Packers Daily Links: Driver Expects To Play Sunday

Despite missing two consecutive practices, veteran wide receiver Donald Driver said he expects to play on Sunday.

Wide receiver Donald Driver rarely misses practice, which could be a cause for alarm. But the Associated Press (and presumably Packers beat reporter Chris Jenkins) provides encouraging news direct from Driver. "Packers wide receiver Donald Driver missed practice for the second consecutive day, but he still expects to play in Sunday night's game against the Minnesota Vikings," writes Jenkins. Driver was limited during practice last week as well and played against the Dolphins, for what it's worth.

Linebacker Clay Matthews took a step forward during practice yesterday. "Matthews, who sat out last week because of a hamstring injury, officially was listed as a limited participant in practice for the second straight day Thursday," writes Pete Dougherty of the Green Bay Press-Gazette. "But he progressed to taking part in some team drills, which is a strong indication the NFL’s sack leader will be healthy enough to start Sunday unless he shows up to work unexpectedly sore Friday morning." Friday's practice should be a better indication of Matthews' status for Sunday, and a setback would be unexpected.

Details of Nick Barnett's recent wrist surgery are presented by Jason Wilde of ESPNWisconsin. "Barnett explained Thursday that the surgery inserted pins into his right wrist to reattach a tendon he tore off the scaphoid bone," writes Wilde. "Barnett had Appleton orthopedic hand specialist Scott Olvey, who also repaired offensive lineman T.J. Lang’s wrist in April, perform the surgery." It was also interesting to hear that Barnett considered playing without surgery, especially if it happened to his left hand, but his long-term health prognosis made him reconsider.

The case for heavy blitzing of Brett Favre is made by Kevin Seifert of ESPN.com based upon statistical evidence. "The Packers would be advised to consider a heavy pass rush Sunday night," writes Seifert. "This season, Favre has completed only 46.7 percent of his passes against five or more pass rushers (28 of 60), according to ESPN's Stats & Information, and ranks No. 30 among NFL quarterbacks with a 57.3 passer rating in those situations. He's thrown three interceptions and been sacked twice in 62 plays against the blitz."

It's looking more likely that linebacker Brady Poppinga could be placed on injured reserve. "Poppinga had knee surgery earlier in the week, with McCarthy saying more damage was found than expected and that Poppinga’s long-term diagnosis has not been determined," writes Bill Huber of Packer Report. Even though no diagnosis has been given, the outlook is getting more negative all the time.

Rookie right tackle Bryan Bulaga and his move to right tackle is detailed by Kareem Copeland of the Press-Gazette. "In addition to footwork, the coaching staff has stressed the need to improve Bulaga’s punch on pass blocks," writes Copeland. "Defenders are getting into his body when he needs to be able to chuck them in the chest to slow the rush and create space." Just because of Mark Tauscher's limited availability during practice, you have to believe Bulaga will make his third consecutive start at right tackle, and he's probably only going to get better as he gets more experienced.

The Packers put very little pressure on Brett Favre last season, and Tom Silverstein of the Journal Sentinel talked to the defensive line about their role in the pass rush. "Until Matthews missed the Miami game last Sunday with a hamstring injury, the Packers were second in the NFL in sacks with 21," writes Silverstein. "Matthews leads the team with 8.5, but the defensive line has contributed 7.5, including four by Jenkins and 2.5 by Raji." A sack from an unexpected source like C.J. Wilson or Jarius Wynn would be a boon to the team.

Punter Tim Masthay's troubles are given some attention by Gary D'Amato of the Journal Sentinel. "For Masthay, performing well during the week isn't the problem," writes D'Amato. "It's taking the consistency he displays on the practice field into Lambeau Field and other NFL stadiums on game day." Masthay is just a first year player. If he can just continue to build, he'll be okay. But he has to start trending upward.

Offensive lineman T.J. Lang is taking on the personality of a defensive lineman. "I know the techniques of the offensive linemen and was just trying to get a push and plug up the gap," Lang told Martin Hendricks of Packer Plus (subscription required) about the defense he played last week. "Those two plays were big for our defense and gave the ball back to our offense." With Mike Neal definitely out on Sunday, Lang could see action in short-yardage situations again.

