Packers have three important things to do : Packers Insider

Packers have three important things to do

November 21, 2011 by  
Filed under News

By Gary D’Amato

~Green Bay – They have three days to apply ice and heat to aching body parts, address and fix the mistakes they made in an uneven performance Sunday and prepare for a division opponent on the road on Thanksgiving.

The Green Bay Packers will play their third game in 11 days when they travel to Detroit to face the Lions at 11:30 a.m. Thursday.

A victory would all but wrap up the NFC North for the Packers, who improved to 10-0 with a 35-26 victory over Tampa Bay at Lambeau Field. But Detroit (7-3) is still hanging around after beating Carolina, 49-35.

Furthermore, the Lions seem to match up well with the Packers and split with them in 2010, losing, 28-26, at Lambeau Field on Oct. 3 and winning, 7-3, in Detroit on Dec. 12.

Ford Field will be rocking like never before, as the 7-3 Lions will try to beat the champions and end their undefeated aspirations in front of a worldwide audience.

“Those guys are home and can potentially knock us off in front of a national (TV) audience,” said Packers defensive tackle B.J. Raji. “They will be pretty jacked up. They’re probably going to be confident. They beat us last year at home, and they almost beat us here.

“They believe they can win. It’s our job to convince them they can’t.”

The Packers now face the dreaded “short week” of preparation. They have three days to correct the mistakes they made against the Buccaneers, install the game plan for Detroit and get their bodies ready for another 60 minutes of physical punishment.

“It can be really difficult physically and mentally, but I think the Lions are going on the same schedule,” said safety Charlie Peprah. “We’ll be all right. We’re professionals.”

The Packers might have to play without running back James Starks, who suffered a sprained right knee in the fourth quarter. Coach Mike McCarthy said he would know more about Starks’ status Monday.

Other players won’t have much time to get over minor injuries and general soreness. Linebacker Clay Matthews suffered a stinger but said he would be ready to go Thursday.

“I just jammed my neck back a little bit,” he said. “I’ll be fine. You suffer aches and pains in this game.”

Guard T.J. Lang said the quick turnaround would be more difficult on older players physically and tougher on younger players mentally.

“We’re going to have to push through it,” he said. “We’re just going to have to give it all we’ve got and try to get as healthy as we can within the next couple days.

“Usually, it takes one or two days, body-wise, to recover (after a game). There are things you’re going to have to do more often than you normally do. Hitting the hot tub, the cold tub, just trying to find any way you can to recover faster.”

The unbeaten Packers are not without some concerns on both sides of the ball.

The Lions have been beaten at home twice, first to Alex Smith and the 49ers, then the next week to Atlanta. A Packers win would essentially eliminate the Lions from any hopes of winning the division.

Six days after the defense turned in probably its finest performance of the season against Minnesota, it gave up 455 yards to the struggling Buccaneers, allowing quarterback Josh Freeman to throw for 342 yards and running back LeGarrette Blount to rush for 107.

“I don’t have any concerns,” said defensive tackle Ryan Pickett. “If we don’t give up the (54)-yard run (to Blount), they probably have 60 yards rushing and it’s like, ‘Wow, look at how the defense played today.’

“We did a lot of gambling and blitzing, and our cornerbacks were one on one. They made some plays.”

Offensively, quarterback Aaron Rodgers wasn’t as razor-sharp as usual, misfiring on several passes and throwing an interception. The Packers also had trouble running the ball even before Starks went down.

“We definitely had our ups and downs,” Lang said. “I don’t think the rhythm was what it’s been the last few weeks. It was a little awkward. A lot of questions are going through your mind, like, ‘What’s going on? Why can’t we convert?’‚ÄČ”

Of an even bigger concern were some communication issues.

“We’ve got to clean up a bit of the communication errors because that has seemed to bite us in the (expletive) the last few weeks,” Lang said. “We had one today where, I think, we got out of the huddle a little too late, and we had to snap the ball before we could make any adjustments and a couple guys were a little confused on the assignment, and we ended up getting Aaron sacked.”

Getting that fixed will be important because the Packers struggled against the Lions’ young and talented defensive line in Detroit last year; Rodgers went out with a concussion and missed the next game, a loss at New England.

“They’ve got a lot of talent over there with (Ndamukong) Suh and (Kyle) Vanden Bosch, and Cliff Avril has come on lately,” Lang said. “Corey Williams is playing good football, too. It’s going to be a challenge.”

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