GREEN BAY, Wis. – Aaron Rodgers is usually at his media best when he's asked to explain his jocular lines or unusual gestures, which was the case when he discussed the pre-snap smoking motion he occasionally uses in games.

TV cameras caught him doing it again in Sunday's 38-17 win over the Chicago Bears, and a couple of listeners to his ESPN Milwaukee radio show asked host Jason Wilde to ask Rodgers about it.

"That was just a tribute to Jay Cutler, because there's that 'Smoking Jay' website," Rodgers said on Tuesday's show. "So I was just doing a tribute to Jay there."

Rodgers said it in a way that made it completely unclear whether he was joking or not.

"That's what it was," Rodgers insisted before backing down. "I don't know. I don't remember."

Then Rodgers said it's a dummy signal used in the no-huddle offense.

"You know, like, smoking dope; you're a dummy if you smoke dope," Rodgers said.
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Linebacker Stephen Tulloch missed the first game of his career on Sunday when the Detroit Lions beat the New York Jets.

Now, he's done with surgery on his torn left ACL as well.

The linebacker, who was injured celebrating a sack of Aaron Rodgers against Green Bay last month, sent an Instagram message on Wednesday morning that he had surgery on the knee and deemed it successful. The injury garnered enough attention for its somewhat bizarre nature that it ended up as part of last week's Saturday Night Live Weekend Update sketch.

Tulloch had been the player manning the middle of the Detroit defense the past four seasons, where he had more than 100 tackles in each of his first three years.
Welcome to Around the Horns, our daily look at what's happening on the Vikings beat:

In the Minnesota Vikings' calculations about whether Teddy Bridgewater will play on a sprained left ankle Thursday night in Green Bay, there's this to consider: The game-time forecast calls for temperatures in the low 60s, with an 80 percent chance of rain. That means if the Vikings are going to play Bridgewater, they'll have to be reasonably confident he can play on a wet surface at Lambeau Field.

The Vikings could get a chance to test that out during a light practice Wednesday, when it's supposed to be raining in the Twin Cities. Bridgewater was scheduled to do some running and flexibility exercises for his ankle Tuesday. Wednesday would be his chance to do some throwing and see if he's able to plant on his left foot when he delivers. He'd also get another chance to work in wet weather; Bridgewater played without his gloves during the Vikings' final preseason game on a rainy night in Nashville.

Talking about the game on Wednesday, Bridgewater certainly sounded like a man who planned on playing Thursday night. "It’ll be very exciting to be out there on Thursday," Bridgewater said. "You talk about Lambeau Field, the history and the tradition behind that stadium. It’s going to be a great feeling just being able to play in that facility with all of the history that’s behind it."

Then again, the last time the Vikings were preparing to play a night game in Green Bay, they led everybody to believe Christian Ponder was ready to start their 2013 NFL wild card game, only to start Joe Webb. It's worth keeping that in mind, too.

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GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Coach Mike McCarthy tried and tried to get the Green Bay Packers running game going with Eddie Lacy last Sunday at Soldier Field, neglecting James Starks in the process.

It was the second time in four games this season that Starks failed to carry the ball.

"James Starks should touch the football every single game," McCarthy said Tuesday. "That will not happen again."

So expect Starks to have some kind of role in Thursday's game against the Minnesota Vikings. Considering he has averaged 5.0 yards per carry on his limited (15) attempts this season, perhaps that could jump-start a running game that has sputtered through the first four games.

The Packers stuck with Lacy exclusively against the Bears. He carried a season-high 17 times but managed just 48 yards despite scoring his first touchdown of the season. For the season, he has averaged just 3.0 yards per carry on 53 attempts. With 161 yards at the quarter pole, he is on pace for just 644 yards -- or a little more than half of what he gained last season when he was the NFL's offensive rookie of the year.

The result is this: The Packers have the 28th-ranked rushing offense in the NFL so far. If you think yards per carry is a better measure because the Packers have run only an average of 55.75 plays per game, well, the Packers aren't much better in that area, either. They rank 26th at 3.5 yards per rush.

And, according to running backs coach Sam Gash, his backs have gotten just about all they can.

"Right now, we're getting what's there," Gash said. "There are times where sometimes the runner might be a little quick getting a feel for certain plays and stuff. But right now, you don't see the production and stuff that's there, but we're trying to be as effective as we can."

