Pressure on Capers to create pressure

The first time Brett Favre faced his old team, he was hardly hit. The Packers held Adrian Peterson in check, but they did that at the expense of allowing Favre time in the pocket. Players and coaches know the second part of the equation has to change.

Give Dom Capers an extra hour to formulate and set a game plan, just maybe the longtime defensive guru will finally come out ahead against his biggest nemesis through the years.

Falling back to standard time overnight Saturday will occur just hours before the Packers host the Minnesota Vikings in a huge midseason game Sunday. Getting past all of the attention being heaped on Brett Favre's return to Lambeau Field for the first time as an enemy, his Vikings are entangled in a battle with the Packers for first place in the NFC North.

Minnesota (6-1) leads Green Bay (4-2) by one in the loss column. A Packers win would forge a virtual tie, but a Vikings victory would create essentially three games of separation between the rivals since Minnesota would own the tiebreaker with a sweep of the season series.

If the Packers are going to turn the tables and atone for a 30-23 loss in Minneapolis on Oct. 5, the difference seemingly would lie with what Halloween weekend tricks Capers will have up his sleeve.

One thing Capers, Green Bay's first-year defensive coordinator, can't do is allow Favre to camp out in the pocket on the familiar Lambeau turf as he did too often in that earlier meeting.

"We didn't get a chance to get as many sacks as we wanted to last game and cause some pressure. I think that was a big part of him having success in that game," linebacker Nick Barnett lamented this week.

So intent on making sure dynamic running back Adrian Peterson wouldn't run roughshod over his unit, Capers greatly tempered his play calling in the blitz-friendly 3-4 scheme he implemented in Green Bay. The Packers succeeded in corralling Peterson - he rushed for only 55 yards in 25 carries (2.2 average) - but a glaring absence of a pass rush enabled Favre to get the first laugh against his old team.

He was hit only once and didn't absorb a sack en route to a crisp, mistake-free 24-of-31, 271-yard, three-touchdown performance.

"I think we did a pretty good job, obviously, of shutting down one of the premier, if not the premier running back in the NFL," said linebacker Aaron Kampman, who had the lone touch on Favre. "But, what we didn't do a great job of was pressuring and disrupting Brett, getting him off his rhythm and things like that."

The Packers relied heavily on their nickel packages to counter the Vikings' multiple-receiver formations, to no avail. Oodles of time to drop back and go through his progressions made an easy night at the office for Favre, who upped his record to 7-0 in games against Capers when he's been a head coach or defensive coordinator.

That Green Bay also had communication breakdowns in the secondary exacerbated matters.

The Packers feel they have resolved the latter issue with strong safety Atari Bigby in the lineup again after he missed three games, including the first matchup with the Vikings, because of a knee injury.

"The communication has definitely picked up since he has been back," head coach Mike McCarthy said.

Whether Capers alters his approach on how to attack the Vikings' multi-faceted offense remains to be seen. The focal point continues to be Peterson.

"You always go into a game trying to handle it all, but there's a starting point for everything," McCarthy said. "If you go to any defensive meeting on Wednesday morning, I would say 99.9 percent of them are going to talk about stopping the run first, regardless of who they're playing. You want to make the opposing offense be one-dimensional, and a lot of that holds true for us this week."

Nevertheless, there's a good number of players who are antsy to ratchet up the pressure and drive their former teammate to the hallowed Lambeau ground Sunday.

"We've just got to get there, get to the quarterback and cause some pressure," Barnett said. "We can't let Brett sit back there and have enough time."

SERIES HISTORY: 97th regular-season meeting. Packers lead series, 49-46-1. The Vikings have won the last two meetings, including 30-23 at Minnesota on Oct. 5 this season, after Green Bay had won five in a row. The Packers have prevailed in the last three matchups at Lambeau Field and 12 of the last 15 games on their home turf, excluding Minnesota's 31-17 upset win in a 2004 NFC wild-card game, the division rivals' only postseason encounter.


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