NFC North: Green Bay Packers

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.

Rodgers
Rodgers
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
5:55
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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:

Lacy
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
4:01
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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.
MINNEAPOLIS -- If the Green Bay Packers still plan to use Clay Matthews at inside linebacker as extensively as they have the previous two games, they will need to find another option at his old outside linebacker spot.

Nick Perry, who started the last two weeks at right outside linebacker, was declared inactive for Sunday's game against the Minnesota Vikings. Perry was listed as questionable because of a shoulder injury.

Mike Neal would be the logical choice to assume those outside linebacker snaps, but rookie Jayrone Elliott also sees some action there.

Matthews has played the majority of his snaps the last two weeks at inside linebacker, especially on early downs, but it's possible he could go back to playing more at outside linebacker.

On Friday, coach Mike McCarthy said they would have to adjust their plan if Perry could not play.

The Packers also will be without one of their key special-teams players, cornerback Jarrett Bush (groin). In his place, rookie cornerback Demetri Goodson was activated for just the second time this season.

Here's the full inactive list:
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- If Dom Capers' defensive system can be boiled down to a basic principal, it's this: Blitz as often as necessary to disrupt the rhythm and timing of an opponent's offense.

So it should come as no surprise that since he came to Green Bay as defensive coordinator in 2009, the Green Bay Packers have ranked as one of the NFL's most frequent blitz teams (see accompanying chart).

But there's much more that goes into it than just turning linebackers, safeties and cornerbacks loose.

Some of Capers' best defenses in Green Bay have been those that have blitzed the least (see 2009 and 2010).

"I'd say we're probably normally [blitzing at] around 38 to 40 percent of the time," Capers said.

But with worst defense he fielded, the 2011 unit that ranked last in the league, he blitzed the most.

"We couldn't get any pressure on the quarterback that year," Capers said.

That trend is hardly universal.

Take this season, for example. One of the best defensive performances came in Week 5 against the Minnesota Vikings. In the Packers' 42-10 victory, Capers blitzed on 47.2 percent of the Vikings’ dropbacks, according to ESPN Stats & Information (which defines a blitz as sending five or more pass-rushers at the quarterback). Only three other times this season has Capers blitzed at a higher rate -- at Miami in Week 6 (53.1 percent), against Carolina in Week 7 (50 percent) and against the New York Jets in Week 2 (47.3 percent). All were victories

Then there was 19-7 loss against the Detroit Lions in Week 2, when the defense allowed just 10 points. Capers blitzed a season-low 12.8 percent of the time.

This season, the Packers' defense ranks just 25th in yards, but second in takeaways (22), tied for eighth in Total QBR (50.4) and 11th in sack percentage (7.0).

Here is a look at the Capers' philosophy through the eyes of some of his coaches and players:

Offensive coordinator Tom Clements

Before they were on the same side, Clements coached against Capers. One game stands out: Dec. 8, 2002 in Pittsburgh. Clements was the Steelers' quarterbacks coach, and Capers was the Houston Texans head coach.

"That was a weird game," Clements said. "Our defense held them to about a total of 60 yards. We had about 400 yards, and they beat us by three touchdowns."

[+] EnlargeDom Capers
Jeff Hanisch/USA TODAY SportsDefensive coordinator Dom Capers has made his mark by adapting his calls to each opponent.
Actually, the numbers were these: The Steelers had 422 yards and the Texans had 47. Houston's defense scored three times, two interception returns and a recovered fumble return, in a 24-6 upset.

Which goes to show that when preparing for a Capers' defense, anything is possible.

"Multiple looks, multiple pressures," Clements said. "It requires a lot of film study by the coaches and the players, because you never know what you’re going to get."

Defensive line coach Mike Trgovac

Trgovac, the Panthers defensive coordinator from 2003-2008, knows what it's like to call plays.

He says it's an oversimplification to simply call Capers a blitzer.

"Just to call 100 blitzes, when you start getting in that rhythm of the game, that's actually the easiest part of the game to call," Trgovac said. "The hard part is trying to pick the blitzes based on what you're seeing in the game. You have something set in your mind early and have to adjust from there."

Trgovac says he often finds Capers alone in his office or a film room calling a mock game to try to anticipate those situations.

"He puts in the hours that's required to have knowledge to make a play call," Trgovac said.

Cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt

Whitt, who like Trgovac has been with Capers since 2009 in Green Bay, also says it's unfair to label their defense as just a blitzing scheme.

"I wouldn't say that," Whitt said. "I would say it's a week-to-week deal, but we're going to try to do anything we can to win that week. If we have to bring five or six guys, we will."

But then Whitt pointed to one of the biggest defensive plays in last Sunday's win against the Eagles, Julius Peppers' 52-yard interception return for a touchdown. Capers rushed only three players -- defensive linemen Datone Jones, Josh Boyd and Mike Neal -- and dropped Peppers, Clay Matthews and A.J. Hawk into coverage.

"It's whatever's needed," Whitt said.

Outside linebacker Peppers

The 13-year NFL veteran has never been used like this. In his eight seasons in Carolina and four in Chicago, he more or less had one job: put his hand on the ground and rush the quarterback as a defensive end.

"They wanted me to rush for the majority of the time," Pepper said. "Every now and then there was a fire-zone call where I was dropping, but primarily I was rushing."

Perhaps said that's why Eagles coach Chip Kelly said they weren't expecting Peppers to drop into coverage. He said it was "a great call" by Capers.

"I don't think it's anything new," said Peppers, who leads the Packers with 5.0 sacks and is tied for second on the team with two interceptions. "He's been doing that since he's been here as far as I'm concerned."
GREEN BAY, Wis. – JC Tretter's leg whip of Philadelphia Eagles outside linebacker Trent Cole cost him $16,537, the largest known fine for a Green Bay Packers player this season.

It happened in the fourth quarter on Sunday, when Tretter finished the game at left tackle after the Packers pulled several starters in the blowout victory.

The NFL announced the fine on Friday.

Tretter said his leg whip was not intentional and planned to appeal the fine. On the play, Tretter's assignment was to cut block on the backside of a pass play to the right. He was penalized on the play.

"I grabbed [Cole] right after the final kneel down to tell him it was totally accidentally," Tretter said Friday. “I didn’t know my leg was even up that high.”

The fine was more than half of Tretter’s weekly salary, which is $29,117.65 before taxes.

The only other Packers players known to have been fined this season were tight end Andrew Quarless ($8,268) for his role in a Week 2 scuffle against the New York Jets, and outside linebacker Julius Peppers (amount unknown) for wearing unauthorized shoes.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The last time Clay Matthews was coming off a groin injury, the Green Bay Packers linebacker returned an interception 40 yards against the Chicago Bears before veering out of bounds.

That was in Week 4, one game after he dropped out of the loss at the Detroit Lions late in the fourth quarter.

Matthews
Matthews went back on the injury report this week with the same ailment, but thinks it's better this week than it was going into that Bears game.

How much better?

"I might go 50 yards and not 40," Matthews said.

Matthews was listed as a limited participant in practice on Thursday.

"I think we’re just being more cautious than anything," Matthews said. "I was able to go out there against Chicago, cautiously, of course. I feel like the progression I'm making this week as opposed to maybe Week 3 and 4 is ahead of where I was."

Perhaps more of an issue is the status of outside linebacker Nick Perry, who has a shoulder injury and did not practice for the second straight day, leaving his status in question for Sunday's road game against the Minnesota Vikings. Perry has started the past two games at Matthews' old outside linebacker position while Matthews has moved inside on early downs.

"Nick Perry is definitely important," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "Just that whole group, you talk about Nick and Mike Neal and Julius [Peppers], their ability to move around and play the elephant position has been very important. That was a big part of our change, and definitely fits with the movement of Clay."

However, Matthews said he doesn't think his role would change if Perry can't play Sunday.

"I think it's more of a 'next man up' type of mentality around here," Matthews said. "I'm sure [Jayrone] Elliott will have more opportunities as well as Mike and J.P. As we have seen in weeks prior, I rush off the edge and play in the middle, so wherever they need me, I will be there."

Here's the full injury report:
  • TE Brandon Bostick (hip, did not practice)
  • CB Jarrett Bush (groin, did not practice)
  • LB Elliott (hamstring, limited participation)
  • G T.J. Lang (ankle, limited participation)
  • LB Matthews (groin, limited participation)
  • LB Perry (shoulder, did not practice)
  • G Josh Sitton (toe, limited participation)
GREEN BAY, Wis. – As big a problem as Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb have created for opposing defenses, the Green Bay Packers' ultraproductive pair of receivers has put general manager Ted Thompson in a bit of jam, too.

