NFC North: Green Bay Packers

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- You can go back to enjoying your Thanksgiving, the Green Bay Packers don't appear to be concerned that receiver Davante Adams is at risk of missing Sunday's game against the New England Patriots.

Adams was listed as a limited participant in Wednesday's practice because of a heel injury, but he did not appear to do anything during the portion that was open to reporters.

Coach Mike McCarthy said someone stepped on Adams' foot in practice on Wednesday.

"Davante actually moved around, did some things, so they're just kind of working through exactly how they're going to handle it," McCarthy said after practice. "So I don't have high concern."

Neither did receiver Jordy Nelson.

"I think he'll be fine," Nelson said. "I'm not worried."

One player not listed on the injury report -- and who insisted that he shouldn't be -- is linebacker A.J. Hawk, who looked like he was having a hard time in coverage against Minnesota Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph last Sunday. On the Vikings' first play from scrimmage, Rudolph easily ran away from Hawk for a 23-yard gain on a crossing route.

"It wasn't from being unhealthy or whatever," Hawk said. "He just caught me by surprise. I should've anticipated him coming across earlier, but it wasn't anything health-wise.

"I'm good. I'm healthy. There's no way I would ever say anything if I wasn't, but I'm actually not lying to you."

Here's the full injury report from Thursday’s practice:
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- If the Green Bay Packers' plan was to feature Davante Adams on Sunday against the New England Patriots, they might have some alterations to make.

Adams did not take part in the portion of Thursday's practice that was open to the media. He was in attendance but spent the early part of the session talking with members of the team's training staff.


He could be a critical piece on Sunday if the Patriots, with two top-flight cornerbacks in Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner, can effectively cover the Packers' top-two receivers, Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb.

A full injury update will be available after practice.

Adams practiced on Wednesday and also spoke with reporters in the locker room afterward. However, during Sunday's win against the Minnesota Vikings, he left the game for three plays during the first quarter after he appeared to fall awkwardly on his midsection after a 10-yard reception on the Packers' second series. He returned for the next series after missing only three plays.

Linebacker Nick Perry (shoulder) and cornerback Jarrett Bush (groin) were the only other players not practicing during the session that was moved to earlier in the day in order to allow everyone to get home for Thanksgiving.

Guard T.J. Lang (ankle) returned to practice after sitting out on Wednesday. Fellow starting guard Josh Sitton (toe) practiced for the second straight day.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Green Bay Packers aren't sure whether the New England Patriots will assign Darrelle Revis or Brandon Browner to shadow Jordy Nelson on Sunday at Lambeau Field.

Whichever way the Patriots decide to play the Packers' top receiver, it most likely will remain that way for the entire game, leaving the other New England cornerback to stalk Randall Cobb wherever he goes.

"It's a matchup defense," quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. "They'll figure out who they want on Jordy, who they want on Randall, who they want on [tight end Andrew Quarless] and who they want on Davante [Adams], and we'll run our offense and adjust if we have to."

But don't tell Adams, the rookie No. 3 receiver, that more opportunities will come his way because of it.

To him, that line of thinking is an insult to the work that Cobb and Nelson -- who have combined for 126 catches, 1,903 yards and 19 touchdowns -- have put in through the first 11 games of this season.

"I feel like if everybody's saying that the ball's just going to come to me, they're saying that Revis is going to lock [up] Jordy," Adams said. "Jordy is one of the best receivers in the game right now. Why not still throw to Jordy if he's open? We're all going to run our routes and do our best to get open. I don't really like the whole, 'it could come to you Davante because they're going to put Revis on Jordy and Browner on Randall,' because it kind of down plays our receivers."

Few teams have gone the way of matching one cornerback on Nelson or Cobb all game long. This season, only the Miami Dolphins did it with Brent Grimes on Nelson, who still caught nine passes for 107 yards and a touchdown in the Week 6 victory.

Few teams, if any other than the Patriots, have two cornerbacks capable of doing it.

In last Sunday's win over the Detroit Lions, Patriots coach Bill Belichick went with Revis on Golden Tate and the more physical Browner on Calvin Johnson. Safety Devin McCourty usually helped bracket Johnson.

If they follow that same plan, it could be Browner (with help) on Nelson and Revis on Cobb, who plays more in the slot.

"You look at both of them," said Nelson, who last Sunday went over 1,000 yards for the second straight season. "I'm pretty confident I'll get one or the other. But you look at past games, how they've treated other teams, so you kind of get a feel for it. But they can change it up. You go through it kind of like a normal game and guys aren't going to follow you, especially when you don't know who will. So you're watching both and how they play and try to get a feel for it and have a game plan for each of them."

