2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Recovered from rough start, Packers back on top

By NANCY ARMOUR - AP National Writer
    2012-11-21 18:50

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) - It wasn't too long ago that the Green Bay Packers were in a bad place, lagging at the bottom of the NFC North with a - gasp! - losing record while folks picked apart their flaws as if they were some sideshow on Dr. Phil.

Well, well. Look at them now.

A five-game winning streak that's tied for best in the NFL has the Packers (7-3) atop their division and in position to start the playoffs at home. (Yes, they have the same record as the Chicago Bears, but Green Bay owns the tiebreaker after beating its rivals to the south in September.) With four of the last six games against NFC North opponents and some of their many ailing players beginning to get healthy, the Packers are right where they want to be.

``We're happy to be back up there, especially after starting 2-3,'' Aaron Rodgers said Wednesday. ``We're kind of getting on a roll. But even like we said at the beginning of the season, it's all about playing the right way in December and moving forward. We're not quite to December. We're gaining momentum as we go, but we know we need to play our best late in the season and into the playoffs.''

As if they needed any reminder, the Packers play the New York Giants on Sunday night. Those would be the same Giants who came on strong at the end of last season, knocked the Packers out of the playoffs and went on to win the Super Bowl for the second time in five years.

``Watching the playoff game, I mean it wasn't fun. I think that's obvious,'' coach Mike McCarthy said.

Neither was the start of this season.

Green Bay had about as rough a start as it gets. Stunned in the opener by San Francisco, the Packers seemed to have things back on track with their win over Chicago the next week. But then came the Inaccurate Reception out in Seattle, and the injuries began piling up. The low point was blowing an 18-point, halftime lead in Indianapolis.

Instead of falling apart, though, the Packers pulled together. They each took responsibility for the losses, and didn't argue when McCarthy preached a return to the fundamentals. When key players went down - Greg Jennings, Charles Woodson, Cedric Benson and Clay Matthews, just to name a few - guys stepped up to fill the holes.

Little by little, the Packers got better. So did their record.

After scoring a total of 57 points in the first three games, Green Bay has averaged 29.4 in the last seven, fourth best in the NFL. Rodgers has been the league's best quarterback over that span, with 24 touchdowns, four interceptions and a passing rating of 117. The defense is second in the NFL with 33 sacks, and rookie Casey Hayward is tied for second in the league with five interceptions. Since Week 4, Green Bay has allowed a league-best 84 yards rushing per game - no small thing with winter coming and four cold-weather games left.

``It's been impressive to watch simply because I think, last year, with having so much success, we didn't experience the losses and the, for lack of a better word, that lull,'' said Jennings, who practiced Wednesday for the first time since Nov. 1 surgery to repair a torn abdominal muscle. ``But we've experienced some adversity this year and we've overcome it. Guys have stepped up to the plate, made plays when their numbers were called and we haven't really missed a beat.

``There was a time there where it was kind of like, OK, we had to fill everything out and guys had to kind of get comfortable in their roles. Once everybody got comfortable, we started rolling again.''

The Packers now have the third-best record in the NFC, behind Atlanta and San Francisco, and would host a wild-card game if the season ended now.

The tough start may actually make the Packers more dangerous come December and January, too. The defense, so maligned last year, is much improved, and it actually bailed out the offense last week in Detroit. Forced into larger roles because of the injuries, youngsters like Hayward and Randall Cobb have become big-time players who could be cornerstones of the Packers for years to come.

As for that long list of injuries, it should get shorter in the coming weeks. Jennings isn't ruling himself out for Sunday night's game, despite only being back at practice the one day. Matthews could return in the next week or so, and Benson and Woodson are ahead of schedule in their rehabs.

Yes, the Packers are back in the conversation these days. And unlike a few weeks ago, they don't mind what people are saying about them.

``It's still early, but it's nice to be in the lead and have, for a lack of a better term, your destiny in your own hands,'' B.J. Raji said. ``But like I said, it's still early and we still have a lot of games to play. The key is to maintain it, and keep the lead.''

Notes: LB Clay Matthews (hamstring) is ``doubtful'' for this week's game, McCarthy said. ... CB Sam Shields has had a setback, and McCarthy said his ankle injury is more serious than the team initially thought. ``It's going to be a couple of weeks,'' McCarthy said.

---

Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Wes WelkerSep 17 10:53a

Denver Broncos WR Wes Welker has been reinstated Wednesday, Sept. 17, after a new drug testing agreement was reached.

Josh GordonSep 17 10:03a

Cleveland Browns WR Josh Gordon is expected to return to the team's facility for conditioning and team meetings this week. He would be eligible to play against the Atlanta Falcons Nov. 23.

Sam YoungSep 17 09:33a

Jacksonville Jaguars OT Sam Young was named the starter at right tackle, and C Luke Bowanko will start at center in Week 3.

Matt BosherSep 17 09:03a

Atlanta Falcons P Matt Bosher signed a five-year contract extension with the team. LS Josh X. Harris was signed to a four-year extension as well.

Brian UrlacherSep 17 03:43a

With an injury to LB Mason Foster, rumors have the Tampa Bay Buccaneers pursuing free agent LB Brian Urlacher (Bears). Urlacher resigned Tuesday, Sept. 16, from his Fox Sports [ More ]

Jemea ThomasSep 17 03:23a

The Dallas Cowboys signed FB Nikita Whitlock to the practice squad on Tuesday, Sept. 16. The Cowboys cut CB Jemea Thomas to make room.

