cleared to play for Packers
January 2, 2013
GREEN BAY —
Charles Woodson has been cleared to play again, and the Green Bay
Packers are counting on the defensive back to provide a lift in
Saturday night's playoff game against the Minnesota Vikings.
deferred to team physician Dr. Pat McKenzie and gave his broken
collarbone as much time to heal as possible, sitting out Sunday's
regular-season finale at Minnesota. He was injured on Oct. 21 and
has missed nine consecutive games.
But now that
the Packers are in win-or-go-home mode, Woodson is back.
has been a stud in this league for 15 years, so whenever he's on the
field with us, he's always a huge threat," inside linebacker
A.J. Hawk said after practice Tuesday evening. "Not only is he
a threat to make huge plays throughout the game, but quarterbacks, I
think they know where he's at every single play. He seems to know
what receivers are running before they do. And I think he has an
intimidation factor as well.
team we play has to respect him."
without Woodson each time, Green Bay split its two regular-season
games against Minnesota. But Vikings star Adrian Peterson had two
strong performances against the Packers, rushing for 210 yards in
Green Bay's 23-14 victory on Dec. 2 and gaining 199 yards on the
ground in Minnesota's 37-34 win on Sunday at the Metrodome.
think having Charles Woodson back on the field helps our football
team," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said in announcing that
Woodson had been cleared. "I mean, just what he's meant to our
defense, his playmaking ability, his ability to make plays at the
line of scrimmage. He's extremely productive, so I'm just glad to
have him back on the field."
36-year-old Woodson was not in the Packers' locker room during the
media access period on Tuesday night. But when he last spoke at
length with reporters on Dec. 21, he acknowledged that he hasn't
always agreed with McKenzie or McCarthy's recommendations. But if
waiting allows him to make it through an entire playoff run - right
through Super Bowl XLVII - without reinjuring his collarbone, he
will be grateful, he said.
injury at St. Louis, Woodson was playing strong safety in the
Packers' base defense, then playing the nickel and dime slot
positions in sub packages. After he went down, M.D. Jennings was his
primary replacement at safety in the base defense, while rookies
Casey Hayward (nickel) and Jerron McMillian (dime) covered opposing
where Woodson will line up this weekend, but his defensive teammates
believe he'll help against Peterson and Christian Ponder, who
completed 16 of 28 passes for 234 yards and three touchdowns on
helps us in every aspect of the game, just his experience,"
cornerback Tramon Williams said. "No doubt about it, obviously
he's a great player from the start, but with that experience, we
know he's going to be in the position he's supposed to be in, we
know he's going to be looking to make a play. You can be aggressive
yourself because you know you have a guy back there you can
Woodson also makes a difference because, while some of the team's
young players have done well in his absence, his knowledge of the
game allows him to do things that younger players aren't able to do,
aren't comfortable doing or can't do as well as he does them.
defense is based off disguising and things like that, so Charles has
been so experienced so he knows how long to hold a disguise, and
he's not scared to do it," Williams said. "It's definitely
going to help us in the long run."
Playoff picks: Packers a
good bet this time
Six days after Adrian Peterson blistered them for
nearly 200 yards and helped lift his team to a stunning playoff
berth, the Green Bay Packers get another taste of "A.D."
time, they will deal with "All Day" Peterson at Lambeau Field.
And in the playoffs.
The stakes are similar to last week for the Vikings, who
would have been out of the playoffs had they lost to Green Bay,
which already owned the division title. The venue, obviously, is
If that seems like a big edge for the Packers, well, they
lost their last two postseason home games, both to the Giants,
who went on to win the Super Bowl each time. They dropped a
31-14 verdict to Minnesota after the 2004 season, the only time
in 104 matchups these NFC North rivals have met in the playoffs.
So Green Bay is 1-3 in recent home playoff games on the
tundra. That doesn't diminish the challenge facing Minnesota, an
"It put us in a spot that we've been wanting to be, wanted to
get here since April 23 of last year when we started OTAs,"
Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder said of the win over the
Packers that got them a trip to Green Bay, where they lost 23-14
in the regular season.
"It's going to be tough going to Lambeau. Obviously it's an
environment that's tough to play in, but we're hoping that a lot
of our Vikings fans travel, just like there were some Green Bay
fans at home this past week."
