Packers-Cowboys: Matchups to watch

Rodgers vs. Cowboys secondary; Packers linebackers vs. Witten; Kampman vs. Colombo

Packers QB Aaron Rodgers vs. Cowboys secondary
After getting a semi-taste in a relief role last season, Rodgers gets his wish by trying his hand against the Dallas defense for a full game. Rodgers' two-plus quarters of action at Texas Stadium after Brett Favre was hurt apparently was a sign of things to come when he finally was anointed Favre's successor this season.

Rodgers completed 18 of 26 passes for 201 yards and a touchdown without an interception in nearly leading Green Bay to a comeback win after it trailed by 17 points early. He has been exquisitely sharp in first two NFL starts, going 42-of-60 for 506 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions.

With little ground game to speak of at Detroit on Sunday, particularly with Ryan Grant still nursing a sore hamstring, most of the offense was placed on Rodgers' right arm. He threw the ball 38 times. Even more could be in the offing in this anticipated shootout. Head coach Mike McCarthy doesn't want to become one-dimensional, but unless Grant is back up to speed with his leg and the Packers can ground out some significant yards early, the play-calling tendencies could be decidedly in the mistake-free Rodgers' favor as he functions with a dynamic corps of receivers against the Roy Williams-less secondary for Dallas.

Packers linebackers vs. Cowboys TE Jason Witten
Green Bay's only significant acquisition in the offseason was the free-agent signing of former St. Louis LB Brandon Chillar. He was brought in to challenge incumbent Brady Poppinga at the strong-side position, but Poppinga didn't relent by having a solid preseason.

Poppinga, though, is a weak link for the defense in pass coverage against tight ends. So, the arrival of Witten to Lambeau Field on Sunday seems to be as good a time as any to let Chillar earn his money and be on the field for some meaningful snaps.

The Packers have periodically broken from convention with their 4-3 front and deployed four linebackers. Witten loves working the middle of the field and exploited the Green Bay defense last year with six catches for 67 yards, so creating clutter in that area with some exotic formations seems plausible.

Second-year Aaron Rouse, one of the Packers' more instinctive defenders, also could be called on to try to neutralize Witten as the injury replacement for strong safety Atari Bigby.

Packers DE Aaron Kampman vs. Cowboys OT Marc Colombo
Colombo is the weak link on the Cowboys' line, and Kampman is simply one of the league's top pass rushers. He has 30 sacks since 2006, more than anybody in the NFC. His goal on Sunday will be to pressure quarterback Tony Romo. Colombo must be up to the task.

Packers WR Greg Jennings vs. Cowboys CBs
Terence Newman should be back in the starting lineup at cornerback, replacing Adam Jones and giving the Cowboys a boost. Jones is a good player, but he takes too many chances, and he is too aggressive, making him prone to get beat by double moves.

Jennings is emerging as one of the top young receivers in the game and certainly knows how to go deep with the best of them. He has 11 catches for 258 yards, averaging 23.5 yards per catch so far this year.


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