Vikings' defense presents significant challenge

Minnesota No. 1 in league on third down; Green Bay No. 3 on third down on offense


GREEN BAY -- Third down is always referred to as the money down in football. That'll be the case this Sunday in Minneapolis more than ever.

"They're No. 1 in the league in third down (defense), we're No. 3 (on offense)," Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy said before Wednesday's practice, the first on-field preparation for Green Bay's upcoming trip to Minnesota.

"I think they're playing as well as I've seen them in my time here," McCarthy said of the Vikings' defense. "They're extremely disciplined."

They also started to get some turnovers this past Monday night in Chicago, with pass rusher Everson Griffen's strip-sack and safety Harrison Smith's interception setting up scores for the Vikings in their road victory. Minnesota hasn't generated many turnovers overall this season, but it's a unit that can attack that way anytime.

"They do a good job in run defense, and their safeties are downhill," McCarthy said. "These guys hit it. They anticipate plays, they're heavy in disguise. They're heavy into your mannersisms and the things you do, so you have to be sharp there."

As for Minnesota's offense, McCarthy said the Packers will be prepared for either Case Keenum or Sam Bradford at quarterback. Running back Jerick McKinnon had a big game Monday night in Chicago, and the Packers had trouble with receivers Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen in the two games last season.

"The one thing that jumps out is the number of big plays they make," McCarthy said.

Regarding Green Bay's injury situation, McCarthy said rookie cornerback Kevin King (concussion) would not practice on Wednesday, but he provided no other updates. The injured list includes safety Morgan Burnett (hamstring), running back Ty Montgomery (ribs), receiver Jordy Nelson (unspecified), and left tackle David Bakhtiari (hamstring), among others.

"We'll find out when we get down to practice," McCarthy said. "We'll see how it goes." will have more following practice and locker room interviews.

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