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Packers vs. Bengals: Performances to watch

Posted Sep 24, 2017

Banged-up Green Bay will have to manage many injuries


GREEN BAY – The Cincinnati Bengals visit Lambeau Field for the first time in eight years Sunday.

Here’s a rundown of the key topics.

1. Adjusting to injuries: The Packers could be without as many as four regulars on defense in DT Mike Daniels (hip), CB Davon House (quad), LB Nick Perry (hand), and S Kentrell Brice (groin). Those injuries will throw the spotlight on a trio of first- and second-year players the Packers have taken high in the draft the past couple of years – DT Kenny Clark, drafted in the first round in 2016, and DBs Kevin King and Josh Jones, Green Bay’s first two selections this past spring. Daniels and Clark were developing into quite the interior rushing and run-stopping tandem, but now Clark will get more of the focus from the Bengals. King could be in line for snaps across from Bengals star WR A.J. Green, while Jones could play extensively at both the deep safety and hybrid linebacker spots.

2. On the edges: The Packers could be getting starting RT Bryan Bulaga back from his bum ankle, but LT David Bakhtiari hasn’t practiced and could miss a second straight week with a hamstring injury. If that’s the case, second-year pro Kyle Murphy would fill in for Bakhtiari once again and make his third straight start overall. On the flip side, edge rusher Ahmad Brooks is back from his concussion, but Perry had surgery on his injured hand, leaving the Packers potentially short-handed at outside linebacker once again.

3. Milestones in the making: Packers QB Aaron Rodgers is trying to beat the Bengals for the first time, with Cincinnati the only one of the other 31 NFL teams he hasn’t beaten. Meanwhile, LB Clay Matthews needs one sack to surpass Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila for the all-time franchise record, which currently stands at 74½.

4. Struggling offense: In two games, the Bengals have yet to score a touchdown. They were shut out by the Ravens in Week 1, and they managed just three field goals vs. the Texans in Week 2. QB Andy Dalton’s sub-50 passer rating represents by far the worst start of his career. For the Packers, an opening TD drive last week in Atlanta marks their only first-half points through two games. Green Bay is looking for a faster start on offense.

5. NFC North implications: The Lions are 2-0 and playing at home against the Falcons. Should Detroit win and go to 3-0, a Green Bay loss would put the Packers two games behind in the division race already. If the reverse happens, there would be a tie atop the division, possibly with three teams pending the Buccaneers-Vikings result.

 
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