Green & Gold


Questions ahead for McCarthy, offense

Leader Photo by Greg Mellis Head coach Mike McCarthy and quarterback Aaron Rodgers will work next season without Tom Clements, the associate head coach for offense, who is leaving the team to pursue other interests.

Leader Photo by Greg Mellis Wide receiver Jordy Nelson, who played in the NFC championship game with broken ribs, was one of several Packers who dealt with significant injuries this season. The offense next year will be without Tom Clements, the associate head coach for offense, who coach Mike McCarthy said Thursday was leaving to pursue other interests.

Ty Montgomery is staying at running back with the Green Bay Packers, and he’s getting a jersey number more appropriate for the position.

Montgomery, who wore No. 88 this season, will spend the offseason preparing to be in the backfield full-time, coach Mike McCarthy said Thursday.

The switch epitomized the scrambling that the Packers had to do all season to cope with a litany of injuries. While Montgomery played running back in high school, he played receiver in college at Stanford.

“He’s a running back, so he wants to change his number and that’s the way we’re going,” McCarthy said at Lambeau Field, where he held his season-ending news conference.

The Packers always had designs on using Montgomery in some all-purpose role when he was drafted in 2015, similar to how they use receiver Randall Cobb at times. Injuries to Eddie Lacy and James Starks necessitated a dramatic change.


Rodgers unable to pull injury-riddled Packers off the mat

All afternoon, Aaron Rodgers watched a stream of teammates limp off the field with injuries.

It got so bad toward the end that Green Bay's star quarterback had Letroy Guion, the starting nose tackle, taking snaps at guard.

Rodgers kept his composure throughout the Packers' 44-21 loss to the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC championship game Sunday, but his emotions were raw when asked about Jordy Nelson, who played with broken ribs.

"Yeah, I'm so proud of Jordy," Rodgers said. "I mean it was incredible that he was out there."

Rodgers nearly cried. Standing at the podium, he lowered his head, looked away and paused 10 seconds.
Next question.

"I felt like we kind of hurt ourselves in the first half more than they really stopped us," Rodgers said. "They have a good football team. There's a reason they're moving on to the Super Bowl. They're going to be tough to stop."


Injured WRs could be game-time decisions

The Green Bay Packers might not know the status of injured receivers Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams and Geronimo Allison until just before the NFC championship game on Sunday.

Coach Mike McCarthy said on Friday that all three receivers would be “given every chance to play in the game.”

The Packers didn’t have on-field work on Friday, when all three players were listed as questionable on the injury report.

The team may make a decision on the receivers after the final practice of the week on Saturday, though McCarthy said that it was possible that at least one or two players may be pushed back to just before the game on Sunday in Atlanta against the Falcons.

Nelson was limited in practice this week as he recovers from broken ribs. He led the NFL with 14 touchdown catches.


Leaky pass defenses to be tested on Sunday

The Green Bay Packers’ blueprint to slow down Atlanta in the NFC championship game focuses on turning the high-octane Falcons into a one-dimensional offense.

It sounds simple enough. But this plan could be tough to execute for the Packers with their injury issues in the secondary. It’s tough enough to contain All-Pros Matt Ryan and Julio Jones with a healthy defense.

Linebacker Clay Matthews is eager to take on the next test when the Packers visit the Georgia Dome on Sunday.

“I think that’s easier said than done. But that’s ultimately what we strive for each and every week,” Matthews said about slowing down Atlanta’s fifth-ranked rushing attack to create favorable pass-rushing situations. “It’s about stopping the run and getting after the quarterback.”

The Falcons’ own leaky pass defense will also be stressed.


Packers flip script, experience last-second playoff win

For once after a game, Green Bay Packers kicker Mason Crosby felt sore.

He got mobbed by giddy teammates after hitting the 51-yard field goal as time expired to beat the Dallas Cowboys.

At one point, Crosby had to beg hulking left tackle David Bakhtiari from trying to pick up the kicker for a victory parade.

After getting eliminated from the playoffs on the last play in each of the previous three seasons, the Packers experienced last-second elation in the 34-31 win over Dallas on Sunday.

