NFL Nation: Green Bay Packers

Rodgers wants to keep targeting Nelson

September, 16, 2014
Sep 16
4:15
PM ET
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- If there's a downside to the fact that Jordy Nelson has an NFL-leading 18 catches for 292 yards through two games -- and there may not be one -- it could be that the Green Bay Packers have become too reliant one player.

At this point, the man throwing Nelson the ball does not see that as a concern.

Rodgers
Rodgers
Nelson
While admitting it's a departure from what they normally do, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said Tuesday on his ESPN Milwaukee radio show that he does not see a downside to it.

"If teams are going to start rolling some coverage to Jordy, then we need our other guys to step up and we need to be able to run the ball more effectively," Rodgers said on his show.

In Sunday's comeback win over the Jets, Rodgers targeted Nelson 16 times. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Rodgers had never before thrown that many passes toward a single receiver in one game. The previous week, Rodgers went to Nelson 14 times.

"That's a lot of targets," Rodgers said. "We've spread the ball around pretty good over the years because that's the way we run our offense. We throw to the open guy, we go through our progressions and a lot of guys have opportunities to be the No. 1 on various plays.

"But I think we've found ourselves targeting him more and realizing that there's a lot of good things happen when the ball's thrown his way. I'm happy for him. I'm not surprised. The guy makes incredible plays every day in practice. He is constantly looking for ways to help out our offense, and he does the little things as well. He's a great blocker, he's a great route runner, he has great second and third reactions. Just going to keep trying to find ways to give him the football."

Packers hold steady in Power Rankings

September, 16, 2014
Sep 16
3:30
PM ET
It appears the voters were not impressed with the Green Bay Packers' comeback win over the New York Jets on Sunday.

The Packers gained no ground in the ESPN Power Rankings released on Tuesday.

They held steady at No. 8.

They opened the season sixth but slipped two spots after losing the opener at the Seattle Seahawks.

However, the voters still like the Packers more than anyone else in the NFC North, where all four teams are tied with 1-1 records. The Bears, coming off a win over the 49ers, checked in at No. 11 -- a seven-place improvement from the previous week. The Lions followed at No. 18 with the Vikings at No. 26.

Over the next three weeks, the Packers play at Detroit, at Chicago and home against the Vikings.

The full rankings can be found here, while my ballot is listed below:

Rob Demovsky's ballot
1. Broncos
2. Seahawks
3. Bengals
4. Eagles
5. Patriots
6. Chargers
7. 49ers
8. Packers
9. Panthers
10 .Cardinals
11. Bills
12. Bears
13. Ravens
14. Saints
15. Colts
16. Jets
17. Titans
18. Steelers
19. Lions
20. Falcons
21. Cowboys
22. Texans
23. Browns
24. Redskins
25. Dolphins
26. Chiefs
27. Vikings
28. Rams
29. Giants
30. Buccaneers
31. Raiders
32. Jaguars

Debating Clay Matthews' new role

September, 16, 2014
Sep 16
12:00
PM ET
GREEN BAY, Wis. – It was third-and-4 from the Green Bay Packers' 29-yard line in the first quarter of Sunday's game against the New York Jets, and Clay Matthews lined up in the middle of the defense, nearly 4 yards from the football.

He blitzed up the middle and hit Geno Smith in 2.4 seconds just as the Jets quarterback released the ball, which would turn into a touchdown pass to Eric Decker.

[+] EnlargeClay Matthews
AP Photo/Bill KostrounClay Matthews hasn't rushed as much through two games in 2014 as he has in the past.
It was a prime example of one way defensive coordinator Dom Capers is using Matthews in his new 4-3 front.

But it's not the only way.

Through the first two games this season, Matthews has dropped into coverage far more often than he did last season, when he lined up primarily as an edge rusher in Capers' 3-4 scheme. Capers still does some of that with the four-time Pro Bowler but not anywhere near as much as he used to.

Last season, Matthews dropped into coverage on just 52 opponent dropbacks and rushed 284 times, according to ProFootballFocus. That's a rush rate of 84.5 percent.

So far this season, Matthews has rushed on just 72.5 percent of opponent passing plays for which he was on the field (50 rushes, 19 drops), according to PFF. That would be the second-lowest rate of his career. His 2012 number (84.4 percent) was an almost exact match to last season. Prior to that, his rush percentages were 77.5 percent (2011), 78.5 percent (2010) and 70.1 percent (2009), according to PFF.

