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With or without Kenny Clark, Packers know their run defense must be better against ageless Adrian Peterson

With or without Kenny Clark, Packers know their run defense must be better against ageless Adrian Peterson


GREEN BAY — Jerry Montgomery glared into the laptop camera. The Green Bay Packers defensive line coach doesn’t mince words, and so it was hardly a surprise Wednesday evening when his assessment of the Packers’ run defense in last Sunday’s win at Minnesota was blunt and unflattering.

Nor was it unexpected when he said such a performance won’t be good enough this Sunday against the Detroit Lions and seemingly ageless Adrian Peterson.

“I definitely wasn’t pleased with the way we performed in the last game. We’re better than that,” Montgomery said of the Vikings’ 134-yard rushing day, one that included a combined 100 yards on 18 carries by running backs Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison and 34 yards on four scrambles by quarterback Kirk Cousins.

“It just wasn’t good enough. So, going forward, it’s no different. Guys just have to be dialed in and we have to play better.”

That won’t be easy against a Lions rushing attack headlined by the 35-year-old Peterson, who carried 14 times for 93 yards in the season-opening loss to the Chicago Bears. Peterson, cast adrift by the Washington Football Team on Sept. 4, shared carries against the Bears with Kerryon Johnson (seven carries, 14 yards) and D’Andre Swift (three carries, 8 yards).

It’ll be even harder without nose tackle Kenny Clark, who left last Sunday’s game with a groin injury and did not practice on Wednesday. His status is unclear for Sunday’s game, but if he doesn’t play, Tyler Lancaster would be the team’s No. 1 nose tackle, Montgomery said.

“Certainly losing a player of that caliber, it definitely doesn’t help you, that’s for sure,” Packers coach Matt LaFleur acknowledged. “I thought those guys, there were some good moments and then there were some moments where we didn’t do as good of a job, especially with some of our rush-lane integrity. And that doesn’t fall on just the inside guys.”

The Vikings certainly exploited Clark’s absence when he didn’t return to the game to start the second half last Sunday. Cousins handed off to Cook on the first two snaps of the third quarter, and Cook had gains of 12 and 9 yards.

That Cook only got four more carries the rest of the game was more a function of the Packers’ offensive explosion, Green Bay controlling time of possession, and the Vikings having to play catch-up.

“For whatever reason, we didn’t play well enough. And that’s on me. It’s my job to get those guys ready to play, and we’re looking forward to having a great week of practice this week and going into the game ready for the run,” Montgomery said. “We’ve got to be better. Period, point blank.”

Especially if Peterson is indeed splashing around in the fountain of youth. This will be his 20th game against the Packers, and he’s run for more yards (1,975) and more touchdowns (16) than he has against any other opponent in his career.

“Obviously, he’s still a playmaker. If you look at how he runs, he still runs behind his pads. You still have to bring it when you hit him,” inside linebacker Christian Kirksey said. “He still has a great jump cut and great vision. He had a couple splash plays in the first game. I think he still has it. We have to remember, this is Adrian Peterson. So we’ve got to play him like when he was in his prime. We’ve got to make sure that we gang tackle, we’ve got to make sure that when we hit him, we hit him hard. I think that’s what we’re going to do on Sunday.”

Hall call?

A host of ex-Packers — led by defensive back Charles Woodson and safety LeRoy Butler — were among the 130 nominees for the 2021 Pro Football Hall of Fame class Wednesday.

Others with Packers ties included wide receiver Donald Driver, safety Nick Collins and kicker Ryan Longwell, who spent all or much of their careers in Green Bay, and a number of players who spent the bulk of their careers with other teams, including tight end Keith Jackson, center Jeff Saturday, tight end Wesley Walls, punter Sean Landeta, linebacker Seth Joyner, cornerback Allen Rossum and return men Eric Metcalf and Glyn Milburn.

Butler, who was a finalist for the first time last year but did not gain induction, remains the only member of the 1990s All-Decade team not to be enshrined. He had his case heard by the selection committee last year and is thought to have a better chance this year.

Woodson played only seven of his 18 NFL seasons, but it was his Green Bay tour of duty that made him a likely first-ballot selection. He won the NFL defensive player of the year award in 2009 with the Packers, led the NFL in interceptions in 2009 and 2011 and won his only championship as a member and leader of the Packers’ Super Bowl XLV-winning team of 2010.

Extra points

The Packers made three practice-squad moves, adding offensive tackle Ryan Pope and defensive lineman Billy Winn while releasing defensive lineman Daylon Mack. The Packers had an existing opening after the Dallas Cowboys signed offensive lineman Alex Light to their 53-man roster off the Packers’ practice squad. … The 6-foot-7, 320-pound Pope, an undrafted free agent from San Diego State a year ago, spent most of last year on the San Francisco 49ers and Jacksonville Jaguars and was in camp with the Jaguars before being cut Sept. 5. … The 6-4, 305-pound Wynn is actually in his eighth NFL season and played with Kirksey in Cleveland. He has missed the past three years with injuries but in 68 career games (23 starts), he had recorded 111 tackles (68 solo), three sacks, two interceptions, two forced fumbles and five fumble recoveries. … In addition to Clark not practicing, the Packers listed 10 other players on their injury report. Right guard/tackle Billy Turner (knee) was a limited participant, as were guards Elgton Jenkins (ankle) and Lucas Patrick (shoulder), safety Raven Greene (quadriceps) and tight end Josiah Deguara (shin).

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