Senior writer jclombardi highlights Packers headlines.
Pressure to pressure Favre: When Brett Favre returns to Lambeau Field in the white and purple of the Minnesota Vikings for the second consecutive season, it’s hard not to make the matchup about the melodrama. But come Sunday night, the most important matchup will be between the man with the headset and call sheet in the Packers coaches booth and the 41-year-old gunslinger. There’s really no way around it: Favre has the number of Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers. Big time. Favre is a perfect 8-0 when facing a team or defense directed by Capers. It’s going to matter more whether Capers’ unit has improved over last season. In the two games against the Packers, Favre was 41 of 59 (69.5%) for 515 yards and seven touchdowns (135.9 rating).
Harris and Bigby practice with Packers: Packers cornerback Al Harris structured his workouts the six weeks he was on the physically unable to perform list with just one thing in mind. Being ready to play against the Minnesota Vikings on Oct.?24. On Wednesday, Harris was back on the practice field performing as though he would be in the starting lineup Sunday. The truth is he’s not going to be a starter. If coach McCarthy and DC Capers like what they see from him in practice, he could be part of the nickel package. His timing couldn’t be better as Capers sets out to put a net around Favre’s targets in a crucial NFC North Division game. Harris was one of three players to begin practicing after spending six weeks on the PUP list. The others were safety Atari Bigby and rookie running back James Starks. Bigby has a chance to be active Sunday but did far less than Harris in practice and might need a little more time.
Capers reevaluates how to cover Vikings QB Favre: Last year, Capers went coverage-oriented instead of blitz heavy in both games of the Vikings’ crucial season sweep. He did it in part to defend halfback Adrian Peterson, in part because of injuries at safety, and in part because of concern that Favre was too likely to gash blitzes for backbreaking plays. In the two games combined, Minnesota put up 68 points and Favre was the difference with seven touchdown passes, no interceptions and a passer rating of 135.9 points. That on the surface should incline Capers toward using more pressure this time. “I don’t know what Dom has in mind, I have no idea,” defensive end Ryan Pickett said. “But I’m sure it will be something different than what we did.” On the other hand, Minnesota hasn’t been the same offensive power this season as last, and its offensive line has had serious issues protecting Favre.
Rodgers–“I’ve got to play better”: Rodgers isn’t playing very well these days. Just ask him. “We haven’t done a good enough job getting seven on the board in the red zone and done a poor job on third down. I’ve got to look at myself first,” Rodgers said. “I’ve got to play better. I’m not playing up to the standard I’ve set for myself. I’ve got to play better.” For Rodgers to play better against the Vikings Sunday night, he’ll need to spend more time standing up passing the football than cradling the ball against the Lambeau turf. Minnesota sacked Rodgers 14 times in the two Packer-Viking games last season. He’s been sacked 21 times in 2010. “That put us in a hole last year because we had to convert some third downs that were tough to convert,” he said. “So we need to find a way to block those guys and hopefully keep the sticks moving this week. You’ve got to be good on first and second down. You’ve got to put yourself in ‘third and manageable.’ I think we’ve had 16 third-and-11-plusses this season and those are tough to convert.” Rodgers knows getting to “third and manageable” won’t be easy against the Vikings defense.