Against the Jets, he was on the field for 34 passing plays. He rushed 22 times and dropped into coverage 12 times (a rush rate of just 64.7 percent). Given that Matthews has lined up away from the line of scrimmage more than ever, it makes sense that his rush rates have dropped.

But is moving Matthews farther from the quarterback the best use of his talents?

"I think he's equally as good in terms of rushing and dropping out of there," Capers said. "I think it just gives us more versatility in terms of what we can do with him."

Coach Mike McCarthy wholeheartedly endorsed the way Capers has used Matthews so far.

"When you have an exceptional football player, when you line him up in the same place every single time, you help the offense," McCarthy said. "If you want to chip him, if you want to slide to him, if you're able to practice it all week, Clay Matthews is over there or Clay Matthews is over there, it's an easier training process for the opponent. It's just really having Clay do the same things he's always done and just move him around."

Matthews registered his first sack of the season on Sunday against the Jets. It came when he was lined up at his traditional outside linebacker position.

After the game, Matthews was not seen in the locker room by the time it opened to the media. That same was true on Monday. But during OTAs, when the changes in Matthews' role were just becoming apparent, he did not think his pass-rush numbers would decline.

"I doubt I'm going to have to sacrifice statistics because I always feel like I can make my plays, but at the same time there will be some opportunities to present some mismatches," Matthews said at the time. "So it may not be your traditional line up here, line up there. There might be a little more difficulty for the offense, narrowing in on certain players, especially with the personnel that we brought in, myself included moving around a little bit more and just having fun with it."

But at least one former Packers linebacker thinks Capers and McCarthy have erred with Matthews' new role. Brady Poppinga, who played for the Packers from 2005-2010, responded to a tweet posted Monday about something McCarthy said about Matthews' new role.



Poppinga then offered his advice about how to use Matthews and Julius Peppers.



It's safe to say Capers disagrees.

"I think for him, when you look at the big picture, if he's lined up on the end and he's got a 330 pound tackle blocking him all day, I just think over the long run this is going to be better for him, too," Capers said.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy wasn't necessarily accusing the New York Jets of any funny business, but he expressed surprise that they were not surprised by his surprise onside kick in Sunday's game.

McCarthy made the call to try the onside kick with 3:12 left in the second quarter after a field goal cut the Jets' lead to 21-9. Mason Crosby popped the ball up, but the Jets were ready for it and easily recovered.

"I felt like they were in our huddle, frankly," McCarthy said Monday. "Just the way they lined up to it is disturbing to me. It's something we've never shown. It's a formation we've never been in."

Special teams coach Shawn Slocum said Crosby hit the kick exactly how he was instructed, which should have given the Packers a better chance to recover it.

It was a bold move at the time, but it did not cost the Packers anything because cornerback Tramon Williams picked off Jets quarterback Geno Smith on the ensuing possession.

"I kind of pushed the envelope there," McCarthy said. "I was trying to steal a series back, frankly, that we lost at the beginning of the game, and the fact that they had the ball coming out in the second half. Like a lot of times when you make those kind of decisions, a lot of those variables are looked at before the game, so you're able to react to it. The timing of it, I thought the risk was definitely worth it."
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Green Bay Packers have lost one of their core special-teams players, backup linebacker Andy Mulumba, to a knee injury, but starting safety Micah Hyde appears to have avoided a major injury.

Both were injured in Sunday's win over the New York Jets.

Hyde, who was injured at the end of a second-quarter punt return, said Monday that he has some swelling in his left knee but believes it was just a bruise.

"I just took a little shot on the knee cap, nothing serious," he said. "Nothing major. Just a little soreness."

However, Mulumba was not as fortunate. He was injured while covering a punt in the fourth quarter and sustained what coach Mike McCarthy called a "significant" injury. That's usually code for a torn ACL, although McCarthy declined to give specifics.

"It didn't look good during the game, and it doesn't sound very good," McCarthy said.

The most puzzling injury situation, however, was to cornerback Casey Hayward. He did not play at all on defense after playing 36 of 70 snaps in Week 1.

