In this Oct.
4, 2015, file photo, Green Bay Packers nose tackle B.J. Raji
(90) reaches for San Francisco 49ers running back Carlos Hyde
during the first half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara,
Calif. Problems on offense have overshadowed a solid effort by
the once-beleaguered Packers defense over the last three weeks.
A line led by Mike Daniels and B.J. Raji has led the charge.
GREEN BAY — The Packers defense has
been playing solid football over the last the three weeks, and it's
still getting overlooked.
This wouldn't be an issue in most any
other season in Green Bay. Among many Packers fans, nitpicking over
the defense is about as routine an activity in Wisconsin in December
as shoveling show.
This time around, it's the Green Bay
offense that is struggling to gain consistency. For the most part, the
defense has held up, giving up an average of 16 points over the last
"Done some really good things. Big
plays, negative runs (and) the pass rush has been there where it's
been. The run defense is always the starting point," coach Mike
And the starting point against the run
is up front, where linemen Mike Daniels and B.J. Raji provide stout
and often disruptive presences.
The barrel-chested Daniels attacks the
line of scrimmage with a non-stop motor. Raji might be having one of
the best seasons of his seven-year career as the space-eating defender
in the middle. Listed at 337 pounds, Raji has slimmed down this season
and looks more athletic.
Sept. 28, 2015, file photo, Kansas City Chiefs' Alex Smith (11)
fumbles as he is sacked by Green Bay Packers' Mike Daniels
during the second half of an NFL football game, in Green Bay,
Wis. Problems on offense have overshadowed a solid effort by the
once-beleaguered Packers defense over the last three weeks. A
line led by Mike Daniels and B.J. Raji has led the charge.
The Packers defense hasn't allowed an
opposing running back to gain over 100 yards in its last four games,
with the gem coming on Nov. 22 at Minnesota. Adrian Peterson was
limited to 45 yards on 13 carries in a 30-13 win over the Vikings.
"For us, the main focus is to stop
the run," defensive end Datone Jones said.
The third-year player is showing
flashes of the potential the Packers hoped they would get when they
drafted him in the first round in 2013.
Jones, who is being used more in a
hybrid outside linebacker-defensive end role, has three sacks. His 10
quarterback hurries are the most among Packers linemen going into
Thursday's game against Detroit, one ahead of Daniels.
With Jones added to the mix, the
Packers have so many outside pass-rushing options, they can even
afford to give veteran Julius Peppers a rare day off from practice on
Monday. Peppers has a team-high six sacks, but only a half-sack over
the last four games.
"He obviously doesn't like to miss
practice. So, that was a decision I think we needed to make, just give
him a day," McCarthy said.
Green Bay is tied for fifth in the NFL
with 30 sacks, though those quarterback hits have come in bunches. The
Packers went a three-game stretch without a sack before getting six
against the Vikings.
Daniels, though, likes how the line is
pushing people around more over the last three games.
"I think the physicality has been
there, you look at how we've done in the run defense
specifically," Daniels said. "So we just have to keep
pushing (forward), keep cleaning this up."
The stoic Daniels can set the tone with
an intense glare and what he calls a "street fight"
"It's up to us to get things
rolling, to get things started," Daniels said, "and then
everybody helps us out, and we help them out as a team."
Notes: The Packers did not practice on
Tuesday. DBs Damarious Randall (knee) and Micah Hyde (hip) were full
participants in practice on Monday and appear to be on target to play
on Thursday. They'll help fortify a secondary that must content with
Lions receiver Calvin Johnson for the second time in three weeks. ...
TE Andrew Quarless (knee) returned to practice on Monday for the first
time since coming off the injured reserve/designated to return list,
though it appears unlikely that he would be available on Thursday.