Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy and quarterback Scott
Tolzien look at a video board during the second half of an
NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles Sunday,
Nov. 10, 2013, in Green Bay, Wis. The Eagles won 27-13.
GREEN BAY —
Crunch time is here for the Packers, and not just because they've
lost straight three games since Aaron Rodgers got hurt.
Vikings march into Lambeau Field on Sunday for an NFC North
rivalry game that always makes coach Mike McCarthy more intense.
And the Vikings (2-8) might just be the perfect foe to finally
provide Green Bay (5-5) a win in what's otherwise been a miserable
this group that we're playing (Sunday), there's always a sense of
urgency," McCarthy said.
Last time these
teams met, the Packers won handily, 44-31 last month in
Minneapolis. Rodgers was 24 of 29 for 285 yards and two
Rodgers broke his
left collarbone on the first series of the Packers' next game,
against the Bears, and hasn't played since then. McCarthy has
turned to one-time third-stringer Scott Tolzien to start while
Five things to
watch as the Vikings try to give the Packers their first
three-game losing streak at Lambeau Field since 2006:
SORE STARS: For
years, a Vikings-Packers game featured two of the biggest names in
the NFL in Rodgers and Vikings running back Adrian Peterson.
Bay Packers' Jordy Nelson catches a pass in front of
Philadelphia Eagles' Brandon Boykin during the first half of
an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 10, 2013, in Green Bay,
Well, Rodgers is
hurt. And Peterson's banged up, too, with a sore groin. He was
held out of practice at midweek, though coach Leslie Frazier said
he was cautiously optimistic then that his top tailback would
averaging 115.5 yards in 13 career games against Green Bay.
would also mark the first back at Lambeau for former Packers
receiver Greg Jennings, who missed practice at midweek due to an
Achilles tendon injury.
Tolzien has shown poise in handling the glare that comes with
having to replace perhaps the more irreplaceable player in the
NFL. The on-field results so far are two defeats.
thrown for 619 yards over the past two games, and shown he can hit
the deep ball. But Tolzien already has five interceptions in 73
attempts, or one more than Rodgers had in 251 attempts.
learning on the fly," Rodgers said. "His preparation has
been very good, his approach. And I think he's primed to have a
With a start,
Tolzien would become the first Packers quarterback other than
Brett Favre or Rodgers to start back-to-back games since Don
Majkowski started the first three games in 1992.
Frazier can relate with being unsettled at quarterback.
Matt Cassel and Josh Freeman have all started this year. The
Vikings' Wheel of Quarterbacks has stopped again at Ponder, who
can at least draw from having a little success — albeit late in
the game — in that 44-31 loss to Green Bay when he ran for a
19-yard touchdown and didn't throw an interception.
Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder, right, is hit by
Seattle Seahawks' Michael Bennett, second from left, and
Brandon Mebane (92), right, as he attempts a pass in the
first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 17, 2013, in
Seattle. The Seahawks won 41-20.
going into (the game) thinking he's going to fail or he's going to
get off to a slow start," Frazier said. "We're looking
forward to him having a good ballgame."
TOO FEW TOs:
Turnover margin has been a problem for both teams. The Vikings are
minus-8, hampered in large part by giving up 13 interceptions and
losing nine fumbles.
The Packers are
minus-6, but their big problem has been just four interceptions by
the defense, tied for last in the league with Jacksonville and
Houston. Ponder thinks injuries to linebackers Clay Matthews and
Brad Jones have affected Green Bay. Both starters are back in the
haven't been healthy," Ponder said. "They're both back
so they're going to be a different team."
DARE TO THROW:
With Rodgers hurt, defenses are putting eight defenders into the
box more often against the Packers.
Eddie Lacy has
645 yards over his last seven games, tops in the NFL in that span.
The bruising rookie was held to just 27 yards on 14 carries last
week against the Giants.
"We have to
game-plan, try to figure out what we can do to try to figure out
what we can do to be able to get a blocker on that defender,"
secondary banged up for Vikings game
GREEN BAY —
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers will not play against Minnesota
on Sunday after hinting earlier in the week there might be a
Rodgers needed to
be on the field at practice Friday, but he is not yet recovered
from a broken collarbone and was ruled out for the game. He has
missed the past two games.
have a timetable for you," coach Mike McCarthy said. "He
threw a little bit today."