Against the Jets, the Packers used Davon House as their No. 3 cornerback, which was in the plans all along. However, Hayward also did not play in the dime (Jarrett Bush got that call) and defensive coordinator Dom Capers said Hayward may have been dealing with a hamstring injury -- the same injury that limited him to three games last season. Yet Hayward still managed to play 11 special-teams snaps.

McCarthy said Hayward was checked out by the team’s medical staff on Monday but did not have any update. The team does not have to file an injury report for this week's game at the Detroit Lions until Wednesday.

The Film Don't Lie: Packers

September, 15, 2014
Sep 15
4:00
PM ET
A weekly look at what the Green Bay Packers must fix:

What was the seventh-best rushing attack in the NFL last season has been rendered ineffective through the first two weeks of this season, and reigning offensive rookie of the year Eddie Lacy has not found much running room.

The Packers rank 24th in the NFL in rushing yards (160), and nearly 18 percent of that total has come from quarterback Aaron Rodgers. The Packers rank 26th in yards per carry (3.7) and it might not get any easier to fix that this week, considering they play in Detroit against the Lions, who through Sunday's games have allowed just 57.5 yards rushing per game, the second-lowest total in the league.

In Sunday's win over the New York Jets, Lacy carried 13 times for 43 yards, but only three of those runs went outside the tackles and he broke only one tackle, according to ProFootballFocus.com.

"There was obviously a commitment to take Eddie Lacy out of the game," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said of the way the Jets defended his team.

Regardless, the Packers need to take some of the pressure off Rodgers and receiver Jordy Nelson, who is about the only consistent offensive weapon they have right now. Nothing would do that better than re-establishing the running game.

Mike McCarthy: No more bench penalties

September, 15, 2014
Sep 15
10:30
AM ET
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Whether it was Rob Davis or Edgar Bennett or someone else on the Green Bay Packers' sideline, coach Mike McCarthy vowed that it won't happen again -- that there won't be any more penalties on his bench.

McCarthy
McCarthy
It happened in the second quarter of Sunday's comeback win against the Jets, and at the time it looked like a costly mistake. The Packers trailed 21-3, and Jordy Nelson had just picked up 17 yards on a catch near the sideline. The Packers wanted a late hit on Jets defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson, who drove Nelson to the ground near the sideline.

Not only did they not get that call, but they were flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct for apparently arguing the no call. It appeared Davis, who is not a member of the coaching staff but works with players off the field, or Bennett, the team's receivers coach -- or perhaps both -- were upset that the play carried on outside the boundary. Line judge Byron Boston heard something he deemed unruly from the Packers.

"That's disappointing," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "Byron called it on our bench. He said someone said some things to him, and he reacted quickly. Obviously at the end of the play, I don't remember who exactly was going out of bounds, but there looked to be a potential late hit. Things were said and a flag went up.

"I've talked to a number of people, I talked to Byron about it a couple times. I don't know who he threw it on. That's what's kind of in question. But the penalty was on our bench, which is not ... we're not going to do that no more."

Nelson's catch would have put the ball at the Jets' 28-yard line, but the flag backed up the Packers to the 43. They still managed a field goal on the drive after failing to score a touchdown despite having first-and-goal at the 5.

Nelson's big day powers Packers again

September, 14, 2014
Sep 14
11:30
PM ET
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- At some point, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers might need to start spreading the ball around.

But not if Jordy Nelson keeps this up.

One game after he was targeted 14 times, Nelson saw 16 passes come his way in Sunday's 31-24 comeback win over the New York Jets. And it did not matter for a second that the Packers made no effort to hide the fact they were going to force-feed him the ball.

[+] EnlargeJordy Nelson
AP Photo/Mike RoemerJordy Nelson has been targeted a whopping 30 times (18 receptions) through two games.
Nelson, fresh off his four-year, $39 million contract extension this summer, torched the Jets for a career-high 209 yards on nine catches, including an 80-yard touchdown in the third quarter that turned out to be the game winner.

"Jordy spoils us," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "He plays that way all the time. He practices the same way. He's just a clutch, clutch player."

With the Jets focused on taking away the Packers' running game, they kept their base defense on the field even when McCarthy went to his standard three-receiver set -- a personnel group that usually causes defensive coordinators to use their nickel package to get another cornerback on the field.

