Packers question marks include offense with Carolina looming
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) The Green Bay Packers couldn't do much worse than how they performed in prime time last weekend in Denver.
''It's just one of those games where we didn't execute, really, any time of the game except for the one touchdown drive,'' right tackle Bryan Bulaga said Friday.
So how do the Packers bounce back from producing only 140 total yards and a career-worst 77 passing yards from Aaron Rodgers in a game he played from start to finish during the 29-10 loss to the Broncos?
''We need to be better. It's as simple as that,'' Bulaga said.
Green Bay gets no breather: They play at unbeaten Carolina on Sunday.
While Rodgers lamented after Green Bay's first loss of the season that he could rarely find an open receiver against Denver's tight coverage, Bulaga and fellow lineman T.J. Lang felt the troubles on offense stemmed from other breakdowns. The Packers were not able to run the football with much success, and Rodgers did not have sufficient time to make plays against Denver's pass rush.
''We've got to do a better job of running the ball and a better job of protecting, and hopefully this is the week we start doing that,'' said Lang, Green Bay's right guard.
That won't be an easy task against the Panthers, who rank in the NFL's top 10 for total defense, pass defense and sacks.
Green Bay's 28th-ranked offense with Rodgers at the controls has been bogged down, in part, by recent struggles with the running game. Eddie Lacy doesn't have a 100-yard rushing game this season, and he has run for only 68 yards on 28 carries the last three games.
His veteran understudy, James Starks, was held to nine yards in five carries by the Broncos. Because of that, Lang said, the Broncos were able to zero in on Rodgers and Green Bay's passing attack.
''Anytime you're not balanced, it obviously makes your job a lot harder because those guys, the D-linemen, are just teeing off trying to get the quarterback, which against a team like Denver is the last thing you want to do,'' Lang said.
The fallout from the Packers' insufficient production on the ground against Denver is they had a season-low 46 plays as an offense and Rodgers was often under siege. Denver sacked Rodgers three times, including one that forced a fumble and resulted in a safety.
''You have to run the ball on offense to be productive,'' coach Mike McCarthy said. ''That carries over to making the (pass) protection better because when you don't run the football your total plays are down (and) you're eliminating a lot of your action passes.''
NOTES: Packers LB Clay Matthews (ankle/knee) is probable for Sunday's game. Matthews has practiced on a limited basis this week after briefly leaving the game against Denver with the injury. Starting CB Sam Shields (shoulder) and rookie backup Quinten Rollins (neck) are questionable. Neither player has practiced this week. McCarthy is hopeful Shields can play Sunday. ''But there's hoops you've got to jump through, and he has not done that yet, so it's clearly in the hands of the medical team right now,'' McCarthy said. . Rookie WR/KR Ty Montgomery (ankle) also is questionable. Montgomery, who was out against the Broncos, said he's optimistic about playing Sunday after returning to practice this week.