Johnnie Gray: Post-game review

Backup cornerbacks play big against Lions; key to stopping Romo, Cowboys receivers

Last week I mentioned the importance of corners Jarrett Bush, Tramon Williams and Frank Walker having to play well against the talented Lions receivers. On Thursday, Bush finally put it all together.

Right away Lions quarterback Jon Kitna went after Bush, but he kept his ground on the snap of the ball and didn't give in to the receiver. Bush got the jam, turn and ran, but most importantly, he got his head around and was able to make a play on the ball.

Williams had his opportunity by knocking down a crucial third down pass and showcased his speed by running down Aveion Cason on a kickoff return. His hustle ability not only prevented a touchdown, but the Lions were only able to come away with field goal.

Walker had some opportunities to get some playing time in when cornerback Charles Woodson hurt his toe, and the nickel and dime packages had to make some readjustments.

Backup safety, Charlie Peprah saw action in the second half when Aaron Rouse sprained his knee. A few weeks back coach McCarthy mentioned that he wanted to be able to utilize every player on his roster, and against the Lions, the only player that didn't get in was backup quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Everyone on the defensive side of the ball contributed without any dropoff in intensity. At this point in the season when everyone is nursing some type of injury, it is imperative to be able to have quality backups that can step in at anytime when a starter goes down. The Packers will need this type of talent late in the year when a healthier team is more dangerous in the playoffs than the team with a better record.

Showdown in Big D
This week will be the challenge for the Green Bay Packer defense. What the Lions couldn't do early the Dallas Cowboys will surely do. The Lions had the running game going and if receiver Calvin Johnson would have made some catches early, the game may have turned out differently. You cannot have Dallas run the ball as the Lions did on Thursday. Julius Jones and Marion "The Barbarian" Barber are relentless and punishing as running backs.

Quarterback Tony Romo and his cocky but experienced receivers will not drop balls because of the hype of this game. These guys live for this. The defense must rally to the ball carrier on every play and just like last week, the technique of the defensive backs must be flawless. No bad habits can flair up in this game.

The Cowboys love to get the ball over the middle to the their tight end Jason Witten and Romo, ala Brett Favre, has a quick release. When the Packers are playing a Cover 2 defense, look for linebacker Nick Barnett to drop off into the hole, something we haven't seen yet this year and neither has Romo. The Cowboys have seen linebacker A. J. Hawk on film dropping off in coverage against Kansas City in defense of Tony Gonzalez, so this would be a new wrinkle.

There's not much more to add, but to control your emotions, don't give them anything cheap and leave no doubt about who is the best team in the NFC.

Johnnie Gray

Former safety Johnnie Gray played for the Packers from 1975-84. He was inducted into the Packer Hall of Fame in 1994. E-mail him at

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