That not only left Randall Cobb with a favorable matchup in the slot, either against a safety or a linebacker, but it gave Nelson more one-on-one coverage than usual on the outside.

That's exactly the coverage Nelson saw when he lined up wide to the right on first down from his own 20-yard line with 2:21 left in the third quarter. That time, he was the only receiver in what looked like a clear run formation. With the Jets in a one-high safety man coverage, Nelson ran a 10-yard out and when Jets cornerback Dee Milliner broke on the out route, Nelson turned it up the field.

"At that point in time, I was pretty confident we were going to hit it," Nelson said. "Just didn't know where the safety would be, if he'd be playing over the top or what."

By the time safety Calvin Pryor came over, it was too late. Nelson already caught the ball at midfield and did the rest himself.

"Jordy gives you those opportunities to really make some special plays," said Rodgers, who threw for 346 yards, three touchdowns and registered the largest comeback (from down 18) of his career.

It can be habit-forming to rely on one player, even one as good as Nelson. Sure, Cobb caught a pair of touchdowns, but he totaled just 39 yards on his five catches. Rookie Davante Adams had something of a breakout game with five catches for 50 yards after getting shut out in the opener against the Seahawks.

"Everybody needs help," Adams said. "Otherwise, if you've just got one guy, then you just double that guy and you can shut a team down."

The Seahawks did that to a degree -- holding Nelson to 83 yards despite nine receptions in the Packers' Week 1 blowout loss -- but the Jets could not. It was all Nelson, whose 209 yards was the biggest day by a Packers receiver since Don Beebe posted 220 in an overtime game against the San Francisco 49ers on Oct. 14, 1996.

At this rate, Nelson is on a 144-catch pace, which is about as realistic as the Packers throwing him to an average of 15 times per game. Before Sunday, Rodgers had never targeted one receiver 16 times in a game, according to ESPN Stats & Information, perhaps leaving it open to wonder whether the Packers have enough other options.

But as Sunday's game was winding down, there was Nelson with 194 yards receiving to his name, something Cobb reminded him. And when the Packers needed one more first down to complete the comeback, Rodgers, of course, went to Nelson, who came up with 15 more yards.

"One-ninety is good, 199 is great but 200 just sounds better," Nelson said.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Observed and heard in the locker room after the Green Bay Packers' 31-24 victory against the New York Jets on Sunday at Lambeau Field:
  • If fans in the stands or those watching on TV were in a panic over the Jets' apparent 36-yard touchdown pass that would have tied the game late in the fourth quarter, the Packers were not. To a man, every player interviewed in the locker room said the same thing -- that they heard the officials blow the whistle to grant the Jets a timeout shortly before the snap. Cornerback Tramon Williams, who was in coverage when Geno Smith heaved the ball to receiver Jeremy Kerley on the dead play, said, "I heard it before the snap. I heard it during the play, too. I think they might have blown it four or five times. So I heard it then."
  • Nelson
  • Receiver Jordy Nelson doesn't normally come to the media auditorium for his postgame interviews, but after catching nine passes for a career-high 209 yards, that's where he found himself. And Nelson, who does not like the spotlight, said: "I’m going to hate this, so go ahead," as he walked to the podium. Nelson posted the fourth-highest single-game receiving total in team history.
  • It was alumni day at Lambeau Field, with dozens of ex-Packers players on the field before the game and at halftime. But there was one major absence -- Bart Starr, who sustained a mild stroke last week. "We obviously miss Bart Starr here today," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "Bart, we're thinking about you."
  • With 346 yards passing, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers moved past Starr and into second on the team's career passing yardage list with 24,732. He trails only Brett Favre. Said Rodgers: "It’s an honor to be mentioned in the same sentence with him. You know, thinking about him today a lot as it was alumni day, and I got to see Willie [Davis] and Fuzzy [Thurston] and actually some guys that I played with, which starts to age you a little bit. But I was definitely thinking about Bart and I wish he’d been here. I wish him the best. We're thinking and praying for him. Personally, you know him and I have become close over the last few years and it's been hard seeing him go through this."

