Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers scrambles during the first half of an
NFL football game against the New York Giants Sunday, Oct. 9,
2016, in Green Bay, Wis.
GREEN BAY —
For a group thrown for a loss by the unexpected release of its most
recognizable member, the Green Bay Packers offensive line has come
together nicely during the first four games.
The unit was
especially impressive during Sunday night's 23-16 victory over the New
York Giants, paving the way for 147 rushing yards and giving
quarterback Aaron Rodgers all kinds of time to throw. Rodgers dropped
back to pass 50 times and was not sacked, despite facing top-flight
edge rushers Olivier Vernon and Jason Pierre-Paul, while running back
Eddie Lacy found running lanes despite the presence of hulking
run-stuffing defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins.
line played extremely well," coach Mike McCarthy said Monday.
"I think like anything, it starts in the running game. Eddie ran
hard, broke a lot of tackles, (and the) pass protection was excellent,
particularly in the action passing game - a number of opportunities to
hold the ball (and) throw the ball downfield. Our offensive line had a
very good night."
Three-time Pro Bowl
guard Josh Sitton was released on Sept. 1, an unexpected cut on the
final preseason roster reduction. Players - especially veteran guard
T.J. Lang and tackles David Bakhtiari and Bryan Bulaga - publicly
questioned the wisdom of the move, especially when Sitton quickly
signed with NFC North rival Chicago.
Lane Taylor has stepped in and played well, despite having started
just two career games before this season.
"I knew people
would be worried. I've only started two games before," Taylor
said. "Obviously no one wanted to see Josh leave, but when I
became the starter, everyone was behind me and supported me. And we
just went on about our business. I have to just keep it rolling."
The unit also
underwent a change at center, where JC Tretter has been starting with
Corey Linsley, the No. 1 center the past two seasons, on the
physically unable to perform list with a hamstring injury. Tretter has
been solid in the middle, and he was vital to the Packers' success
against the Giants.
"We knew it was
going to be a big challenge," Lang said. "Obviously their
D-ends are very, very good. Then you watch Hankins on film and he
abuses a lot of guys. We knew it was going to be a challenge."
According to Lang,
the line rose to that challenge so impressively that it had Rodgers
praising them in the huddle between plays.
saying some stuff in the huddle (about how) he thought the protection
was pretty good. That's something there that we can keep building off
of," Lang said.
Running back Eddie
Lacy, who carried 11 times for 81 yards before leaving the game with a
sprained left ankle, praised the group, too.
"What they did (Sunday))night,
you can't ask for much more than that," he said. "I really
think we have the momentum going as far as running the ball. We just
have to keep it up. We want to tire out defenses and take it through
the rest of the season."
was amazed by how much time his line afforded him on a night when he
made several great throws but also had multiple misfires that
contributed to an uneven performance.
"We had a good
night running the football. Against two premier pass rushers who are
getting paid a lot of money, we did a good job," he said. "I
thought I moved well enough but didn't have to a lot of times. I could
stay in the pocket and that's a big credit to those guys up
Rodgers said the
offense's challenge now is to make sure other aspects - including his
own play - measure up to the quality the offensive line is providing,
starting with next Sunday's game against the Dallas Cowboys at Lambeau
biggest critic, myself included. I've got to play a lot better,"
Rodgers said. "We've got to execute in the passing game as well
as we're doing up front and in the run game."
NOTES: McCarthy said
Lacy underwent tests Monday on his ankle. "I would say it's not
serious," McCarthy said, although he stopped short of saying Lacy
would be OK to play against Dallas. . McCarthy said wide receiver
Randall Cobb, who was hit in the neck and head on a late reception,
was "fine" on Monday. . Both McCarthy and special teams
coordinator Ron Zook acknowledged that punter Jake Schum is
struggling, but McCarhty indicated that the team plans to stick with
the second-year man.