Whatever the scenario, Adams will almost certainly face the Patriots' number three corner.

"Depending on whether they want to put Browner inside or out, so depending on that, but yeah, most likely," said Adams, who since his career-high seven catches for 75 yards against the Saints in Week 8 has caught only for passes the last three games combined.

But that does not mean Adams' number will be called more often this week.

"We'll see," he said. "You know just as much as I do where it's going."
GREEN BAY, Wis. – If you thought Bill Belichick's comparison of Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers was deep, what until you hear what Mike McCarthy said Wednesday.

Expanding upon the New England Patriots coach's deadpan line from Wednesday morning that "they both wear number 12" before walking off, the Green Bay Packers coach offered something more.

"They're both from California," McCarthy said.

And with that, perhaps paying homage to Belichick and his sometimes brief news conferences, McCarthy's news conference was over.

To be fair, McCarthy did answer other questions with much lengthier responses and also prefaced his line by saying he believes questions about comparing players are difficult.

"Stay away from them," he said.

During his session with reporters on Wednesday, Rodgers was told of both coaches' remarks and then was asked if there were any other similarities?

"That's probably it right there," Rodgers said.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- T.J. Lang was either trying to keep the New England Patriots guessing or he was just trying to be funny, but the Green Bay Packers right guard had a towel draped over his head during Wednesday's practice as he rode a stationary bike.

It was probably the latter.

Lang aggravated his sprained left ankle in Sunday's 24-21 win over the Minnesota Vikings. Although he finished the game after missing just one series, he said afterward that he was hurting. Lang has not been practicing at all on Wednesdays since he first sustained the injury Oct. 26 against the New Orleans Saints.

But fellow starting guard Josh Sitton, who has been on a similar schedule following his toe injury against the Saints, was back on the field.

So was running back Eddie Lacy, who was battling a stomach illness during the Vikings game.

Tight end Brandon Bostick (hip) also returned to practice after missing the last two games.

The only other players not practicing Wednesday were cornerback Jarrett Bush (groin) and outside linebacker Nick Perry (shoulder). Neither played against Minnesota.

The full injury report will be available after practice.
GREEN BAY, Wis. – Eddie Lacy's best game of the season came with an added benefit: The Green Bay Packers running back was named the NFC Offensive Player of the Week on Wednesday.

Lacy rushed for a season-high 125 yards on 25 carries in Sunday's 24-21 road win over the Minnesota Vikings.

And the second-year pro did so while battling a stomach ailment.

It was just Lacy's second 100-yard rushing game of the season. He had four of them last season on the way to a 1,178-yard season and the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award. However, from an efficiency standpoint, Lacy has actually been more productive this season. He's averaging 4.4 yards per carry. His average last season was 4.1.

It was the second player-of-the-week award for Lacy, who became the first Packers player to win offensive player of the week in each of his first two NFL seasons.

From a total yardage standpoint, he's on pace to eclipse last season's total because he’s become more involved in the passing game. He needs only six more catches to match last season's total, and he's already topped last season's receiving total. He's on pace for nearly 1,500 total yards. Last season, his rushing and receiving totals combined for 1,435 yards.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Aaron Rodgers' beverage of choice after games has long been a Grape Crush soda.

The Green Bay Packers quarterback doesn't always bring it with him to his postgame news conference like he did after Sunday's 24-21 win over the Minnesota Vikings, but he says he was not sticking it to the purple-clad team or its fans by doing so.

And to anyone who doubts how long he has been drinking that after games, he had a message Tuesday on his ESPN Milwaukee radio show.

"To all the idiot trolls out there, seven years," Rodgers said adding that he also enjoys a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. "PBJ and Grape or Orange Crush. It's been grape for the last five; the first couple years it was orange or grape."

Nevertheless, the image of Rodgers drinking from a bottle of Grape Crush got some people riled up after Sunday's game.

"Any of the local media or anybody who's seen me after a game, I'm always carrying that around with me," Rodgers said on his show. "That's probably the only soda that I ever drink – right after the game, when you've got to get those nutrients back with you. So that's my postgame [snack], PBJ and the Grape Crush. I do like it, contrary to anybody who thinks I was trolling anything. It's absolutely ridiculous. It's comical."

Patriots-Packers is No. 1 vs. No. 2

November, 25, 2014
Nov 25
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Not that it needed any more juice, but Sunday's Green Bay Packers-New England Patriots game at Lambeau Field -- a game some believe is a Super Bowl preview -- will be a matchup of No. 1 against No. 2 in the ESPN Power Rankings.

