Notebook: Packers To Get First Look At Jacobs

Unlike back in Week 2, one of the New York Giants’ weapons that Packers won’t have to contend with in the NFC Championship is tight end Jeremy Shockey, who went on injured reserve late in the regular season. But one they will have to deal with, whom they didn’t see four months ago, is running back Brandon Jacobs. - More Audio | Video | Packers-Giants Game Center


Unlike back in Week 2, one of the New York Giants' weapons that Packers won't have to contend with in the NFC Championship is tight end Jeremy Shockey, who went on injured reserve late in the regular season.

But one they will have to deal with, whom they didn't see four months ago, is running back Brandon Jacobs.

Jacobs was out with an injured knee back on Sept. 16, and even though his replacement Derrick Ward compiled a formidable 90 yards on 15 carries in that game, Jacobs brings a little something extra.

Namely, an extra 40 pounds or so. The 265-pound running back is a load, and even though he missed five games due to injury, he still topped 1,000 yards in the regular season with 1,009 on 202 carries, a 5.0-yard average.

The key run-stuffer standing in his way, though, will be Green Bay's Ryan Pickett, who's listed at (a perhaps underestimated) 322 pounds and is the biggest of the Packers' defensive linemen.

Pickett was asked during his press conference Thursday what a collision between him and Jacobs might be like, and he had to think for a second.

"Ooh, I don't know," Pickett said. "I can't tell you. I've never had one yet. I know it's going to be just like tackling a guard. They can't run fast though."

The Giants also offer rookie Ahmad Bradshaw, a 5-foot-9, 198-pound scat back, as a change of pace, and he complemented Jacobs' 54 rushing yards and a TD last week at Dallas with 34 yards on just six carries.

But it's Jacobs who will set the tone for the Giants' ground game. And even Pickett, who certainly has the girth to slow down a back like Jacobs, doesn't believe it's best to try to stand up to him. Over the long haul, absorbing too many body blows can wear down a defense, and the Packers have to be cognizant of that.

"Normally guys that tall and big, they don't like being hit low so you definitely gotta hit him low," Pickett said. "You've got to get him before he gets started downhill, because once he starts downhill he'll fall forward for 6, 7 yards. So it's important to make him use his feet in the backfield and not just let him run straight downhill.

"As a defensive line we have a challenge in front of us, one we haven't had all year, a back this big, but we have to get a lot of pressure and hit him early."

Not getting engaged

Much of the talk in the locker room and during the press conferences on Thursday had to do with some of the late hits and other extra-curriculars that occurred during the Packers-Giants game in Week 2.

In that game, Green Bay linebacker Brady Poppinga and defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins both took personal foul penalties, while New York receiver Amani Toomer also got an unsportsmanlike penalty and center Shaun O'Hara reportedly gave defensive end Aaron Kampman a forearm to the back of the head after the whistle that wasn't called.

The players were dismissing any talk of it as not worth discussing, since it all happened four months ago.

"I think that, in my opinion, talking about things that happened in the past doesn't make a whole lot of sense," said Kampman, who declined to go into any detail about the hit he took from O'Hara. "I think it's a waste of energy. Really, I think the best way to handle what's going on is really just to go out and play, and that will be done on Sunday."

Poppinga laughed off revisiting his late hit, which he delivered to receiver Plaxico Burress after Burress threw what Poppinga felt was an unnecessary block on fellow linebacker A.J. Hawk at the end of a play.

"Plaxico Burress is a great basketball player, and when he was playing basketball, I'm sure he took a lot of charges, and it just so happened in that game he took a great charge on me," Poppinga joked. "I came up to him and didn't even touch him and he flopped to the ground. I give him kudos for that acting job. It was perfect."

Seriously, though, Poppinga and other players simply noted the two teams were playing aggressively that day, and everyone knows the aggression has to be contained in a game of this magnitude to avoid a silly and costly penalty.

"You give them 15 yards, that's huge," linebacker Nick Barnett said. "We don't want to give them anything extra because of doing something stupid. Our goal is to go in there and play the same type of game that we've been playing, just keep things clean, keep them between the whistles and still play hard, still play aggressive, and fight all the way through until the last whistle is blown."

{sportsad300}Third down, all downs

The Packers this season ranked third in the NFL in third-down defense, allowing opponents to convert just 33 percent of their third-down chances. They followed that up with another solid showing in the NFC Divisional playoff against Seattle, limiting the Seahawks to just 27 percent (3-of-11) on third down.

But the Packers aren't known as a blitz-happy team that throws a lot of exotic looks at an offense on third down. They use situational substitutions like anybody else, with Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila normally coming in at defensive end to rush the passer, Cullen Jenkins moving to the interior of the line, and one or two extra defensive backs entering depending upon the offensive personnel.

But that's about all the Packers do differently, and Head Coach Mike McCarthy believes that's a good thing.

"I think it goes back to the foundation of our scheme," McCarthy said. "Our starting point is to attack the offense.

"When you have to turn on the pressure, turn on the aggressiveness in your scheme on third down as opposed to first and second down, there's something that you're -- in my opinion -- not doing all the time.

"We challenge you first, second and third down and I think a lot of our base concepts of what we do on first and second down carry over to third down."

Injury update

The only change to the Packers' injury report on Thursday was that receiver Greg Jennings (groin) was upgraded from limited to full participation in practice.

Barnett (hamstring), center Scott Wells (glute), tight end Bubba Franks (knee), receiver Koren Robinson (knee) and cornerbacks Charles Woodson (knee) and Will Blackmon (foot) remained limited.

The only one whose status for the game still appears in question is Blackmon. McCarthy said that Blackmon continues to improve, as did Blackmon himself, but there's been no declaration he will be available to play.

"I'm taking it one day at a time," Blackmon said. "I did fine yesterday, I did better today. Just one day at a time.

"I'm just happy that we won last week so I have another opportunity to play. It was fun watching it, but then again I'd rather be out there. So I'm happy we have another week."

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