One play from Sunday's game demonstrated the Packers' struggles in the run game. On second-and-7 from his own 45-yard line in the second quarter, Lacy took a handoff and angled off left tackle, at which point he ran into the back of tight end Andrew Quarless, who was blocking linebacker Jonathan Bostic and was stopped for just a 2-yard gain.

"Anticipating," Gash said of what went wrong on that play. "That's getting a feel for things and guys hitting and holding their ground and different things like that. It's just the runner for getting a feel for how things are. Once we get everybody on the same page, I think it's going to be very nice to see."
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Count Josh Sitton among those not enamored with the NFL's Thursday night package.

Two days before his Green Bay Packers play the rival Minnesota Vikings at Lambeau Field, the veteran guard didn't hold back when asked about the quick turnaround after the Packers' 38-17 win over the Chicago Bears on Sunday.

"It sucks, man," Sitton said Tuesday. "I hate it. Felt like crap today. Probably feel like crap on Thursday. I think it's stupid."

Sitton called the Thursday package, which airs on CBS and NFL Network, a money grab by the league.

"That's what this league is about, is about making money, which is fine," Sitton said. "I like to make money as well. But, yeah, it's tough on your body, tough on your head."

Every NFL team is playing at least one Thursday game this season. The Packers played two because they opened in the NFL's annual kickoff game against the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks. But unlike this week, the Packers had a full week to prepare following their preseason finale the previous Thursday.

The Packers held a 90-minute practice on Tuesday, which is normally the player's day off.

"Tuesdays is typically the day that your body feels the worst," Sitton said. "I know for us in the offensive line room, that's what we always talk about. The second day, you always feel like crap. It's tough getting out there on the practice field today. But, like you said, everybody's got to do it. I’m glad we got it in Week 5 instead of Week 11 or 12 or whatever."

Coach Mike McCarthy said the players will take part in another practice on Wednesday. When asked whether it was going to be a half-speed, walk-through practice, Sitton said: "It better be."

Although Sitton may have been one of the few players to verbalize it, quarterback Aaron Rodgers said on his ESPN Milwaukee radio show late Tuesday afternoon that he thinks other share Sitton's viewpoint.

"I think that's usually the consensus," Rodgers said on the show. "I barely got touched last week, so I don't really have any complaints, but the guys who have contact every, single play, it's tough on their bodies. I think it's even tougher playing on Thanksgiving because then you're 10, 11 weeks into it and then you have to play a short week. This maybe a little bit easier since we're only four weeks in but every week you get into this thing you're banged up.

"Like we always say, it’s a 100-percent injury rate in this league. Everybody has injuries they deal with. It's just the severity and ability to play through them if that's possible. It's tough on the bodies, but we have a nice little break after this. Hopefully we can take care of business, get to 3-2 and have a nice relaxing weekend."

Thursday's game closes out a stretch of three straight NFC North games that began on Sept. 21 at the Detroit Lions.

"It’s been really tough," Packers veteran linebacker Julius Peppers said. "I don't know who came up with the schedule like this to put these games in a 10-day span like this, but we're getting through it."

It's actually three games in 12 days. It probably only feels like three in 10 days.
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- While Teddy Bridgewater and Chad Greenway again did not participate in the Minnesota Vikings' practice on Tuesday, cornerback Captain Munnerlyn returned from a suspected case of food poisoning.

Munnerlyn practiced in a limited capacity for the Vikings, who are preparing to play the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on Thursday night, and it appears the cornerback will be ready for the game after sitting out on Monday.

Cornerback Josh Robinson (hamstring) and running back Jerick McKinnon (ankle) were again limited, and linebacker Michael Mauti (foot), wide receiver Rodney Smith (hamstring), linebacker Brandon Watts (knee) and fullback Jerome Felton (knee) were full participants.

If Bridgewater does any throwing in practice, it would likely happen tomorrow, but the Vikings could easily list him as questionable on their final injury report and give themselves until Thursday night to let Bridgewater's ankle heal. They've been giving first-team snaps to Christian Ponder all week, and if they're confident in Bridgewater's ability to handle the game plan for Thursday -- which Mike Zimmer indicated he was -- they could buy him more time to recover.

