NFC North: Green Bay Packers

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.

Starks
"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.

Sitton
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.
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."

The Film Don't Lie: Packers

September, 30, 2014
Sep 30
11:00
AM ET
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.

Packers' run defense bottoms out

September, 29, 2014
Sep 29
9:40
PM ET
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."
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Green Bay Packers had Clay Matthews on a limited snap count in Sunday’s game at the Chicago Bears.

Matthews
And it would have been that way even if the Packers did not have a Thursday game against the Minnesota Vikings to follow this week.

"I'm not saving players for anyone," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Monday. "That's not the way we operate."

But the fact Matthews came out of the victory over the Bears without any lingering issues from the groin injury that limited him to 52 of the 78 defensive plays worked out well for this week.

Although the Packers did not practice on Monday, they still had to submit an official injury report for Thursday's game against the Vikings. Here's the full report:

Here’s the full injury report*:
*Participation levels were estimates because the Packers did not practice.

Takeaways save the Packers' defense

September, 28, 2014
Sep 28
9:00
PM ET
CHICAGO – Julius Peppers said after Sunday's 38-17 victory over his old team, the Chicago Bears, that allowing "500 yards is not acceptable."

Then it's a good thing the Green Bay Packers only gave up 496.

[+] EnlargeJay Cutler and Sam Shields
AP Photo/Nam Y. HuhSam Shields' third-quarter interception set up a touchdown pass on the first play of the fourth quarter.
If not for a pair of interceptions – one by linebacker Clay Matthews on a pass deflected by cornerback Tramon Williams and another by cornerback Sam Shields – the Packers' defense might have spent the rest of their Sunday trying to explain why it couldn't hold up on a day when the offense did more than its share.

"We'll enjoy this victory, but when you give up that many yards and you don't get the turnovers, it's going to go in the other team’s favor," Matthews said.

The Packers allowed their highest yardage total since last year’s Thanksgiving loss to the Detroit Lions, who put up 561 in that 40-10 rout. The Lions rushed for 241 that day, and the Bears nearly equaled that Sunday with 235. Matt Forte rushed for 122 yards on 23 carries, and rookie Ka'Deem Carey added 72.

The Packers led by just a touchdown, 24-17, when the defense finally made an impact play. Two of them, actually.

First, Bears quarterback Jay Cutler tried to fire a slant to receiver Josh Morgan, but Williams jumped it. The ball ricocheted off his hands and floated right to Matthews, who returned it 40 yards to set up a touchdown pass.

Williams actually said he doesn't jump routes but rather called it "being aware."

Either way, it was much-needed.

"Oh, man, I wish I would have had that myself, but I was glad to see a teammate there to make that play," Williams said. "It was big for us at that point. The way our offense was moving the ball, we wanted to get those guys the ball and they didn't disappoint at all."

On the Bears' next series after the Packers turned Matthews' interception into a touchdown, Cutler and receiver Brandon Marshall got crossed up and the ball came right to Shields, who returned it 62 yards to set up another touchdown pass.

"That's something that we have to take advantage of, to get the ball back to the offense," Shields said. "If we keep doing that, it will be a helluva year."

But if they don't, more problems could be coming.

"We've got to make some adjustments to get that cleaned up," Peppers said. "But at the same time, you're happy to get the win but also you realize that you've got a lot of work to do, you've got a lot of improving to do."
video

CHICAGO -- He told you, the Green Bay Packers fan who was freaking out over another 1-2 start to a season, to R-E-L-A-X last week.

And he told you, the Packers fan who was wondering what was wrong with him and their suddenly low-powered offense, that they were "going to be OK."

But how would he, the one in charge of it all, react?

On a critical early-season Sunday at Soldier Field, quarterback Aaron Rodgers' version of relaxation was this: On the Packers' first three possessions, there was little lounging. He expeditiously put together touchdown drives of 81, 63 and 61 yards. The first one took all of 2 minutes, 22 seconds. The second, 3 minutes, 47 seconds. The third, 2 minutes, 47 seconds.

"That's how we want to play," Rodgers said after Sunday's 38-17 victory.

If there's such a thing as fast-paced relaxation, this was it.

The Packers scored on their first six drives: touchdown, touchdown, touchdown, field goal, touchdown, touchdown. It would have been seven-for-seven if not for a blocked field goal in the fourth quarter.

A week after a loss to the Detroit Lions that featured his second-lowest passing yardage total (162) in a game he started and finished, Rodgers threw for 302 yards and four touchdowns on 22-of-28 passing. His efficiency and production were such that his passer rating of 151.2 fell short of only one other performance in his career, a 155.4 mark in a win over the Browns in 2009.

