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Key Battles, Week 3 Edition: Cincinnati at Green Bay

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Key Battles, Week 3 Edition: Cincinnati at Green Bay

Two weeks. That’s evidently all it takes to go from relatively healthy to running out of room on the meat wagon. Green Bay’s challenge against Atlanta would have been stiff enough with just the loss of two starting tackles, and then the Packers lost Mike Daniels and Jordy Nelson in short order. 
 
Green Bay is as banged up as any team in the league, and it’s mid September. 
 
Heading into Sunday’s home tilt against Cincinnati, seven are listed as doubtful. That includes David Bakhtiari (Bryan Bulaga is questionable), Randall Cobb, Davon House, Kentrell Brice and Jake Ryan. Oh, and Nick Perry needs surgery on his hand. 
 
The silver lining, I guess, is the fact that the injuries are pretty well dispersed across the roster. The doom and gloom perspective? Green Bay suits up again Thursday night. It’s imperative to get out of Sunday no worse for the wear. 
 
Here are some of the key battles for Sunday’s game against the Bengals: 
 

Dom Capers vs. new OC Bill Lazor 

Cincinnati’s coaching staff has been one of continuity under head coach Marvin Lewis, who has led the unit for about a hundred years. But after just nine points and no touchdowns in a 0-2 start, offensive coordinator Ken Zampese was given the boot. Quarterbacks coach and former Dolphins OC Bill Lazor takes over Sunday. The moves add a layer of difficulty to the Packers, who did what they could to prepare this week using an abundance of unscouted looks. 
 
Don’t expect the Bengals to completely hit the reset button, but do expect Lazor to get more out of Andy Dalton and Co. than the first two weeks have shown. Cincinnati will again be without rookie speedster John Ross at receiver, as well as standout tight end Tyler Eifert, which lessens the pressure for the Pack. As much as defensive coordinator may like to attack the wounded, his own unit is pretty banged up as well. 
 

Keep A.J. Green from killing you

The list of players seemingly created to destroy the Packers isn’t terribly long, but A.J. Green should be on it. (Along with Julio Jones, who once again Julio’d the Pack last week.) He’s huge, incredibly athletic, has deep speed, runs great routes and has an enormous catch radius. Surely, Green figures to be an important piece in Cincinnati’s hope for an offensive revival. The Packers should be able to shift plenty of resources Green’s way, but the challenge remains stiff. In four career games against the Packers, Green has 460 receiving yards (115 per game) and six touchdowns. 
 

Establish roles for young players

Green Bay may have to get more out of some of its young players on Sunday. With injuries mounting, players like Kevin King and Josh Jones could see much more playing time and give coaches and fans extended looks. King could have his hands full should he pull A.J. Green duty, and just looking at size and athleticism, he’s the Packers’ best matchup. Jones, meanwhile, saw time in the offseason and preseason as both an in the box linebacker, slot defender and high safety. Where he ends up playing on Sunday will likely have to do with where Morgan Burnett lines up. 
 
It doesn’t end there. 
 
With Mike Daniels and Nick Perry out, the Packers will look to Kenny Clark and Dean Lowry to help generate some pass rush. Meanwhile, two heavy weeks of usage for Ty Montgomery could mean that Jamaal Williams (and/or another of the Packers rookie running backs) plays a larger role. Second-year tackle Kyle Murphy is also in line for another start, assuming Bakhtiari doesn’t. 
 
Sunday presents an excellent opportunity for some of Green Bay’s first- and second-year players to solidify roles they may be required to fill. 
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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (10) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

Why Jamaal Williams? Why not Aaron Jones?

Is it so impossible for this team to back up Montgomery with someone who shows some semblance of vision and burst?

Why not at least try?

cuervo's picture

As I've written may times, because McCarthy has an aversion to any back that is a "shifty, explosive back". Montgomery is as close as he'll ever get...he always reverts to the guy that can turn a 30 yard scamper into a 7 yard cloud of dust.

I'm sure Aaron Jones will get an opportunity somewhere next year.

Tundraboy's picture

Absolutely. MM has this overly stoic tendency, yes an aversion to mixing it up, trying something new. He has his game plan which is a good thing, but God forbid if he strays from it. It's very frustrating to watch the team struggle, and not utilize a promising prospect, players who have shown some talent in camp and preseason nailed to the bench. You just know at the end of the day McCarthy's not going to start playing any of them until late in the season, and then only sparingly,only deviating if injuries force the issue.
Part of the enjoyment of the season is watching new players develop when it counts. This season especially, I'm hoping it doesn't take a prolonged slow start before we prove we are really going all in this season to win. Otherwise it's just another year of talk and we have to hear all the debate of what this team needs to finally get to the top. All while I watch the best QB we have ever had go to waste for yet another season.

marpag1's picture

Yes, cuervo, you have written this many times. What I am still not clear about is this: Which "shifty, explosive back" has MM refused to use? Who are you remembering, and can we have a name?

"Twinkle toes" John Kuhn? Dujuan "I'm currently on my ninth team" Harris?

Alex Green? Brandon Saine? Jon Crockett? Don Jackson? Dimitri Nance? Deshawn Wynn? Brandon Jackson? Not one of these guys is worth a mid-sized dog pile.

So.. um... who is this allegedly "explosive" running back that Mike McCarthy has shamefully neglected? Oh wait.... is it Kregg Lumpkin? Crap, it's Kregg Lumpkin, isn't it.

Johnblood27's picture

2 letters...
M
and
M

If he couldnt see that AJones might have been a real weapon on the turf and completely unscouted vs ATL, he surely wont see it now.

Or...

Maybe he trots AJones out there on the slower Lambeau sod and sees average speed and benches him for the rest of the year.

Thats more like mashede potato mike.

The TKstinator's picture

Great opportunity to see Kevin cover AJ. Gonna need some pass rush too.

jww061356's picture

Hey, at least we are not asking slow footed UDFAs to fill these positions for a change. These are all guys that the Packers hope are part of the future for this club, with the possible exception of Murphy. King, Jones, Clark and Lowry are all front line guys drafted for a specific reason. Let's see what they bring to the field.

Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

Amen, jww.

ricky's picture

Marvin Lewis is the second longest tenured coach behind Belichick. Hired in 2003, MM is third by being hired in 2006. Out of the seven longest tenured coaches, Lewis is the only one without a SB appeatance. Or even a playoff win.

It's likely that Cincy will have a revived offense, so if they do end up scoring 20 or so points, it doesn't mean the defense sucks. It means they are doing what they are capable of doing.

flackcatcher's picture

Nicely done David. I expect we will see more rotations in the defense, if for no other reason than the heat. The offense is a problem this week, MM may have to gamble on the OL, and rotate players. RB is a concern. I look for more 2 RB sets with Williams getting more playing time. May and Jones, maybe. Until both show they can block to protect QB1, they don't play. Packers got 2 games in 4 days. Now tell me that the NFL really cares about their players.

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