Packers-Lions: Key matchups

Green Bay's coverage units need drastic improvement

Packers special teams vs. KR Eddie Drummond
The Packers' coverage units on special teams were the laughingstock of the league during the preseason. The team ranked last among the 32 teams by allowing an average of 30.6 yards per kickoff return.

Lions return ace Eddie Drummond undoubtedly is champing at the bit. When healthy, Drummond has had his way on returns against the Packers his first three years in the league, bringing back 20 kickoffs for an average of 26.1 yards.

"The challenge of stopping Drummond is instense," said Packers coach Mike Sherman. "Not only is he a good one, but they do a great job of blocking for him. They have an excellent scheme. He has tremendous acceleration. If you break down too far away from him, he's going to leave you standing in your shoes. We have to do an excellent job to corral him."

Drummond was one of the few bright spots for the Lions in last year's 28-point loss to the Packers at Ford Field, returning six kickoffs for an average of 30.3 yards and two punts for an average of 24 yards.

Expect K Ryan Longwell and P B.J. Sander to try to minimize the damage Drummond can inflict by driving the ball high and angling it to both sides.

"The biggest thing is you don't let him get comfortable," Longwell said. "The only way to do that is to move the ball around. So, we'll try to move the ball around and see if we can (disrupt him). Moving the kicks is a part of the puzzle we'll try to be effective at. You don't want to be a highlight for him."

Lions WR Roy Williams vs. Packers LCB Ahmad Carroll or Joey Thomas
Williams is firmly established as the Lions' No. 1 receiver, playing the flanker position. If they hope to get more big plays out of their West Coast offense with coordinator Ted Tollner calling plays, it is likely Williams will play a key role. Carroll is coming off a 19-penalty season, though, Thomas, who missed practices for most the preseason with injuries, may start ahead of Carroll.

Lions LT Jeff Backus vs. Packers RDE Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila
Backus struggled in pass protection during the preseason and Gbaja-Biamila was among the NFL leaders in QB sacks with 13.5 last season.

However, KGB strained his back in practice this week. He also sustained a neck stinger in a preseason game on Aug. 25 that kept him from playing in the preseason finale Sept. 1.

Lions CB Dre' Bly vs. Packers QB Brett Favre
Bly is a two-time Pro Bowler but he didn't play the entire preseason at a Pro Bowl level. If he isn't at the top of his game - or takes too many gambles - Favre could make him pay.

Bly strained his back during practice this week, so look for Favre to go at him early and often.


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