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Packers' Bruised, Battered Secondary Dependent on Pass Rush

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Packers' Bruised, Battered Secondary Dependent on Pass Rush

On one hand, you have an unfortunate end to what was a relatively impressive rookie campaign for Green Bay Packers cornerback Kevin King, who they were probably smart to shut down for the season and move to injured reserve.

On the other, you have fellow cornerback and special teams dynamo Demetri Goodson, whose road back to football after a gruesome knee injury just over a year ago is, well, fantastic.

"I can't explain what I've been through," said Goodson after his first practice on Wednesday since being activated from the physically unable to perform (PUP) list. "This whole year has been a really long year, a lot of ups and downs, but I finally made it."

Goodson has been with the team since 2014, and while he hasn't exactly made a name for himself at his natural defensive position, he's proven to be an asset for special teams coordinator Ron Zook as one of the top gunners on the roster, if not the clear-cut best.

Goodson tore both his ACL and MCL during a kick return in November of last season in a loss to the Washington Redskins. On top of that, he also dislocated his kneecap and tore both meniscuses. It was one of the more gruesome injuries that you would hate to watch but just can't look away from.

His journey culminated on Wednesday when the Packers made him an official part of their 53-man roster in exchange for King, who had been battling a left shoulder injury all season. He played in just nine games and started five of them, but had shown flashes as to why the Packers chose to make the 6-3 King their first pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.

Now, his rookie season is over just 21 tackles and five pass deflections into it.

"It's unfortunate anytime somebody gets hurt," said linebacker Clay Matthews. "But Kevin was asked to do a lot his first year here. It just requires guys to step up. There's been guys like Josh [Hawkins] and Jermaine [Whitehead] who have embraced that role of coming off the bench when needed."

On Wednesday, both King and cornerback Davon House didn't practice. House was also dealing with a shoulder injury, putting his status against the Cleveland Browns in question.

The Packers may very well enter week 14 with Hawkins, Goodson and Damarious Randall as their starting cornerbacks and also occasionally play a safety at slot cornerback. Whitehead was often utilized in that role in last Sunday's win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

"They definitely need me, because I think they only have about five corners total right now," said Goodson. "I'll definitely play a lot of snaps.

"I'm just going to go out there and play fast, and hopefully I can go out there and make a difference. That's all I'm going to try to do."

Goodson isn't even a guarantee to play Sunday. He was one of the five players who didn't participate in Wednesday's practice with a hamstring injury.

Regardless of who's playing the perimeter or in the slot, the Packers need another stellar game from their pass rushers, Matthews included. The rusher opposite Matthews, Nick Perry, didn't practice on Wednesday either with foot/shoulder injuries.

"Hopefully we can continue on what we were able to do last week," Matthews said, coming off of a game in which he recorded 2.5 sacks: his most since week 16 of the 2014 season. "Creating some havoc in the backfield and continue that this week. With their receivers coming back, it'll be even more important to get DeShone [Kizer] off the spot and make him uncomfortable, especially as a young quarterback."

The last thing they can afford is allowing Kizer, who has been well-documented as one of the less-than-impressive quarterbacks in the league this season -- him and his 15 interceptions -- to pick their bruised and battered secondary apart.

The Packers' path to a victory on Sunday, a potential Aaron Rodgers return, and running the table in their last three games of the season to potentially sneak into the playoffs as a suddenly feared contender will hinge on their pass rush. Whether that's with Matthews leading the show without Perry or both of them on each edge being disruptive, it all starts up front.


Zachary Jacobson is a staff writer/reporter for Cheesehead TV and a contributor/analyst for the Pack-A-Day Podcast. He can be found on Twitter via @ZachAJacobson or contacted through email at [email protected].

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (23) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Normally, I'd say that if the DBs are dependent on the pass rush, we're in trouble, but Kizer might be the equalizer here. Not a gimme game.

