x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Shuffled Green Bay Packers seek to ride on Rodgers

A dangerous defensive line could add to the woes of the quarterback and a depleted side who are eyeing home advantage in NFC.

Aaron Rodgers, with the ball, has been sacked seven times in two games and taking big hits.
Aaron Rodgers, with the ball, has been sacked seven times in two games and taking big hits.

GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN // With Aaron Rodgers trying to help the Green Bay Packers secure a No 1 play-off seed against a sputtering Chicago Bears team missing their two best offensive players, the NFL's most-storied rivalry is looking pretty lopsided these days.

Going into a match-up tonight at Lambeau Field, the Packers can clinch home-field advantage in the NFC with a win, with the added bonus of knocking their rivals out of the play-offs.

The Packers may have lost their shot at a perfect season with a loss at Kansas City last week, but they probably will not need a perfect performance to beat a team that has turned to Josh McCown at quarterback.

Green Bay do have one major concern, though: Can an offensive line, depleted by injuries, keep Rodgers from taking too many big hits from a still-dangerous Bears defensive line?

Rodgers conceded that the Packers may have to adjust their offence to compensate for a reshuffled line.

"Depending on who's playing where, you might have to tweak a few things because those guys are used to playing in certain spots," Rodgers said. "If they have to move around a little bit, it's going to take getting used to.

"We feel confident about the guys we're going to line up, and there's an expectation that they're going to play and play well. But you've got to be smart with the personnel you've got as well."

Kansas City put good pressure on Rodgers, including four sacks, and the Bears hope to do the same.

"We're lucky we're athletic up front," Brian Urlacher, the Chicago linebacker, said. "We've got some guys who can rush the passer with four, which has helped us quite a bit. And we're pretty athletic in the back end as well, so we run around.

"But there's really not a whole lot you can do against him. He's going to make his plays. Hopefully we can make some as well."

The Packers could be without three of their top four offensive tackles after injuries to starting right tackle Bryan Bulaga and back-up Derek Sherrod. Bulaga sprained his left knee and has been ruled out for this game, while Sherrod broke his right leg and is out for the season.

Even before losing Bulaga and Sherrod, the Packers have been allowing too much pressure on Rodgers the past few weeks. Rodgers has been sacked seven times in the past two games and taken several other big hits.

"Obviously, everybody knows the sacks and the hits, problems that we've had the past few weeks," Lang said. "It's never good to watch a quarterback get hit as many times as he's getting hit."

The receivers also struggled to make up for the absence of Greg Jennings, who has a left knee sprain and is expected to return for the play-offs. But Urlacher said Rodgers' play can cover up a lot of other issues for the offence.

"No 12's still playing quarterback, so that's all that matters in that offense," Urlacher said.

"He gets rid of the ball of the football so fast and knows where to go with the ball. It may be a little bit of a weakness for them, but he's still playing quarterback for them, so they're still dangerous."