Falcons will need to be more aggressive on defense to stop Rodgers, PackersWisconsin Sports
-- Atlanta Falcons coach Mike Smith says his defense will have to get more aggressive when they play the Green Bay Packers on Sunday night at the Georgia Dome.
ATLANTA - Atlanta Falcons coach Mike Smith says his defense will have to get more aggressive when they play the Green Bay Packers on Sunday night at the Georgia Dome.
Smith says it will be important to be disruptive, and not let Packers’ quarterback Aaron Rodgers get comfortable in the pocket. Smith says there isn’t a quarterback in the NFL that’s playing more efficiently than Rodgers right now. The Falcons have had trouble with the passing defense this season. They ranked 24th in the NFL in passing yards allowed. That’s after Atlanta gave up 319 yards in the air against Seattle last week.
The Falcons are 2-2. Green Bay comes in at 4-0 – and the Pack is returning to the place where they scored a 27-point win during the playoffs last January. Falcons’ quarterback Matt Ryan said the Pack was really on fire that night – but this is a new season, and Ryan says the playoff thumping has no bearing on his team this week. Packers’ running back Ryan Grant returned to practice yesterday, after missing last week’s game with a bruised kidney. Linebacker Frank Zombo also practiced on a limited basis for the first time since injuring a shoulder in mid-August.
Aaron Rodgers took the high road yesterday in responding to criticism by his predecessor. Brett Favre told an Atlanta radio interviewer that Rodgers quote, “fell into a good situation” – and with all the talent Favre left him, the former Green Bay gunslinger was surprised that Rodgers didn’t win a Super Bowl earlier than his third season as the Packers’ starter. Favre also said he doubted that the Packers would live up to their Super Bowl hype last year, until they started hitting their stride around the middle of the season. Rodgers refused to get into a spitting match when given the opportunity yesterday. He hesitated a bit and then said quote, “The only thing I want to say is, I’m just really proud of our guys and what our team did last season. It was a great accomplishment. It obviously got the attention of a lot of people.” When asked if he thought Favre’s comments were disrespectful, Rodgers said the Packers quote, “had the right recipe last year, and we’re trying to do the same thing this season.”
Aaron Rodgers and Brett Favre have one more thing in common besides their accomplishments on the field with the Packers. Both have stood up for teammates who’ve been suspended – and both decried the NFL’s refusal to help such players. On ESPN Radio in Milwaukee, Rodgers said he was upset that the league didn’t do more for suspended Packers’ defensive end Johnny Jolly. He’s been on an indefinite suspension after two arrests for possessing illegal codeine in Texas in 2008 and again in March of this year. Jolly was arrested a third time last weekend for the same offense. Rodgers said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has done a great job of cleaning up some of the league’s personal problems with players. But Rodgers added quote, “If you take a guy away from his support system, I don’t think that’s helping.” When Favre played at Green Bay, he came to the defense of receiver Koren Robinson, who was suspended for a year due to alcohol violations. Favre said it was wrong for the league to keep Robinson away from the team’s training facilities, and the teammates who gave him positive influences.
Green Bay Packers’ linebacker Frank Zombo says he’s not feeling pain after breaking a shoulder scapula in mid-August. The second-year pro was expected to be out for 8-to-12 weeks. But he returned to practice yesterday after just six-and-a-half weeks of recovery time. Zombo was a limited participant, but he said he took part in every drill. He wore pads to protect the shoulder. And he said he’s looking forward to making an immediate impact on the Green Bay defense as soon as he can. Whether that will happen on Sunday night at Atlanta remains to be seen. Coach Mike McCarthy says it depends on how Zombo looks at practice. He said he began a workout program with the Packer coaching staff just a week after he got hurt – and he was careful when exercising the injured shoulder, as he focused on his strength-and-conditioning. In his rookie season last year, Zombo missed six games with a knee injury. And he returned just in time for the Super Bowl – where he had a sack and six tackles against Pittsburgh.