"Well, I just know it's a long season, so there's always going to be mini-freakouts along the way," Rodgers said. "You just got to stick together, stay the course. [Coach Mike McCarthy] talked about trusting the process this week. I just wanted to remind everybody that it's a long season and at some point we were going to get this thing figured out."

This one was different from the beginning. After relying so heavily on their three-receiver set this season, McCarthy opened with two tight ends for a change, and Rodgers went to one of them, rookie Richard Rodgers, on their first two plays after the Bears chewed up the first eight minutes and 30 seconds with their methodical scoring drive. Richard Rodgers' second catch, a 43-yarder on a deep throw, set up Eddie Lacy's first rushing touchdown of the season, which was about all the Packers got from their running game.

There were other hints of offensive variety, too. Lacy lined up split out as a receiver on two different plays, although he didn't get the ball on either of them. But this game was about precision and production in a timely manner. Forget about time-of-possession football (the Bears had it for 36 minutes, 22 seconds compared to the 23:38 for the Packers), it was time for the Packers to get up and go.

Rodgers still relied heavily on Jordy Nelson (10 catches for 108 yards and two touchdowns) and Randall Cobb (seven catches for 113 yards and two touchdowns) despite help sprinkled in from Richard Rodgers (two catches for 52 yards) and fellow rookie Davante Adams (two catches for 18 yards).

"I think that we knew what we were capable of," Cobb said. "We know what we're capable of as an offense."

Who knows whether it was a product of a Bears defense that came into the game ranked 23rd in yards allowed and was missing three starters (and that doesn't include cornerback Charles Tillman, who is on injured reserve). But at least until Thursday's game against the Minnesota Vikings, Rodgers gave you, the Packers fan who was in full panic mode, a reason to relax.

"There's a time and a place to get a little angry and do what you need to do," Nelson said. "But then there's a time -- like he said -- to relax and just know we didn't perform the way we were supposed to, and just move on and work at it and have a better showing on Sunday like we did."

The day the punters rested in Chicago

September, 28, 2014
Sep 28
6:35
PM ET
CHICAGO -- Observed and heard in the locker room after the Green Bay Packers' 38-17 win over the Chicago Bears on Sunday at Soldier Field:

An easy day for Masthay: Other than his holding duties on extra points and field goals, Packers punter Tim Masthay was not needed. The Packers never had to punt. Neither did the Bears, making it just the second game in NFL regular-season history without a punt. The other was a 1992 game between the Bills and 49ers -- a fact that left Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers surprised. In fact, Rodgers overheard a conversation between reporters with Masthay and Packers kicker Mason Crosby, and was quite curious about it. "You don't go into a game thinking you're not going to punt -- or the other team isn't as well -- and you're going to win by 21," Rodgers said. "But we had a good plan, we were aggressive early and guys made a lot of plays."

Peppers
Peppers' return: There was a smattering of boos for Julius Peppers in his first game back at Soldier Field as a member of the Packers, and he said he didn't care. Likewise, he said this game carried no extra emotion despite the fact that he played here for four years. But that's Peppers, who doesn't say much. Rodgers knew differently. "I think we all knew it meant something to him to come back," Rodgers said.

Near perfection: How much better could Rodgers have played on Sunday? When asked about his quarterback's 22-of-28 passing performance for 302 yards and four touchdowns, receiver Jordy Nelson joked: "Not very good. He missed six passes, so he needs to get better."

No injuries: The Packers did not announce any injuries after the game. Defensive end Josh Boyd left the game in the first half with a knee injury but returned.

Rapid Reaction: Green Bay Packers

September, 28, 2014
Sep 28
4:00
PM ET
video
CHICAGO -- A few thoughts on the Green Bay Packers' 38-17 win over the Chicago Bears Sunday at Soldier Field.

What it means: Another 1-2 start turned into another bounce-back victory that, at least for the moment, should bring a sense of calm to the team. It was the third straight season the Packers followed a 1-2 start with a victory. Perhaps it was simply the product of playing the Bears' shaky defense, but quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the offense could not be stopped. On their first six possessions, they recorded five touchdowns and a field goal. Tim Masthay never punted, and the only time they did not score was when Mason Crosby had a field goal blocked in the fourth quarter.

Stock watch: Rodgers went over the 25,000 career passing yardage mark in the first half. He did so in his 98th career game, making him the fourth fastest to reach that mark in NFL history. But more importantly, Rodgers looked like, well, Rodgers again after his substandard performance in last week's loss to the Lions, when he threw for just 162 yards. Needing 106 yards to get to 25,000, he threw for 302 yards in the game.

