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Worthy on the Rise in Rookie Season

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Worthy on the Rise in Rookie Season

Aaron Rodgers received all the attention in the aftermath of last Sunday's win over the Texans, and deservedly so, after his six-touchdown performance and newly famous "Shhhh..." interview.

But there was another accomplishment almost as impressive as Rodgers' in Houston last weekend, and that was the way the Packers defense held running back Arian Foster to 29 rushing yards on 17 attempts.

The Packers defensive line in particular, without the services of B.J. Raji who was held out of the game with an ankle injury, did yeoman's work in containing Foster, and rookie Jerel Worthy proved he's making progress by having one of the best outings of his young career.

"I'm starting to get the hang of it," Worthy told reporters this week. "The more confidence the coaches instill in me a little bit, it's just giving me a reason to go out there and play harder, and I just want to continue to grow as a player and make a lot more plays.

"I'm starting to come into my own a little bit, starting to settle into a little bit of a comfort zone, but at the same time I just want to prepare for every game as if it's the Super Bowl. So I just want to make sure I stay on top of everything I want to do."

To hold the NFL's second-leading rusher coming into last Sunday's game to 1.7 yards per carry was one of the keys to a Green Bay victory over the previously undefeated Texans.

Minus Raji, Worthy also took on a bigger role on the Packers defensive line. He played in a career-high 56 snaps, which was over 76 percent of the team's total defensive plays, according to ProFootballFocus.com.

For the first time in 2012 Worthy entered a game expecting to play a big role in the Packers' base 3-4 defense. In Raji's stead, Ryan Pickett moved to nose tackle and Worthy took over Pickett's duties at end.

To go along with stuffing Foster, Worthy also had a sack on the Texans' second possession of the game on third down, which forced a punt and built some momentum early in the game as the Texans' game plan got out of whack.

"Oh yeah, especially with C.J. (Wilson) getting that sack on the first play of the game, (it) kind of set the tone for the defensive line up front," said Worthy, "and we come back the next series and take them out of what they want to do."

On the final play of the first quarter, Worthy also dropped Foster for a loss of one yard, and by that point, the Packers had the game in control.

The task doesn't get any easier this week as the Packers travel to St. Louis for their third consecutive road game to take on the Rams and running back Steven Jackson.

It's true, Jackson hasn't done much this season. He has yet to score a touchdown and is averaging a career-low 3.6 yards per carry, but this is a three-time Pro Bowl player who must be respected.

If Worthy and the Packers defensive line can duplicate the showing they put forth a week earlier in Houston, they stand a good chance of stopping Jackson as well.

"I thought our defensive line set the tempo for our whole defense, particularly against a scheme that was different in Houston," said head coach Mike McCarthy on Friday. "The challenge will be totally different this week in St. Louis, but I thought our defensive line was outstanding in Houston. We're going to need that type of performance again this week."

The challenge with Jackson is how big he is. At 6-2 and 240 lbs., he's a load to bring down.

That's a fact not lost on Worthy as he prepares to face Jackson and gets ready for another game without the services of Raji.

"He's an animal," Worthy said of Jackson. "He's a huge man that runs hard, runs physical.

"With a guy like that, he's always moving piles forward, so when you make contact, you always want to run your feet a little bit and just make sure he doesn't fall forward for those extra yards."

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (19) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Mike's picture

Worthy's main thing is he just needs his motor running @ 100% for every snap he plays. That shouldn't be too difficult as we finally have the players at DE on our roster to have a good rotation to keep the starters fresh.

Hopefully Perry can get back from his injury next week so he can continue the improvement he's shown over the season.

woodson4president's picture

#Betterwithoutraji

Mike's picture

Not completely. I will agree that it may be time to move BJ to DE where he'll be allowed to penetrate and collapse the pocket more and draft a young guy to be the NT of the future. BJ does some great things for the defense, but he gets into trouble when he tries to make the big play instead of just holding up and stoning the double team.

pkrNboro's picture

"it may be time to move BJ to DE"

I disagree.

He performed well on the inside for one season, and then shifted outside the next year and had a crappy season. Then he moved inside again, and he did okay.

I think this is because Raji has short arms. When outside, he gets paired with a more athletic tackle that often has longer arms -- I think these guys lock onto BJ and neutralize him. Inside, his opponent is a lesser athlete with shorter arms and BJ can eliminate their hand play more effectively.

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Taking a step back, it's nice to see the team function at a high level without Jennings and Raji -- and if you include the Super Bowl season, Finley too.

If you consider Rodgers and Matthews, I don't think the team can afford to re-sign all of these guys to the mega-deals they're expecting. And by "afford" I don't mean its financial definition exclusively. If the deals could be consummated, I don't like how they'd be falling within a year or two of each other. Within a few years, they'd all be making Woodson type money -- whereby half of them would really be earning it. It could turn into a kidney stone of truly epic proportions...