The Vikings will also have to determine whether Greenway has recovered enough from a broken hand -- and more importantly, a broken rib -- to play Thursday night. Zimmer said the team would get a better sense of Greenway's status on Wednesday; if he can't go, Gerald Hodges would likely start again at weak-side linebacker.
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- For all the heat they were able to put on Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan on Sunday -- getting pressure on 23.3 percent of his dropbacks, according to ESPN Stats and Information -- the Minnesota Vikings only sacked Ryan once, on a blitz from Anthony Barr in the fourth quarter.

The rest of the day saw Ryan eluding chances to bring him down, doing some solid work once he escaped the pocket. He hit all four of his throws outside the pocket on Sunday, throwing for 34 yards and a touchdown and converting a 3rd-and-20 when Barr stepped up and left room for Ryan to find Julio Jones for a first down.

Some of those plays might have turned into sacks, or additional pressure on Ryan, Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said, if the Vikings had done a better job of rushing the quarterback as a team.

"It’s part of us being a team rush; we’re not individual rushers," said Zimmer in response to a question about defensive end Brian Robison missing several sacks on Sunday. "He’s done a good job and we haven’t helped him enough with some of the other guys, not because they’re not trying or they can’t rush. It’s because, like I said before, we are rushing as individuals. It’s no different than any other part of defense. You play good as a team, you know where you’re supposed to be at and then good things happen for other people and consequently good things happen for you.

"Guys feel like they can beat guys one-on-one. The hard part is getting them to understand that we will all have a lot more success, including the individual, if we will do it the right way, and we haven’t done it the right way the last couple of weeks."

The Vikings old Cover-2 scheme gave defensive linemen plenty of chances to rush upfield, but Zimmer's scheme mitigates those opportunities with more calls for linemen to engage blockers and collapse the pocket. Defensive ends typically don't accumulate big sack numbers in Zimmer's scheme -- in fact, only two defensive ends (Geno Atkins and Michael Johnson, both in 2012) posted double-digit sack totals in a season when Zimmer was the defensive coordinator in Cincinnati. Getting the Vikings to grasp the scheme changes has been an ongoing process in Minnesota, and it appears Zimmer isn't fully satisfied with the results yet.

"We have actually pressured OK; what we haven’t done is rush smart," Zimmer said. "We have to rush a lot smarter and same thing with this quarterback. If we give him an opportunity to get out of the pocket a lot of times, a lot of bad things happen.

"(It's) usually when a quarterback moves a little bit and you miss a sack. (We might have sacked him) if we had been a little smarter on the other side, or the push was a little bit better in the middle or we don’t run by the quarterback. It shows up (on film) pretty easily, really."
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- The three-year apprenticeship Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers served before taking over the starting job from Brett Favre -- and the tumultuous circumstances in which Rodgers eventually succeeded Favre -- is a key piece of the quarterback's story that now looks like an anachronism.

Of the quarterbacks taken in the first round since the Packers selected Rodgers in 2005, only Brady Quinn went two years without starting at least 10 games in a season, and young QBs like Russell Wilson and Andrew Luck led their teams to the playoffs as rookies.

The Minnesota Vikings had initially planned to take a more cautious approach with Teddy Bridgewater -- at least at the beginning of the season -- until Matt Cassel's broken foot made Bridgewater the starter by Week 4. Now, after an electrifying debut as a starter on Sunday, Bridgewater is trying to return from a sprained ankle in time for his first prime-time game against Rodgers at Lambeau Field Thursday night.

Would Rodgers have been ready, had he been put in the same situation as a rookie?

"Definitely not as prepared as the guys are now," Rodgers said Tuesday. "The guys coming out now are a lot more prepared than maybe myself and Alex Smith and Jason Campbell, the three guys who went in the first round in 2005. We’re all still in the league and still playing, but definitely, you look at some of the guys who have been starting the past few years, they’re a lot more prepared.

"I think the coaching at the high school level and the college level, the exposure guys are able to get, makes them a little more prepared. The schemes they're running in college gives quarterbacks the freedom to read and do more things at the line of scrimmage. Obviously, we've seen some guys step in the last few years and really play well in their first, second and third years."

Bridgewater had plenty of responsibility in his offense at Louisville, and it was that experience that led many analysts to call him the most NFL-ready quarterback in this year's draft class. He's won rave reviews from Vikings coaches about his ability to understand the team's offense, to the point where coach Mike Zimmer said Tuesday that Bridgewater is able to get ready for Thursday's game without the luxury of many practice snaps.

