Skip to main content

Packers Well Aware Of Chiefs' Hall


If there was ever a time the Green Bay Packers would love to win a coin toss, it would be this weekend.

But whether they kick off to the Kansas City Chiefs on the opening play of the game, the opening play of the second half or somewhere in between, the Packers know they'll have to face return man Dante Hall sooner or later this Sunday.

Leading the league with an astonishing four touchdown returns through five games this season -- two on kickoffs and two on punts -- Hall is dominating the return game like few men ever have. And, like everyone else, the Packers have taken notice.

"Oh, trust me," GM/Head Coach Mike Sherman said Monday, "the players know who Dante Hall is right now. If they watched (ESPN's) SportsCenter last night, they're very familiar with has he's done and what he's accomplished."

But knowing what Hall can do and stopping him are two entirely different things.

The Denver Broncos certainly knew all about Hall's abilities last week, but that didn't keep them from becoming extras in his ever-developing highlights reel.

Sunday, Hall danced around multiple would-be Broncos tacklers on a 93-yard punt return that gave the Chiefs their fifth victory of the season.

Packers special teams coordinator John Bonamego called the return a "great play by a great player." But if it was a reminder to the Packers of just how dynamic Hall can be, it won't do much to change their mission for the weekend.

"It's more of an awareness issue," Bonamego said. "You prepare for everyone in this league. There are no gimme games, there are no gimme guys ... What happened (Sunday) really was insignificant as far as what we have to prepare for (this week)."

And the Packers will prepare for the worst.

Kicking the ball away from Hall might sound like an easy solution, but it isn't necessarily the most realistic one.

"You try and do that to a degree, but you can't just go into a game saying that's the answer," Bonamego said. "I don't mean to hit any of my golf shots into the water either, but sometimes they end up going there. You've got to be able to tackle the man and cover him when he gets his hands on the ball because that's just too simplistic a way to look at it.

"You might feel good saying, 'Yeah, we're not going to kick the ball to him,' through the week, but on game day you have to make that happen."

Bonamego, who went up against Hall and the Chiefs with the Jacksonville Jaguars the past two seasons, said it was more realistic to kick away from Hall on kickoffs. Angling punts to the sideline is a far more difficult, he said, in part because of the snap and the pressure of an oncoming rush.

"If you could punt a ball 40 yards down the field out of bounds every single time, I don't know why you'd ever kick to anybody in this league," Bonamego said. "If you had somebody that was capable of doing that, you'd have the No. 1 net punting team in the league and you'd never have to tackle anybody."

As it stands, the Packers are first in the league in punt coverage this season, allowing only 4.4 yards per return, and rank second in the NFC in kickoff coverage, giving up just 19.0 yards per return.

But the impressive start will be threatened this week by a return man who has been just as dominant.

"This guy is special," Bonamego said of Hall. "It's not something you're going to fix in one week. You are either building on what you already have and you're fundamentally sound, or you've got holes that you're trying to cover up."

So far the Packers have appeared watertight. But Bonamego sees room for improvement.

"I think we've done a pretty good job overall," he said. "You're never going to hear me say I'm satisfied."

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.