Back home, Packers look to get timing back against Lions
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) The Green Bay Packers need to get their timing back in the passing game.
At their best, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and the other receivers break at just the right points in precisely run routes to catch perfectly thrown balls from quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
But for whatever reasons so far this season, the Packers' once-prolific passing attack isn't in sync . They'd like to correct that on Sunday in the home opener against the Detroit Lions.
''The West Coast offense is all about timing, and if your timing is even just a little bit off, you're going to be miles off at times with your connection points,'' Rodgers said.
Fortunately for the Packers, Rodgers is one of the best quarterbacks in the league in extending plays outside the pocket. He has rushed for two touchdowns this year after being forced to scramble.
Rodgers would rather get those points with completions.
''But as we get more in sync offensively, the running naturally probably comes down because the routes are being run on time and you can deliver the ball on time,'' Rodgers said.
Opponents can doubt Rodgers at their own risk. He has been known to play with a very sizable chip on his valuable right shoulder.
''He can make every throw, he can run, he's an outstanding leader, he's won tons of games, extremely capable individual,'' Lions coach Jim Caldwell said when asked if Rodgers was struggling.
''I don't know what struggling means in that regard, not with a guy like that,'' Caldwell said.
The Packers (1-1) lost 17-14 last week at Minnesota, a game in which Rodgers uncharacteristically accounted for two turnovers.
Detroit (1-1) is looking to rebound from a 16-15 loss to Tennessee in the Lions' home opener on Marcus Mariota's 9-yard touchdown pass late to Andre Johnson.
Other notes and things to watch Sunday:
ON THE RUN: Ameer Abdullah's foot injury likely means Theo Riddick will get a chance to prove he can be an every-down running back. Abdullah was placed on injured reserve this week. Riddick, who is already a proven threat in the passing game, had a career-high 11 carries for 37 yards against the Titans.
Riddick might be the lead guy, ''but the fact of the matter is it'll be some other guys carrying the ball as well,'' Caldwell said. ''It just depends on ... exactly what type of attack we decide to use.''
STOP THE RUN: The Packers have the league's best run defense through two games, allowing 1.63 yards per carry. Defensive lineman Mike Daniels is leading a stout effort in spite of depth questions in the front seven.
Green Bay is without backup lineman Mike Pennel for the first four games after being suspended by the NFL for violating the league's substance abuse policy. Datone Jones was added to the injury report this week with a knee injury. Linebacker Clay Matthews has ankle and hamstring issues. Letroy Guion could also miss some time with a knee injury.
MORE RUNS: Getting more production out of the running game could help the Packers, too. Through two games, running backs Eddie Lacy and James Starks have combined to rush for 121 yards on 37 carries with no scores.
''The analysis of our offense after two games, the running backs have not been given enough opportunities, so that's something that I need to focus on,'' coach Mike McCarthy said.
FEWER DROPS: The Lions need receivers to hang on to the ball more. Dropped passes have been a problem.
''Just continue to work, try to get those guys as many catches as we can, before, after practice,'' quarterback Matthew Stafford said. ''I'm going to continue to try to do a better job of putting the ball in a better position for them to catch it, but I've got confidence in all those guys to go out there and make plays.''
HANDLING THE NORTH: The Packers lost all their divisional home games last season. They'd need to re-establish themselves at home against NFC North foes, while Detroit would like to build on its breakthrough last year at Lambeau Field. The 18-16 win on Nov. 15 snapped the Lions' 23-game regular-season road losing streak against Green Bay.
''That's so far back on the radar it's unbelievable,'' Caldwell said. ''There's been a lot going on between that time.''
Back then, the Packers were having similar issues on offense. This time, Green Bay is working top receiver Jordy Nelson back into the system after he hurt was last preseason.
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