thing, because the Packers are going to need him — and his sticky
hands — more than ever this next month.
(4-3) have a big hole in their secondary with Charles Woodson out
approximately six weeks with a broken collarbone. While Hayward
plays cornerback and Woodson is technically a safety, the rookie has
shown a knack for the kind of big-impact plays that are Woodson's
trademark. Hayward has four interceptions in the last three games,
and is tied for the league lead in picks.
first day, you could see his ball skills," Packers coach Mike
McCarthy said Wednesday. "He's a playmaker. Any time you take a
rookie and play him in a couple different positions in a
multi-scheme defense, I think that says a little bit about the young
man. Now that he's getting opportunities, he's taken advantage of
his hands on the ball again today a couple times, so he's getting
better with every opportunity."
thought enough of Hayward to take him in the second round of the
draft. His seven interceptions last year tied him for third most in
the country, and his 15 overall matched the Vanderbilt record set by
Leonard Coleman. Hayward also holds the Vanderbilt marks for passes
defended in a career (46), and single season (17), and was
second-team all-SEC in both of his last two years.
off guys in college, even in the big, bad SEC, is one thing. The NFL
is quite another.
always come in with a confident attitude and I'm a confident
guy," Hayward said. "So I felt like whenever I got my
opportunity I was going to take the best of it. The ball was going
to come to me. You're going to get caught on some, but I felt like I
was going to make some plays, as well."
Woodson in training camp only made the adjustment easier.
Pro Bowler, Woodson has 55 interceptions, 11 of which he's returned
for touchdowns. But it's not just the picks that have made him so
disruptive. He can — and does — play all over, and quarterbacks
can never be sure exactly where he'll pop up. He's also one of the
most physical players in the secondary, and his linebacker-like hits
have forced countless drops and fumbles.
moved Woodson to safety in their base defense this year, but he
still plays slot cornerback in the sub packages.
guy people have to account for every time," Aaron Rodgers said.
"I know if I was playing our defense, I would want to know
where he's at, whether he was at the high safety or whether he was
down in the slot or whether he was coming on a pressure. He gets a
lot of hits on the football. He's forced a lot of fumbles here over
may be the face of the franchise, Woodson is every bit as important
to the Packers. Just as Rodgers does the offense, Woodson takes
charge of the defense, making sure everyone knows the various
packages and the coverages that go with them. He can often be seen
signaling to his teammates when he spots something on the field or
catches someone out of position. On the sideline, he's always
tutoring the younger players.
watching him I was getting more comfortable, just seeing how a Pro
Bowler does it," Hayward said.
opposite Tramon Williams helped, too. Williams was a Pro Bowler in
2010, when he had six interceptions and the Packers won the Super
Bowl. He led the Packers last year with 24 passes defended, a career
high, and had four more picks. He has two interceptions so far this
year, and leads the Packers again with 13 passes defended.
Given a choice
between throwing to Williams' side of the field or Hayward's,
offenses are going to go to the rookie every time.
doubt," Hayward said. "You don't want to go at Tramon.
He's going to pick the ball as well. He's capable of doing it this
season already with two early and a lot of passes defended. So when
I'm out there, I'm going to be looking for the ball to come to
his playing time increase in Green Bay's first four games, Hayward
made a big impression against Indianapolis when he picked off an
Andrew Luck pass meant for Reggie Wayne. He was even better the
following week with two picks against the previously unbeaten
Texans, the first multi-interception game by a Packers rookie since
Mike McKenzie in 1999.
first interception snuffed out a Texans scoring drive, as he picked
off Matt Schaub in the end zone. (He'd broken up Schaub's two
previous passes, too.)
"He has a
lot of poise," McCarthy said. "You can see the game wasn't
too big for him from the first time we lined up."
his first start last weekend in St. Louis and, sure enough, he came
up with the ball again.
It's the first
time since Tom Flynn in 1984 that a Green Bay rookie has had four
picks in three games. The four interceptions are also the most by a
Packers rookie since McKenzie had six in '99 — and there are still
nine games to play.
might start going away from Hayward if he keeps this up, he won't
mind if they keep picking on the rookie.
the ball to come at you no matter if you're a Pro Bowler or
not," Hayward said. "The more opportunities you have to
get the ball, that's what I like so they can keep throwing the ball
at me all they want. They're going to catch a few balls here, but I
feel like I'm going to make some plays as well."
Jennings to have surgery to repair groin
GREEN BAY, Wis. — Rest and rehab weren't enough to get Greg Jennings
back on the field.
The Green Bay Packers' No. 1 receiver will have surgery next Tuesday
to repair a torn abdominal muscle that has kept him out for most of
the season. He would not put a timetable on his return, but said
recovery from the 20- to 25-minute outpatient procedure is not
"Honestly, I'm over being bummed about it. That took place three,
four weeks ago," Jennings said Thursday. "It is what it is. I need
to take care of it to 100 percent, and that's the process I'm
The two-time Pro Bowler was initially hurt in the closing minutes of
the Sept. 9 opener against San Francisco. He sat out the next week's
game against Chicago, and returned to play at Seattle on Sept. 24.
But he aggravated the injury against New Orleans, and came out of
the Sept. 30 game in the second quarter after a 9-yard touchdown
catch, his first of the season.
Jennings had hoped the injury would heal with treatment and strength
work. But he continued to feel pain when he was in the weight room
or tried to run, and feared the injury wasn't improving as he'd
hoped. When he felt his groin tighten up as he ran off the field
after last weekend's game in St. Louis, Jennings knew more
aggressive treatment was needed.