A guest column comparing Brett Favre to Vince Lombardi and Curly Lambeau is written by Cliff Christl for the Press-Gazette.

Deanna Favre's questioning of her husband's alleged "sexting" actions is touched upon by Jason Wilde of ESPNWisconsin.

The recent struggles of Aaron Rodgers are outlined by Briana Shimada of BKS Sports Talk.

There's going to be some former player appearances in the Green Bay area this weekend including defensive lineman Santana Dotson at the Stadium View on Sunday afternoon.

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Comments (12)

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Bad Knees's picture

October 22, 2010 at 08:54 am

If the defensive tackles job is to create double teams then by all means use Lang in the defensive rotation. He is a big strong body who could create a push up the field. Gassed tackles don't do much at the end of the game. Lang would probably find the experience fun. And, it would help the team.

Don't use the excuse he does not have enough experience. How much experience does Bulaga have at RIGHT tackle?

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Hands's picture

October 22, 2010 at 10:05 am

Does the fact that Lang is getting all the work on the defensive line mean the coaching staff believes that he has more future on defense than offense? If that is the case, who is our back-up RT if Bulaga moves over to LT?

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Oppy's picture

October 22, 2010 at 06:38 pm

All I read into his use on the D-line is that our defensive line is really, really beat up with injury at the moment, and the particular 3-4 scheme that Dom Capers utilizes in Green Bay calls for much larger body types at DE than most 3-4's.

These are the guys who would normally be playing at that LDE spot: Jolly, Pickett, Neal, Harrell. All big boys, all not available. Wynn is nowhere near that big, and CJ Wilson just isn't experienced enough (maybe not strong enough, either) to shoulder the entire load for a full game.

Lang is smart, athletic, nasty and strong. And apparently, a jack of all trades, as proved last season when as a rookie he played every spot across the O-line with exception to C. Most importantly, he's big and he's willing.

Don't think there's going to be a long term shift of Lang to defense. He's just plugging a hole.

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davyjones's picture

October 22, 2010 at 10:29 am

Gil Brandt, in his weekly match up section, had Hawk vs AP as a key to the game. He had this to say:

"He has not fumbled all year, improving heavily in that area. Despite that progress, Hawk possesses the ability as a hitter to force fumbles. His ability to do so against Peterson could be a major factor in the game."

What AJ Hawk has he been watching this year??? Good Lord.

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JJK's picture

October 22, 2010 at 10:41 am

No kidding! I've only seen AJ Hawk getting drug or laying on his back on every tackle. Desmond Bishop on the other hand isn't getting near the credit he deserves for his play. Pro football focus rated his game against the Redskins as the best by any ILB since the inception of the website.

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zub_a_dub's picture

October 22, 2010 at 11:18 am

Hawk has not been a force all year, I am talking about making a big play, why should we expect it now.

Bishop on the other had big play making abilities, if anyone causes AP to fumble it will be Bishop.

Obviously this reporter has not been following the Packers all that closely, was just looking at the roaster for big names to write an article.

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ToddFromMinnesota's picture

October 22, 2010 at 11:19 am

Ok it's cheese smashing time. What does the Green and Gold have to say for themselves this time around. ...

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Charlie's picture

October 22, 2010 at 12:39 pm

Eat a bag of dicks?

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zub_a_dub's picture

October 22, 2010 at 11:24 am

What happens when Clifton goes down this game at the beginning of the second quarter?

With Lang playing on defense and Bulaga at RT.

I joked (with some seriousness) that Barbre could play defensive tackle in a 3-4 earlier this preseason. Barbre was just an amazing athlete with his big frame. Now we are playing Lang, funny.

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PackersRS's picture

October 22, 2010 at 12:18 pm

Time to get Adalius Thomas.

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hyperRevue's picture

October 22, 2010 at 02:26 pm

There is a reason he's still available.

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PackersRS's picture

October 22, 2010 at 04:59 pm

I agree, and was firmly against bringing him.

But, you have to agree, we're extremely thin at LB, to the point of putting François at OLB.

Wouldn't he be a better option than an undrafted FA at this point? With an UFA, he would have to learn the playbook and develop. It's one thing to have a rookie since TC, it's another to bring one mid-season...

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