Mike's picture

True about his arms - BJ has good arm length for a NT but shorter arms for an end. If he's to remain at NT, he needs to learn from Pickett on when to take his chances and how to be more patient. I think his poor stats last season were due to overuse and BJ pressing on too many plays to make the big play, as opposed to fulfilling his assignment and then exploiting a mistake by the offense or taking a chance when it's less expected. I think he needs to realize that this year, there are more bodies at DE, and much more skilled players at that (healthier in Neal's case). BJ needs to get back to playing run in the 3-4, but when he's in nickel he can crash and collapse the pocket all he likes! Can't wait for him to get back though!

I do agree on your point of "affording" to keep all those guys. It's sort of like what Detroit is dealing with now. However, I do get the feeling that TT will be able to front-load or get hometown/homegrown discounts on some of these guys. I know it's somewhat wishful thinking, but I do feel that Rodgers and Clay are the rare athlete who would accept a deal that runs $2-3 mil less per season than what they do deserve if it meant they'd be able to keep their championship core together.

pkrNboro's picture

Good point about Raji and his overuse. He's young enough whereby he can do it physically, but his performance diminishes as can only be expected.

I saw an article from McGinn that bashed a lot of defensive players for their lack of effort. In some respects I see that -- the secondary just can't tackle with a passion and there are times when the dLine ends up "dancing" with their opponents.

But with Raji having been moved here/there and then overused, I'm not sure it applies to him. But, then again... with a butt like that, I would have thought you'd see him overpower Centers much more often...

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I get the biz about homegrown discounts, but doubt it happens. A perfect opportunity to show some homegrown appreciation would have been this year -- Woodson could have offered to take a pay cut.

He's been grabbing in coverage for 2-3 years now, as he's lost at least a "step," if not two. Without make-up speed he has no chance of playing a "true" CB position -- and has been exposed playing safety. He lead the team in missed tackles last year. He sure as hell is not worth $11.4 million.

With Rodgers and Matthews being the better performers, I hope they get every last cent they can. But everybody has to understand that if these two guys get a "Brees-like" contract, then they won't have a Jennings/Finley/Raji/Hawk cast to join them (...which may not be all bad!).

GBPDan's picture

Love watching the development of the young players. I think TT hit on some of these kids. I hope heyward has a good game filling in for shields. It sounds like House may be activated this week, which would be nice to see.

Mike's picture

Yeah - it's fun to watch how much better they look week to week. Really, the five first picks have all shown flashes of talent/brilliance at times this season. I am curious to see if Daniels will start to get more plays to just go after the quarterback. As good as Hayward and McMillian have looked, I'm even more excited by how much Perry and Worthy have improved from Week 1. Hopefully, they'll be bringing lots of heat by the end of the season. Also, it's very nice to see Neal getting some good pressure since his return. He will be another difference maker throughout this season! Defense is back on the rise! Go Pack Go!

Mike's picture

People do need to start spelling Casey's name correctly though...

pkrNboro's picture

Hayforth...
Haywood...
Hayworth...
Heythere...

...but I still think "Gordy" Nelson is the funniest.

Mike's picture

HA! Haven't seen that one in a while...

FITZCORE 1252'S EVO's picture

Agreed.

Tundraboy's picture

Excited to see that Richardson is back too

Nononsense's picture

Worthy's sack of Schaub was a thing of beauty. Thats exactly the type of play I was hoping to see when they drafted him.

Nothing messes with an offense more than quick inside pressure. That's what the Pack was missing last year. Its also why I loved the addition of Worthy and Daniels in the draft, even though they didn't really fit the mold of typical 3-4 defensive lineman.

FITZCORE 1252'S EVO's picture

I watched that game again yesterday. I watched that particular play a few times, it really was a thing of beauty. He gave that lineman a little shake and bake... He never had a chance. Worthy definitely has the "P" word.

Cole's picture

This will go down as tt's all-around best draft, no mega stars like cm3 or rodg but all-around every single one will be a good to great player. My prediction at least.

FITZCORE 1252'S EVO's picture

I like it Cole.

woodson4president's picture

Worthy has the most speed off snap i have ever seen. The thing with Raji is my friends asked me early this season who id keep come contract time bj or greg and i was all about bj, but i honestly think itd be alot easier to find a fat man to stand in the way over a skilled wr. Im just not impressed anymore. Trade for Ngata hahaha.

denniseckersley's picture

BJ Raji was responsible for the greatest play in the history of this glorious goddamn franchise. Anybody talking about cutting ties with him has lost their mind..

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