"He is pretty mentally sharp on all of his stuff," Zimmer said. "He was out here today at the walk-through. He’s fine mentally. He’s good."

That's an assessment usually reserved for veteran quarterbacks. And while there are certainly more nuances Bridgewater will have to learn, there's little doubt he's appeared comfortable in the Vikings' offense so far. That preparedness has made one of the game's great quarterbacks take notice.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- If Green Bay Packers fans didn't like what Ryan Longwell once said about Green Bay's dining scene, they probably won't be happy when they hear what Greg Jennings likes most about his new life in Minnesota.

In a conference call Tuesday with reporters at Lambeau Field, the former Packers receiver called the educational system in Minnesota "a step up" for his family, which includes his wife and four children. Jennings, whose Vikings visit the Packers on Thursday night, did say there are "great educational systems" in Green Bay, as well.

[+] EnlargeGreg Jennings
Benny Sieu/USA TODAY SportsGreg Jennings makes his second trip to Lambeau Field Thursday night as a member of the Vikings.
"We're excited to be here, and not just because of what football affords and presents but because of everything else that comes with it," Jennings said.

Jennings made several references to his spirituality during the 15-minute conference call, and during his tenure with the Packers, he made his religious beliefs well known. His father is a pastor in his hometown of Kalamazoo, Michigan, and his mother is a missionary, according to his biography on the Vikings' website.

While in Green Bay, Jennings' children attended the private Wisconsin International School, which closed its doors and filed for bankruptcy in July, more than a year after Jennings left town.

Nearly a decade ago, Longwell irked Packers fans on his way out of town. When the kicker signed with the Vikings in 2006, he told reporters: “Every town in America has an Applebee's restaurant. In Green Bay, Applebee's was about as fancy as you got. When my wife, Sarah, and I would get a baby sitter, a nice date night was Applebee's. In Minnesota, I'm sure there will be plenty of options before Applebee's comes into the rotation."

Jennings, a two-time Pro Bowl receiver during his seven-year career in Green Bay, was booed by Packers fans in his return to Lambeau Field last season, his first with the Vikings.

"It's important for fans to understand who I am and what I represent,” Jennings said. “And I don’t think that No. 1, I don’t hate or dislike anybody, so I would hope and my desire would be that no one hates or dislikes me, but that’s just not the society we live in.

“You know, I'm a faith guy, man. So my faith, family and my career. If I continue to humble myself and show perfect love, man, it eliminates a lot of things. And that's all I can show, and control obviously, is what I do. I can't control or concern myself with what others may say or think or feel. Everyone has a right to their own opinion."
George Winn caught the attention of the Detroit Lions' coaches during training camp. Now, he’ll be part of the active roster.

According to his agent, the Lions will promote the running back to their 53-man roster, a potential indication the Lions will be without at least one of their running backs this Sunday against Buffalo.

Joique Bell left Sunday’s win over the New York Jets with a possible concussion in the second half. Theo Riddick and Montell Owens both had hamstring injuries that forced them out of the win over the Jets as well, leaving the Lions with two healthy running backs: Reggie Bush and Jed Collins.

It’ll be interesting to watch the Lions over the next few days. While Bush is capable of handling a heavy workload, offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi has said he wants to watch Bush’s work in order to keep him as healthy as possible throughout the season.

Bush has only played 16 games in a season twice in his career. So far, the strategy has worked as Bush has been healthy this season. Bush has played in at least 14 games the past three seasons, though, and had 1,000-yard seasons in 2011 with Miami (1,086 yards) and 2013 with Detroit (1,006 yards).

Winn bounced around on multiple practice squads since going undrafted in 2013 before signing with the Lions prior to training camp. In camp, he became known for his ability to run over defenders and immediately pushed Mikel Leshoure for a roster spot. The Lions ended up cutting Leshoure but moved Winn to the practice squad.

There has been no corresponding move announced to open up a slot for Winn on the roster.

The Film Don't Lie: Packers

September, 30, 2014
Sep 30
A weekly look at what the Green Bay Packers must fix:

It's not just that the Packers allowed the Chicago Bears to rush for 235 yards on Sunday at Soldier Field, but it's how it happened.

Nearly two-thirds of that came before the Packers even laid a hand on anyone. The Bears gained 147 of those yards before contact, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

A review of the film showed gaping holes for Matt Forte and Ka'Deem Carey. But perhaps the most egregious of all the run defense breakdowns came on a play by quarterback Jay Cutler. On fourth-and-1 in the first quarter, he fumbled the snap. He then picked it up off the turf and ran right through the middle of the Packers' defense for 15 yards.

