Packers Daily Links: No New Injuries Heading Into Playoffs

The Packers didn't suffer any injuries in their regular season finale against the Bears. That and more in today's Daily Links...

Head coach Mike McCarthy stated at Monday's press conference that the Packers had no injuries in the aftermath of their regular season finale against the Chicago Bears. And others have a chance of being healthy enough to play in the playoff game at Philadelphia. "McCarthy said defensive end Cullen Jenkins (calf), right outside linebacker Frank Zombo (knee), safety Atari Bigby (groin) and fullback Korey Hall (knee) all have a chance of being cleared medically for the game against the Eagles," writes Jason Wilde of ESPNWisconsin. "All four were set to go through testing on Monday and could practice on Wednesday."

Former Packer safety Matt Bowen breaks down the Packers-Eagles matchup for the National Football Post and brings up the blueprint that beat the Packers last season. "Philly will use [DeSean] Jackson in motion to get that free release off of the line of scrimmage," writes Bowen. "Move to the stack look (immediate Hi-Lo alert), the bunch alignment and across the formation so the Eagles’ WR doesn’t have to work at the line vs. Charles Woodson or Tramon Williams. There will be plenty of movement and shifting from the Eagles' offense to see what the Packers are playing from a coverage standpoint and to get Jackson open." This hasn't bothered the Packers much this season. They've adjusted and moved on, part of the reason they're one of the best defenses in the league.

The season isn't even over, and we're already looking forward to the NFL Draft. "As it stands right now, the Packers pick 25th, but they could move as low as 21st if they lose to the Philadelphia Eagles Sunday in the wild card round or as high as 32nd if they win the Super Bowl," writes Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Underclassmen, even those that aren't going to be first-round material, are already declaring for the draft. They're putting a lot of faith in the NFL to strike a new CBA.

Aaron Rodgers' stats are awe-inspiring. "In his third season as the Green Bay Packers' starter, Rodgers also finished among the top five quarterbacks in average yards per pass attempt (second with 8.3), completions of 20 or more yards (fourth with 54) and completion percentage (fifth with 65.7%)," writes Gary D'Amato of the Journal Sentinel. Rodgers just happens to get better year after year. It's amazing to think that he could have finished even higher in some of these categories had he not missed a game and a half with a concussion.

Breaking down the recently completed Bears game is Bob McGinn of the Journal Sentinel, who gives props to Jarius Wynn. "Wynn's shared sack with A.J. Hawk was almost totally the result of Hawk's well-timed blitz past LG Chris Williams," writes McGinn. "However, Wynn had a big second half with three hurries, including two against LT Frank Omiyale. This was the pass rush that the coaches have been seeing from him in practice." It'll be interesting to see whether Wynn plays against the Eagles if and when Jenkins comes back.

Also getting props is Erik Walden. The praise comes from Cliff Christl and Eric Baranczyk for the Press-Gazette. "Take nothing away from Walden," they write. "He ran plays down in the running game. And he’s 6-foot-2 and 250 pounds. He has some strength behind him when he makes a tackle. He might be the fourth player the Packers have used at right outside linebacker this year, but he looks to be a better athlete than Frank Zombo and Brady Poppinga, and maybe Brad Jones as well." If Frank Zombo is healthy, the best utilization of outside linebackers would have to be Zombo against the run and Walden against the pass.

Mike McCarthy stressed the importance of defense during his Monday press conference. "There was Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy on Monday, with his team about to begin preparations for Sunday’s NFC wild-card playoff game at Philadelphia, coming clean about his belief that the key to making a Super Bowl run is defense," writes Rob Demovsky of the Green Bay Press-Gazette. Defense will definitely be key when it comes to stopping versatile Eagles quarterback Mike Vick on Sunday. Jason Wilde pens a similar article.

McCarthy was also very confident in his team's ability to beat any of the teams in the NFC. "Our football team is very confident that we can be successful against any of the other five teams in the playoff race," McCarthy is quoted as saying by D'Amato. "But this time of year, it would be foolish to even attempt to get in front of yourself. We're fully focused on Philadelphia." The toughest part is that all of those games will be on the road.

Bringing back bad memories is Kareem Copeland of the Press-Gazette. "Somewhat lost in the dominance of the defense and a playoff-clinching victory on Sunday were the offensive issues," writes Copeland. "The Packers netted 284 total yards with two turnovers and a 2-for-11 third-down conversion rate." Even worse is that several of those third downs were of short distance.

One week after rendering Devin Hester ineffective on punt returns, focus now turns to DeSean Jackson of the Eagles. "The Eagles return game features DeSean Jackson, who ranks No. 16 in the NFL (11.6 yards per return), has one touchdown return and four of 20-yards or more," writes Copeland. The job Tim Masthay and Mason Crosby did in punts and kickoffs this past Sunday was even more impressive considering the effect cold weather has on the football.

Bryan Bulaga is the subject of critique from Michael Rodney of Packer Update. "The number on the back of the jersey is the same, but the player wearing it looks completely different than he did a few months ago," writes Rodney. "After playing solid football in place of Mark Tauscher for seven games, right tackle Bryan Bulaga is really struggling down the stretch. And while the first-round draft pick from Iowa has been heavily criticized the past few weeks for his inconsistent pass blocking and penalties, truth be told, he hasn’t put forth a particularly good performance since Thanksgiving." Couldn't agree more. I don't care that he's only a rookie, Bulaga has struggled this season.

Continuing to beat the James Starks drum is Milwaukee Brian. "Brandon Jackson has done nothing, yet has taken the bulk of the running snaps (if you want to call "bulk" 7 of 16 plays)," writes Brian. "He has increasingly become more and more useless, while fans sit and wonder what backup James Starks could potentially do if ever given the opportunity by coach Mike McCarthy."

F.G. Union explains the Kaboom Factor.

Seeing the Philadelphia Eagles in the playoffs conjures up memories of fourth-and-26. But the Press-Gazette is polling readers on the Packers' most painful playoff loss since their last Super Bowl appearance. There are some doozies in there. Check 'em out. Which one do you detest?

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Comments (1)

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Tarynfor 12's picture

January 04, 2011 at 11:13 am

The reason fans were,are or will yet be afraid of him becoming the feature RB is the lame excuse of "he may fumble".All RBs fumble at some in-opportune time in a game of importance,just as WRs drop easy passes.

Watching Starks in the,regretfully little time he has been given,has not once shown me bad ball handling when running.Is it possible I missed a play,yes.Can it and will it happen,yes and eventually.

Simply,the Packers need something,anything that can be more consistent and productive than Jackson.

With the passing game of the Packers,which at times is a WTF is going on here sight,a drastic increase is not mandatory,but an ability to get the 3rd and 1-2(2 times a game) via it would and will take pressure off the passing when needed.

Don't be afraid of the inevitable(fumble),but invision and reap in the benefits that come from letting it come and pass.

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