Packers run game has plenty of fans : Packers Insider

Packers run game has plenty of fans

January 13, 2011 by  
Filed under News

By Gary D’Amato, Journal-Sentinel

~Green Bay — In the afterglow of James Starks‘ 123-yard rushing performance in the Green Bay Packers’ wild-card playoff victory over Philadelphia, receiver Greg Jennings broached a touchy subject:

The absence of a consistently effective running game this season.

Starks had only the second 100-yard game by a Packers running back and the first since Brandon Jackson rushed for 115 against Washington in Week 5.

“As an offense you’re supposed to be able to run the ball to pass,” Jennings said Wednesday. “That’s why there’s play-action fakes. Sometimes, jokingly, we talk about how we don’t see how defenses fall for our play-action when we really didn’t have an established run game.

If the Falcons do not respect the Packers running game, James Starks has the ability to punish Atlanta as he did to Philadelphia. They key will be McCarthy's determination to the run, and the offensive line's execuation.

“Now that we do, it’s definitely going to add another dimension that we’ve not been lacking . . . but we’ve been lacking.”

The Eagles played mostly seven in the box, and it will be interesting to see how the Atlanta Falcons defend Starks in an NFC divisional playoff game Saturday night.

“When you establish a standard of performance, it’s important to hold yourself to that standard, and that’s the way we’ll move forward with James,” said coach Mike McCarthy.

In the Nov. 28 meeting between the Falcons and Packers, Starks was inactive and Jackson gained only 26 yards in 10 carries. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers ran for 51 yards in the 20-17 loss.

“Last time, I was the leading rusher,” Rodgers said. “Hopefully that’s not the case again.”

Hold on: The issue of James Jones‘ latest drop has been a hot topic in the locker room for two days, and his fellow receivers have come to his defense.

As Jones patiently answered questions about his drop that would have gone for a 63-yard touchdown against the Eagles, Jennings leaned over and playfully made excuses for him.

“This ain’t no joke, man, because I’ve heard about that drop,” Jones said.

McCarthy revealed this week that Jones has been playing with a painful thumb injury. But injury or not, Jones was the first to admit it was a catch he should have made.

“We’re hard on each other with the semi-difficult catches that you don’t make,” said receiver Jordy Nelson. “The easy ones that you drop, there’s nothing you can say. . . . Obviously, you know it’s unacceptable. We’ll try to get you to forget about it as soon as possible because you have to move on.”

Shouldering the load: After the Philadelphia game, rookie right tackle Bryan Bulaga had a large bag of ice on his right shoulder, but he insisted it was nothing serious.

Tackle Bryan Bulaga observes from a distance as the guy he was supposed to block, Cameron Wake, sacks Aaron Rodgers, earlier in a loss to the Miami Dolphins. Wake sacked Rodgers 3 times that game, which was the only home loss the Packers suffered on the season.

He’s still maintaining it’s not a serious injury, but he will be wearing a brace underneath his pads to protect him.

Bulaga was the only player wearing shoulder pads at practice Wednesday because he needed to get used to wearing the brace. He insisted it would not cause him to play any differently.

“I did (it) back in college,” Bulaga said. “When I had surgery on my left shoulder (in 2007) I had to wear a brace. It’s a totally different deal.”

Asked what the brace would prevent his shoulder from doing, he said, “Externally rotate out and get caught in a funky situation. It keeps your elbows in a little more and keeps everything a bit tighter so you’re not getting out in a vulnerable position.”

Bulaga laughed when asked if it would force him to keep his hands inside and avoid drawing holding penalties.

“Probably will,” Bulaga said. “May have to do it for both. I’m not worried about it at all. I feel fine. It’s football.”

Fully gassed: By his own admission, defensive end Cullen Jenkins did not finish very well Sunday against Philadelphia.

He had missed four games with a calf injury and didn’t return to practice until the week of the Eagles game, so he wasn’t exactly in football shape when returned. He wasn’t supposed to play much but took 31 snaps, second most among the defensive linemen.

DE Cullen Jenkins sacks 49ers QB Troy Smith in a December game. Jenkins was winded last week in his first action since December 12th. The Packers could really use a fresh and active Jenkins in Atlanta. Getting a sack and fumble on Matt Ryan might be the difference in the season ending or not.

“I felt awful,” Jenkins said. “I hadn’t been out there for over a month. In that fourth quarter, I started cramping up. I almost pulled my hamstring, and that’s when I knew, I need to take it easy.”

Jenkins sat out practice Tuesday to give his calf a rest, but he worked out on the elliptical stair-climber and the stationary bike.

“Our big thing is to work on cardio,” Jenkins said, adding he hoped his second game back would be a lot better than his first.

Injury update: Donald Driver (bruised knee) was a full participant in practice and looked good, according to McCarthy.

“I don’t have any concerns about Donald Driver’s availability for the game,” the coach said.

Safety Atari Bigby (groin) and fullback Korey Hall (knee) also got on the practice field, although they didn’t do everything.

“They’re both improving,” McCarthy said. “They’re both pushing to play in the game. We’ll see how the full week goes.”

The news wasn’t as good for linebacker Frank Zombo (knee) and backup center Jason Spitz, who suffered a calf strain in practice Tuesday. Neither practiced Wednesday, and McCarthy described Zombo’s chances of playing as “fading” and Spitz’s as “questionable to doubtful.”

Lori Nickel of the Journal Sentinel staff contributed to this report.

Full story HERE

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