With $14.25 million already committed to Nelson this season as part of a four-year, $39 million contract extension he signed in July that broke him into the top-10 in receiver money, Thompson has to figure out how to keep Cobb in the fold as well.

And the longer the fourth-year receiver goes without a contract extension, the higher the price becomes.

Cobb
Nelson
Together, Nelson and Cobb have developed into one of the top pass-catching combinations in the NFL. But in order for it to anything other than a one-year wonder, Thompson must procure a deal with Cobb, who is in the final season of his rookie contract. Thompson has the salary-cap space – $8,794,417 according to the latest figures from ESPN Stats & Information – but that's not the only factor. There are other potential free agents to sign.

"I think everyone wants Randall to be here," Nelson said. "I think any player wants to play their whole career in the same spot, but it's a business on both sides. Sometimes people think it's a one-way business, but he's going to do what's best for him and what he thinks is the best situation for him."

Cobb almost certainly won't command Nelson’s $9.75 million-per-year average, but a deal averaging in the neighborhood of $6 million to $7 million isn't out of the question. At just 24 years old, Cobb is the definition of a young, productive, homegrown player that Thompson typically keeps around.

The feeling around the league is that there's no way the Packers would let him hit free agency next March.

"It will get done," said an NFL personnel executive. "He's a Ted guy."

Although the Packers' roster contains another young, potentially productive receiver in rookie Davante Adams (who has 27 catches for 286 yards and three touchdowns through 10 games), there's little proven talent behind him.

Even if Adams develops into the receiver the Packers think he can become, he's not the same type of complement to Nelson that quarterback Aaron Rodgers has in Cobb. With Nelson dominating on the outside with 60 catches (seventh in the league) for 998 yards (third) and nine touchdowns, he has typically drawn an opponent's best cornerback with a safety also shading that way. That leaves Cobb – the prototypical slot receiver at 5-foot-10, 192-pounds and all kinds of shifty moves – to work in the middle of the field in the short and intermediate routes.

"I think that's why they go well together," Packers safety Micah Hyde said. "With Randall, he controls the inside. Don't get me wrong, Jordy can go inside, too. But Randall does a good job, and the matchups that he creates is remarkable. And then for Jordy to be outside, with a guy like A-Rod getting them the ball, it's going to be hard to stop."

After a slow start, which Cobb said was caused in part by self-imposed pressure to produce in a contract year, he has been nearly unstoppable. Beginning with his seven-catch, 113-yard, two-touchdown game in Week 4 against the Vikings, Cobb has eclipsed with the 100-yard mark four times in the last seven games. In that stretch, he ranks sixth in the NFL with 653 yards, ahead of even Nelson, who ranks seventh with 647. For the season, Cobb ranks second in the league with 10 touchdowns and only a tight end, Denver's Julius Thomas, has more (with 12).

There are other great receiving duos in the league, with Denver's Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders leading the way; and even other great combinations in the Packers' own division, with Chicago's Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall. Nelson and Cobb are new to that list, but could remain there for years to come.

"I do feel very confident that I wouldn't want any other guys than the guys we've got," Rodgers said.

Packers vs. Vikings preview

November, 20, 2014
Nov 20
8:00
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When: 1 p.m. ET, Sunday Where: TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis TV: Fox

The last time the Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers faced each other, the Packers took a 28-0 lead at halftime on a rainy Thursday night at Lambeau Field.

Since then, the Packers have had halftime leads of 24 points or more in three of their four games. The Vikings, who faced the Packers without rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater last time, will have the rookie on the field on Sunday as they try to slow down the league's hottest team at TCF Bank Stadium.

ESPN Vikings reporter Ben Goessling and ESPN Packers reporter Rob Demovsky preview Sunday's matchup:

Goessling: Rob, it seems like the decision to move Clay Matthews to inside linebacker on a part-time basis has paid dividends in the past few weeks. What has that done for the Packers' defense, and do you expect they will keep Matthews inside?