GoPackGo GoPackGo's picture

Could not agree more. I think the browns get at least 1 win this season. They have a good chance of getting that one win this weekend. But I can imagine seeing Aaron Rodgers at practice gave this team a jolt. Hopefully that translates to a win

Hematite's picture

Things just keep going from bad to worse for this decimated Packers secondary.
Already a hamstring injury for Goodson?
Anyone know anything about strength and conditioning?
There should be some job openings in Green Bay in the coming months!

The TKstinator's picture

Sounds like it’s time for a whole lotta Cover 2.

Since '61's picture

Does anyone remember the last game the Packers played with a healthy secondary? It seems like for the last 2-3 seasons they have missed at least one starter and usually more at either the safety or CB positions and again often both.

Randall, Hawkins, and Goodson(?) may be fine against the Browns but not for running the table. How does Goodson come off of PUP with a hamstring injury?

Someone should research how many games have been missed by Packers starters and second stringers since the 2012 season. It must be in the hundreds at least and maybe even 4 figures total. This is just crazy and this season has at least 4 games to go.

Injuries are part of the NFL but this is literally a plague for the last 5-6 seasons. Thanks, Since '61

Razer's picture

...How does Goodson come off of PUP with a hamstring injury?...

Truly remarkable, isn't it.

Finwiz's picture

It's the Packers, most days they are at risk for getting injured by stepping out of bed and putting a couple of toes on the floor.

RCPackerFan's picture

To be fair, they basically have been playing without King for a while now. He played against Pittsburgh but he missed a decent amount of time during that game and probably shouldn't have played. So basically the last 3 weeks he hasn't been playing.

I'd like to see Pipkins get some opportunities. I thought he looked good when he has played.

To help the secondary we do need to generate a pass rush. Last week we saw Clark and Daniels getting push up the middle, which helped Mathews coming around the corner. If they can get pressure on Kizer, they will likely cause him to make some bad decisions.
Now that Gordon and Coleman are back the Browns have some good weapons to throw to. Pass rush and pressure will be huge in this game.

rdent's picture

At the beginning of the season this game was viewed as a cake walk but now it appears that it could be a struggle.

RCPackerFan's picture

shows how much changes, by missing just 1 player. Of course to be fair, that 1 player is proving to be worth about 5-6 players if not more on most teams. Without him, TE's and WR's have no impact, Plus he helps the OL with his knowledge and blitz pickups.

Honestly, most people would feel a lot better if they had more consistent play at QB. Hundley has been so inconsistent that it makes it tough to feel good about the offense.

Steve Cheez's picture

I think we could make a case for Rodgers as MVP this year...

Nick Perry's picture

Goodson has always scared the hell out of me anytime he's one of the 11 players on the field playing defense. I'm happy to see the young man back after suffering an injury like that, but you better believe if he's on the field the Browns will line up Josh Gordon across from him every chance they can..UGH!

Losing King is tough. Wearing my green & gold glasses before the season started I "Dreamed" Kevin King would be so good he's actually be one of the front-runners for DROY. Instead he's played like just about every rookie Thompson has ever drafted, especially on defense and struggled with both his play on the field and staying ON the field healthy. The kid is so damn skinny my biggest fear (I kid you not) was his shoulders. He just didn't look like a guy who would hold up, 6'3" or not and he hasn't.

Off Topic...

This weeks game scares me simply because the Browns defense isn't THAT bad and the game is in Cleveland. The Browns are 0-12 and this week just might be the best chance for a win this season. They play the Bears but that's in Chicago. This is a huge no win situation for the Packers this week. If they win they were supposed to. But if they lose there's no where big or dark enough to hide for Thompson and McCarthy.

RCPackerFan's picture

'This weeks game scares me simply because the Browns defense isn't THAT bad and the game is in Cleveland.'

The Browns have lost 4 games by 3 points. 3 of those at home. They play teams tough. They were leading the Vikings at halftime.

Browns have a lot of good players and now that Gordon is back, they have a legit weapon that is scary good.

Razer's picture

Good points Nick.

I agree great to see Goodson making a comeback. I can't say it will help the secondary because he wasn't very good going out.