That's because the Packers moved up one spot from last week, when they were No. 3 in the rankings. They jumped over the former No. 2, the Arizona Cardinals. The Patriots have been atop the rankings for the past four weeks.

A win on Sunday, when the Packers are three-point favorites according to the online oddsmaker Bovada.LV, would no doubt put Green Bay on top of the Power Rankings for the first time since the 2012 preseason poll.

Although the Packers have just a one-game lead over the Detroit Lions in the NFC North, they are well ahead in these rankings. The Lions slipped six spots to No. 13 after losing to the Patriots on Sunday.

Here's what the top of rankings look like:
  • 1. Patriots (9-2)
  • 2. Packers (8-3)
  • 3. Broncos (8-3)
  • 4. Cardinals (9-2)
  • 5. Cowboys (8-3)
Click here for the full ESPN Power Rankings and see my ballot below:

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

QB snapshot: Aaron Rodgers

November, 25, 2014
Nov 25
A quick observation of quarterback Aaron Rodgers and how he played in the Green Bay Packers' 24-21 win over the Minnesota Vikings in Week 12:

Just because Rodgers didn't put up astronomical numbers (209 yards with 2 touchdown passes and no interceptions) does not mean there's reason to be concerned that he's cooling off. The Vikings committed an extra defender to coverage, playing mostly with both safeties deep in order to prevent Rodgers from hitting Jordy Nelson down the field. Nelson may find extra attention this week as the Packers host the New England Patriots in what some are viewing as a possible Super Bowl preview.

The Packers' longest pass play was a 34-yard catch-and-run by tight end Andrew Quarless. In only three games this season has Rodgers' long play been shorter. Perhaps it's just a coincidence, but all of those were on the road.

On the whole, Rodgers has been extremely effective on medium-to-long throws this season. According to ESPN Stats & Information, he has completed 46.9 percent of his passes thrown 20 or more yards downfield this season, with 8 touchdowns. By comparison, his opponent on Sunday, quarterback Tom Brady, has completed 27.3 percent of those passes with 3 touchdowns this season.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The bigger the game, the more the little things matter.

That's how Green Bay Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers is approaching the preparation for Sunday's game against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots (9-2) at Lambeau Field.

"Well, you have to be sharp," Capers said Monday. "There's not a lot of margin for error when you're going against a quarterback that's done it for as long as he's done it with the level of efficiency he's done it with. There's not many things he hasn't seen."

For a good portion of Monday's group session with reporters, Capers used words like "sharp" and phrases such as being "on top of your game" when talking about the Patriots.

When asked later what he meant by those, Capers pointed to three instances from Sunday's 24-21 win at the Minnesota Vikings that, if repeated against the Patriots, could prove more costly.

They were:
  • On a fourth-and-5 play in the second quarter, Morgan Burnett's interception was wiped out because of a holding penalty on Micah Hyde. The Vikings scored their first touchdown on that drive.
  • On a third-and-6 play in the second quarter, Hyde had a chance to tackle running back Joe Banyard short of the line to gain but instead Banyard carried him for 3 extra yards and a first down. (Hyde made up for it with an interception on the next play.)
  • On a third-and-4 play in the fourth quarter, outside linebacker Mike Neal was flagged for a neutral-zone infraction, which gave the Vikings a first down and led to the touchdown that pulled them to within three points with 3:23 left in the game.

"Those are the kind of things that in a game like this, these guys are efficient enough, you can't give them any advantage with, say, penalty-aided drives." Capers said. "Both of the [Vikings'] touchdown drives yesterday were penalty-aided."

The Vikings did not have the experienced quarterback or the playmakers to make Capers' defense pay for its mistakes.

The Patriots (9-3) do with Brady and his supporting cast of tight end Rob Gronkowski -- a match-up nightmare for linebackers and safeties alike -- receiver Julian Edelman and whichever running back they decide to use on a particular week. Two games ago, it was Jonas Gray, who rushed for 201 yards. The last game, it was the recently re-signed LeGarrette Blount, who had two touchdowns in his return to New England.

"We certainly have probably the biggest challenge coming in here Sunday," Capers said. "We've got to go back to work and make sure we're on top of our game and we're ready to go out and play our best, because that's what it's going to take to win a game like this."

When it was posed to coach Mike McCarthy on Monday that the Packers (8-3) would need to be sharp against Brady and Co., he replied: "So you're saying we're not sharp?"

Then how about extra sharp?

"OK, well extra sharp will be the focus," McCarthy said. "You gave me my theme for the week, I guess, there."

And then his tone turned more serious.