Green Bay will face the Atlanta Falcons on the road in the NFC championship game on Sunday.

“Usually after a game, I don’t feel beat up,” a smiling Crosby said on Monday. “We play a kid’s game, and those moments like that, just kind of bring that (joy) out of us.”


For Rodgers, Hail Mary is more than a prayer

Not so long ago, it was a one-in-a-million play, the sort of thing a player or fan would pray about.

These days, Aaron Rodgers is turning the Hail Mary into touchdowns — and doing so at such a rate that his high-in-the-sky heaves into the end zone feel more like routine and less like a miracle.

Three times over the past 13 months, including last week against the Giants, the Packers quarterback has dropped back at the end of a half, reared back and thrown the ball high toward the end zone. The ball has dropped on the trajectory of a javelin from the sky and landed in a Green Bay receiver’s hands.

The plays have resulted in touchdowns no one could’ve expected, though maybe now, they should.

“Because he’s done it before, you’re thinking, ‘You never know,’” said Roger Staubach, the Hall of Fame Cowboys quarterback who famously coined the term ‘Hail Mary’ for the desperation heave he used to beat Minnesota in 1975.


Steady McCarthy steers Packers to playoff power

For all the postseason appearances that the Green Bay Packers have made in coach Mike McCarthy’s tenure, this year’s run to the playoffs might be the most unique.

The Packers were considered a likely Super Bowl contender in the preseason. They look like a Super Bowl contender now going into the divisional round game on Sunday against Dallas.

In between, the middle of the season resembled a roller-coaster ride. But the Packers are peaking at the right time.

They haven’t lost since falling to 4-6 following a 42-24 defeat to Washington in Week 11. Just like other teams, Green Bay had to make adjustments after losing key players.

They got healthier on defense. They have quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who is playing perhaps the best football of his career.


Pass game options grow for Packers in playoffs

The options for quarterback Aaron Rodgers in the Green Bay Packers’ passing game are growing at just the right time.

It’s not just Jordy Nelson making the big plays as the Packers roll into an NFC playoff game on Sunday against the New York Giants with a six-game winning streak.

Davante Adams capped his breakout regular season with three touchdown catches over the last two games, giving him 12 for the season.

Athletic 6-foot-4 tight end Jared Cook is a matchup problem in coverage. Undrafted rookie Geronimo Allison has turned into a late-season find with eight catches for 157 yards and a score over his last two games.

Receiver-turned-running back Ty Montgomery remains a threat to catch passes out of the backfield. Fullback Aaron Ripkowski made his first career touchdown catch last week against Detroit.


Packers look to keep streak going

Aaron Rodgers backed up his confidence-boosting “run-the-table” statement with a remarkable six-game run of quarterback play that helped get the Green Bay Packers in the playoffs.

In the locker room, or on sideline conversations in practice, Rodgers’ attitude didn’t change. He remained steady, and believed in his teammates whether they were two games under .500 or NFC North champions.

Winners of six straight games, the Packers hope to keep their hot streak going Sunday when they meet the New York Giants in an NFC playoff game.

“The biggest compliment I could give him, he is coming in here every single week and been the same dude,” center Corey Linsley said Wednesday night after practice. “No matter when we were 4-3 or 4-6 or where we are now, he’s never changed who he is. I think having that kind of consistency, with your leader is huge.”

A strong arm and uncanny knack to extend plays helps a lot, too.


NFC North race goes down to the wire

It’s not the biggest game in the history of Ford Field, though it’s probably the biggest that’s actually involved the Detroit Lions.

Motown’s new football stadium opened in 2002, and since then, it has hosted a Super Bowl and a Final Four. The Lions, however, have never had an opportunity in the building quite like this weekend, when they host the Green Bay Packers on Sunday night with a chance to win Detroit’s first division title since 1993.

Whoever wins this game takes the NFC North, and whoever loses could be out of the playoffs.

“I can’t wait,” Lions receiver Golden Tate said. “I’m excited for this team. I’m excited for this city. We have a great opportunity to do something that hasn’t been done in a long time.”


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