Skip to main content

Notebook: Talented Tandem Will Test O-Line

The Packers will face one of the top pass-rushing tandems in the league on Sunday in Colts defensive ends Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis. - More Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Oct. 17


The Packers will face one of the top pass-rushing tandems in the league on Sunday in Colts defensive ends Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis.

Freeney is second in the NFL in sacks since 2002 with 63, trailing only Redskins defensive end Jason Taylor, who has posted 78.5 sacks during that span. Mathis leads the Colts with five sacks in five games this season, and has recorded 47 sacks during his six-plus seasons in the league.

"Very quick off of the ball and they are explosive players," offensive coordinator Joe Philbin said. "They have some unique pass-rushing moves. They are going to be a challenge for us.

"They don't like to stay blocked. Obviously they are not the biggest defensive ends in the NFL. Sometimes you get engaged but they work like heck to get off that block, whether it be run or pass."

The Packers have allowed 13 sacks on the season, with 10 of those coming in the three losses. Indianapolis has eight sacks in their three wins, including four in last Sunday's win vs. Baltimore, compared to only two in their two losses.

"We have to compete and out-effort and out-hustle them because we know that's what they are going to do," center Scott Wells said. "Guys were getting cut and knocked down and they were getting up and still making plays down the field.

"You have to finish and then finish again, because this defense is built around speed. The way I see it, it's more or less four defensive ends in there. They move around, they try to create confusion by slanting their line and finding creases."

One of the keys to limiting Freeney and Mathis will be staying in manageable down-and-distance situations, something the Packers achieved in Seattle last Sunday. Of Green Bay's 18 third-down attempts against the Seahawks, only three of them were 3rd-and-10 or more yards.

"You don't want to get into a must-pass situation against Indianapolis too often," Philbin said. "You're going to have some of them, but you want to stay ahead of schedule if you can. You don't want to be in 2nd-and-10 and then 3rd-and-9; you'd like to be in 2nd-and-6 and then 3rd-and-3. That will be important for us.

"We've got to win the first and second downs so we put ourselves in a position to have a little bit of balance on third down and not always have to take a deep drop. If you can convert a three-step drop on third down, that helps your protection an awful lot."

Decision coming

Head Coach Mike McCarthy said the team has yet to make a decision on defensive tackle Justin Harrell's status for Sunday's game against the Colts.

Harrell, who spent the first six weeks of the season on the physically unable to perform list following two offseason back surgeries, participated in practice all three days this week.

"Actually I'd like to sit down at 1 o'clock, our game management meeting, and go through the board one more time," McCarthy said. "There's other factors involved, but just as far as Justin, his status, we wanted to look at the whole week's work to see where he was and how he felt.

"That will be the first step, and then the combination of who's active and who's not and so forth, because there's definitely some moving parts to this decision."

The Packers have three weeks to either place Harrell on the active roster or leave him on the PUP list for the remainder of the season. If the team activates him for Sunday, they will have to create a roster spot by releasing a player or placing someone on injured reserve.

"I'm just trying to stay focused and make sure I've got the game plan down," Harrell said. "On Sunday if they call me to play, just be ready to go out there and play, but if not, I've just got to get myself ready for the next week."

Popular Pack

A nationwide survey conducted by Harris Interactive shows that the Packers are the fifth-most popular team in the league by adults who follow pro football.

Green Bay trailed just the Dallas Cowboys (No. 1), New England Patriots (No. 2), Indianapolis Colts (No. 3) and Pittsburgh Steelers (No. 4) in the rankings.

The Packers and the Cowboys are the only two teams in the NFL that have been ranked in the Top 5 of Harris' poll every year since 1998.

The online survey, which was conducted Sept. 15-22, polled 2,315 U.S. adults, of whom 1,193 said they followed professional football.

{sportsad300}Injury/participation update

Cornerback Al Harris (spleen) will be out for the fourth straight game. He was a limited participant in practice again on Friday, doing more conditioning work on the side.

Safety Atari Bigby (hamstring), defensive ends Jason Hunter (hamstring) and Michael Montgomery (ankle) and wide receiver James Jones (knee) are listed as doubtful for Sunday.

If Bigby is unable to go, either Aaron Rouse or Charlie Peprah would get the start in his place.

Defensive tackle Ryan Pickett (tricep) is listed as questionable for Sunday, but said he is confident he will be able to play against Indianapolis.

"A big game like this, I can't see myself sitting out," Pickett said. "My knee is still banged up. I'm pretty beat up but Sunday I'll get through it and I'll be pretty good."

Wells (chest) is also questionable for Sunday, but also expressed optimism that he will be able to start.

"I had a little strain and I am good to go," Wells said. "It was one really one of those things trying to not make it worse yesterday. I did it on Wednesday so you don't want to make it worse (Thursday). It gives you an extra day of treatment and kind of cut it off before it becomes a huge issue. I feel good."

Tackle Chad Clifton (hamstring), linebacker A.J. Hawk (groin), quarterback Aaron Rodgers (right shoulder), cornerback Pat Lee (back) and cornerback Charles Woodson (toe) are all probable.

For Indianapolis, safety Bob Sanders (knee), wide receiver Roy Hall (knee) and cornerback Kelvin Hayden are out.

Running back Joseph Addai (hamstring) and tight end Gijon Robinson (ankle) are doubtful. Linebacker Freddy Keiaho (groin) is questionable.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content