"New England is a great football team," McCarthy said. "Just the way they're hitting their stride right now, just watching the video this morning, very impressive. We'll stay in tune with that. We're not going to make a bunch of changes. We like the football team that we are, and we look forward to the competition."
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Mike McCarthy knew Eddie Lacy was not feeling well during Sunday's 24-21 victory over the Minnesota Vikings, but he still figured the Green Bay Packers' running back would be effective.

Lacy was all of that and then some.

One day after he rushed for 125 yards on 25 carries -- season highs in both categories -- Lacy was still feeling the aftereffects of what McCarthy called a gastrointestinal illness.

"He was in today for the [regeneration] workout, so he went through the weight-room work and so forth," McCarthy said Monday. "It's something that we're still monitoring."

Before Sunday, Lacy had not carried 25 times in a game in almost exactly a year. His previous high this season was 17 in Week 4 against the Chicago Bears.

"Really I don't think statistics really reflect the whole picture of everything that we've done," McCarthy said. "Eddie's a good teammate and Eddie, and I think if you asked Eddie -- and I've heard him answer the question a number of times -- he just wants to be a good teammate."

But the Packers might need to start leaning on Lacy more now that the weather is turning sour in Green Bay. The early forecast for Sunday's game against the New England Patriots at Lambeau Field calls for temperatures in the 20s.

And they also might need the running game more if teams try to play coverage like the Vikings, who used a two-high safety look that limited Aaron Rodgers' shots down the field.

"It shows that we can win a game a different way than we have been winning, by scoring a lot of points early and having the opponent down by halftime by a large margin," Packers offensive coordinator Tom Clements said. "If you can win games, then you have to find ways to win each week. Yesterday, we found a way to do it."

Packers can move on to New England

November, 24, 2014
Nov 24
GREEN BAY, Wis. – In the moments shortly after Sunday's 24-21 victory over the Minnesota Vikings, the Green Bay Packers weren't quite ready to start thinking about or discussing Sunday's showdown with the New England Patriots at Lambeau Field.

"Haven't even thought about it yet," Packers receiver Jordy Nelson said Sunday before he left TCF Bank Stadium for the short flight from Minneapolis. "I'll worry about that on Monday."

Well, it's Monday, and it's time to move on to the Patriots.

Here's why Sunday's game between the Patriots (9-2) and the Packers (8-3) has the potential to be a monumental game:
  • Brady
    It's the first – and potentially last – head-to-head meeting between MVP quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady as starters.
  • It's a matchup of the current No. 1 seed in the AFC and the No. 2 seed in the NFC.
  • It's a potential Super Bowl preview, which, of course, would mean it wouldn't be the last meeting between the two future Hall of Fame quarterbacks.

"It's just another big game for us," Packers right guard T.J. Lang said. "We've been playing well lately. They don't all come easy, like they have the past couple games. We've got to grind some out like we did [Sunday]."

The Packers haven't played the Patriots since their 2010 loss at New England, a game Rodgers missed because of a concussion he sustained the previous week at Detroit. Matt Flynn played in his place and nearly rallied the Packers to a victory, only to lose 31-27.

"To be honest with you, I don't think many of us are going to use that as motivation," Packers linebacker Clay Matthews said. "We did win a Super Bowl that year, didn't we?"

Indeed, they did. But if they want to be considered the favorite to win it again this season, a victory over the Patriots might be a requirement.

Rodgers' only appearance against Brady came in a 2006 game at Lambeau Field in relief of an injured Brett Favre. Rodgers finished that game, but afterward it was discovered that he sustained a season-ending fractured foot.
MINNEAPOLIS – It might have been the longest 1-yard touchdown pass in Green Bay Packers' history, and for that reason the floater that Aaron Rodgers heaved across the field to rookie tight end Richard Rodgers on Sunday will serve as one of the most memorable scoring plays of the season.

Based on multiple looks at the replay -- and with a little geometry (see the Pythagorean theorem) to help in the calculation -- the ball traveled an estimated 39.4 yards through the air, according to unofficial calculations. The nearest Vikings' defender was at least 15 yards away.

Here's how it happened: In the second quarter of Sunday's 24-21 victory over the Minnesota Vikings, the Packers had a first-and-goal at the 1 after a 34-yard catch and run by Andrew Quarless. Coach Mike McCarthy then went with a three tight-end, two-back package that called for Aaron Rodgers to roll to his right. Almost everyone went with him, except Richard Rodgers. He waited for the entire Vikings' defense to follow the ball and then after a few seconds slipped out to the back left corner of the end zone.

By the time the rookie was waving his hands in the air about 3 yards from the back corner of the end zone, his quarterback was already at the numbers near the 10-yard line on the right side of the field.

