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Game notes: Defense makes big plays but gets banged up

Posted by Mike Spofford on August 24, 2013 – 12:39 am

For the broader overviews of Friday night’s game, check out the game recap and the locker room report. Here are some additional game notes:

–Defense makes high-impact plays, but at a cost: Seattle QB Russell Wilson isn’t easy to get to, but the Packers defense made several big plays against him, recording three sacks and two interceptions of Wilson, who played the entire first half and the first series of the second half.

LB Clay Matthews

LB Clay Matthews

Unfortunately, some of those players making the big plays also left the game with injuries.

Wilson started hot, converting a pair of third downs with long pass plays on the opening drive, but LB Clay Matthews sacked him for a 12-yard loss in the red zone, leading to a field goal.

“He’s going to make his plays, but for the most part, we got after him, got our hands on him and got him down,” Matthews said of Wilson.

The defense opened the second drive with another sack, this one by LB Brad Jones, before getting a pair of interceptions on the Seahawks’ last two drives of the first half. The first was by CB Casey Hayward, who was making his preseason debut, off a double deflection by LBs Nick Perry and Robert Francois.

“Obviously he’s continuing his playmaking ability from last year,” Matthews said of Hayward, who led all NFL rookies in 2012 with six interceptions. “It was good to have him back out there, good to see what he’s capable of, and we’re going to need it this year.”

Hayward may have come back from his hamstring injury too soon, however. He re-aggravated the hamstring in the game. Jones and S Morgan Burnett also were mentioned by Mike McCarthy after the game as having hamstring injuries.

The second interception came from S Jerron McMillian, who made a diving grab of an overthrown ball at midfield.

The defense got one more sack of Wilson on the opening drive of the second half, as backup DL Jordan Miller brought him down. Another sack by DE C.J. Wilson three plays later was negated by an offensive holding penalty, which the Packers accepted for the additional lost yardage.

Rookie LB Nate Palmer added a sack of backup QB Brady Quinn in the second half, and another sack of Quinn by DL Mike Daniels was nullified by an offsides call on linemate Datone Jones.

“From what I understand, our sack numbers jumped dramatically from 2011 to 2012, so I think we were pretty good last year, and I think we’re improving this year,” Daniels said.

–Harris limps off: Another notable injury was to RB DuJuan Harris, who got his first preseason action and had three carries for two yards, plus one reception for 11 yards. But after the 11-yard catch, Harris was slow to get up and said afterward his knee was bothering him, the same knee that kept him out of the first two weeks of training camp.

“I’m all right,” he said. “I walked off. Everything will be good.

“It felt like it’s been forever since I took a carry. I feel like I could have done a little more on some of those, but we’ll see when we look at the film.”

–Crosby makes it count: K Mason Crosby bounced back from his three-miss practice on Wednesday to convert his only FG try on the night, from 38 yards in the first quarter.

“Whatever happens during the week, I need to have a good game,” Crosby said. “I felt good on that field goal.”

–Finding daylight: In what could be shaping up as a battle for the last RB spot on the roster, third-year pro Alex Green found some daylight on a wide toss play, cutting upfield for 31 yards, more than double the longest rush by a Packers back in this preseason.

“It’s very important to go out and show at least a little bit of what you can do,” Green said. “Hopefully it’s enough for the coaches to like.”

Assuming Harris plus draft picks Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin make the team, a final RB spot could come down to Green or James Starks, who didn’t get any carries Friday night and was unable to make up for a fumble in last week’s game in St. Louis that led to his removal from the contest.


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Several players miss practice Wed.

Posted by Mike Spofford on December 19, 2012 – 12:24 pm

A total of nine players were not practicing on Wednesday during the portion of the workout open to the media.

Those whose injuries are known include RB James Starks (knee), TE Tom Crabtree (hamstring), WR Jordy Nelson (hamstring) and DE C.J. Wilson (knee).

But five additional players, who all played in last Sunday’s game but were not yet reported to have new injuries, also sat out. They were RB Alex Green, C Jeff Saturday, G/T T.J. Lang, LB Erik Walden and DE Jerel Worthy. Saturday (foot) and Lang (ankle) have been on the injury report in recent weeks.

