At 1-1, the Packers are looking to improve their playoff prospects with a win over Cincinnati. This game can be penciled in as a “necessary” win, in the sense that there is no conceivable reason for the Packers to lose.
The Bengals are starting over with a new offensive coordinator. While this may hamper defensive game-planning by adding the element of unpredictability, defensive coordinator Dom Capers has been in his role long enough to know what to expect from Andy Dalton and the Cincy offense.
The headlines in Wisconsin this week have focused on the injury report. Mike Daniels, who dominated the Seattle game in week one, may be out with his hamstring injury caused by the Falcons.
As insurance, the Packers have re-signed Ricky Jean-Francois, the veteran defensive tackle cut after the preseason. Kenny Clark’s outstanding play against Atlanta gives some hope for a Daniels-less defense.
Receivers Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb are two of the bigger names on the list, Nelson has been practicing, whereas Cobb has been sidelined. Both will be gametime decisions.
Wide receiver is one position where depth is not a concern. Geronimo Allison returned from suspension, Trevor Davis and Jeff Janis are capable backups,and of course the multitalented Ty Montgomery can moonlight as a receiver as well.
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The Falcons game was not a positive one for tight end Martellus Bennett. A terrible call on a perfectly legal pick play wiped out what could have been a crucial first down, and several drops limited his effectiveness. There has been speculation of an unreported injury, but receivers coach Edgar Bennett attributed the drops to “fundamentals.”
Tackle Bryan Bulaga practiced on a limited basis, as he recovers from an ankle injury and flu-like symptoms. Left tackle David Bakhtiari missed the Atlanta game with a hamstring injury and will be a gametime decision Sunday.
Linebacker Kenny Perry suffered a hand injury, which will require surgery, but the return of outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks should offset Perry’s injury. Perry’s return date is unknown.
Safety Kentrell Brice and cornerback Davon House both left the Atlanta game with hamstring injuries on the artificial turf. Rookie cornerback Kevin King and safety Josh Jones may see extended minutes in this game.
Run-stopping inside linebacker Jake Ryan is being evaluated for a concussion, as well as a hamstring injury. Ryan will likely be a gametime decision.
Sunday’s game may feature Clay Matthews at inside linebacker against Cincinnati, Matthews needs one more sack to become the franchise’s all-time leader in sacks, surpassing Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila’s 74.5.
Rookie Montravius Adams may finally see game action at defensive tackle. Adams will be a big part of the rushing defense, giving Clark, Daniels, and Jean-Francois crucial support as the weather turns colder and teams run the ball more.
The reeling Bengals should present a prime opportunity for the Packers to gain a win at Lambeau. With a divisional matchup looming against the archrival Bears next Thursday, the Packers will look to get healthy and get back on a winning track as the quest for the Super Bowl continues.