Demovsky: Ben, they'll keep him there until they find another playmaker they can put in the middle of the defense, which means he'll stay there the rest of this season. They would have loved to have gotten a guy like C.J. Mosley of Alabama in the draft last year, but he was gone by the time they picked at No. 21 in the first round. So after trying three different inside linebackers -- Brad Jones, Jamari Lattimore and Sam Barrington -- at the spot next to A.J. Hawk, they more or less had no choice but to find someone more athletic to play there. And that guy was Matthews. It's saved their run defense. The interesting thing is how defensive coordinator Dom Capers has used Matthews in other spots as a pass-rusher. He still played Matthews some at his old outside linebacker spot last week against the Eagles, but then he also lined him up even wider at the end of a five-man front, where Matthews was essentially outside of the outside linebacker.

We all know what kind of impact Adrian Peterson could have made on the field, but how much has his situation off the field impacted the Vikings' season, and how has first-year coach Mike Zimmer handled it? Can they finally put it behind them after this week's ruling?

Goessling: If there's one silver lining for the Vikings, it might be what you just mentioned. Captain Munnerlyn said as much on Tuesday when I talked to him about the ruling; he said the Vikings now at least know Peterson's "not coming through that door," and they can focus on the players they have on the roster. I think the Vikings have done a fairly good job of blocking out the Peterson issue, but it's probably easier to compartmentalize it when they know he's done for the year, in all likelihood. Players almost universally wanted him back, but after the NFL dragged its heels following Peterson's plea deal, there was a growing sense among them that it wasn't going to come to fruition. As Munnerlyn put it, "I don't think the organization is going to let that happen or NFL let that happen."

It's interesting to look at the stats and see that the three teams to beat the Packers this season are the three teams that blitzed Aaron Rodgers the least. Is the key to beating Rodgers still pressuring him with four guys? What avenue can the Vikings take to slow him down?

Demovsky: Rodgers has proved it time and again that if you blitz him, he'll make you pay. Part of the reason is his ability to get rid of the ball so quickly. Part of the reason is he's so good at recognizing where the blitz comes before it even happens. And then there's his ability to use his feet to avoid rushers, and once he gets out of the pocket, his receivers know how to run the scramble drill. And now that the offensive line is protecting better than ever, it's even more difficult to get to Rodgers. The teams that have had the most success against Rodgers are the ones that can pressure with four and leave both safeties back in coverage. However, if you do that, you're vulnerable to Eddie Lacy and the running game.

The Packers didn't get to see Bridgewater in the first meeting. What will they see when they put the film on to prepare for him this week?

Goessling: They'll see a quarterback who's very much a work in progress. Bridgewater is coming off one of his worst games of the season, against the defense that Rodgers shredded the week before. He's looked too tentative at times, and is still adjusting to the differences of the game at the NFL level, where cornerbacks are better and pass-rushers more disruptive. Bridgewater has done a good job of limiting turnovers, he's shown a knack for being able to step up in the pocket and he's able to extend plays with his feet, but he needs to be more accurate and more decisive. It hasn't helped that he hasn't had Peterson. Cordarrelle Patterson is still learning the finer points of the wide receiver position, Greg Jennings (as you know) is a guy who needs a good quarterback to excel, and the offensive line has been an issue all season. Bridgewater will probably be better for all the struggles he's faced this season, but it's been a rough stretch for him as a rookie.

What do you think is the ceiling for this Packers team? They're playing as well as any team in the league right now; do you see them rounding into contending form, or might they be peaking too early?

Demovsky: I don't think they're peaking too early because they've won every game at home, whether it was early in the season and now. What they have to do is show they can beat a good team on the road and shut down a great quarterback. If they do that, then maybe you'll be able to say they have a championship-caliber defense. So far, they've won games when they've gotten takeaways. That formula works against lesser teams, but the great quarterbacks don't typically turn the ball over, so they have to find other ways.

The Packers have been protecting Rodgers well of late. He's commented after several games that he's barely been touched. Meanwhile, the Vikings got very little pressure on Jay Cutler last Sunday. How can they get any pressure on Rodgers this time around?

