Packers set sights on Peterson

The Packers are hoping to pressure Brett Favre, but they aren't about to forget about Adrian Peterson. The Green Bay rush defense has some contradictory stats and a defensive line that is short on healthy players.

The Packers' defense should be armed with the threat of pressure against Vikings quarterback Brett Favre on Sunday night.

Outside linebacker Clay Matthews, who missed Green Bay's last game because of an aggravated hamstring injury, practiced Wednesday and Thursday in a limited capacity and is on track to return to the starting lineup this weekend.

"We'll see where he is (Friday)," coach Mike McCarthy said. "We're heading in the right direction, that's for sure."

While having the league's sacks leader (8.5) will be critical to putting some heat on Favre, whom the Packers didn't sack once in the Vikings' two-game sweep last season, Green Bay may have its hands full trying to slow running back Adrian Peterson.

Run-stopping left end Ryan Pickett has done only limited work in practice this week. Pickett suffered a serious right ankle sprain in the Oct. 10 loss at Washington and didn't play in the last game.

The Packers will be without rookie end Mike Neal for a second straight game.

If Pickett can't play, Green Bay will be down to right end Cullen Jenkins, nose tackle B.J. Raji and a trio of underwhelming players in C.J. Wilson, Jarius Wynn and ex-Viking Michael Montgomery as the line that will be charged to try to contain Peterson.

The Packers have the NFL's longest active streak of holding opposing backs without a 100-yard rushing performance, 19 games. Yet, they rank 21st in the league against the run, yielding an average of 112.3 yards per game, and they were gashed for a season-high 150 rushing yards in Sunday's overtime loss to the Dolphins.

Peterson is looking for a breakout performance after being held to a total of 161 yards in the Vikings' two post-bye games. He had big-time outputs of 145 and 160 yards in Minnesota's two games before the break.

After giving up three 100-yard games by Peterson in his first four meetings against Green Bay in 2007 and '08, including a whopping 192 in a Vikings win at Minnesota two years ago, the Packers held him to 55 and 97 yards last season. The Green Bay defense was effective in keeping Peterson from getting out on the edge in those games a year ago.

SERIES HISTORY: 98th regular-season meeting. Packers lead series, 49-47-1. The Vikings have won the last three games after the Packers had reeled off five straight victories. Minnesota's sweep of the two games last season was its first since 2005. Thirteen of the last 15 regular-season meetings dating to 2002 have been decided by no more than seven points, and the Packers have won eight of those close games. The longtime division rivals' only postseason encounter resulted in a 31-17 Vikings win in an NFC wild-card game Jan. 9, 2005, which was receiver Randy Moss' last visit to Lambeau Field during his first stint with Minnesota.

BY THE NUMBERS: 18 — Sacks by the Minnesota Vikings of Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers in the teams' last three games, all Vikings victories. Rodgers was sacked 14 times in Minnesota's two-game sweep last season.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We've got to find a way to pull out the close games. Each player has to put it upon himself to go out there in the pressure situations and rise up and play well. We're just not doing it." — Defensive end Cullen Jenkins, on the Packers' 1-11 record in games decided by four points or less since 2008.


  • CB Charles Woodson didn't practice Thursday because of what coach Mike McCarthy termed "a personal matter." Woodson is expected to be on the practice field Friday and make the start Sunday night against the Vikings.

  • WR Donald Driver missed a second straight day of practice Thursday because of a lingering quadriceps injury. The durable Driver, who has missed only one game since the 2002 season, shouldn't be counted out from playing Sunday.

  • FS Nick Collins practiced on a limited basis Thursday, a day after he was held out to rest a sore knee that has been bothering him the last several weeks. The extra time off at midweek has enabled Collins to play come game day, so he should be fine to make the start this weekend.

  • CB Al Harris and S Atari Bigby have practiced the last two days and are making a push to be added to the 53-man roster by the weekend after being on the physically unable to perform list since the start of training camp. Harris seems to have the best chance to play Sunday if the Packers decide he is ready for game action.

  • RT Mark Tauscher is practicing this week with a shoulder harness and hasn't been ruled out from being available for Sunday's game, though rookie Bryan Bulaga likely will make his third straight start at Tauscher's spot. Tauscher still isn't fully recovered from a shoulder sprain.

  • ILB Brandon Chillar continues to make progress in his recovery from a shoulder sprain that has kept him out of the past three games. After practicing some the last two days, he has a chance to get cleared for Sunday.

  • OL Marshall Newhouse suffered a back injury in practice Wednesday and was held out Thursday. The injury isn't considered to be serious for Newhouse, a rookie who has been deactivated for every game thus far.

  • OLB Brady Poppinga underwent arthroscopic knee surgery Tuesday and will be sidelined at least two weeks.

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