Notebook: Where Does Defense Turn?

Defensive coordinator Dom Capers has big decisions to make with injuries to Aaron Kampman and Al Harris; Packers Hall of Fame selects three inductees; and more as publisher Bill Huber cleans out his notebook on this abbreviated game week.

The season-ending knee injuries to Aaron Kampman and Al Harris came right when the Packers' defense had played some of its best football of the season in back-to-back wins over Dallas and San Francisco.

"In the last two games, I thought we had three pretty dominant halves," defensive coordinator Dom Capers said. "We didn't keep our foot on the accelerator during the second half last week but we had as good a first half as you're going to find."

But how do they adapt without their best pass rusher and one of the league's better cornerbacks?

"You're always looking at alternatives," Capers said. "‘What are we going to do if we didn't have this guy?' Invariably, it comes up. That's just the nature of the game. There's going to be injuries – some of them more critical than others. Unfortunately, we had two in a very short period of time."

At Kampman's left outside linebacker position, Capers could mix and match with rookie Brad Jones and Brady Poppinga. Jones started and played the whole game against Dallas, when Kampman and Poppinga were out with injuries. With a 15-pound advantage, Poppinga probably will get the call on running downs while the smooth Jones makes sense on passing downs.

"He's still a rookie, he's still learning," Capers said of Jones. "What you hope is the more reps that he gets, the more consistent he becomes. In these games, it's important if you've got 60, 65 plays, you better be able to play at a high level every play because you never know what play's going to make a difference in the game."

At least for this week, Jarrett Bush figures to be the nickel cornerback, which is a key role considering the Packers have played more than 60 percent of their defensive snaps with at least five defensive backs – including practically the entire game when the Lions came to Green Bay last month. Rookie Brandon Underwood probably will be the dime cornerback. Opposing offenses could force him onto the field by going with more four-receiver sets – like what San Francisco did last week.

Woodson's role

Almost the bigger question without Harris is how the Packers will use Charles Woodson.

Woodson has done it all on defense, from rushing the passer with frequent blitzes when lining up as a cornerback in the slot, to being the designated stopper against elite tight ends, to playing the traditional role of a cornerback against a wide receiver. With the Packers down an elite cover man, can they afford to take another out of the equation by blitzing?

"I don't know that it will really affect Charles," Capers said. "We're going to continue to utilize Charles' skills. You've seen over the last month – sometimes it's been different each week. That's one thing a guy like Charles gives you is he gives you flexibility. He's a bright guy and you feel pretty good about wherever you put him, whether it's outside, inside, matching him on the tight end."

One school of thought says the injuries might force Capers to scale back his schemes. The other school of thought is he might have to ratchet up the pressure, under the assumption that Bush and Underwood won't be able to hold up in coverage for an entire game.

The route Capers chooses will be based in large part on what the players can handle. Can Capers trust Bush or Underwood (or Josh Bell or Trevor Ford) to do their jobs, and will the rest of the secondary have faith in those new faces? Recall the defensive meltdown in the Metrodome in Week 4 against Minnesota, when Capers had to discard a lot of his pressures because of breakdowns in a secondary brought on by safety Atari Bigby's absence.

"You can't let just one guy or two just totally change (what you do on defense)," Capers said. "You've got to anticipate those things. As much as you don't want to ever deal with it, it's a fact of life. So, we've got to be able to move forward and go find a way to win football games."

Packers Hall of Fame

The Packers announced that Mark Chmura, Marv Fleming and Greg Koch will make up the Packers Hall of Fame's 40th group of inductees.

Chmura, a sixth-round pick in 1992, played tight end for the Packers from 1992 through 1999, starting 62 of 89 games during those eight seasons. He caught 188 passes for 2,253 yards and 17 touchdowns, helped lead the team to two Super Bowls and was voted to the Pro Bowl following the 1995, 1997 and 1998 seasons.

Fleming, an 11th-round pick in 1963, played tight end for the Packers from 1963 through 1969, playing in 95 games over seven seasons. He was a tremendous blocker and was a key component of the famed Packers sweep. He caught 109 passes for 1,300 yards and 12 touchdowns and played for championship teams in 1965, 1966 and 1967.

Plus, the Hall of Fame will be celebrating the 40th anniversary of the first class to be inducted to the Hall: Bernard "Boob" Darling, Lavvie Dilweg, Jug Earp, Cal Hubbard, Curly Lambeau, Verne Lewellen, Johnny (Blood) McNally and Mike Michalske.

The induction banquet and ceremony will be held on July 17 in the Lambeau Field Atrium.

Hey, remember me?

Playing at Baylor, the just-signed Bell faced some of the nation's top wide receivers in Big 12 play, such as Green Bay's Jordy Nelson (Kansas State), San Francisco's Michael Crabtree (Texas Tech), Washington's Malcolm Kelly (Oklahoma) and Dez Bryant (still at Oklahoma State). Bell said Nelson was the best of that bunch, and they got reacquainted during Bell's first practice on Tuesday.

"Man, I lined up against him today said, ‘Don't do me like you did me in college,'" Bell said. "He laughed and then A-Rod threw him the ball and he caught a one-hand touchdown on me at the 3-yard line. He was the best. Jordy was the only one of those who got in the end zone, and that's not easy. I respect his game."

Roaring offense

The Lions were a toothless bunch during their 26-0 loss at Lambeau Field last month. With Daunte Culpepper starting for rookie Matthew Stafford – and with Drew Stanton replacing an injured Culpepper in the third quarter – and with towering receiver Calvin Johnson out as well, Detroit didn't must much of a threat.

Led by Johnson and Stafford last week, the Lions roared back from a 24-3 deficit to beat Cleveland 38-37. Detroit rolled up 473 yards, with Stafford and Johnson getting plenty of help from running back Kevin Smith and tight end Brandon Pettigrew, the Lions' other first-round pick.

"You don't have to look at much of that tape to get our guys' attention, I'll tell you that," Capers said. "That ball was moving up and down the field."

Stafford is listed as doubtful, meaning there's a 25 percent chance he will play, due to a shoulder injury suffered against the Browns. Johnson injured a knee on the same play in which Stafford was hurt and is listed as questionable (50 percent). Neither practiced this week.

Four-point stance

-- The Packers rank seventh in the NFL in offense (11th rushing, seventh passing) and third on defense (fourth rushing, seventh passing). The Lions rank 24th on offense (25th rushing, 18th passing) and 31st on defense (21st rushing, 32nd passing).

-- The turnover differential on Thursday is 22, with the Packers a league-best plus-14 and the Lions tied for 30th at minus-8.

-- Since coach Mike McCarthy took over as coach, Green Bay is one of 10 teams in the league with a winning record. The Packers are 15-13 away from Lambeau Field, including 2-2 this season.

-- Aaron Rodgers has carved up the Lions like a Thanksgiving turkey. In three career starts, he's 74-of-106 for 994 yards, with eight touchdowns, one interception and a passer rating of 120.6. He's topped 300 yards in all three games.


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