Packers News Briefs: Dietrich-Smith could start vs. TitansWisconsin Sports
-- Evan Dietrich-Smith could start at center on Sunday, when the Green Bay Packers host Tennessee.
Evan Dietrich-Smith could start at center on Sunday, when the Green Bay Packers host Tennessee.
Coach Mike McCarthy said after Friday's practice that normal starter Jeff Saturday will be ready, despite having neck-and-shoulder problems. But the coach is not certain whether Saturday will start against the Titans. He’s officially listed as probable for the game. If the Packers win, they’ll secure the Number-Three playoff seed in the NFC. Guard T.J. Lang is also probable, and was cleared to play after passing a concussion test this morning. Running back Alex Green, who’s also getting over a concussion, has not passed his required tests yet. He’s listed as questionable, which means he has a 50-50 chance of playing. Defensive end Jerel Worthy is also questionable with a hamstring injury, and back-up guard Greg Van Roten is questionable with back trouble. Receiver Jordy Nelson is again out with a bad hamstring.
Also out are tight end Tom Crabtree, running back James Starks, defensive end C.J. Wilson, and defensive back Charles Woodson. Receiver Randall Cobb is probable with a shoulder issue. He was a full participant at practice today, after being limited the previous two days. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers is also probable, along with linebacker Erik Walden. Rodgers tweaked an ankle last Sunday, but he says he’s okay. Fullback John Kuhn also missed practice due to personal traveling issues.
Green Bay linebacker Clay Matthews will match wits with his uncle on Sunday, when the Packers host Tennessee. Bruce Matthews is the Titans’ offensive line coach – and he says his nephew is quote, “definitely the guy who makes things happen” on the Packer defense. He said the Titans’ linemen must make a “pointed effort” to account for Clay, and that’s what they intend to do. Bruce Matthews and his brother Clay-the-Second each spent 19 years playing in the NFL – and their father Clay started the family’s pro legacy with a four-year stint with San Francisco in the 1950’s. Clay-the-Third, the Packers’ star, said his family’s success adds to his motivation to succeed. He was a walk-on at Southern California, but he developed into a first-round draft pick – just like his father and uncle. Bruce Matthews says Clay performs pretty much like his father, a long-time linebacker with Atlanta and Cleveland. Bruce said Clay can cover passes, play against the run, and obviously rush the quarterback – and he does it all with passion. In Bruce Matthews’ words, “It’s fun to watch a guy like that.”
The Green Bay Packers are getting ready to host a Tennessee team that looks to play a spoiler’s role. The Titans eliminated the New York Jets from the playoffs on Monday night. And on Sunday, the 5-9 Titans can possibly derail the Packers’ hopes for a first-round playoff bye. A Packer victory this week would assure Green Bay of the Number-Three seed – which means they would the NFC playoff team with the worst record. But coach Mike McCarthy says he wants more – namely the Number-Two seed with the first-round bye. To get it, the Packers would have to win the next two games while San Francisco loses once. The 49’ers play Seattle on Sunday night – and it’s ironic that many Cheeseheads are becoming Seahawks’ fans for a week. Seattle beat Green Bay in Week-Three on the now-infamous blown touchdown call in the end zone that spurred the return of the NFL’s regular officials from their previous lockout. On the injury front, coach Mike McCarthy expects to get some of his ailing offensive line players back for the Titans’ game. Guard T.J. Lang was out with flu-like symptoms – and he still needs to pass a concussion test before he can play on Sunday. McCarthy expects that to happen. He also said center Jeff Saturday would return to practice today, after he sat out two days with neck and shoulder problems.
Packers’ quarterback Aaron Rodgers finished fifth in the fan voting for the Pro Bowl in Hawaii the week before the Super Bowl. Rodgers was also one of six Packers to get the most votes at their respective positions for the NFC team. The others are Charles Woodson at strong safety, Clay Matthews at outside linebacker, center Jeff Saturday, fullback John Kuhn, and kick returner Randall Cobb. The fan voting counts for a third of the total results. Players and coaches take up the rest of the balloting. The final Pro Bowl results and rosters will be announced next Wednesday. Denver quarterback Peyton Manning was the top fan vote-getter with 993,000. New England quarterback Tom Brady was second, followed by Houston running back Arian Foster and Minnesota rusher Adrian Peterson. Rodgers was next with 778,000 votes.
James Jones of the Green Bay Packers leads the NFL with 12 receiving touchdowns this year. And quarterback Aaron Rodgers thinks he knows why. Rodgers said Jones has become more focused and quote, “dialed in” ever since he and his wife Tamika had their first child, also named James. Many of Jones’ touchdowns came in the red zone, and Rodgers says he’s been the most open receiver within the opponents’ 20. And whenever it’s a jump-ball in the end zone, Rodgers says Jones has come down with every one of them. The quarterback calls Jones a tremendous team player – and he hopes Jones gets consideration for his first Pro Bowl in just over a month.
As the Green Bay Packers start practicing for their Sunday home contest against Tennessee, both the coaches and the players are praising the team’s rookie class. The Packers drafted six defensive players in April, with the hopes of shedding the title of the NFL’s worst-defense from 2011. Now, Green Bay’s in the Top-10 in the NFL in scoring defense, giving up almost 21 points a game. And the rookies are getting plenty of the credit. 23-year-old Casey Hayward is tied for third in the league with six interceptions this season. Defensive end Jerel Worthy has two-and-a-half sacks – and the coaches like his energy. Defensive end Mike Daniels earned his stripes by recovering Matthew Stafford’s fumble and running it back for a touchdown 10 nights ago against Detroit at Lambeau Field. Among the linebackers, Dezman Moses has made a splash with a trio of sacks from the middle. Terrell Manning has not had much of a chance to produce, after getting a parasite at training camp which caused him to lose a lot of weight. He says he’s still putting his weight back on – and he believes it’s a matter of time before he’ll get his chance to shine. And safety Jerron McMillian has looked good in a backup role. 12th-year defensive end Ryan Pickett says he likes the fact that the rookies are accountable, and they work to fix their mistakes. He says they’ve earned their teammates’ respect. But quote, “We still make ‘em buy stuff.”