Packers look to Rookies to uphold Defense’s No. 1 ranking : Packers Insider

Packers look to Rookies to uphold Defense’s No. 1 ranking

December 1, 2009 by  
Filed under News

By Tom Pelissero, Press-Gazette
Dec 1, 2009

The NFL’s No. 1-ranked defense has two rookie starters, a third in heavy rotation and two Pro Bowl-caliber veterans out for the season with injuries.

It also has star cornerback Charles Woodson playing perhaps the best football of his life and a core of other veterans who appear to be growing more and more comfortable in coordinator Dom Capers’ scheme.

But for the Green Bay Packers to live up to the ranking they gained over the weekend — and rise to the challenges lying in the season’s final five weeks without cornerback Al Harris and outside linebacker Aaron Kampman — the improvement must begin with the defense’s youngest members.   

For the Packers to get to and go anywhere in the playoffs, they are going to need more than just Clay Matthews to be getting to QB's like Favre & Brees.

For the Packers to get to and go anywhere in the playoffs, they are going to need more than just Clay Matthews to be getting to QB's like Favre & Brees.

“It does, and those guys making sure that they’re accountable,” Capers said after Thursday’s win over Detroit. “I think the veteran guys have been performing at a pretty good level.”

Right outside linebacker Clay Matthews has started in the nickel defense since the season opener and in base since the Packers’ fourth game.

Fellow first-round draft pick B.J. Raji has increased his workload on the line in recent weeks since getting past a preseason ankle injury.

And seventh-round pick Brad Jones looks like the starter at left outside linebacker the rest of the way in place of Kampman, who along with Harris tore up a knee on Nov. 22 against San Francisco.

All three rookies did their parts in Thursday’s win at Detroit, with Matthews recording a sack, Raji making multiple plays in the backfield and Jones at least holding his own, albeit without making a solo tackle.

“At certain points in time, you had rookie-rookie-rookie inside,” Capers said. “And that’s what has to happen. Those guys gain experience, you gain confidence, and then they have to earn the confidence of the guys around them.”       Full Story HERE

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