Behind Enemy Lines: Six Matchups To Watch

We tell you about some of the big matchups that will determine the winner of Sunday's game at Carolina. Leading off: Randall Cobb against the Panthers' kick coverage, the Packers' cornerbacks against Steve Smith and the Packers' tackles against the Panthers' rushers.

Packers KR/PR Randall Cobb vs. Panthers kick coverage

Cobb, a second-round draft pick, had a remarkable pro debut in the Sept. 8 win over New Orleans. Not only did he have a nifty catch-and-run touchdown on offense, but he tied an NFL record with a 108-yard kickoff return to paydirt. More fireworks could be in the offing from the explosive Cobb against Carolina's special teams, which surrendered a game-winning 89-yard punt return for a touchdown by Arizona rookie Patrick Peterson in the fourth quarter Sunday.

Packers CBs Tramon Williams and Sam Shields vs. Panthers WR Steve Smith

Williams, who emerged as the team's top shutdown corner last season, isn't a given to play because of a shoulder bruise that knocked him out of the opener. He didn't practice on Wednesday or Thursday, though coach Mike McCarthy said Williams could play even if he doesn't practice all week. Even if Williams does go, Carolina figures to try to get veteran playmaker Smith matched up against Shields, Green Bay's second-year nickel back. Shields was productive as an undrafted rookie but had an up-and-down 2011 debut against the Saints' pass-heavy attack. According to Pro Football Focus, Shields gave up six completions on eight targets for 85 yards and a touchdown, though he broke up two passes and had a shot at an interception. Shields usually lines up on the right side of the defense, which is where Smith exploited Patrick Peterson, the Cardinals' first-round draft pick, and caught both of his touchdowns Sunday, including a 77-yard strike from rookie Cam Newton as part of an eight-catch, 178-yard day.

Packers LT Chad Clifton and RT Bryan Bulaga vs. Panthers DEs Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy

The 35-year-old Clifton and second-year Bulaga did a solid job as the bookends to protect Aaron Rodgers (two sacks) against a decent amount of pressure applied by the Saints in Week 1. They could feel a little more heat from Carolina's new zone-blitz scheme, which went after Arizona's Kevin Kolb relentlessly. Speed rushers Johnson and Hardy each had a sack, and Hardy also forced a fumble. Johnson is listed as the right end and Hardy the left end on the depth chart, but they move around frequently.

Packers WR Greg Jennings vs. Panthers CB Chris Gamble

The Panthers had Gamble shadow Arizona's Larry Fitzgerald everywhere he went on the field last Sunday and it's reasonable to suspect the Panthers will put him on Jennings this week. All things considered, Gamble, an eighth-year pro from Ohio State, did a solid job on Fitzgerald, holding him to three catches for 62 yards while drawing praise from coach Ron Rivera. Gamble, with 24 career interceptions, is one off the team record of 25 by Eric Davis.

Packers blitz package vs. Panthers offensive line

Although the Panthers gave up four sacks last week, they actually did pretty well in pass protection. Some of those were coverage sacks or Cam Newton holding on to the ball too long and not wanting to make a play. The Cardinals did throw everything imaginable at the Panthers and you can expect the Packers will do the same in an attempt to rattle Newton and force him to make mistakes. Carolina has a terrific left tackle in Jordan Gross

Packers OLBs Clay Matthews and Erik Walden vs. Panthers QB Cam Newton

The Packers want to get after Newton, just like they want to pressure every quarterback. But facing Newton is a lot like facing Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger or Philadelphia's Michael Vick in that if the outside linebackers pressure wildly upfield, Newton will dart around them and break contain, putting him in position to either extend the play or move the chains with his feet. "You have to keep your rush lane integrity, that goes for any quarterback," Matthews said. "But with a quarterback like him, you definitely have to be a little more aware of understanding where he can escape, roll out and make a move."


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