The Packers are in no shape to provide stiff resistance to the New York Jets' prolific running attack Sunday.
Not only is Green Bay's linebacker corps a mess with the double whammy this week of losing veteran backup Brady Poppinga to injured reserve and also losing right-side starter Brad Jones for the rest of the season, but also its defensive line is dangerously thin.
Jenkins missed Sunday night's win over the Minnesota Vikings after he suffered a calf strain in a pregame warm-up an hour before kickoff. Pickett tried playing on a badly sprained right ankle but dropped out in the first quarter.
"Well, we're going to show up and play (Sunday)," head coach Mike McCarthy said. "I don't know exactly who's going to be out there yet, but we'll be ready to go, I can promise you that."
The Green Bay coaches consider the Jets' 1-2 backfield punch of LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene to be the best run offense the Packers have seen halfway through the season.
Green Bay just allowed a season-high 196 rushing yards against Adrian Peterson and the Vikings.
--OLB Brad Jones went on injured reserve Wednesday. The right-side starter aggravated a shoulder injury in Sunday's win over the Minnesota Vikings and will need surgery. Undrafted rookie Frank Zombo is penciled in as the short-term replacement.
--WR Donald Driver continues to be bothered by a thigh injury, which has lingered the last few weeks. Driver didn't practice Wednesday. He missed two days of practice last week before playing on a limited basis against the Vikings and not having a catch for the first time since the 2001 season. Chances are he will play Sunday at the New York Jets, but his role could be diminished again.
--FS Nick Collins is on a limited practice schedule again this week as the starter copes with a chronic knee injury that tends to flare up on him in each game. Collins should be OK to man his spot Sunday.
--RT Bryan Bulaga appears safe to make a fourth straight start at right tackle with veteran Mark Tauscher still on the mend from an early-season shoulder sprain. Bulaga, the team's first-round draft pick this year, had a solid performance as the Packers didn't allow a sack of Aaron Rodgers by the Vikings last time out.
--T/G Marshall Newhouse returned to practice Wednesday after suffering a back injury last week. The rookie, who is backing up guard Daryn Colledge and tackle Chad Clifton on the left side, has yet to be activated for a game.
A depleted Packers defense will be on the spot against the Jets' run-heavy offense. Key injuries on the defensive line and throughout the linebacker group leaves the Packers vulnerable against New York's two-headed rushing monster of LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene. Green Bay has been gashed for 150 and 196 rushing yards in its last two outings and now gets the league's No. 2-rated run offense, which is averaging 159.2 yards on the ground. So, the hints Jets head coach Rex Ryan dropped this week that an expanded role is in order for quarterback Mark Sanchez in the passing game probably won't amount to anything if the Packers can't stop the run. When he does drop back, Sanchez has been hard to fluster with only two interceptions and being sacked just nine times, so the Packers may not be as reliant with their pressure packages. Versatile receiver Brad Smith has to be accounted for as a situational runner and quarterback. Aaron Rodgers and the rest of the Green Bay offense can expect a heavy diet of exotic pass rushes from the Jets, who will be at full strength on defense after their bye week. Rodgers will have to be on with his hot reads when Ryan brings the pressure from all angles, including with safety Jim Leonhard, a Wisconsin native who has no love lost for the Packers. The Jets have been susceptible to giving up big chunks of passing yards, but cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie are as disruptive as they come in the passing lanes. Turnovers could be telling, what with the Jets' boasting of a league-leading plus-10 in the takeaway-giveaway ratio and the Packers struggling at minus-1.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH
Packers WRs vs. Jets CBs Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie. All-Pro Revis apparently is fully recovered from a hamstring injury and undoubtedly will be motivated to have a big game after he was passed over for the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award that went to Packers cornerback Charles Woodson last season. The likely matchup for Revis is shadowing Donald Driver in the slot, assuming the Green Bay veteran will give it a go for meaningful snaps on a lingering thigh injury. Cromartie's tremendous size (6-2, 210 pounds) and lock-down tenacity in press coverage could make for a quiet day for Greg Jennings. If Jennings and Driver are taken out of the equation by the Jets' superb corner tandem, James Jones looms as Aaron Rodgers' favorite target again after Jones had four catches for 107 yards in the win over the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday night. "We pride ourselves on saying we're one of the best (receiving) groups in the league. It's time to show it now," Jones said. "It's man on man, them versus us, and we've got to go out there and make plays."
--Packers OLB Clay Matthews vs. Jets RT Damien Woody and LT D'Brickashaw Ferguson. Jets head coach Rex Ryan expects the Packers to target 12-year veteran Woody by lining up NFL sacks leader Matthews (8.5) exclusively on the left side. It's a matchup that favors Matthews, especially if his nagging hamstring injury has improved so he can speed-rush at will against the heavy Woody, a former Pro Bowl center. Still, defensive coordinator Dom Capers likes to move Matthews around to keep the offensive line honest. The flexibility of rookie Frank Zombo, who will fill in for injured starter Brad Jones, to play both outside linebacker spots could pit Matthews from time to time against the athletic Ferguson.
The season-ending loss of right-side linebacker Brad Jones because of an aggravated shoulder injury means the Packers will count on undrafted rookie Frank Zombo to fill the void in the starting lineup. Zombo made two starts at the position earlier in the season and has been productive on occasion with 22 tackles and two sacks. ... The playing status of starting defensive ends Cullen Jenkins (calf) and Ryan Pickett (ankle) for Sunday's game at the New York Jets won't be known until the weekend. Jenkins missed the last game, and Pickett could hold up for only a few plays before being held out the final three quarters. Second-year man Jarius Wynn and rookie C.J. Wilson played well in the absences of Pickett and Jenkins, so the Packers would be covered if they needed the young duo to be replacement starters Sunday. Yet, Green Bay would be considerably strapped for depth behind starting nose tackle B.J. Raji, Wilson and Wynn, though it did claim former Jets nose tackle Howard Green off waivers Wednesday.
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