Rapid Reaction: Green Bay Packers

September, 14, 2014
Sep 14
7:45
PM ET
videoGREEN BAY, Wis. -- A few thoughts on the Green Bay Packers' 31-24 win over the New York Jets on Sunday at Lambeau Field:

What it means: At this point, all we can say for sure is the Packers avoided what would have been a disastrous start to the season. Down 21-3 in the second quarter, 0-2 was looking like a distinct possibility. Maybe the comeback just masked some greater defensive problems that will plague the Packers all season long, but it could be the kind of early-season momentum changer that sends them on a run to another playoff appearance. Either way, for now, disaster has been averted.

Stock watch: Coach Mike McCarthy doesn't like undisciplined penalties from his players. You can believe he won't be happy about the one on his sideline in the second quarter. That's what happened to at the end of a 17-yard catch by Jordy Nelson in the second quarter. The Packers' sideline was upset that there was not a late-hit called against the Jets after it appeared Nelson was hit late out of bounds and after arguing the no-call, it was the Packers' bench that got penalized for unsportsman-like conduct. Referee Walt Anderson did not say who the penalty was on, but Rob Davis, the team's director of player engagement, appeared to be vehemently arguing with the nearest official. The Packers still got a field goal on that drive.

Unpopular call: When the Packers ran the ball on third-and-goal from the 5 -- and got 3 yards from Eddie Lacy -- in the second quarter while trailing 21-3, that seemed to be a precursor to going for it on fourth down. Not so. Instead, coach Mike McCarthy opted to kick the field goal anyway, drawing boos from the crowd.

Injury report: Starting safety Micah Hyde and backup linebacker Andy Mulumba both left the game with knee injuries and did not return.

Game ball: Nelson is the best thing the Packers have going for them on offense, and quarterback Aaron Rodgers knows it. Time after time, Rodgers looked to Nelson, who delivered with nine catches for a career-high 209 yards and a touchdown.

What’s next: The Packers play their first NFC North game next Sunday at the Detroit Lions.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Despite practicing on a limited basis all week, right tackle Bryan Bulaga was not deemed healthy enough or effective enough to play for the Green Bay Packers on Sunday against the New York Jets.

Bulaga, who was listed as questionable because of the sprained MCL he sustained in the season opener against the Seattle Seahawks, was declared inactive.

Former first-round draft pick Derek Sherrod, who struggled in relief of Bulaga and allowed two sacks against the Seahawks, will make his first career start.

Another starter, linebacker Brad Jones (quadriceps), was ruled out on Friday, opening the door for Jamari Lattimore to start.

The Packers activated rookie nose tackle Mike Pennel, who was a healthy scratch in Week 1. The 332-pound Pennel gives the Packers another run-stopping lineman after they allowed 207 yards rushing last week. The Jets led the NFL in Week 1 rushing with 212 yards.

For the Jets, cornerback Dee Milliner (ankle) is active but Ellis Lankster is expected to start in his place, meaning Milliner’s snaps likely will be limited.

Here are the full inactives for each team:

Jets
Packers
GREEN BAY, Wis. – Right tackle Bryan Bulaga is no better than a 50-50 bet to play in Sunday's game against the New York Jets and still has to show Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy that he can go the distance in practice.

For that reason, plus some soreness in his left knee, Bulaga was listed as questionable on Friday's injury report. The Packers do not practice on Fridays anymore but will hold a short practice on Saturday. If there's a change to a player's status, the team will update that on Saturday.

Bulaga
"I think he needs to go out and be able to do the move-the-ball segment and show that he can go through and sustain a drive," McCarthy said Friday. "[That] would be usually what you’re looking for when you have someone coming off that type of injury."

If Bulaga can't go, Derek Sherrod, who struggled in his relief assignment last week against Seattle, would make his first career start.

The only player ruled out against the Jets was starting inside linebacker Brad Jones, who has a quadriceps injury and is coming off a poor showing. Jamari Lattimore, who started four games last season, is expected to start in Jones' place.

As expected, running back Eddie Lacy (concussion) was listed as probable after he was fully cleared on Thursday.

For information on the Jets’ injury situation, including the status of cornerback Dee Milliner, click here.