It's no wonder the Packers found themselves ranked dead last in the NFL in rushing defense.

And the Minnesota Vikings must be salivating at the thought of running against the Packers on Thursday night at Lambeau Field. Only the Vikings ran for more yards on the ground in Week 4 than the Bears did. They put up 241 in a victory over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.

Defensive coordinator Dom Capers played rookie Mike Pennel for 22 snaps on Sunday. It was the first playing time for the undrafted rookie. Considering he's their biggest defensive lineman, perhaps more snaps are in order to try to clog up the middle.

The Film Don't Lie: Lions

September, 30, 2014
Sep 30
A weekly look at what the Detroit Lions must fix:

Matthew Stafford is once again playing well at the start of the season, but for the Lions to have success against the Buffalo Bills and the rest of the year, he must receive better protection from his offensive line.

Stafford has been sacked 11 times, hit seven other times and hurried 31 times in four games, according to Pro Football Focus. Those numbers are all on pace to be far worse than last season, when the Lions were one of the best teams in the league at protecting their quarterback, allowing only 23 sacks.

Pro Football Focus gave three of Detroit’s linemen -- left guard Rob Sims and the right tackle combination of Garrett Reynolds and Cornelius Lucas -- negative grades. PFF has Sims charged with surrendering eight of those quarterback hurries while Dominic Raiola and Riley Reiff have six each.

The stats bear out the issues at right tackle, as Lucas and Reynolds allowed five sacks in three weeks. If the Lions felt truly comfortable with either player, they wouldn’t rotate between the two.

While it may not be an absolute fix, Detroit appears to be on track to have starting right tackle LaAdrian Waddle returning this week against the Bills. This should help in many ways. It would restore continuity to the offensive line and have the Lions starting their best five pass protectors. It also brings the return of a player who has yet to allow a sack in his career.

Considering Buffalo is sacking quarterbacks on 6.3 percent of dropbacks (12th in the league) Waddle might be returning at the perfect time for Detroit.

The Film Don't Lie: Bears

September, 30, 2014
Sep 30
A weekly look at what the Chicago Bears must fix:

The Bears eviscerated the progress shown recently by the defense in Sunday’s loss to the Green Bay Packers with their glaring lack of a pass rush against Aaron Rodgers. If the club conducts business this way again against Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, the Bears can expect similar results.

Rodgers shredded the Bears for 302 yards and four touchdowns and finished with a passer rating of 151.2. Ego Ferguson tallied Chicago’s only sack, and the Bears failed to force a turnover, as Rodgers basically played pitch and catch with Green Bay’s receivers all day with plenty of time to do it.

Here’s why: The Bears opted against trying to manufacture pressure and instead relied on the front four to disrupt Rodgers.

Bad move.

“We didn’t blitz a lot,” linebacker Lance Briggs said. “It was very simple. We thought we could get a four-man pass rush on a lot of occasions. But whether [Rodgers] was able to escape the pocket or whether he was standing there inside the pocket, he was able to pat the ball and look a couple of different ways and find somebody.”

The Bears made the curious decision to rely on the front four despite being short two contributors in defensive end Jared Allen (pneumonia) and defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff (concussion).

What’s more is the Bears were willing to take risks to get another possession on offense by trying an onside kick in the second quarter. Yet they weren’t willing to try to dial up pressure via the blitz to get something going on defense?

I get it that there are risks in putting the secondary in man-to-man situations when trying to manufacture pressure by bringing linebackers or defensive backs. And I understand Rodgers had been sacked nine times heading into Sunday’s matchup due to suspect play from his offensive line. But to simply sit back and let Rodgers pick the defense apart for four quarters seems a curious decision at best.

The Film Don't Lie: Vikings

September, 30, 2014
Sep 30
A weekly look at what the Minnesota Vikings must fix:

We'll give the opening statement for this week's edition of The Film Don't Lie to Vikings coach Mike Zimmer. Coach, how did you feel about your third-down defense on Sunday?

"It’s terrible," Zimmer said on Monday. "We have a lot of work to do. I'm extremely disappointed in that. We will put a lot more time and effort into it than what we have. It's disappointing because that should be one of our strengths."

