Notebook: Ground Game Looking To Bust Big Play

Now that the Packers’ running game has found some legitimate traction, with Ryan Grant averaging 4.5 yards per carry over the past two games, there’s one obvious next step in its progression. "I think what we’re lacking still is the big play," right tackle Mark Tauscher said. - More Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Nov. 13


Now that the Packers' running game has found some legitimate traction, with Ryan Grant averaging 4.5 yards per carry over the past two games, there's one obvious next step in its progression.

"I think what we're lacking still is the big play," right tackle Mark Tauscher said. "We haven't had the 30-, 40-yard run. We've improved. I think we've done a better job getting Ryan to the second level and getting him 10-, 12-yard runs. But consistently, we haven't had the big home run, and that's the thing that can demoralize a defense."

Grant was a serious big-play threat after taking over as the feature back in the second half of last season, breaking off four runs of 30-plus yards, plus another in the postseason.

But this year, since a 57-yarder in the season opener against Minnesota, his long run is just 17 yards. The past two weeks, however, he's posted 161 yards on 36 carries and gotten closer and closer to breaking big runs, with six gains of at least 10 yards (three for 13 yards, three for 14).

"I hope it's not a matter of time, I hope it's now," said Grant, who did have a 66-yard touchdown run last season against this week's opponent, the Chicago Bears, who rank an impressive fourth in the league in run defense.

"That's the biggest thing for me is I have to get that one man, whatever it is, that one little extra thing to break those big runs. Because they're there, and they're real close. But close doesn't help in this league. I need to get it done."

While Grant puts the onus on himself, the linemen feel they can lift their games another notch as well.

"Everybody needs to fine-tune, detail their work, really work on the fundamentals and continue to work at pressing those aiming points, driving the feet, finishing blocks," center Scott Wells said. "That little extra effort and then we'll be able to burst the big one."

On the mend

Linebacker Brandon Chillar, who missed last week's contest when a shoulder problem flared up on him the night before the game, said he got through Thursday's full-pads practice with no issues and believes he's past the trouble.

"I've been doing rehab, getting it right, it feels pretty good," he said. "I went out there and hit today, and I made it through fine."

Chillar is expected to start at weak-side linebacker this week in place of A.J. Hawk, who's moving to the middle now that Nick Barnett is out for the season.

It's likely Chillar was going to see the field plenty this week regardless, because two of the Bears' top pass-catchers are tight ends Greg Olsen (29 catches, 346 yards, 2 TD) and Desmond Clark (24-251-0), and Chillar's forte is covering the tight end.

"They're both athletic, and Clark has been around," Chillar said. "He's kind of savvy. He knows how to run his routes really well. Olsen is an athletic, big, tall guy, and they throw the ball up to him.

"Like I've said all year, I've prepared all year like a starter. Basically the only difference is going to be more reps. I'm looking forward to it, and I want to show the people what I have."

Stat change

Elias Sports Bureau, the official statistician of the NFL, has changed a sack the Packers recorded late in the first half last Sunday in Minnesota. Originally credited to defensive tackle Johnny Jolly, the sack has now been credited to defensive end Aaron Kampman.

That gives Kampman 1 1/2 sacks in last Sunday's game and 7 1/2 on the season overall.

{sportsad300}A taste of history

Packers-Bears is the most storied rivalry in the NFL, and NFL Network will be airing a 1985 contest between the rivals on its NFL Classic Games series this Friday.

At 8 p.m. CT, NFL Network will air the original broadcast of the Nov. 3, 1985, game between the Packers and Bears played at Lambeau Field. The Bears won the game 16-10 to remain undefeated at the time in their march toward the Super Bowl XX title.

Chicago running back Walter Payton rushed for 192 yards and a touchdown on 28 carries, while William "The Refrigerator" Perry played fullback and caught a TD pass from Jim McMahon.

Following Friday night's broadcast, the game will re-air at 2 a.m. CT and at 2 p.m. CT on Saturday.

Injury/participation update

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers (shoulder) was upgraded to full participation on Thursday, the first time he has fully participated in practice since injuring his throwing shoulder in Week 4 at Tampa Bay.

"He took everything today," Head Coach Mike McCarthy said. "I thought that was definitely a good sign, and hopefully that's where we are the rest of the season."

Cornerback Will Blackmon (quad) and defensive end Jeremy Thompson (groin) were both upgraded to limited participation after sitting out practice on Wednesday, though it remains unlikely that Thompson will be ready to play.

The rest of the Packers' injury report stayed the same. Chillar (shoulder) and tackle Chad Clifton (knees) were full participants for the second straight day, while cornerback Charles Woodson (toe) remained limited and cornerback Jarrett Bush (ankle) missed practice again.

For the Bears, quarterback Kyle Orton (ankle), cornerback Charles Tillman (shoulder) and linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer (thumb) all were limited for the second straight practice. Tackle Fred Miller (shoulder) was added to the injury report and did not practice.

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