Clueless and Lost in San Francisco: Safeties McMillian and Jennings needed GPS
By Jason Wilde, ESPN Milwaukee
~GREEN BAY – The Green Bay Packers are hoping that with a full week of practice – if Morgan Burnett were to miss his second straight game with a hamstring injury – replacements Jerron McMillian and M.D. Jennings will fare better than they did Sunday against San Francisco.
Both players were responsible for touchdowns during the Packers’ 34-28 loss to the 49ers, and neither played well overall. McMillian, who played all 77 defensive snaps, and Jennings, who played 75, both had problems, according to Pro Football Focus.
PFF charged McMillian with four missed tackles and had him allowing six completions on six targets for 57 yards with a touchdown allowed.
Jennings gave up three completions for 39 yards, according to PFF.
Jennings was believed to have won the starting job alongside Burnett, staving off McMillian’s challenge in training camp. But coach Mike McCarthy never announced a winner and didn’t have to when Burnett showed up for work Friday with soreness in the hamstring he’d injured in the team’s Aug. 23 preseason game against Seattle.
“M.D. and McMillian, they could play better. I think they both would tell you that,” McCarthy acknowledged Monday. “Really, not playing with Morgan wasn’t as big a factor as really Morgan practicing Wednesday and Thursday with the intent of playing. I think with these guys making the shift on Friday, things weren’t as clean as you probably like. It probably carried over to the game. We were probably a step slower than we needed to be in anticipation on some of the routes.”
Indeed, Burnett practiced on Wednesday and Thursday and presumably took all the first-team reps on defense – reporters are not allowed to attend the 11-on-11 periods of practice – before coming to work on Friday morning with soreness in the hamstring. Burnett said on Sunday that he’d felt fine until Friday. He also said that he was not put through any sort of workout before the game to determine whether he would play; rather, the decision had been made before that.
While not an excuse, defensive coordinator Dom Capers said it was clear his unit missed Burnett and nickel back Casey Hayward, who aggravated his own hamstring injury in that same Seattle game.
“We work all of our young guys. You never know how guys are going to respond to opening day and that type of thing,” Capers said. “Obviously we’d like to have both of those guys. They’re veteran guys that have played a lot. The toughest thing with Morgan was we didn’t really realize we weren’t going to have him until Friday because we practiced Wednesday and Thursday thinking we would have him. But we expect the other guys to go in there and be able to go in and perform. They certainly played a lot of plays.”
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