The shorter week won't matter to either side considering they
faced off last weekend. At least it gives the Packers less time
to watch video of the horror show their defense put on trying to
slow down Peterson.
They'll do a better job this Saturday night.
BEST BET: PACKERS, 31-20
Indianapolis (plus 6½ ) at Baltimore
This could be Ray Lewis' final game; he announced Wednesday
his plan to end his 17-year career that certainly should land
him in the Hall of Fame.
There are much better ways to finish than chasing around the
Colts' offense, which will be a difficult chore for the Ravens'
defense. With Lewis sidelined for nearly three months with a
triceps injury and Terrell Suggs not resembling the Defensive
Player of the Year he was in 2011 as he plays while still
recovering from an Achilles tendon injury, Baltimore can't count
on shutting down opponents.
In previous seasons when the Ravens were a defensive power,
Andrew Luck might be reduced to an overmatched rookie. Not now.
UPSET SPECIAL: COLTS, 23-17
Cincinnati (plus 5) at Houston
The Texans stumbled into the playoffs, losing three of four
and blowing home-field advantage and a bye in the AFC.
Cincinnati, on the other hand, won seven of its last eight with
a staunch defense.
Houston made the postseason for the first time last year and
promptly knocked off the Bengals in the wild-card round. Both
teams are improved this season, and the key could be which side
protects its quarterback better. Houston has J.J. Watt and
Antonio Smith providing pressure on the quarterbacks. For
Cincinnati, it's Geno Atkins and Michael Johnson.
Houston will do it better.
Seattle (minus 1½) at Washington
The juiciest of the weekend's matchups features two streaking
teams: Washington won its final seven games to take the NFC
East, Seattle took its last five and seven of eight.
Rookie quarterbacks Robert Griffin III for the Redskins and
Russell Wilson for the Seahawks have been sensational, like
Indy's Luck. RG3 showed enough mobility in the win over Dallas
to clinch the division, and his knee should be even stronger on
Sunday to provide the double-threat potential that highlights
Wilson is healthy and has similar skills. Even more
encouraging for him is the Seahawks have an intimidating,
resourceful defense with the speed to slow down Washington's
offense. Seattle also has learned how to win on the road.
Vikings off. coordinator
Musgrave shows creativity
FILE - In this Aug.
13, 2011, file photo, Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Bill
Musgrave walks the sideline during the first quarter of an NFL football
preseason game against the Tennessee Titans in Nashville, Tenn. The
Vikings offensive coordinator has shown plenty of imagination to get an
offense with many limitations moving.
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. - Minnesota's offense has had an up and
Adrian Peterson rarely had a problem running
the ball, but the passing attack limped through several
weeks this fall. Finding ways to keep opponents from
becoming too familiar and comfortable defending the Vikings
and their game plan has been the responsibility of offensive
coordinator Bill Musgrave.
Coaches and players have credited Musgrave for his
creativity, particularly over the last month when the
Vikings won four straight times to force a rematch this
Saturday with Green Bay in the playoffs. In last Sunday's
win over the Packers, Musgrave unveiled several wrinkles
that proved effective. On one play, wide receiver Jarius
Wright lined up as a fullback before catching a short
wants to play special teams too
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. - Adrian Peterson is unquestionably
Minnesota's most irreplaceable player for years, piling
up 2,000 yards this season to put himself in the running
for the NFL's Most Valuable Player award.
Peterson's major contribution to the Vikings and their
success, however, hasn't been enough to satisfy him. One
of the sport's most relentless competitors, Peterson
would like to play on special teams, too.
"For the past two years I've been trying to get in on
field goal block. Come in off the edge, you know? It's
just going to take one block for them to really be like,
'OK, you know what? Let's take the chance and let you go
out there and get it done,'" Peterson said. "Kickoff
return, I wouldn't mind getting back there. I'm in it to
Peterson was only asked about this Wednesday because
special teams coordinator Mike Priefer revealed
Peterson's constant request to reporters a few minutes
"He always asks," Priefer said. "He's a football player.
Gunner, field goal block, returner. The guy is awesome.
I always say yes, and then I ask the head coach and he
says no. I know what the answer is going to be. I don't
even have to ask."