Mike McCarthy will address the media with an update following practice.


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Benson officially out for season

Posted by Mike Spofford on November 29, 2012 – 3:52 pm

Mike McCarthy announced on Thursday that RB Cedric Benson had surgery on his injured foot Wednesday and would remain on injured reserve for the remainder of the season.

When Benson initially injured the foot in Week 5 in Indianapolis, he was placed on IR with the designation to return. But that return now won’t happen. Benson said as recently as two weeks ago that he was going to be able to avoid surgery, but in the end, it was necessary.

That leaves the Packers with three healthy running backs in James Starks, Alex Green and John Kuhn.

“I feel we have a good rotation,” McCarthy said. “It’s really just finding the things they all do well, and playing to that and having them in sync with the run-blocking unit. I thought the way we started last game, and Arizona was a good game. If we can find that rhythm, it will definitely benefit us.”

Last week against the Giants, the aforementioned trio plus Randall Cobb combined for 40 rushing yards on 10 carries in the first half, a solid 4.0 average. But trailing 31-10 at halftime, the Packers were forced to get away from the run. Against Arizona before the bye, Starks and Green combined for 114 yards on 28 carries (4.1 avg.).

“We just need to pick up our end now,” Kuhn said. “I don’t think there’s just one in particular key. I think everybody just needs to detail their job – the line, the running backs, the wide receivers. The running game isn’t just the running back position. Every position falls into it.”


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RB Green, TE Quarless not practicing Friday

Posted by Mike Spofford on November 16, 2012 – 11:15 am

RB Alex Green and TE Andrew Quarless were not participating in practice on Friday during the portion open to the media. Quarless sat out practice on Thursday and appears headed to inactive status for Sunday’s game.

Green, however, was not on the injury report this week, so he’ll have to be added. Coming off ACL surgery last year, it could be that Green is just getting a day off and he hasn’t had any sort of flare-up or setback, but either way, Mike McCarthy will address it following practice.

CB Charles Woodson, WR Greg Jennings and LB Clay Matthews already have been ruled out of Sunday’s game. If Quarless is also inactive, that will leave only three more inactive decisions to make.


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RB Alex Green not practicing Friday

Posted by Mike Spofford on September 7, 2012 – 11:32 am

In the portion of Friday’s practice open to the media, RB Alex Green was not practicing. Green hasn’t been on the injury report all week, so one possibility is that this was a planned day off as part of his comeback from reconstructive knee surgery. Green was on a snap count all through training camp and the preseason.

We’ll know more when Mike McCarthy addresses the media after practice and the final injury report for the week is released.

Also not practicing Friday were RB James Starks and LB Jamari Lattimore. CB Davon House was doing some drills but was not wearing his helmet and did not appear to be a full participant.

Post-practice update: Green’s day of rest was planned, and he is listed as probable on the injury report for Sunday’s game.


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RB Green rounding into form

Posted by Mike Spofford on August 20, 2012 – 5:30 pm

For all the talk surrounding new RB Cedric Benson’s preseason debut Thursday night, the game in Cincinnati will be another important step for RB Alex Green as well.

Coming off of reconstructive knee surgery, Green has been on a snap count throughout training camp but has managed it well with no setbacks to speak of. He got three carries in the preseason opener in San Diego and then four in last week’s game vs. Cleveland, averaging 4 yards per tote in the second game. He had one 5-yard run that nearly ruptured into a longer gain, but Green was tripped up.

With the status of James Starks (turf toe) uncertain at this point for the start of the regular season, the starting job for Sept. 9 could come down to Green or Benson. Green is getting closer to being able to handle a larger load, according to his position coach, Alex Van Pelt, and he looks to continue making progress.

“I think he’s getting stronger every day,” Van Pelt said. “As he feels more confident in his knee and the work he’s getting out there, I think you can see the explosiveness and the pad level and what he brings as a runner. You can see it in practice, and hopefully it will translate over this week to the game.”


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Posted in Packers.com Blog, Training Camp | 19 Comments »