Vikings' Jerome Simpson catches a pass over Green Bay
Packers' Tramon Williams (38) during the first half of an
NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013, in Green Bay, Wis.
GREEN BAY —
After five winless weeks, the Packers got a chance to rest.
About the only
positive that Green Bay can take away from its 40-10 loss to
Detroit on Thanksgiving was that it gave the banged-up team a few
extra days off.
The Packers have
had to push through a nine-week stretch without a breather after
getting a Week 4 bye.
Williams hopes a maligned defense can make its season-ending
stand, starting Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons.
"A lot of
energy out there. Hopefully, it carries over," Williams said.
"Guys haven't given up at all ... We know what's at stake and
we have to come out and play our best ball."
The Packers are
in danger of missing the postseason for the first time since 2008,
when they had a five-game losing skid late in the season and
finished 6-10. It was quarterback Aaron Rodgers' first year as
The 0-4-1 slide
has a lot to do with Rodgers being sidelined by a fractured left
collarbone. The franchise quarterback is back at practice on a
limited basis, and coach Mike McCarthy said Rodgers made a little
more progress Thursday.
Bay Packers' Mike Daniels celebrates after a sack of
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder during the
second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013,
in Green Bay, Wis. The game ended in a tie, 26-26.
But Rodgers still
hasn't been cleared to play, and if that stands, Matt Flynn would
get the start against Atlanta.
Just as alarming
for the Packers has been the collapse of the defense at a time
when it was needed most with Rodgers out.
Green Bay has
given up about 29 points per game during its five-game slide,
about a touchdown more than during the 5-2 start. A season-long
problem with missed tackles has been one of the biggest issues.
A run defense
that was once in the top five in the league has allowed an average
of 185 yards over the past five games.
"The game is
won or lost at the line. So we have accountable guys in our room
and that just goes to show you we're looking at it as, we have to
take control of the ship here," defensive lineman Mike
Daniels said. "We have to make sure we do our job the best
and everybody else will follow."
Just in time for
Green Bay, Falcons running back Steven Jackson is regaining form
after missing much of the first half of the season with a
Jackson ran for
two touchdowns and set season highs with 23 carries for 84 yards
in last week's win over Buffalo that snapped a five-game losing
Some players have
grown weary with the questions. But they also know they have to
produce results, especially after the humbling Thanksgiving Day
a fighter until you get up off that mat, as they tell boxers, so
see how guys respond," Daniels said. "It's not whether
you get up, it is how you get up."
Maybe the few
extra days off will do them some good. A defense maligned by
injuries has slowly been getting players back.
specialist Clay Matthews has three sacks in his four games since
returning from a thumb injury. Nick Perry (foot) has been limited
in practice this week by a recurring foot injury, though he did
register seven tackles and a sack last week against Detroit.
The work ethic
remains high, McCarthy said.
was well needed. It's definitely rejuvenated us physically and I
would hope so mentally. The energy has been excellent," he
Williams said no one was pointing fingers in trying to assign
blame. The future of defensive coordinator Dom Capers has been a
popular topic of late on Wisconsin sports talk radio.
Williams has put
the debacle in Detroit behind him. No sense dwelling on it. Now
it's time to get back on the field after a few days off.
"Kind of hit
the reset button a little bit and come back with a different
focus, a stronger focus," Williams said. "Just try to
get back to work and make things happen like we've been doing
around here in Packer country."
Notes: LT David
Bakhtiari did not take part in practice Thursday due to illness. C
Evan Dietrich-Smith sat out with knee and ankle injuries. ... LB
Mike Neal (abdomen) and DT Ryan Pickett (knee) also missed
CB Williams fined for contact with official
GREEN BAY —
Packers cornerback Tramon Williams has been fined $26,250 for
contact with an official, per NFL guidelines.
reporters Thursday that he planned to appeal. He said he didn't
realize he had made contact with the official, and meant no harm.
occurred after a Lions touchdown early in the fourth quarter of
Green Bay's 40-10 loss to the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving Day. A
replay appeared to show Williams looking away while walking
forward, just behind Lions center Dominic Raiola, when the
official crossed in between the two players. Williams received a
15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
Williams said he
had been shoved by Raiola just after the touchdown. He said he was
frustrated on the play.
woeful run D braces for Packers' Lacy
Ga. — The Atlanta Falcons don't know if they'll be facing
Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers on Sunday.
They do know
they'll have to try to stop rookie running back Eddie Lacy, and
that's a major concern for the NFL's 30th-ranked run defense.
struggled against the run all season. The Falcons allow 135.4
yards rushing per game and have given up five runs of 40 yards or
longer — the most in the league.
The run defense
showed no improvement even as the Falcons snapped their five-game
losing streak in last week's 34-31 overtime win over Buffalo. The
Bills ran for 195 yards and three touchdowns. C.J. Spiller had a
season-high 149 yards rushing, including a 77-yard run.
The Falcons are
worried the powerful Lacy could be even more difficult to contain.
"He's a very
physical running back, a downhill runner and one of the best
rookie running backs I think we've seen in a long time,"
Falcons defensive end Osi Umenyiora said Thursday. "We have
our work cut out for us. We just have to be physical with him and
try to slow him down a little bit."
Lacy, the former
Alabama standout, has 822 yards rushing with six touchdowns. The
230-pound Lacy doesn't have Spiller's speed, but he has the
potential for big gains by breaking tackles with his power runs.
watched a lot of tape on him," said Atlanta safety William
Moore. "He's a physical runner. One player hasn't been able
to bring him down yet this season. You've got to get 11 hats to
opportunity for the Falcons to address their season-long trend of
giving up too many big plays.
to be a big challenge for us because we've not defended the run
nearly as well as we need to," said coach Mike Smith.
done a good job. Explosive runs unfortunately are talked about
with the secondary because that's usually what happens. If they
get past your secondary, they're going to be a long run. But there
are other factors that lead to it getting to your secondary."
"gap integrity issues" and missed tackles contributed to
the problems against the Bills.
If Rodgers is
held out as he continues to recover from a broken collarbone, the
Falcons could follow the trend of other defenses who have loaded
the box to focus on slowing Lacy's runs.
With Matt Flynn
struggling as Rodgers' replacement, Lacy had 10 carries for only
16 yards in last week's 40-10 loss to Detroit. His longest carry
was only four yards. Lacy had 14 carries for only 27 yards in a
27-13 loss at the Giants on Nov. 17, but he bounced back with 110
yards against Minnesota on Nov. 24.
in pads on Thursday.
what we need to do is just prepare as if Rodgers is going to play
and if not Flynn is a capable quarterback also," Umenyiora
only 10 of 20 passes for 139 yards with an interception against
Detroit last week.
Mike McCarthy said it wouldn't be a surprise to see the Falcons
stack eight defenders in the box to focus on Lacy if Rodgers
football is not something new to the league," McCarthy said.
"We didn't do a very good job obviously handling it. ... So
we have some things we're working on. Our goal is to be a week
better at it and we have to take advantage with things we feel are
matchups. We like our receiver group every week so that's
definitely a challenge we look forward to."
Flynn said he
knows it would be his responsibility to create running
opportunities for Lacy by forcing the Falcons to respect the
Packers' passing game.
that's the plan," Flynn said. "People are going to load
the box, we have to make them respect the pass. We just have to
execute, that's what it comes down to, execution. ... But
obviously if people are loading the box on you, you've got to
throw it and make them get out of it."