Senior writer jclombardi highlights Packers headlines.
Packers hope to silence Jets: The Packers are determined to pull off the former and drive the blustery New York Jets to the latter when the teams meet Sunday at New Meadowlands Stadium in New Jersey. “We don’t really get into all that talking,” said Green Bay receiver James Jones, taking a poke at the Jets. “We handle the talking out there on the field with our play. We don’t buy into all of that. Hopefully, by the way we play, they won’t have too much to talk about.” Backing up Jones’ confident talk by walking the steady walk on the road may take a colossal effort for the Packers. Despite a rash of injuries to key players and corresponding inconsistent play, Green Bay’s lot isn’t looking so bad just because of how mediocre its conference and division have been. The Packers snapped out of a 1-3 tailspin by beating Brett Favre and the Minnesota Vikings 28-24 on Sunday night and caught the slumping Chicago Bears for the NFC North lead at 4-3.
Packers offense hope to conquer island: The New York Jets’ lockdown cornerback refers to the patch of turf he defends each week against top National Football League receivers as “Revis Island” because the Jets almost never roll defensive help his way. Among the many things that have to go right for the injury-depleted Packers (4-3) to upset the Jets (5-1) on the road Sunday is that their receivers must win their share of one-on-one battles with Revis and Jets’ other outstanding cornerback Cromartie. The Jets play an aggressive, attacking defense and blitz as much as any team in the league. That often leaves Revis and Cromartie in man coverage. “The Jets probably do more exotic blitzes than you’re (normally) going to see,” said Packers quarterback Rodgers. “They bring different types of pressure and different types of coverages than you see on a normal basis. The Jets do bring pressure.” The Jets take pride in their identity as an attacking defense and are confident that when they bring pressure Revis and Cromartie will win their matchups. They’re not going to sit back in Cover-2 all game. “You’ll see on Sunday,” Revis said. “Can’t give away the game plan.”
Notebook–new faces hope to help: Having Green available for Sunday’s game against the Jets in New York would be a boost to a defensive line that might be without starting ends Jenkins (calf) and Pickett (ankle). But that might be asking too much considering the short timeframe to get a grasp on the defensive playbook. While Green wasn’t at practice, Walden took some reps at right outside linebacker. At 6-foot-2 and 250 pounds, Walden has a better build than the presumed starter, Frank Zombo. The Packers are incredibly shorthanded at that position with only veteran Matthews, 1st year LB Francois, rookie Zombo and newly signed Briggs. For this week, however, his ticket to the 45-man roster will be special teams. Packers injury report–Did not participate: WR Driver (quad), DE Pickett (ankle). Limited participation: S Collins (knee), DE Jenkins (calf), T Tauscher (shoulder), CB Woodson (toe). Full participation: T Chad Clifton (knee), TMarshall Newhouse (back). The only change was Clifton going from limited to full participation. McCarthy said he will need the “full week” to make a determination on Jenkins and Pickett. McCarthy indicated they might not be tested on Friday.
Rodgers & receivers ready for Jets blitz: The Minnesota Vikings defense was playing what Rodgers called a “Catch-2 Man technique”. That made “our route tree a little gray,” Rodgers said, leading he and his receivers to ignore some of their “base rules” on four passes on which everyone inside Lambeau Field and watching wondered what on earth the Packers quarterback and his receivers were doing. Rodgers and the Packers receivers can ill afford to have such different-page moments Sunday against the Jets, whose blitz-heavy defense stresses offensive lines, requires opposing quarterbacks to get rid of the ball quickly and makes it imperative that receivers run precise routes. “Yeah, it’s really important. And that’s something that, once we watched that film, it’s correctable,” Rodgers said. “I think in a situation where you’re playing at home, often because you have an ability to make checks and changes and talk through things, there’s more changes and non-verbal communication than if you play on the road. Whereas on the road, the routes and the adjustments are pretty set in stone. So I’m not as worried.”
Having talked, Bishop walks the talk: Being an old linebacker himself, linebacker coach Winston Moss has always had an appreciation for players who can talk a good game, and then would back it up by playing one. So maybe that’s why the Green Bay Packers inside linebackers coach has so thoroughly enjoyed watching Desmond Bishop, as the fourth-year linebacker has seized the opportunity he’s been clamoring for for the last several years. Considering the pressure he put on himself by repeatedly saying he was a starting-caliber player, Bishop has certainly handled his role and his success just fine. “He is ready,” Packers coach McCarthy said. “I am sure he felt that he was ready a long time ago.” Moss added, “When he’s been a role player, or a couple years ago when he started (that) game, those critical errors would come up at the poorest of times, especially in situations at the end of games that were really, really detrimental. Now that he’s a starter, he’s been able to do a great job of maintaining a high level of detail and efficiency while keeping that playmaker mentality.”
Scout–Woodson-Revis a battle to watch: They won’t be on the field at the same time but cornerbacks Charles Woodson and Darrelle Revis will be on center stage on Sunday. The Packers’ Woodson is the reigning NFL defensive player of the year. The Jets’ Revis is considered the NFL’s best cover man, not to mention the player who should have brought home the hardware last season, in the opinion of his head coach Ryan.
RB Jackson can take the ball and run with it: After starting slowly in Grant’s absence and even falling behind fullback-turned-halfback John Kuhn for a while, Jackson has used his increased workload to become a more instinctive, decisive runner. McCarthy said the coaches are doing a better job of tailoring runs for the backs and that the run-blocking unit has improved each week, but it is undeniable that in recent games Jackson looks better with the ball under his arm than he ever has in Green Bay. Jackson has stepped up his production. In the past three games, he rushed for 226 yards and 6.5 per carry. In the three games before that, he totaled 74 yards on 2.7 per carry. The jury is still out on whether Jackson is a starting-caliber NFL halfback, but he clearly has provided the Packers offense with a much-needed spark.