Goessling: As we've talked about, it probably won't happen with blitzes. The Vikings didn't bring much extra pressure after Rodgers the first time, and they know the risks of trying to heat him up with blitzes. The good news for the Vikings is, Everson Griffen has been on quite a roll. He didn't have a sack last Sunday, but he's got nine for the season, and his quickness off the edge has really helped him develop into a good pass-rusher, particularly in the past few weeks. Defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd has also been playing well, and Tom Johnson has proved to be a nice pickup as a slippery pass-rusher in nickel situations. It's likely we'll see Anthony Barr and Chad Greenway on the Vikings' double-A gap blitz a few times, but in the games where the Vikings have rushed especially well, they've done it as a team. Zimmer is big on preaching pass-rush discipline, where players choke off escape lanes for the quarterback and eventually take him down as they collapse the pocket as a group. The Vikings were struggling to do it well when they saw the Packers last, and after a poor week against the Bears, they'll have to get back on track with it to get to Rodgers this week.

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GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Clay Matthews didn't miss any games when he first injured his groin this season, and the Green Bay Packers aren't too concerned about it now that it has cropped up again.

Matthews was listed on the injury report Wednesday as a limited participant in practice.

"Just speaking with him, he doesn't have high concern," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said after practice. "We'll see how he feels tomorrow."

Matthews first injured his groin in the fourth quarter of the Week 4 game at the Detroit Lions and did not play late in the game. However, he played the next week against the Chicago Bears and did not appear to have any issues with it going forward.

Outside linebacker Nick Perry (shoulder) did not practice on Wednesday. Perry has been key to Matthews' move to inside linebacker the last two weeks because he inherited some of Matthews' snaps at outside linebacker. Both of their injuries stemmed from Sunday's game against the Philadelphia Eagles, although never came out of the game because of the injuries.

McCarthy said Perry might not practice until Saturday.

In the two games since Matthews moved primarily to inside linebacker, he has combined for 15 tackles, two sacks and one pass breakup.

After listing just four players on their injury report last week, that number nearly doubled on Wednesday.

Here's the full injury report:
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Nick Perry has never been more important to the Green Bay Packers' defense than he is now, which has to make it somewhat of a concern that the third-year outside linebacker was not practicing on Wednesday.

Perry
Perry did not appear to sustain an injury in Sunday's game against the Philadelphia Eagles. He played 53 of 78 defensive snaps in the Eagles. The previous week against the Chicago Bears, he played 37 of 70 plays.

Clay Matthews' move to inside linebacker on early downs the past two weeks has opened up a starting job for Perry at the right outside position.

After missing 15 of a possible 32 games due to injuries in his first two seasons, the former first-round draft pick has played in all 10 games so far this season. If he plays Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings, it will equal his career high for games played in a season.

Starting guards T.J. Lang (ankle) and Josh Sitton (toe) once again did not practice. They have been in rehab mode on Wednesdays the last two weeks. Last week, they practiced on a limited basis on Thursday. Neither has missed a start.

Tight end Brandon Bostick (hip) also did not practice. He did not play against the Eagles.

Cornerback Jarrett Bush also did not appear to be practicing, although he was in uniform.

Outside linebacker Jayrone Elliott, who missed Sunday's game, returned to practice.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Packers signed guard Rishaw Johnson to the practice squad. He was one of four players the Packers worked out on Tuesday. Johnson fills the spot that opened last week when tight end Justin Perillo was promoted to the roster.

The full injury report will be available following practice.
GREEN BAY, Wis. – In a matter-of-fact manner, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said this about his leading receiver, Jordy Nelson:

"Obviously Jordy is having a Pro Bowl season," Rodgers said after Sunday's 53-20 rout of the Philadelphia Eagles.

Few, if anyone, would argue that.

Nelson ranks third in the NFL with 998 receiving yards and is tops among NFC receivers (although the Pro Bowl is no longer organized by conference). He trails only Denver's Demaryius Thomas (1,105) and Pittsburgh's Antonio Brown (1,070) in that category. Nelson ranks sixth in the league with 60 catches. And his nine touchdown catches puts him tied for second among all receivers.

Nelson
Cobb
All of that is the very definition of a Pro Bowl lock.

But what about Randall Cobb?

He's the only receiver in the league with more touchdowns than Nelson and those he's tied with for second. Despite not catching a touchdown pass on Sunday, ending a streak of six straight games with at least one score, Cobb's 10 touchdown catches still leads all NFL receivers and is second overall behind only Broncos tight end Julius Thomas, who has 12.

Sunday marked the second time this season that Cobb (with 10 catches for 129 yards against the Eagles) and Nelson (four catches for 109 yards and one touchdown) each had 100-plus yards receiving in the same game.