"You usually don't have to throw the ball 20 or 30 yards for a 1-yard touchdown,” McCarthy said. "I'm sure you guys will measure that out and correct me. But Richard ran a great route on the back side. It's a delay route. Aaron delayed more than he probably needed to, but it was obviously a great throw."

And one that seemingly hung in the air for, as Richard Rodgers said, "forever. "

"I was just open, no one was really covering me," he said "So I was just standing back there waving."

Quarless was actually the primary read on the front side of the play, while Richard Rodgers was the second option on the back side.

"It didn't feel great that the back side was going to be open, so as I came off the fake and extended the play, Andrew got caught a little bit inside, so that was dead, " Aaron Rodgers said. "And at the last minute, I kind of saw him [Richard Rodgers] out of the corner of my eye and knew I had to put a little something on that to get it over there."

It gave the Packers a 14-7 lead with 5:23 left in the second quarter.

Illness doesn't hamper Eddie Lacy

November, 23, 2014
Nov 23
MINNEAPOLIS -- Observed and heard in the locker room after the Green Bay Packers' 24-21 victory over the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday at TCF Bank Stadium:

Feeling ill: The Packers could tell running back Eddie Lacy wasn't feeling well throughout the game, but until it was disclosed after the game that he was suffering from an illness, no one on the outside knew. You sure couldn't tell by the way he performed. He rushed 25 times for 125 yards -- both season highs -- and scored two touchdowns (one rushing and one receiving). By the time reporters entered the locker room, Lacy was already on the team bus trying to recover. "I knew he wasn't feeling great," left guard Josh Sitton said. "He's a tough son of a bitch. ... You could see it on his face a little bit that he wasn't feeling too good. He's just tough, man."

Game ball: Rookie tight end Richard Rodgers knows what he's going to do with the ball he caught for his 1-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter. "Probably give it to my dad," Rodgers said of his father, who is the Carolina Panthers' special-teams coach. It was perhaps one of the most memorable plays of the game because of how far Aaron Rodgers had to throw the ball for just 1 official yard. He rolled to his right and from just outside where the 10-yard-line number is painted, he throw the ball all the way to back left corner of the end zone, where the tight end was completely uncovered and waving his arms.

On to New England: The talk turned almost immediately to Sunday's showdown with the New England Patriots, the first-ever meeting between Rodgers and Tom Brady as starters. But most players said they wanted to enjoy this victory first. "I haven't even thought about it," receiver Jordy Nelson said. Guard T.J. Lang said: "It will be a big game for us. I haven't really thought about them too much."

Rapid Reaction: Green Bay Packers

November, 23, 2014
Nov 23

MINNEAPOLIS -- A few thoughts on the Green Bay Packers' 24-21 victory over the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday at TCF Bank Stadium:

What it means: The Packers (8-3) should now have first place in the NFC North to themselves for the first time this season. They came into the weekend tied with the Detroit Lions, who were losing in the fourth quarter to the New England Patriots when the Packers game ended. But things could change again next week given that the Patriots are next up on the Packers' schedule. And then there's still the Week 17 game against the Lions at Lambeau Field. There's much to be decided in the division, but Sunday's win put things in the Packers' hands.

Stock watch: Micah Hyde’s stock in this game was both up and down. The Packers safety was called for a holding penalty when the Vikings went for it on fourth down (more on that below) and then got dragged several yards by running back Joe Banyard, who converted a first down on a short pass in the second quarter. But on the next snap, Hyde picked off Teddy Bridgewater. It was Hyde’s second interception in the last three games. Then in the third quarter, Hyde recorded his first sack of the season.

Questionable call: Which you would rather have if you were on defense: third-and-15 from your 49-yard line or fourth-and-5 from your 39? Packers coach Mike McCarthy declined an illegal shift penalty on the Vikings, which allowed Bridgewater's 5-yard scramble to stand, setting up the fourth down, which the Vikings went for and converted thanks to a holding penalty on Hyde that wiped out an interception by Morgan Burnett. Five plays later, Bridgewater's 22-yard touchdown pass to Charles Johnson tied the game at 7.

Game ball: Welcome back to the running game, Eddie Lacy. For the first time this season, Lacy carried more than 17 times. And he made the most of it, plodding his way to 125 yards on 25 carries. He did it without the benefit of many explosive runs (his longest gain on the ground was 16 yards). It was his second 100-yard game of the season. Both of them have come against the Vikings.

What's next: The Packers play perhaps their most anticipated game of the season next Sunday against the Patriots at Lambeau Field.