Packers safety Charlie Peprah Photo by ICON Sports Media
By Travis Duncan
The recent fad of power rankings among various media outlets might be overkill for some old-time fans, or stating the obvious to others, or in some cases, pure speculation (note the Bills and Lions as Top 5 teams this week), still if you're a Packer fan it's nice to see your team as the unanimous No. 1 team.
Washington Post: No. 1 followed by the Saints, Ravens, Lions, Steelers and Bills.
Pro Football Talk: No. 1 followed by the Saints, Lions, Ravens, Bills and Patriots
Fox Sports Brian Billick: No. 1 followed by the Saints, Ravens, Steelers, and Chargers.
ESPN.com No. 1 followed by the Saints, Patriots, Lions, Ravens and Bills.
CBS Sports.com No. 1 followed by the Lions, Bills, Patriots, Ravens and Chargers.
SBNation.com No. 1 followed by the Ravens, Saints, Steelers, Patriots and Jets.
All Eyes on Peprah
With the noteworthy and significant season-ending injury to Pro-Bowl safety Nick Collins, naturally Charlie Peprah, Collins' replacement, has received quite a bit of attention.
Can he get the job done?
Several people are doubting based on at least three plays in Sunday's win over Chicago which resulted in significant yardage gains for Bears receivers. The acute analysis of Peprah's play is occurring despite the fact he started 11 games a year ago, playing in 14, totaling 43 tackles with two interceptions.
Rob Demovsky of the Green Bay Press-Gazette writes that Peprah was beat on at least four plays during Sunday's game, including a 40-yard reception by Johnny Knox in the second quarter in which Peprah got "turned-around" to borrow the phrase of FOX color analyst Troy Aikman, (video).
A 24-yard reception also by Knox in the second quarter set up first-and-goal. On that play, Peprah got to Knox a half second late, (video), and even Akiman admits "wasn't bad coverage".
A 32-yard reception by Bears tight end Kellen Davis in the fourth quarter in which Peprah missed the tackle (video) and allowed Davis to rumble into the end zone. (H/T for video links to Acme Packing company)
Packers coach Mike McCarthy agreed that Peprah wasn't in position on a few plays, but continues to have confidence in him-as it appears he is the Packers only viable option at this point.
"Charlie had a couple of plays in the first half where he wasn’t keeping his feet," said McCarthy. "He was in positions to possibly make the play, and the play went the other way."
Peprah is a six-year veteran, so it's not simply a matter of experience or learning.
Defensive coordinator Dom Capers explains Peprah's mishaps thus far this way "When guys aren’t in there, this is a game where a little bit is a lot, and guys can get rusty.”
No doubt opposing offenses will continue to go deep against the Packers' secondary, hoping that Peprah is either simply not fast enough or will be out of position.
Same team, different attitude
Aaron Rodgers said that the Packers' as defending Super Bowl champions have a different attitude as compared to this time last year.
Rodgers tells Wayne Larrivee on TMJ4,"I think so there is a greater expectation to win. Every time we step on the field. There's a different confidence. We expect to win those type of games. And even on the days when we could have played a little bit better, we expect to win those games."
Ryan Grant Injury
Grant discussed his injury (bruised kidney) on WSSP-Milwaukee.
"I definitely haven’t been on bed rest," said Grant. "I feel fine. I have been walking around. I finished the game and everything. We really don’t know any details right now. Like I said I feel fine. It wasn’t really anything major to it — just precautionary I guess. We’ll get some more information from the doctors on some tests later on this week.”
Grant suffered the injury in the fourth quarter on a hit from Brian Urlacher.
"I got hit by Brian Urlacher and I think of the safeties," explained Grant. "I think Brian Urlacher caught me in the back and it was funny when it happened I was like ‘ohh’ on the field and Brian Urlacher said on the field ‘me too RG. I felt that one too. It hurt.’
We'll hear more from McCarthy on Grant's injury and his medical tests at Wednesday afternoon's press conference.
The right tackle did not tear an ACL, but rather suffered a knee sprain in Sunday's game. Bulaga's status will be updated throughout the week. If he can't go Sunday against the Broncos, Marshall Newhouse would get the start. Marshall played after Bulaga left Sunday's game.
Rodgers was pleased with Newhouse's performance ,"I'm really proud of Marshall," Rodgers said Monday. "I think he's come a long way. A lot of the reps he takes in practice are at left tackle."
When Bulaga left the game, the Bears moved Julius Peppers to that side of the line.
Rodgers added, "I think we were hopeful, he would pick up where Brian left off, and I think he did a really nice job. It's not like we had to change anything. They did try to move Julius around but I think the fact we were able to move the ball in the first half with our shotgun runs and quick passes, kind of set us up in the second half to have the same success."
Rookie and first-round draft pick Derek Sherrod could see some time, at least in practice, though there has been some unofficial talk that the Packers are unhappy with Sherrod and that is why he has been inactive for the first three games of the season. All that being said, at the time of this writing there is still a chance Bulaga plays against the Broncos.
This and That
-The Packers worked out offensive tackle Tony Moll this week, but no word yet on if he'll join the team either by way of the practice squad or the active roster. Moll was a member of the Packers from 2006-2008. On Sept. 3 of the this year, he was waived by the Jacksonville Jaguars.
-Packers LB A.J. Hawk is the brother-in-law of Broncos QB Brady Quinn; Hawk is married to Quinn’s sister, Laura.
-The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine planned to put up a billboard near Lambeau Field depicting the Grim Reaper with a foam-cheesehead, deploring the health risks of fat, cholesterol and sodium in cheese. Cheesehead maker Foamation Inc. threatened legal action and the billboard won't go on as planned, according to a report by the Associated Press.
-The Packers are a 13 1/2 favorite over the Broncos this Sunday, according to several major oddsmakers.
Rodgers said he expected worse from the sodding at Soldier Field on his weekly radio show "A couple of times in the shotgun. I'm trying to get my feet set, and my feet, it felt like I was on uneven ground. I had to kind of dig my feet in, kind of wiggle them out like you were almost in the sand on a golf shot, just to kind of get your feet set. It was a weird feeling."
"That being said, I expected it to be a lot worse. The guys went out [in pregame], they said the tarps have been out there, the grass is super long, it's like your local park you're playing on. ... But it wasn't bad at all. I thought it was in really good condition for Chicago."
The Packers may not be back at Soldier field again until 2012 if all goes as plans, so the footing at Soldier Field is neither here nor there for the rest of the 2011 campaign.
Green Bay is undefeated in the series with Denver in games played in Wisconsin (4-0-1). This will be the fourth meeting between the clubs at Lambeau Field (1993, 1996, 2003).
Including playoffs, the Packers enter Sunday's contest on a nine-game winning streak, the team's longest since a nine-game streak in 1996-97
NFL Statistical Rankings
How the Pack rank among NFL team offense and defense (against three solid opponents)
Total Yards: 8th 403.3 yards per game
Passing Yards 9th 294.3 yards per game
Rushing Yards 10th 109 yards per game
Points Scored: 5th 33 points per game
Total Yards: 29th 414.3
Passing Yards: 31st 359.3
Rushing Yards: 1st 55 yards per game
Points Allowed: 22nd 24.7 per game
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