What really puts this season in perspective are the comments about squeaking by an 0-12 Browns team. My how we have dropped our expectations. If we are talking about the Browns as a season derailer, what does that say about us competing against the playoff ready clubs. Not sure what we are hoping for here...

Packer Fan's picture

I think back to the beginning of the season. House, Randall and Rollins were starters. Jones, Bryce and King were up and comers. Half of these guys are on IR now. Jones is usually playing deep safety and not making much of an impact. Whitehead, a safety, is playing as dime CB. Such promise then. Not so much now. And now other writers are saying the defensive draft this year is pretty much a lost year.

But the defense is hanging together. I say clean up the errors. But not much of a SB defense. We will need AR.

On offense, Montgomery was to provide the spark at RB. He has mostly been hurt. But here the rookies are doing well. And leading the offense since the passing game is not doing well. And three tackles on IR with Spriggs coming back. This unit can help make a run with AR back.

But first, Cleveland. Maybe Hundley will have an OK game. Inconsistent last week, perhaps better this week.

billybobton's picture

and there it is stated clearly and strongly

Randall and Rollins were starters

neither belongs on the field and never has, it has always been potential. Two players starting, much worse than being bad backups and taking roster spots away from what (on other teams) might be developmental players

our developmental players are starters and after next year they get dumped just like D JONES and most teddie draft choices and are out of the NFL

see the problem?

we have a better basketball team at CB than football team

see the problem?

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Week one we had 12 DBs on the roster: 7 CBs and 5 safeties. King became a starter week two. King wasn't on the injury report before week one but played just 6 snaps. Week 2 King played 79% of the snaps, and MM said: "If anything, he’s earned the right to potentially play more." "Smooth, confident athlete. He’s getting healthy and he looks comfortable out there. I like the progression that Kevin’s making." Week 3: 100% of the snaps. Week 4 King led all DBs in snaps and played 90% of the possible snaps. King suffered a concussion in week 5 against Dallas in the first quarter, and thus played just 16 snaps, and missed week 6 due to the concussion. Week 7 King played 88% of the snaps, most among the CBs. Week 8 was the bye. Week 9 King played 93% of the snaps. Injuries kicked in week 10 against the bears; though King played 67% of the snaps, Dom Capers remarked: "I think it was pretty obvious in the game on Sunday when he wasn’t using two hands…"

Of the 12 DBs: Brice, Rollins and King went on IR. Gunter played 2 snaps in week 1 but simply got cut. Losing King hurts. I can't really say that about Brice and Rollins. Rollins was unbelievably bad. Brice was just bad. I don't see a lot of dropoff from Brice to Marwin Evans. I don't see a lot of drop off from Rollins to Hawkins. I suspect that a healthy House isn't a bad CB, but we'll might not find out.

cuervo's picture

Bruised and battered or healthy it has proven to not make much of a difference this year, or last year, or the year before that, or...... you get the point.

It would not surprise me at all if the Packers lose this game. The deficiencies continue to shine a bright light on the ineffectiveness of MM.

pacman's picture

Maybe Shields wants to come back?

It's like we will need 3 more years of drafts to overcome all these injuries.

The only way Packers can win a game against a good team is if offense scores almost every possession. Is that possible with a cold AR but an energized ground game?

Handsback's picture

The injury report year after year for the Packers makes me shake my head and wonder how they ever even get into the playoffs. This year they probably won't. The Pack's CBs are marginal and when you have Coleman/Gordon/ and the rookie TE that will cause some major problems for the defense.

If Hundley looks like he's on his way to another 84 yards passing, the Browns will stack the box and make Hundley beat they with the pass.

The Browns are wanting a win and can smell fresh blood. Kizer may be the better QB on the field and that will dictate the outcome. So can Green Bay overcome all of that? I guess we will see.

Bearmeat's picture

Our DBs are dependant on a pass rush?

Oh. Well then, we're screwed.

Razer's picture

So true. One weakness depending on another weakness. So sad.

billybobton's picture

the best gunner on the actually don't know what that means do you?

not trolling but are you related to goodson?

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