Hot potato

Packers working more on ball security this week after fumbles against Vikings

Even at 4-0, their best start since 1998, the Packers are far from flawless.

Ball security, or lack thereof, was at the top of a good-sized list of concerns in the aftermath of Green Bay's 23-16 win at Minnesota on Sunday.

"(A) sore point with me today. We had the ball on the ground five times. That's unacceptable," coach Mike McCarthy lamented Monday.

The Packers had four fumbles, two of which resulted in takeaways by the Vikings.

A would-be fifth miscue occurred in the fourth quarter, when fullback Korey Hall had the ball knocked out on a pass from Brett Favre. The officials ruled it an incomplete throw, however, saying Hall hadn't established possession before he lost the football. The Vikings, who would have scored a touchdown on the recovery, weren't allowed to challenge the ruling.

Three of Green Bay's fumbles were on the receiving end, including one by tight end Donald Lee inside the Minnesota 10-yard line for a turnover.

The other Packers giveaway came late in the game when they were trying to run out the clock inside of two minutes. Halfback Ryan Grant mishandled the handoff from Favre, and the Vikings took over near midfield needing a touchdown to tie.

"It looked technical," McCarthy said. "Even on the film, it looks like the back didn't make a big enough pocket because the ball never got to his body."

Green Bay held on for the victory when a tipped pass from Kelly Holcomb was intercepted by Atari Bigby.

Receiver Greg Jennings and third-down back Vernand Morency also had fumbles but were spared turnovers.

The Packers spend a good amount of time on ball security in practice each week, including a drill involving all players in which the ball carrier must run and protect the ball from a couple of teammates grabbing and yanking at it.

"We do them Wednesdays and Fridays. We'll do them Wednesday, Thursday and Friday this week because that's just carelessness," McCarthy said. "We had a couple instances where guys just didn't have the ball high and tight, and we're not happy about it. You can't play like that."


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