Here's the Packers' full injury report:

Out
LB Brad Jones (quadriceps)

Questionable
RT Bryan Bulaga (knee)

Probable
TE Brandon Bostick (fibula)
CB Demetri Goodson (concussion)
RB Eddie Lacy (concussion)

Jets vs. Packers preview

September, 12, 2014
Sep 12
8:00
AM ET

Only one team rushed for more yards than the Seattle Seahawks in Week 1, when the defending champs ran for 207 yards in the opener against the Green Bay Packers.

The team that bettered the Seahawks in the rushing department: the New York Jets, who get their crack at the Packers on Sunday at Lambeau Field. The Jets rushed for 212 yards in their season-opening win against the Oakland Raiders and surely will try to replicate that against the Packers' shaky-looking run defense.

.The last time these teams met, four years ago in the Meadowlands, it was a defensive slugfest won by the Packers 9-0.

Jets reporter Rich Cimini and Packers reporter Rob Demovsky of ESPN’s NFL Nation discuss the matchup:

Rich, considering how well the Jets ran the ball last week against the Raiders and how poorly the Packers defended Marshawn Lynch and Co., how could Rex Ryan's game plan be anything other than to try to run it down the Packers' throats?

Cimini: The Jets' best chance to win this game, maybe their only chance, is to pound the rock, hoping to duplicate what the Seahawks did to the Packers. The Jets certainly have the personnel to pull it off. Chris Ivory has been described as a poor man's Marshawn Lynch, a physical, tackle-breaking runner. Chris Johnson was overshadowed by Ivory in the opener, but he still has to be taken seriously. He won't break tackles like Ivory, but Johnson still has vertical speed. Unfortunately for the Jets, they don't have a Percy Harvin-type player to run a Jet Sweep, although it wouldn't shock me if they try Johnson or wide receiver Saalim Hakim (this dude can fly) in that role. The Jets are creative when it comes to their rushing attack, using the zone-read, the Wildcat and, yes, even a little wishbone.

Demovsky: So what you're saying is the Packers had better solve their run defense problems and do it fast? That would have been a major point of emphasis by defensive coordinator Dom Capers anyway, but it sounds like they will have their hands full with Ivory and Johnson. The Packers have refocused on tackling after missing 18 of them against the Seahawks. That is far too many for any defensive coordinator's liking. The problem is, it's hard to work on tackling in practice with the limited amount of contact that is allowed these days. Maybe that is not what the Packers need to fix the problem anyway, considering coach Mike McCarthy said it was more of a footwork issue. The Packers can't have defenders leaving their feet to try to make tackles. That won't work against anyone, and it certainly won't work against dynamic running backs.

Will the Packers have to worry much about Michael Vick coming out for some gadget plays now that Geno Smith has apparently settled into the job?

.Cimini: The Packers will have to prepare for a Michael Vick package, which worked as well as the old Tim Tebow package. In other words, it was a waste. Vick was used for three plays last week, taking a direct snap in the Wildcat and lining up twice as a slot receiver. He got the ball on an end around and threw into the end zone, missing a wide-open Eric Decker. Frankly, I think they got too caught up in the gadget stuff. All it did was disrupt the rhythm of Geno Smith and the offense. I don't think Vick is a fan of it, either. The only upside, I suppose, is that it will force opponents to prepare for it, taking time away from other preparations. I will say this about Vick: At 34, he is no longer a freak-of-nature athlete, but he is still dangerous with the ball in his hands.

Speaking of freak-of-nature athletes, the Packers had all kinds of trouble with Percy Harvin last week. What did that expose in their defense?

Demovsky: Probably their lack of speed more than anything else, although Harvin wasn't the first one and probably won't be the last to expose that. The Packers tried to get quicker up front on defense this offseason by going to lighter, more athletic defensive linemen, but at least in the opener it did not have the desired impact.

We all know the Jets don't have Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie in their secondary anymore, but is this group in as much as trouble as it might have looked?

Cimini: The patchwork secondary came away from the opener feeling pretty good about itself, but I think they're in for a reality check against Aaron Rodgers & Co. If Dee Milliner sits out again with a high-ankle sprain -- he is a question mark -- the starters will be Darrin Walls and Antonio Allen, a converted safety whose experience at cornerback consists of 48 preseason snaps and one regular-season game. Allen is a big, physical player, a terrific tackler, but he will struggle against a polished route runner like Jordy Nelson. Ryan is a clever defensive coach, but he will have to pull a rabbit out of his hat to slow down the Packers' passing attack.