Peterson actually returned 16 kickoffs as a rookie in
2007, averaging 25.8 per attempt including a 53-yard
gain at Chicago, where he had his first 200-yard game
that afternoon. The Vikings used him in that role once
during the regular season in 2008 and again that year in
the playoffs, but never since.
He's too valuable to risk injury on one of football's
most dangerous plays, so approval from coach Leslie
Frazier is unlikely. Even Percy Harvin, the team's
primary kickoff returner until he sprained his left
ankle in November, was given breaks from that role to
keep him fresh and safe. But Peterson has that rare
blend of speed, power and instinct that could pay off
with a game-changing touchdown, should the Vikings ever
decide to surprise their opponent.
Priefer said he has the play cards with him on the
sideline in case a scenario arose that persuaded them to
put Peterson in for a kick return.
"We would show him exactly where the return is supposed
to hit and let him do his magic. There's absolutely an
opportunity for him to go back there, I would think, in
a crucial situation," Priefer said.
Peterson beamed at the podium Wednesday when the subject
of special teams came up.
"I believe in having your best players on the field,
especially in critical times. You never know what can
happen," he said. "That's what I would do."
Even if Peterson never gets his chance as a kickoff
returner, he's served the Vikings well with more than
just running the ball. He served as a counselor of sorts
for Christian Ponder, whose two interceptions deep in
Packers territory cost the Vikings the game at Green Bay
on Dec. 2. Seeing a look of defeat on the quarterback's
face, Peterson approached his teammate and encouraged
him to keep his spirits up, telling Ponder how much he's
appreciated the passion he plays with.
"I just did what I felt I needed to do to help him get
over that. Because this is the guy we're rolling with,
and we need him to continue to improve each week,"
Peterson said, adding: "I feel like he got back on
track, got his mind right, didn't let it dwell on too
Coming off a career-high 34 carries, and playing through
some abdominal soreness, Peterson was also asked how his
body is holding up, one year after reconstructive
surgery on his left knee.
"My body feels great," he said, smiling. "I could play
for 12 more games if I have to."
Comments on the Green Bay Packers
by the AP Pro32 panel (ranking in parentheses):
GREEN BAY PACKERS (6)
Chris Berman (ESPN, 4) — Reward for going 9-2 down
the stretch facing Adrian Peterson three times in six
Clifton Brown (Sporting News, 5) — Playing at Lambeau
will help them in a rematch against Vikings.
Cris Collinsworth (NBC Sports, 6)
Rich Gannon (CBS Sports/SiriusXM NFL Radio, 4) —
Getting Woodson back huge especially for their run
defense this weekend vs. Adrian Peterson.
Bob Glauber (Newsday, 6) — Terrifically entertaining
game against Minnesota, even if the Packers lost. It'll
all be forgotten if Green Bay wins the rematch in the
wild card round.
Rick Gosselin (Dallas Morning News, 6) — Aaron
Rodgers won his second consecutive NFL passing title,
completing 67.2 percent of his passes with 39 touchdowns
and only eight interceptions for an efficiency rating of
Clark Judge (CBSSports.com, 6) — Good news: The
Packers draw Minnesota for the second time in a week,
and they get them at Lambeau Field where they beat the
Vikings earlier this year and where won their 17 of
their last 19, including the playoffs. Bad news: They're
2-4 in their last six playoff games at home.
Ira Kaufman (Tampa Tribune, 6) — Mr. Rodgers'
neighborhood is dangerous this time of the year.
Pat Kirwan (SiriusXM NFL Radio/CBSSports.com, 6) —
They lost to the Vikings in Week 16, but get them at
home in wild card weekend. The Packers need to shore up
their run defense and pass protection.
John Lynch (Fox Sports, 3) — I know they just lost to
Minnesota, but at this time of the year ride the best
QBs and Aaron Rodgers is a great one. That defense will
have to show more for the Pack to have true staying
power in the playoffs.
Alex Marvez (Foxsports.com, 6) — If the Packers can't
figure out how to stop Minnesota running back Adrian
Peterson they could be one-and-done in the playoffs.
Dan Pompei (Chicago Tribune, 2) — Despite the fact
they lost Sunday, Aaron Rodgers is playing great
football. And that's a very good sign for the Packers.