How much has Rodgers relied on that duo this season?

He has 19 of his 28 touchdown passes to them. He has completed 73.2 percent of his targets toward Cobb and 65.2 percent of his targets to Nelson, according to ESPN Stats & Information. He has averaged 10.9 yards per attempt when throwing to Nelson and 10.8 yards per attempt when throwing to Cobb.

Against the Eagles, he was 13-of-22 for 226 yards and a touchdown when throwing to those two receivers.

Cobb and Nelson have been the perfect complement to one another. Nelson's size and speed on the outside make him a big-play threat, which opens up the middle of the field for Cobb, a prototypical slot receiver.

Against the Eagles, Rodgers hit Nelson for a 64-yard gain down the right sideline on the game's opening series, and the offense took off from there.

"People like to double him a lot, so it frees up Randall and I," said Packers receiver Davante Adams, who also caught a touchdown pass against the Eagles. "So we get to move around a little bit, move around a little more freely when in man coverage. Just getting him the ball, if he doesn't score, one of us will.”

The Packers have had only two receiver pairs make the Pro Bowl together in the last 32 years. Greg Jennings and Donald Driver did it for the 2010 season, although Driver was an alternate. James Lofton and John Jefferson did it in 1982, a strike-shortened season.
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GREEN BAY, Wis. -- You have seen this before from Aaron Rodgers, Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson and Eddie Lacy.

It's nothing new -- these 341-yard, three-touchdown, no-interception games from the Green Bay Packers quarterback, and the 129-yard and 109-yard receiving games from Cobb and Nelson, respectively, and tackle-breaking touchdown runs by Lacy. Breaking records and reaching milestones has become the norm for Rodgers and his crew of playmakers.

But what you saw from the Packers' defense in Sunday's 53-20 dismantling of the Philadelphia Eagles at Lambeau Field might be the new normal. Since their meltdown in the 44-23 loss at New Orleans before the bye, defensive coordinator Dom Capers' unit has turned in a pair of dominant performances in blowout home victories over the Eagles and Chicago Bears.

It has coincided with the new, hybrid role for outside linebacker/inside linebacker Clay Matthews, an idea that was launched during the bye, but it's about much more than that.

"It just shows that we have a very talented defense," said Matthews, who registered a sack for the second straight game. "And it's all about deciding which defense wants to show up."

[+] EnlargeJulius Peppers
AP Photo/Mike RoemerThe Packers' Julius Peppers gets away from Eagles receiver Jordan Matthews for a 52-yard interception return for a touchdown.
If it's the one that foiled Jay Cutler last week and Mark Sanchez on Sunday, then the Packers (7-3) might have the kind of complete team capable of a long playoff run.

Sacks by defensive tackle Letroy Guion on the Eagles' opening series and outside linebacker Mike Neal on the second series set a tone of aggressiveness from the start. Guion beat right guard Matt Tobin on a second-and-6 and dumped Sanchez for a 7-yard loss, which set up a much easier third-and-long situation for the defense and ultimately led to a punt. Neal then dumped Sanchez for a 9-yard loss on third-and-6 to force another punt.

By the time the Eagles got the ball back the next time, they were down 17-0.

"Defensively, you're just seeing a unit that's playing faster," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "The personnel groups that we're getting in and out of, I think it's happening seamlessly. You're getting used to playing together in combinations that we kind of set for the second half. With that, our playmakers are making plays, and we've got a lot of playmakers on defense."

Eagles coach Chip Kelly's fast-paced, high-powered offense looked no different than the Bears offense in their futile performance a week earlier. For the second straight week, the game was over by halftime. This time, the Packers led 30-6 at the break, and even though they gave up 429 yards, it was empty yardage in the end.

"Against an offense like that, to do what they did tonight, that was very impressive," Packers right tackle Bryan Bulaga said. "They're the reason ... yeah, we scored points in the first half, but they kept it to six points. That was huge."

What followed the early sacks was this: a pair of fumble recoveries, one by Nick Perry and another by Casey Hayward, who returned it 49 yards for a touchdown. Then two interceptions, one by Tramon Williams and another by Julius Peppers, who returned it 52 yards for a touchdown.

This against a team that, though it was missing starting quarterback Nick Foles, brought the NFL's fifth ranked offense to town.