Good block: The best defensive play of the first half might have been when safety Micah Hyde blocked the goal-line camera angle on the final play of the second quarter. Hyde unintentionally shielded the camera that the officials used to determine whether Bears tight end Martellus Bennett had crossed the plane after he caught a second-and-goal pass with time running out in the second quarter. The officials ruled Ha Ha Clinton-Dix had stopped Bennett just short of the goal line and couldn't reverse the call because Hyde blocked the view. Since the Bears had no timeouts left, they could not stop the clock to attempt a field goal, and the Packers took a 21-17 lead into halftime.

Game ball: This game was all about Rodgers, who needed a bounce-back performance. He did all of that and more. And his best throw of the game didn't even count. He had a 34-yard touchdown pass to Davante Adams in the third quarter wiped out by holding penalty. Nevertheless, it was indicative of how just locked in he was. With pressure in his face, Rodgers still fired a bullet to Adams in the end zone. For the game, Rodgers completed 22 of 28 passes for 302 yards and four touchdowns.

What's next: The Packers' third straight NFC North game will be a quick turnaround. The Minnesota Vikings come to Lambeau Field for a Thursday night game.
CHICAGO -- The Green Bay Packers have not gotten much production from their No. 3 receiver so far this season, so perhaps it isn't a huge issue that Jarrett Boykin won't play Sunday against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field.

He was declared inactive after sustaining a groin injury in practice last week. He had already been listed on the injury with a knee injury.

Boykin has only two catches for 17 yards this season while splitting time with rookie Davante Adams (seven catches for 61 yards). The Packers have used their three-receiver set more than any other personnel group this season.

But Boykin being declared inactive has opened the door for another rookie receiver, Jeff Janis, to get his first shot. The seventh-round pick from Saginaw Valley State was declared active for the first time Sunday.

There were no other surprises on the Packers' inactive list, which featured just six players because they remain one short on their 53-man roster.

Here's the full list of Packers inactives:
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- It had to be a relief to defense coordinator Dom Capers that the groin injury Clay Matthews suffered last week apparently won’t keep the Green Bay Packers linebacker out of Sunday's game at Chicago.

Especially when you consider Matthews' run of success against the Bears.

The four-time Pro Bowl linebacker has more sacks against the rival Bears than any other team he has faced (see accompanying chart). Though it's not a surprise that his highest output would come against a divisional foe given the volume of games, Matthews is on nearly a sack-per-game pace against Chicago. That dwarfs his output against non-division foes.

So it's no wonder Matthews is looking forward to Sunday’s game at Soldier Field.

"They're fun games to play, and I think more so just talking from the fan aspect of it, the fans hate you," Matthews said Friday after the team announced he was listed as probable for Sunday's game. "That's something to thrive on when you play on the road. It's always fun to play opposing stadiums, but at the same time get a victory, because that makes it more fun."

Matthews was denied that opportunity against the Bears last season. In fact, he missed both games against Chicago. The first meeting against the Bears came a week before he returned from his broken thumb and the second came a week after he re-broke it.

"It'll be good to get out there again, kind of put my foot back into that whole Packers-Bears rivalry and just make an impact, really," Matthews said. "I'm looking forward to it."

Matthews has missed 11 regular-season games in his first five NFL seasons, and seven have been NFC North games. In addition to both games against the Bears last season, he has missed two against Minnesota (one each in 2012 and 2013) and three against the Lions (one in 2011 and two in 2012).
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Davon House stood at his locker at Lambeau Field this week and looked around at the neighboring cornerbacks who occupy one wall in the Green Bay Packers' changing area.

One after another, he rattled off the players the Packers have at his position.

Sam Shields, Tramon Williams, Casey Hayward, Demetri Goodson, Jarrett Bush.

[+] EnlargeGreen Bay's Davon House
Benny Sieu/USA TODAY SportsDavon House could be the next Packer in line for a contract extension.
It's no wonder the Packers have not even approached House about a contract extension.

"If they decided not to go my way, they've still got all those guys," said House, who has emerged early this season as one of the team's top playmakers in the secondary.

When told the 31-year-old Williams is in the final year of his contract, House appeared surprised.

"Oh, OK," he said. "I think J.B. is in his last year, too."

Indeed, both Williams and the 30-year-old Bush are working under contracts that expire after this season, which is all the more reason to think House could be next in line for a contract extension. Yet, according to House, there has been nothing but crickets from the Packers’ financial people.

"Not even discussed," he said.

If House keeps playing like he has the past two weeks, that will surely change. He is the final year of his rookie contract, the one he signed after the Packers drafted him in the fourth round out of New Mexico State in 2011.

While the consensus is receiver Randall Cobb is next in line for a new deal, the Packers have plenty of room under the salary cap -- $8,570,906 in unused space, according to the latest figures from ESPN Stats & Information -- to do more than one extension.