"The trainers have done a great job in the rehabilitation stages to
get me to where I am right now," he said. "But now we have to take
it a step further."
He traveled Wednesday to Philadelphia to see Dr. William Meyers, who
specializes in abdominal and groin injuries.
"The way he described it to me was simply two people pulling on the
end of a rope and it starts to fray. The more tugging, the more
fraying, which means the more tearing occurs," Jennings said.
"That's what I have going on."
Meyers told Jennings he could have either an injection or surgery.
But it would take a few days to see if the injection worked.
If it didn't, Jennings would need surgery anyway.
"The injection would've masked most of the pain, but there was still
no guarantee I could go out there and hit that last gear," Jennings
said. "That's the one thing I have to have ... to create more
separation. So, there's no sense to me in taking a shot that may or
may not work, may take three-days-to-a-week to actually start to
work. I could have spent the week rehabbing on a surgery that's
going to get me back perfect."
Jennings said he'll be able to walk out of the procedure, which will
be done in Philadelphia. He joked that he'll be back in the locker
room Wednesday and "you guys will never know."
The injury has come at the most inopportune time for Jennings, who
is in the last year of his contract.
Though he's had 1,000-yard seasons in three of the last four years
and is seventh on Green Bay's career list with 401 receptions, some
believe the Packers will let Jennings go as an unrestricted free.
The 29-year-old figures to command a contract averaging more than
$10 million per season and, with quarterback Aaron Rodgers, outside
linebacker Clay Matthews and defensive tackle B.J. Raji needing
extensions, there might not be enough money to go around.
The Packers are probably deeper at receiver than any other position,
too, and Jordy Nelson, James Jones and Randall Cobb have all had big
performances in Jennings' absence. Nelson had three touchdown
catches against Houston, and has had back-to-back 100-yard receiving
games. Jones caught two TD passes in three straight games, tying a
franchise record. Cobb followed his first 100-yard receiving game,
against Houston, with a pair of touchdown receptions against St.
"Free agency will take care of itself," Jennings said. "Hopefully,
I've put on film certain plays that I'm able to make and showcase my
talents. ... Right now, I have to take care of myself and do what's
best for me."
And that is to have surgery.
Asked if he wishes he'd made this decision earlier, Jennings said
it's pointless to think about.
"You always wish you'd done things differently once it didn't work,"
he said. "But the past is the past. You can't live in the past, you
can't change the past. Time keeps on ticking. So right now, the
decision and the choice that we're going with is going to get me
back to 100 percent."
Notes: DT B.J. Raji, who has missed the last two games with a
bad ankle, was able to practice on a limited basis Thursday. "I
thought he looked good," coach Mike McCarthy said. "He was jumping
around there, looked like old self." ... McCarthy said he thinks
backup DE Mike Neal, who injured his knee against the Rams, will be
able to play in Sunday's game against Jacksonville. ... With so many
players banged up — the Packers had 13 players on Thursday's injury
report — McCarthy is cutting practices short this week. "You don't
want to stress your team while getting ready for a game," he said.
Capsule: Jaguars at Packers
JACKSONVILLE (1-5) At GREEN BAY (4-3)
Sunday, 1 p.m., CBS
OPENING LINE — OFF
RECORD VS. SPREAD — Jacksonville 3-3; Green Bay 3-4
SERIES RECORD — Tied 2-2
AP PRO32 RANKING — Jaguars No. 32; Packers No. 6
LAST MEETING — Jaguars beat Packers 20-16, Dec. 14, 2008
LAST WEEK — Jaguars lost to Raiders 26-23 OT; Packers beat Rams
JAGUARS OFFENSE — OVERALL (32), RUSH (25), PASS (32)
JAGUARS DEFENSE — OVERALL (28), RUSH (29), PASS (24)
PACKERS OFFENSE — OVERALL (14), RUSH (24), PASS (10)
PACKERS DEFENSE — OVERALL (14), RUSH (17), PASS (17)
STREAKS, STATS AND NOTES — Jacksonville QB Blaine Gabbert will try
and play despite injury to non-throwing shoulder. ... Rashad
Jennings will start at RB for Jaguars in place of Maurice Jones-Drew
(sprained left foot). ... Packers have won back-to-back games for
first time this season. ... Jacksonville 0-2 against NFC North,
losing to Minnesota and Chicago. First time Jaguars play all four
NFC North teams since 2008. ... Green Bay's first game in almost a
month at Lambeau Field, where they have won 15 of last 16 and 21 of
last 23 in regular season. ... Green Bay leads NFL in red zone
efficiency, converting 16 of 21 opportunities. ... After scoring 57
points in first three games, Packers have scored 127 in last four.
... Green Bay's 24 sacks are NFL best, and Clay Matthews ranks
second individually with nine. ... Jaguars an NFL-worst in both
total offense (235.8 yards per game) and yards passing (144.8 per
game). ... Jaguars K Josh Scobee has made 17 straight field goals,
longest streak of career and second-longest in team history. Mike
Hollis owns franchise record with 20 consecutive made field goals.
... Will be 100th game for Jaguars TE Marcedes Lewis. ... Jaguars
have not scored second-half TD in last three games. ... Packers have
won four of last six regular-season games against AFC teams. ...
Jaguars DE Austen Lane grew up in Iola, Wis., about 60 miles west of