Demovsky: That passing attack looked far from dangerous in the opener, but that might have had more to do with the Seahawks' Legion of Boom defense and perhaps the crowd noise at CenturyLink Field than anything else. Either one or some combination of both rendered the Packers' no-huddle offense virtually ineffective. When you see Rodgers with an average of just 5.7 yards per passing attempt, you know something is off. This is a quarterback who in 2011 averaged 9.2 yards per passing attempt. They are going to want to get back to that this week, so expect them to take more shots down the field with Nelson and Randall Cobb.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Eddie Lacy is a bulldozing running back. He ran that way in college at Alabama. He ran that way last year when he won the NFL's offensive rookie of the year, and he never once talked about changing his style.

Lacy
At least he hadn't before Thursday, when the Green Bay Packers running back was cleared to return from the concussion he sustained in last week's season opener against the Seattle Seahawks.

For the first time, Lacy hinted at the possibility that he might have to alter his hard-charging style of running for the sake of career longevity, saying "somehow I'll have to figure out a way to change the way I run but still keep the physical part of it."

It's not something Lacy said he planned to change immediately, and his position coach, former NFL fullback Sam Gash, doesn't believe his pupil needs to alter his approach despite being diagnosed with his second concussion in the last 51 weeks.

"He's a physical guy," Gash said Thursday a few hours after Lacy's comments. "I don't really get into him changing what he's doing. He's been successful in the NFL, and he's going to continue to do what makes him successful. If that's him feeling like he has to change or whatever, then that's what we would obviously talk about. But as of right now, it's not really a question that I can, should, or really want to answer."

For his part, Lacy indicated that whatever changes he makes -- if any -- likely will not be drastic.

Last season, on the way to a Packers' rookie record of 1,178 yards rushing, Lacy had the fourth-most yards after contact in the NFL last season with 531, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

"I can only be myself," said Lacy, who was limited to just 34 yards on 12 carries in the opener. "I was drafted here because of the way I run. It's just what I have to do. Just trying to alter it, make sure I'm still physical but trying to keep the concussions out of it somehow. I'll figure that out along the way. I'm definitely going to still run the way I run."
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Green Bay Packers might have erred last week when they decided to play linebacker Brad Jones, who was nursing a hamstring injury.

Jones
It sounds like that decision will be much easier to make this week. Jones did not practice again on Thursday, making it unlikely he will play Sunday against the New York Jets. Jones had one of his worst games in last week's loss to Seattle, tying for the team lead with three missed tackles.

It opens the door for Jamari Lattimore to move into Jones' spot in the starting lineup but also likely means more snaps for fellow starter A.J. Hawk.

Jones played all 70 snaps against the Seahawks and served as the signal caller on defense. Hawk did not play in the dime package but likely will take over that role this week rather than putting too much on Lattimore, although it's possible the Packers could use Sam Barrington as the dime linebacker.

"The game this week's going to be a game where they switch personnel groups almost every down and they use every one in the books, I think experience is the one of the key factors there," defensive coordinator Dom Capers said. "You want your signal caller to be a confident guy, so experience factors into that as opposed to putting a guy out there that really hasn't done a lot of it against a team that's going to give you multiple personnel groups and a fast-paced tempo."

That would seem to indicate Hawk will take on that role.

Jones was the only player who did not practice on Thursday.

Right tackle Bryan Bulaga practiced in pads on Thursday on a limited basis, but the Packers weren't ready to pronounce him ready to start against the Jets after he left the opener with a sprained MCL in his left knee. Bulaga appeared to move better than he did on Wednesday, when his gait seemed off.

"The biggest thing is just the movement," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said after Thursday's practice. "I'm not really looking for him to take the whole team drills or anything like that, because he's not ready for that. How he feels tomorrow and if he can go on Saturday will be the final test."

Details on the Jets' injury situation, including an update on cornerback Dee Milliner, can be found here.

Here is the Packers' full injury report:
  • TE Brandon Bostick (fibula, limited participation)
  • RT Bryan Bulaga (knee, limited participation)
  • CB Demetri Goodson (concussion, full participation)
  • LB Brad Jones (quadriceps, did not practice)
  • RB Eddie Lacy (concussion, full participation)

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