After not even getting on the field in Week 1 because cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt went with Hayward in the nickel package, House, who has played sparingly on defense his first three seasons in part because of injuries, moved into that role in Week 2 against the Jets. He threw himself into the spotlight with an interception last Sunday against the Lions on a Matthew Stafford deep ball that was intended for Calvin Johnson. The 6-foot, 195-pound House took his share of snaps against Johnson, who caught just one ball for 15 yards in three targets against him.

Lest you think House has come out of the blue the past two weeks, Whitt is quick to say otherwise. He mentioned House’s offseason workouts with Bush, his study time with Williams and the time he spent honing his skills with veteran cornerback Darrelle Revis this past summer as signs of House's progression.

"Everything we've asked him to do, you're seeing the fruits of it," Whitt said. "He's playing in the pass game the way we want him to play. He has to tighten up his run-game support and the tackling. Once he does that, we'll have a complete football player that's going to play high-level football. I'm excited to see what he can be because he has a skill set that is different than everybody else in the room."

That skill set Whitt referred to is House's size and strength. He reminds Whitt of former Packers cornerback Al Harris, one of the strongest press-cover corners the team has ever had.

"I've coached three men that had hands like bricks -- Al Harris, him and another guy named Antoine Sharp, who you've never heard of but I coached him at Louisville," Whitt said. "But when they put their hands on you, it feels like bricks on you and they can redirect people. And they're fast enough."

If you're wondering how Whitt knows their hands are like bricks, well, he has the bruises to prove it.

"During the first couple of days of training camp, I am black and blue because I allow them to punch me because I want to feel their hand placement," Whitt said. “And the very first time he put his hands on me, oh my goodness. Him and Al, their hands feel like bricks."

Good news for Packers' Clay Matthews

September, 26, 2014
Sep 26
1:30
PM ET
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Clay Matthews has progressed as he had hoped since leaving Sunday's loss at Detroit with a groin strain.

 After he took part in practice on a limited basis on Wednesday and Thursday, the Green Bay Packers on Friday listed their star linebacker as probable for Sunday's game at the Chicago Bears.

That came a day after Matthews said: "I'll be out there."

There's still one hurdle for Matthews to clear before kickoff. Under coach Mike McCarthy’s new schedule, the Packers hold a light practice on Saturdays before Sunday games. The Packers did not practice on Friday but estimated that Matthews' participation level would have been limited if they would have practiced.

"Yeah, so far, so good," McCarthy said Friday. "The medical review, the report today was good on Clay. We still have 48 hours, so we're confident that he'll be ready to go. But like I said, he's still working through it."

Perhaps the biggest injury concern is to No. 3 receiver Jarrett Boykin, who had previously been on the injury report with a knee injury. However, the team added groin to the list of his ailments so he's questionable.

That could open the door for rookie Jeff Janis to get his first shot. The seventh-round pick has been inactive the first three games.

Here's the full injury report:

Questionable
WR Jarrett Boykin (knee, groin)
LB Brad Jones (quadriceps)

Probable
RT Bryan Bulaga (knee)
CB Davon House (knee)
OLB Clay Matthews (groin)
OLB Nick Perry (wrist)

Rodgers' QB coach loved R-E-L-A-X line

September, 25, 2014
Sep 25
7:30
PM ET
GREEN BAY, Wis. – Regardless of how Aaron Rodgers' R-E-L-A-X message has played in public, it went over well in the Green Bay Packers' quarterbacks room.

That's what quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt said Thursday.

Rodgers
Rodgers
"I like it," Van Pelt said. "That's kind of the feeling of the room. We're three games in. We haven't set the world on fire yet. Offensively, we're used to doing that. We know it's in there. It's in our blood. It's just a matter of having that breakout game."

While the Packers' 1-2 start is not unusual -- it's the third straight season it has happened -- the fact that Rodgers has not performed at his usual MVP-like level is uncharacteristic.

Coming off Sunday's 19-7 loss to the Lions, Rodgers ranks 17th in total QBR (65.8), tied for 25th in completion percentage (62.7) and 23rd in yards per attempt (6.8). His career passer rating of 104.6 is the best all-time, yet so far this season it's just 95.1. He has not finished under 101.2 since his first season as a starter (2008).

"I think we'll feel better if we put a good performance out on Sunday [against the Bears]," Van Pelt said. "I think things will turn for us a little. But nobody's down, nobody's disappointed. We're frustrated that we didn't have the success that we thought we would have up in Detroit, but that's football. It's a long season. We've been in this spot now all three years that I've been here. I've seen what can happen when this thing gets going, and that's fully what we expect."

SPONSORED HEADLINES