Did Packers Expose Run Defense Deficiency?

The Green Bay Packers had big success running the ball early against the Vikings. That came despite the Packers entering the game last in the league in rushing.

Although the Vikings' pass defense has been far from reliable this season, the team has been able to count on a consistently solid showing from its run defense.

That was until last Sunday.

The Vikings gave up 119 yards rushing to Packers running back Ryant Grant on 25 carries in Green Bay's 34-0 victory over the Vikings at Lambeau Field. That marked the first 100-yard game against the Vikings defense this season and only the second since the start of 2006.

Minnesota, which had the NFL's top-run defense last season, dropped one spot to third after Sunday.

"I think they did a good job of getting off the ball," Vikings defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said of the Packers. "A better job than we did. They knocked us off the ball a little bit in that first quarter. We got better as the game went on against the run but in that first quarter we didn't play like we were capable of playing."

Grant rushed for 81 yards in the first quarter and 92 yards in the opening half. He had a 30-yard touchdown run in the first quarter that came on a play in which the Vikings sent a blitz. A big part of Green Bay's game plan was to go outside on run plays, staying away from Pro Bowl defensive tackles Kevin and Pat Williams.

The interesting thing about the Packers' production on the ground is they came into the game ranked last in the NFL in rushing. The Vikings might have been lulled into the belief that Green Bay would follow the same formula it did in a Week 4 victory at the Metrodome by relying on the pass.

Minnesota knows that its opponent this Sunday, the Oakland Raiders, definitely will try to run the ball. The Raiders are ranked fifth in the NFL in rushing and 30th in passing.

Linebacker Ben Leber is among those who want to make sure Raiders running backs LaMont Jordan and Justin Fargas don't repeat the Packers' success.

"We pride ourselves on stopping of the run and not very often do we get it handed to us," Leber said. "Obviously, it's very, very disappointing from that standpoint."

NOTES

  • RB Adrian Peterson did not practice for a second consecutive day Thursday because of a partially torn lateral collateral ligament in his right knee. Peterson won't play this Sunday and it's not certain when he will return. The Vikings have made it clear they do expect him back this season.

  • CB Antoine Winfield was limited for a second consecutive day because of a hamstring injury that has kept him out the past two games but said he will be ready to go against Oakland.

  • WR Sidney Rice was limited in practice Wednesday and Thursday because of a hamstring injury that kept him out Sunday at Green Bay.

  • RT Ryan Cook was limited in practice Wednesday and Thursday because of a shoulder injury that has bothered him of late. Cook has not missed any playing time.

  • DE Brian Robison was limited in practice the past two days because of an elbow injury suffered last Sunday at Green Bay. He's expected to play Sunday at Oakland wearing a brace on the elbow.

  • S Eric Frampton was limited in practice Wednesday and Thursday because of a groin injury. Frampton has been playing on the Vikings' special teams units.

  • DE Erasmus James missed practice Thursday because of a personal issue but is expected back for Sunday's game.


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