Jclombardi presents gameday headlines.
Guest senior writer jclombardi @ http://lombardiave.com
Packers vs Dolphins preview–Things to Watch: JUST SAY NO: QB Henne “is a smart, steady player. He’s not a guy that you fear. But if you give him time and let him get comfortable, he will move the chains.” Henne has passer ratings of 86.2 this season and 77.6 for his career.” CFL TO MIAMI: OLB Wake, the Dolphins’ best pass rusher, after a 5½-sack season in ’09, he became a starter this year. BLOCK THAT KICK: Fields has been the Dolphins’ punter every game since he arrived. He entered 2010 with outstanding averages of 46.3 yards (gross) and 39.8 (net). However, he had two blocked during the exhibition season and then one against the Jets Sept. 26 and one against the Patriots. TOUGH MATCHUP: WR Marshall, who made the Pro Bowl the last two seasons playing for Denver, is the man to watch on the Miami offense. BUCKLE UP: The left side of the Miami offensive line, with T Long and G Incognito, is one of the more physical in the NFL. Long has become an elite left tackle and Incognito has never stopped going after people.
Preview: Keys to Game–Even with QB Aaron Rodgers (concussion), injuries are a major factor for the Packers on both sides of the ball. The Packers must get good efforts from WRs Jennings and Driver. The Dolphins have the pass rushers to crash the pocket. The Dolphins haven’t scored a rushing touchdown since Week 1. That could well change with the Packers minus LB Barnett and OLB Matthews (hamstring). Game plan–The Green Bay offense won’t be as diversified as in games past because of injury issues. That will allow the Dolphins to focus on bracketing wideouts Jennings and Driver. LB Dansby can’t be allowed to wreak havoc as a blitzer and run stuffer if the Packers are going to rediscover continuity in moving the football. Green Bay could cut across the grain and try to establish the run against a defense that has been accommodating in allowing an average of 4.5 yards per carry. The Green Bay defense also will be down key personnel with outside linebacker Matthews (hamstring) and DE Pickett(ankle) on the mend from injuries. The Packers struggled to generate a pass rush after Matthews went out. Still, slow-moving quarterback Chad Henne should entice defensive coordinator Dom Capers to apply pressure and limit the throws made to the imposing WR Marshall and the diminutive WR Bess. The Packers are well-rehearsed in defending the Wildcat.
Preview: Stopping The Run May Stop The Dolphins–The Packers have to stop the run without defensive tackle Ryan Pickett. Last year, Pickett and B.J. Raji were the key stoppers in the Packers’ No. 1 ranking in run defense in the NFL. They’re facing a Miami team that will line up and run it. Dolphins coach Tony Sparano is a Bill Parcells disciple who wants to run the ball and play big-time defense. He has two talented halfbacks in Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams. If the Dolphins can grind the ball and clock, they have a great chance of winning. Rodgers Needs To Be Sharp–With no TE Finley and minimal running game, quarterback Rodgers carries a bigger load than ever for the Packers’ fortunes. He’ll have to make plays without his best playmaker (Finley), and do it without turning the ball over much. The Packers need Rodgers sharper than he was at Washington and better than he’s been this year. Defense Has Big Shoes To Fill–The numbers from last week tell a scary story. It’s looking like Matthews won’t play Sunday. Brady Poppinga and Frank Zombo probably will take turns replacing him.
Packers LB Bishop eyes winning script: LB Bishop entered the most critical stretch of his career when linebacker Nick Barnett (wrist) was placed on injured reserve this week. Bishop hasn’t been able to crack the starting lineup for the previous three years, buried behind Barnett and A.J. Hawk. Bishop has earned the nickname “Mr. August” for his strong play in the preseason, but those efforts have never translated into regular-season success. But he’s never had this type of opportunity. Bishop started in the 16-13 overtime loss at Washington last week, stayed on the field for all three downs and posted a game-high 13 tackles. Bishop has an 11-week tryout to prove himself to the Packers. The word that coaches continue to throw around when it comes to Bishop is consistency. It’s obvious he can make plays. In search of the big play, he sometimes loses track of his assignment. That’s what Bishop must show, and last week was a strong start. “The main thing is stay humble,” inside linebackers coach Winston Moss said. “Every week, just try to get better and stay hungry. “Now you want to be consistent. Coaches look at that. What kind of guy can you be on an every-Sunday basis?” “I know it’s my opportunity now to play and kind of take over, so to speak,” Bishop said. “I have huge shoes to fill. But I’m embracing it. I’m ready for it.”
Refusing to Give Up Ground: McCarthy insists Packers have not abandoned running the ball.