Defense thirsts for sacks

Packers have gone two straight games without getting to the opponents' quarterback

Not since Weeks 14 and 15 of the 2005 season had the Packers defense experienced a dry spell like the one it's enduring at this stage of the 2007 campaign.

Green Bay's reputable pass rush hasn't recorded a quarterback sack in two straight games. To endure a three-game shutout would be unfathomable.

The sack-starved unit, which is tied for ninth in the league with 32, seemingly is a good bet to make things right again Sunday. The opponent is St. Louis.

Undermanned across the offensive line since the start of the season, the Rams have yielded 40 sacks, tied for fifth most in the league. Worse yet, the leaky blocking resulted in serious injuries for quarterbacks Marc Bulger (concussion) and Gus Frerotte (shoulder).

Bulger appears ready to return to the starting lineup after a two-game absence. When he's played, Bulger has often been exposed to inescapable pressure. He's been taken down 29 times in nine games.

"If the opportunity presents itself, we'll be excited, (to) get an opportunity to get after the quarterback. That's what I do," said Packers defensive end Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, second on the team with 9.5 sacks.

Gbaja-Biamila and Co., though, haven't been able to get home the last two outings, against Dallas and Oakland.

The Packers have generated their pass rush primarily with the line, which has 30 1/2 sacks. Middle linebacker Nick Barnett, who has 1.5, is the only non-lineman with a sack.

The recent drop-off in reaching the quarterback has to be partly attributable to the health of what was a deep line. Tackles Johnny Jolly and Colin Cole have gone on injured reserve in the last three weeks.

Pro Bowl end Aaron Kampman, meanwhile, was added to the injury report Thursday. Kampman, who has a team-high 11 sacks, suffered back spasms in the jog-through at the start of practice and dropped out to receive treatment.

Defensive coordinator Bob Sanders is finding ways to compensate for the line's newfound struggles in the pass rush. He employed an assortment of linebacker and safety blitzes against Oakland and could be compelled to do so again Sunday with a decimated group on the other side of the ball.


Packer Report Top Stories