Packers put offense to test against stingy Colts defense
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers has helped steer the Green Bay Packers to the top record in the NFC despite various injuries to some of the team’s most reliable playmakers.
As the Packers prepare to visit the AFC South-leading Indianapolis Colts and a stingy defense that leads the NFL in several categories, seeing some of those teammates return to health would be nice, Rodgers admits.
“Hopefully, those guys will be able to go, and we’ll kind of look a little bit more like we did in Week 1,” Rodgers said.
Green Bay (7-2) activated wide receiver Allen Lazard from injured reserve this week following a recovery from core-muscle surgery, and he participated in Wednesday’s practice. Fellow receiver Davante Adams missed practice Wednesday after tweaking a previously balky ankle in a Week 10 home win against Jacksonville, but indications are he will play against the Colts (6-3).
Indianapolis has generated much of its defensive success behind a quick and explosive front seven. If opponents shift their focus blocking schemes on defensive tackle DeForest Buckner or another member of the defensive line, linebackers Darius Leonard and Bobby Okereke have shown the ability to pounce and make additional plays.
“I think all of them do such a great job playing together,” Packers coach Matt LaFleur said. “I think they’ve got a really sound scheme. … You can tell everybody is on the same page, and they fly around. It’s one of the faster units we will have played this year. They’re physical, they know how to attack the ball. It’s hard to get big plays on them, so we’re going to have to do a great job.”
To be sure, the Colts are well-versed with Rodgers’ skillset, beginning with his quick mechanics and release.
“Arm strength to make every throw from every arm angle, and he gets it out faster than anyone I’ve ever seen,” said Colts coach Frank Reich, a quarterback for 13 NFL seasons. “And his feet don’t have to be right because of his arm strength. He can put the ball wherever he wants.”
Adds Indianapolis quarterback Philip Rivers: “I’ve always appreciated and thought it was special going against a quarterback like him. … It is special.”
Green Bay remains atop the NFC North despite defensive struggles that start with an inability to force turnovers. The Packers enter play Sunday tied for 30th in the league with 0.8 takeaways per game, while other concerning rankings include opponent passer rating (27th) and points allowed (15th).
The Packers are hopeful to get starting cornerback Kevin King (quad) back from a quad injury after he missed the past five games.
Rivers has averaged 372 yards in four career starts against the Packers, but is 1-3 in those games. His accuracy and ability to take care of the ball have been paramount this season. Indianapolis is 4-0 in games in which he does not throw an interception, and 2-3 when he does.
“He is an experienced quarterback that knows how to get rid of the football, and when stuff isn’t there, he’ll find his check-downs and still make plays,” LaFleur said.
Reich said tight end Jack Doyle remains in concussion protocol. Kenny Moore (ribs) did not practice Wednesday, but Reich said he’s hopeful the cornerback won’t miss time due to the injury. Defensive end Kemoko Turay (ankle) and safety Julian Blackmon (pelvis/knee) were limited participants early in the week.
The Colts hope to benefit from extra rest after last playing on Nov. 12, a road win against Tennessee.
This is the first meeting between the teams in four years.
–Field Level Media