The Packers' run defense that was so awful the first half of the season -- it ranked dead last and gave up 155 yards per game -- all of a sudden is more than respectable. They have nearly cut that number in half the past two games and allowed an average of just 82 yards rushing per game.

"We’ve been going out saying that we’re going to get off of the field," Williams said. "[The] offense has been moving the ball unbelievable, and if we can continue doing that throughout the year, then we're going to be where we want to be."
GREEN BAY, Wisc. -- Observed and heard in the locker room after the Green Bay Packers' 53-20 win over the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday at Lambeau Field:

Lacy
A crazy play: Eddie Lacy figured there was no way he was going to score when he caught a short pass from Aaron Rodgers early in the fourth quarter. But 32 yards later, he was in the end zone, thanks to a spin move, a handful of broken tackles and a goal-line push from teammate Andrew Quarless. "It actually was crazy," Lacy said. "I really didn't know if I was going to score. Q helped me out a lot, he pushed me in at the end. It was a crazy play." When asked about the play, Packers right tackle Bryan Bulaga just laughed and said: "Eddie's touchdown -- that's just ridiculous."

Back on top, sort of: The Packers' win, combined with the Detroit Lions' loss at the Arizona Cardinals, left both teams with 7-3 records, the best in the NFC North. "Aren't we a half-game behind?" Packers linebacker Clay Matthews said. That's right -- the Packers still aren't on top. At this point, the Lions hold the tiebreaker because of their 19-7 win over the Packers in Week 3 at Ford Field. "Obviously, we've got to take care of what's in front of us with victories against good teams," Matthews said. "But we've got everything we want in front of us now, and we've just got to maximize on that." That includes a Week 17 rematch with the Lions at Lambeau Field, which, at this point, is looking like it might decide the division.

Finding the football: Outside linebacker Mike Neal can't understand how a quarterback could fail to see outside linebacker Julius Peppers dropping into coverage. "I’m like, 'How do you not miss this dude, he's 6-foot-7?'" Neal said. "But he's a blessed dude. Plays fall into his hands, and he takes advantage of them." Sunday marked the second time this season Peppers returned an interception for a touchdown, this one a 52-yarder in the third quarter. He returned one 49 yards for a touchdown on Oct. 2 against the Minnesota Vikings.

Rapid Reaction: Green Bay Packers

November, 16, 2014
Nov 16
7:30
PM ET

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- A few thoughts on the Green Bay Packers' 53-20 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday at Lambeau Field:

What it means: The Packers haven't just been unbeatable at home; they've been unstoppable. For the first time in franchise history, they put up 50 points in consecutive games. In their past four first halves at Lambeau Field, they have outscored their opponents 128-9. When they jumped out to a 30-6 halftime lead over the Eagles, they became the first team in NFL history to score 28 or more points in the first half of four straight home games. They have scored at least 30 points in each of the past six home games, which set a franchise record. At 7-3, they pulled into a tie with the Detroit Lions atop the NFC North after the Lions' loss to the Arizona Cardinals. However, the Lions currently have the tiebreaker over the Packers because of their head-to-head victory at Ford Field in Week 3.

Stock watch: In last week's 55-14 win over the Bears, safety Micah Hyde made one of the game's momentum-changing plays on defense when he picked off Jay Cutler in the first quarter. Against the Eagles, he made another early-game impact when he returned a punt 75 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter to give the Packers a 17-0 lead. It was Hyde's first punt return for a touchdown this season and the second of his career.

More from Matthews: A week after he debuted at inside linebacker in certain defensive packages, Clay Matthews added another position to his list. On several plays, he actually lined up on the line of scrimmage but outside of the outside linebacker. He batted down a pass from that spot in the third quarter. He started the game at inside linebacker next to A.J. Hawk, just like he did last week, and played the majority of his snaps there. He also played some snaps at his old spot, right outside linebacker. He was credited with five tackles, a sack and a pass breakup.

Game ball: It's about time defensive coordinator Dom Capers started getting some credit for what the Packers have done on defense. From the decision to move Matthews to the improved run defense to his timely blitz calls, Capers has made all the right moves the past two weeks. The result was some timely sacks by Letroy Guion, Mike Neal and Matthews, plus another interception return for a touchdown by Julius Peppers.

What's next: The Packers go back on the road and get back to NFC North action Sunday at the Minnesota Vikings.

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