackson said.