A more viable running game may be the key for Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers to bounce back from a season-opening setback for the third straight year. However, generating yards on the ground could be difficult if Eddie Lacy can't play.
The Packers look to improve upon a disappointing offensive showing Sunday against the visiting New York Jets, who put together one of Week 1's best defensive performances.
Green Bay is off to an 0-1 start for the third straight season after falling 36-16 at Seattle last Thursday.
Rodgers was 23 of 33 for 189 yards, marking just the third time in his last 25 full games in which he was held below the 200-yard mark. He was also sacked three times.
The Packers' 255 yards were the 29th fewest in the league's first week. They finished third in 2013 with 400.3.yards per game.
"We know the offensive power that we have," said Randall Cobb, who caught six passes for 58 yards, including Rodgers' only touchdown. "We know we can be dominant. It's just about executing the plays that are called."
Green Bay has shown immediate resolve after dropping each of its last two openers, outscoring its Week 2 opponents a combined 61-30 with Rodgers compiling a 121.4 passer rating.
The three-time Pro Bowler has also won 28 of his last 31 starts at Lambeau Field, though he's hoping an improved running game can open up the passing attack.
"I think the run is going to be as big a helper jump-starting the offense as anything," Rodgers said. "If we can run it a little more effectively, then we get the play-action game going."
Green Bay totaled just 80 yards on 21 attempts with Lacy accounting for 34 yards on 12 carries before exiting with a concussion. Lacy, though, advanced quickly through the concussion protocol and was a full participant at practice Thursday.
The Packers' ground problems were compounded against a Seattle run defense that was tied for seventh in the league last year, though they'll be up against a Jets squad that ranked even better. New York limited opponents to 88.3 yards on the ground per game, the third-fewest in the league.
The Jets were again stout in a 19-14 home win over Oakland, surrendering just 25 rushing yards. However, a case can be made that New York should have won by a far bigger margin after a 402-158 advantage in total yardage.
The Jets committed 11 penalties and had to recover an onside kick with 1:21 remaining.
"You're in a great spot, especially when you're coming off a victory that if we get these things cleared up, how much better it could've been and not leaving ourselves vulnerable like that," coach Rex Ryan said.
Geno Smith was 23 of 28 for 221 yards for an 82.1 completion percentage - the third-highest in franchise history by a quarterback with at least 20 attempts - while winning for the fourth time in his last five starts.
However, New York also managed only one TD in four red-zone possessions. One of those blown chances came on Smith's fumble near the goal line in the second quarter.
"That's not up to our standards," said Smith, who was also picked off once. "We want to do a lot better there. So just picking up everything, concentrating a little extra harder to clean up those penalties. Then, ball security is always the main focus."
The Jets limited Oakland to 151 passing yards despite starting career journeyman Darrin Walls and safety Antonio Allen at the cornerback positions. Facing Rodgers and the high-powered Packers, though, is a much more daunting challenge than going up against Derek Carr in his NFL debut.
The return of Dee Milliner would provide a boost and the second-year cornerback practiced Wednesday for the first time since Aug. 10 due to a high ankle sprain. He's expected to play, but Allen and Walls will likely start.
Green Bay's running game would be aided by the presence of Bryan Bulaga on its offensive line. Bulaga left against Seattle due to a knee injury in his first regular-season game since Nov. 4, 2012, after a hip injury and ACL tear. He practiced Wednesday on a limited basis, and is listed as questionable.
Derek Sherrod will start at right tackle if Bulaga can't play and could be a concern after allowing two sacks in 42 snaps versus Seattle.
New York owns an 8-3 all-time series edge, though Green Bay won the last meeting, 9-0, on Oct. 31, 2010.