Scott Tolzien, a
third-year pro, is expected to make his second straight start in
Rodgers' place. How soon the team can expect Rodgers back on the
field is a mystery.
The Packers (5-5)
are hungry for a win, having lost three in a row for the first
time since 2008 and trailing NFC North co-leaders Detroit and
Chicago by a game. Green Bay has a quick turnaround after playing
the last-place Vikings (2-8) on Sunday, traveling to Detroit to
play the Lions on Thanksgiving Day.
there is a sense of urgency this week as the Packers try to stay
in contention for a third consecutive division title and a spot in
understand what our record is," McCarthy said. "But this
is one moment, this is one opportunity, and we're just focused on
the result for Sunday - and that's about winning. We're not doing
extra calisthenics or doing extra PowerPoints or anything like
secondary is the latest unit to get banged up. Green Bay has four
of its seven cornerbacks on an extensive injury report this week.
remains out with a hamstring injury. After missing the last game
with a bad hamstring, Sam Shields is questionable for Sunday's
game. Shields didn't practice this week.
"It is what
it is. I can't worry about it," cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt
said about Shields. "If he's not available, he's not
available. I don't put any extra or unneeded effort into Sam not
being here. I need to worry about the guys that are available
getting them prepared and getting them ready to go win a football
game. I don't put anything into not having Sam, not having
And rookie Micah
Hyde didn't practice the last two days because of a groin injury,
though he is probable.
his depleted position group managed to function with only Tramon
Williams, Davon House and Jarrett Bush available to practice
Thursday and Friday.
"We got the
work done," Whitt said. "Nobody cares about who's
available. Everybody's only thing is results, and we're trying to
put a plan together to get us a win. Nobody's saying, 'Well, we
don't have this guy, we don't have that guy.' Nobody cares."
loss of Shields for a second straight game is significant as
former Packers receiver Greg Jennings makes his first visit to
Lambeau Field since signing with Minnesota in the offseason. Green
Bay held Jennings to one catch for 9 yards in its 44-31 win over
the Vikings on Oct. 27 in Minneapolis.
Shields leads the
Packers with 15 pass breakups this season, one short of his career
"Sam is very
important to this defense," Whitt said. "Him and
(linebacker) Clay (Matthews) are probably the two standouts right
now, but we don't have him. So I'm not going to be in a woe-is-me
mentality right now."
NOTES: Veteran DL
Johnny Jolly (groin) is doubtful for Sunday's game. Jolly
aggravated his injury in the 27-13 loss at the New York Giants
last Sunday and didn't practice this week. McCarthy and defensive
coordinator Dom Capers agreed not having Jolly could impact the
Packers' run defense against Minnesota's Adrian Peterson, the 2012
NFL MVP who rushed for only 60 yards in 13 carries in the teams'
first meeting last month. . Five of the season-high 13 players on
the Green Bay injury report this week are out for Sunday. Besides
Rodgers and Hayward, RT Don Barclay (knee), LB Nick Perry
(foot/ankle) and CB James Nixon (knee) won't play. Matthews
(thumb), DT Ryan Pickett (knee), C Evan Dietrich-Smith (knee) and
DE/LB Mike Neal (abdomen) are probable.
CB Hayward goes on injured reserve
GREEN BAY — The
Packers have placed Casey Hayward on injured reserve, ending a
tough season for the second-year cornerback.
Hayward has been
bothered all season by a hamstring injury. He played just three
games, starting one. Hayward led rookies last season with a
team-high six interceptions.
Green Bay has
just four interceptions this season, tied for worst in the league
with the Texans and Jaguars.
The Packers also
placed reserve cornerback James Nixon (knee) on injured reserve,
and activated safety Sean Richardson and defensive end Jerel
Worthy from the reserve/physically unable to perform list.
Green Bay (5-5)
will try to end a three-game losing streak when the Minnesota
Vikings (2-8) visit Lambeau Field. Scott Tolzien will get the
start again for injured quarterback Aaron Rodgers (collarbone).