The Vikings have good reason to be disappointed after a game in which they allowed the Falcons to convert 10 of their 15 third-down attempts. That included a third-and-20, two third-and-10s and a third-and-7 on which Matt Ryan threw a 36-yard touchdown to Devin Hester. Missed sacks were at the heart of several Falcons conversions; the Vikings had an eight-man blitz fail to get home on a third-and-7 early in the game, dialed up a five-man blitz on Ryan's touchdown to Hester and saw Ryan elude Brian Robison's grasp on a third-and-10 in the third quarter. The Vikings' first -- and only -- sack of the game came on an Anthony Barr blitz in the fourth quarter, but missed chances to put the quarterback on the ground allowed Ryan to pick holes in Minnesota's coverage on several occasions.

The task won't get much easier on Thursday night against quarterback Aaron Rodgers and a Green Bay Packers offense with the league's ninth-best third-down conversion rate. But an offensive line that has already allowed 10 sacks might give the Vikings chances to get to Rodgers, who is one of the game's masters at extending plays. The Vikings haven't struggled to pressure quarterbacks this season -- they've gotten pressure on 26.1 percent of their opportunities, which is the 14th-best rate in the league this season, according to ESPN Stats & Information -- but wrapping up the quarterback on a few more third downs would help their defense to get off the field.

Packers' run defense bottoms out

September, 29, 2014
Sep 29
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- No one had to tell the Green Bay Packers where their run defense was ranked after Sunday's win over the Chicago Bears.

"I'm aware what the numbers are," coach Mike McCarthy said Monday. "Nobody likes it."

The Packers' run defense went from bad (27th in the league) before Sunday to the worst.

[+] EnlargeMatt Forte
Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesFacing the Green Bay Packers' last-place rush defense was a pick-me-up for a previously struggling Chicago Bears rushing attack.
After giving up 235 yards rushing -- the third-highest total since Dom Capers took over as defensive coordinator in 2009 -- the Packers found themselves dead last in the league, allowing an inexcusable 176.0 yards per game, through Sunday's Week 4 games.

Lest you thought the Bears were a rushing juggernaut, you should know this: Before Sunday, they ranked 32nd in the league in rushing yards per game.

"Give Chicago credit, offensively they did some really good things," McCarthy said. "They played well. They're a good offense. But giving up that much yardage, there's no excuse for that. We understand that. But there are things we can definitely work on and improve on."

There's not much time to do it this week. The Packers will hold only one practice, on Tuesday, during an abbreviated week in advance of Thursday's game against the Minnesota Vikings, who, by the way, rushed for 241 yards in a win over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.

When Capers was hired following the 2008 season, his directive was to fix a run defense that finished 26th in the NFL that year. The next season, Capers' unit led the league in rushing defense. Since then, they have not finished a season ranked better than 14th in that all-important category.

"I think fundamentally, since day one of my football career, my coaches have always said, 'Stop the run,'" Packers safety Micah Hyde said Monday. "That's just something you have to do in football because if you getting ran all over, then you can get [gashed] throwing it. So you stop the run, you can switch things up from there and make it a one-dimensional game, and that's always easier on a defense. That's just what we try to do. We weren't successful yesterday. That's evident, but we can build off the positive things."

You can question the Packers' decision to eschew two of their bulky defensive linemen -- Ryan Pickett, who was out of football until he signed last week with the Houston Texans, and the still unsigned Johnny Jolly -- or blame part of the problem on the injury to nose tackle B.J. Raji (who is on injured reserve), but McCarthy and several players insisted on Monday that they still have the right kind of personnel to stop the run.

"We've done it before," defensive tackle Mike Daniels said.

Not this year.

In order so far, the Packers' opponents have put up rushing yardage of 207 (Seahawks), 146 (Jets), 115 (Lions) and 235 (Bears).

"I don't think anybody disagrees with our approach," McCarthy said. "We're utilizing our players, we're playing to our players' strengths. Everything we've adjusted is in the best interest of our players."

Capers tried something new against the Bears, using 6-foot-4, 332-pound rookie Mike Pennel (the team's biggest defensive linemen) for the first time. The rookie was credited with two tackles.

"We're just growing together," Pennel said. "We're learning. The vets are keeping us on our technique and everything. A lot of people hitting us with a lot of different things. We just have to trust in our coaching and we'll get better at it."



Thursday, 10/2
Sunday, 10/5