Road block ahead

Packers' zone-blocking offense will be tested by Vikings top-ranked rush defense

How good is Green Bay's rushing attack? The Packers will get their biggest test of the season Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings, who enter the game with the league's best rush defense.

Spearheaded by defensive tackles Pat Williams and Kevin Williams, the Vikings are giving up a league-best 69 yards rushing per game this season, or 3.1 yards per carry. On top of that, the Vikings (4-4) lead the league in most negative plays created with 37 rushes stopped behind the line of scrimmage, four negative passes, and 21 quarterback sacks.

Minnesota's defense, ranked sixth overall in the league, has held opponents to 20 or less points in eight of its last nine games. Kevin Williams leads the Vikings with 5 sacks and also has recovered a fumble for a touchdown. Defensive end Darrion Scott has 3.5 sacks.

Green Bay's offense, ranked 11th in the league, has given up just 15 negative rushes - tops in the NFL - four negative passes, and 11 quarterback sacks. The Packers have rushed for between 121 yards and 203 yards in each of their last four games, but will face a major challenge in the Metrodome.

"Well, it starts inside. Kevin and Pat Williams … it really starts with those two guys, and you can see the way they structure their defense and what they try to do with their linebackers in their pressure schemes, the way they go about it," said Packers coach Mike McCarthy. "They try to get you to single block those guys. As you watch them on film, you can't single block them. They are clearly the best tandem of tackles we've played to this point. Frankly, with our emphasis in the lead-zone schemes and the cut blocking, last week wasn't our best day in that particular area. That's our emphasis for this week. We need to cut 'em all day. To stand up and go toe to toe with those guys doesn't make a whole lot of sense."

Green Bay's young interior linemen will especially be challenged by the 6-foot-5, 311-pound Kevin Williams and the 6-3, 317-pound Pat Williams.

"You have to be fundamentally sound with your technique," said 6-2, 304-pound center Scott Wells. "Pat Williams is an imposing threat. He's a heavy-set guy, but he's quick, which is not very natural for a guy that big. He's explosive, quick, a great all-around player. A savvy vet. Kevin Williams is a good pass rusher as well. He's an explosive guy. Those two guys are the best two guys up front, as far as the front seven."

The New England Patriots, in their 31-7 victory over the Vikings in the Metrodome on Monday Night Football Oct. 30, had success spreading the offense out against the Vikings defense. The Patriots attacked Minnesota's weaker secondary and quarterback Tom Brady passed for 372 yards and four touchdowns.

While that strategy worked for the Patriots, McCarthy said that it may not necessarily work for the Packers, who are thin at the wide receiver position. But McCarthy went on to say that "there are things from that football game you can learn from, and it's part of our breakdown."

McCarthy said his linemen will have to do a better job of cut blocking in order to free up running backs Ahman Green and Noah Herron.

"You have a challenge every week," said rookie right guard Jason Spitz. "They have a lot of talent, especially those two guys on the inside. We've got our work cut out for us."

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