Andre EllingtonSep 17 02:43a

Arizona Cardinals RB Andre Ellington (foot) has soreness in his left foot but it has gone down considerably from a week ago. Cardinals coach Bruce Arians hopes Ellington can [ More ]

Adrian PetersonSep 17 02:13a

The Minnesota Vikings announced RB Adrian Peterson was placed on the Exempt/Commissioner's Permission list Wednesday, Sept. 17, which will keep him away from the team indefinitely.

Vernon DavisSep 16 11:53p

San Francisco 49ers TE Vernon Davis (ankle) has a deep bone bruise but no structural damage to his ankle, and the team is optimistic he will be able to play in Week 3.

Vance McDonaldSep 16 11:33p

San Francisco 49ers TE Vance McDonald's (knee) MRI and X-ray results on his right knee came back negative Tuesday, Sept. 16, and he said the injury is just a day-to-day thing.

Carson PalmerSep 16 11:03p

Arizona Cardinals QB Carson Palmer's (shoulder) timetable to return from a nerve injury in his shoulder could vary greatly, according to head coach Bruce Arians. 'It takes some time,' [ More ]

Jordy NelsonSep 16 10:56p

Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers has targeted WR Jordy Nelson 30 times in two games so far this year. Rodgers has never targeted one of his wideouts more [ More ]

John AbrahamSep 16 10:13p

Arizona Cardinals LB John Abraham (concussion) did not pass his concussion tests Tuesday, Sept. 16, according to head coach Bruce Arians. Abraham will try to pass the tests again Wednesday.

Carson PalmerSep 16 09:33p

Arizona Cardinals QB Carson Palmer (shoulder) will receive medical opinions on how to accelerate the healing process of the injured nerve in his shoulder, according to head coach Bruce Arians.

Josh GordonSep 16 09:23p

Cleveland Browns WR Josh Gordon had his season-long suspension officially cut to 10 games Tuesday, Sept. 16. He could also avoid serving the mandatory two-game suspension for his DWI [ More ]

Justin JonesSep 16 07:33p

The Kansas City Chiefs signed free-agent TE Justin Jones (Patriots) to an undisclosed deal Tuesday, Sept. 16.

L. WashingtonSep 16 07:03p

The New York Giants re-signed WR Travis Harvey to their practice squad and signed free-agent WR L'Damian Washington (49ers) to their practice squad Tuesday, Sept. 16.

Chris SmithSep 16 06:53p

The Jacksonville Jaguars re-signed LB Chris Smith to their practice squad Tuesday, Sept. 16.

Isaiah FreySep 16 06:33p

Chicago Bears CB Isaiah Frey and WR Rashad Ross were signed from the practice squad Tuesday, Sept. 16.

Matthew MulliganSep 16 06:23p

The Chicago Bears released TE Matthew Mulligan Tuesday, Sept. 16.

Shaun DraughnSep 16 06:23p

The Chicago Bears placed RB Shaun Draughn and WR Chris X. Williams on no-recall waivers Tuesday, Sept. 16.

Arthur JonesSep 16 06:13p

Indianapolis Colts DT Arthur Jones (ankle) is likely to be out two to four weeks after suffering a high ankle sprain in Week 3 Monday, Sept. 15.

Walter ThurmondSep 16 06:03p

New York Giants WR Julian Talley and LB Dan Fox were promoted to the team's active roster from the practice squad Tuesday, Sept. 16, filling the spots left by [ More ]

Preston ParkerSep 16 06:03p

New York Giants WR Preston Parker could see more snaps with WR Jerrell Jernigan recently placed on Reserve/Injured. Parker caught one pass for 29 yards against the Arizona Cardinals [ More ]

Nevin LawsonSep 16 05:53p

The Detroit Lions placed CB Nevin Lawson (toes) on Reserve/Injured and signed free-agents CB Danny Gorrer (Buccaneers) and LB Julian Stanford (Lions) to their practice squad Tuesday, Sept. 16.

Mike PounceySep 16 05:32p

Miami Dolphins C Mike Pouncey (hip) thinks he's healthy enough to return to action in Week 3 against the Kansas City Chiefs. 'I feel like I can play,' Pouncey [ More ]

Victor ButlerSep 16 05:32p

The Arizona Cardinals signed free-agent LB Victor Butler (Saints) and released LB Marcus Benard and P Drew Butler Tuesday, Sept. 16.

Zach BrownSep 16 05:23p

Tennessee Titans LB Zach Brown (pectoral) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list Tuesday, Sept. 16.

James AndersonSep 16 05:23p

The Tennessee Titans signed free-agent LB James Anderson (Patriots) to their active roster Tuesday, Sept. 16. The Titans believe Anderson can play an inside linebacker position, where they are thin.

Walter ThurmondSep 16 05:13p

New York Giants CB Walter Thurmond (pectoral) has been placed on season-ending Reserve/Injured Tuesday, Sept. 16.

Doug MartinSep 16 05:13p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Doug Martin (knee) was limited at practice for the second straight day Tuesday, Sept. 16.

Jerrel JerniganSep 16 05:03p

New York Giants WR Jerrel Jernigan (foot) has been placed on season-ending Reserve/Injured Tuesday, Sept. 16.

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2014 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group