Packers just like the depth of their defensive entrance


GREEN BAY – The Packers have felt strongly all 12 months concerning the depth within the entrance seven of their protection.

They could have to dip into these reserves this Sunday towards the Pittsburgh Steelers relying on the prognosis for Clay Matthews and Kenny Clark.

Matthews (groin) and Clark (ankle) exited with accidents throughout Sunday’s recreation towards Baltimore and didn’t return. Head Coach Mike McCarthy didn’t have an replace on both participant Monday, with the medical workers nonetheless gathering info.

Both Matthews and Clark have performed a pivotal position within the defensive resurgence for the reason that bye week, particularly towards the run. Over the final three video games, the Packers have restricted opposing groups to 177 yards and two touchdowns on 76 carries (2.three yards per try).

The performances have led to Green Bay’s run protection shaving 20 yards per recreation off its common, bettering from 27th in Week eight to 11th after Sunday’s recreation towards the Ravens.

Clark has been one of many protection’s most constant gamers this season, recording 32 tackles (21 solo) with a compelled fumble in 10 begins. His 432 snaps are fourth-most on protection.

The former first-round choose has confirmed to be environment friendly in selecting up and defeating double-teams, however his lateral quickness and athleticism to make tackles sideline-to-sideline has been one of many protection’s best strengths.

“That’s going to be a challenge,” mentioned defensive coordinator Dom Capers when requested concerning the void Clark leaves if he misses time. “Kenny’s been playing extremely well. We’ve liked our matchups with Kenny. He gets a lot of double teams in there. We’ll have to go to work and see what we come up with here in terms of trying to make up if we don’t have Kenny.”

The Packers have two reserve choices at nostril deal with in fifth-year veteran Quinton Dial and third-round choose Montravius Adams. Dial missed two video games after the bye with a chest damage, however had two tackles in 24 defensive snaps towards the Ravens.

It additionally would require extra of Mike Daniels and Dean Lowry in Green Bay’s sub-packages. Like Clark, Lowry already has surpbaded his rookie numbers with 16 tackles and 1½ sacks in 10 video games (eight begins) this season.

“I think Dean has been doing a great job,” Daniels mentioned. “He’s a tough, hard-nosed kid. It’s definitely good to have him in our room. He just gets better every day.”

Matthews managed to avoid accidents for a lot of the season earlier than leaving 13 snaps into Sunday’s recreation towards Baltimore. Matthews, who’s third in defensive snaps, is one in all solely two Packers’ outdoors linebackers to play in all 10 video games with Kyler Fackrell being the opposite.

Capers has been inventive with how he’s used the six-time Pro Bowler, sometimes lining him up off the road of scrimmage within the Packers’ base protection and speeding him from all throughout the road of scrimmage within the dime sub-package.

Fackrell, a third-round choose a 12 months in the past, has been the third rusher within the rotation for many of the season with veteran Ahmad Brooks and rookie Vince Biegel lacking time as a result of accidents.

The 6-foot-5, 245-pound linebacker had arguably his finest recreation in a Packers’ uniform towards the Ravens, with 5 tackles (two for a loss) and a sack of Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco in 34 snaps.

Biegel, a fourth-round choose this 12 months, spent seven video games on the bodily unable to carry out checklist after present process offseason foot surgical procedure. The Wisconsin Rapids native has seven tackles in his first three NFL video games, together with contributing to Lowry’s sack towards the Ravens.

“He probably needs to be ready for more,” Capers mentioned. “Again, not knowing what Clay’s status is going to be, but we’ve gotten Brooks back here in the last couple weeks. That helps. I thought Kyler (was) taking a step in the right direction (Sunday) and then Vince has gotten some snaps now. We just have to keep those guys coming along.”

With the run protection containing opposing offenses, the Packers’ move rush has taken a step with eight sacks and 13 quarterback hits over the previous two weeks.

If Green Bay is with out Matthews or Clark, it’s going to be on the defensive gamers round them to step up. Injuries or not, it’s been the contributions from the likes of Clark, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Jake Ryan which have propelled the protection into the ultimate stretch of the common season lately.

After a strong displaying towards the Ravens, the Packers will proceed trying to find huge performs from whichever 11 gamers are on the sector. They earned one takeaway – a Clinton-Dix interception – towards Baltimore and are looking for extra this Sunday towards the Steelers.

“I felt we were able to make quite a few negative plays, which had a lot to do with the down and distance, both in the run and the pbad game,” Capers mentioned. “I thought our pressure at times was good in terms of trying to get Flacco off the spot. We wound up with three sacks. We only had the one interception. When you’re in a game like we were, we have to try to create more takeaways.”

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