Packers' run defense takes hit with Wilson injury

Associated Press  |  Last updated November 28, 2012
(Eds: Updates with details, quotes. Stands for story listed on some digests as BC-FBN--Packers-Protecting Rodgers. With AP Photos.) By NANCY ARMOUR AP National Writer The Green Bay Packers might have the worst timing in the NFL. Adrian Peterson and the Minnesota Vikings roll into town Sunday, and the Packers expect they'll be without defensive end C.J. Wilson, a cornerstone of their run defense. That's on top of the absences of Charles Woodson and, most likely, Clay Matthews. ''I feel better from Sunday ... but it's a longshot,'' Wilson, who injured his knee in last weekend's blowout loss to the New York Giants, said Wednesday. ''It's a horrible feeling knowing I won't be able to play Sunday and help the team with my defense, to stop this beast.'' Few teams have been hit harder by injuries this year than the Packers (7-4), who have lost more than a dozen starters or projected starters for at least one game, and their timing has only made the pain worse. With No. 1 receiver Greg Jennings already out, Jordy Nelson, Aaron Rodgers' second-favorite target, missed one game and most of another. James Starks, Green Bay's leading rusher last season, was still nursing a toe injury when Cedric Benson went down with a foot injury. Starks got healthy just in time for fullback John Kuhn to suffer a hamstring injury. The Packers had to take on Calvin Johnson and the Detroit Lions without both Woodson and cornerback Sam Shields. The last time Green Bay faced a bulldozer of a running back, Houston's Arian Foster? Nose tackle B.J. Raji was in sweats. Now comes Peterson, and Wilson will be on the sidelines. ''Without C.J., it's definitely going to be tougher,'' fellow defensive lineman Ryan Pickett said. ''C.J. is a real good player, especially against the run.'' The Packers have been tough to run on lately. After giving up a total of 407 yards rushing in the first three weeks of the season, they've held opponents to an average of 91.9 yards over the last eight games, fourth-best in the league. They were particularly stingy with Foster. Though he scored two touchdowns, Foster was held to just 29 yards, his fewest in two seasons, and his 1.7 yards per carry was a career low. But Wilson played a big part in that. And, no offense to Foster or any of the other running backs the Packers have faced, but Peterson is a much, much bigger challenge. ''This is a different animal,'' Pickett said. ''I mean, he's a once-a-decade kind of runner.'' Peterson leads the NFL with 1,236 yards rushing, almost 200 more than Foster. He's averaging a whopping 5.8 yards per carry, about a yard better than almost every other top running back. He's run for 100 yards in five straight games, matching Robert Smith's franchise record. And this from a guy who blew out his ACL not even 12 months ago. ''I think he's better, scary to say,'' Pickett said. ''I already thought he was the best back, hands down, in the league, and now he's looking better on tape. I was shocked when we started watching tape on him. He's running the ball real hard and he's breaking a lot of tackles. ''You just don't expect to see him do the things he's doing,'' Pickett added. ''This is probably one of his better years he's ever had. He's running the ball great. We were watching the run cut-ups and it's like a highlight reel. I'm like, `Wow, what is this?' He's averaging almost 6 yards a carry. That's unheard of.'' If Wilson doesn't play, the Packers will lean on rookies Mike Daniels and Jerel Worthy, who filled in after Wilson got hurt against the Giants. Welcome to the big time, kids! ''We'll have to have the young guys step up,'' Pickett said. ''They've been stepping up all year, they'll have to again.'' When it comes to stopping Peterson, though, it really is a job for the entire defense. He's savvy and slick enough to find even the smallest of holes, and he'll make anyone who leaves his assignment look silly. He's also guaranteed to make at least one guy miss every play, so there'd better be a second wave ready to stop him. Third and fourth wave, too, and probably a fifth just for good measure. It sounds like a defensive lineman's nightmare - and Pickett can't wait for it. ''I like playing against this, this is a challenge. A big challenge,'' he said. ''He's the leading rusher in the league right now and it's the Vikings. And we don't like the Vikings. It's an extra push to get ready for this game.'' Notes: Matthews did not practice Wednesday and coach Mike McCarthy said he thinks it's ''a stretch'' the linebacker would be ready for Sunday's game. But ''he's getting close,'' McCarthy said. ''He wants the opportunity to talk again on Friday.'' ... McCarthy said RB Cedric Benson was being re-evaluated Wednesday. Benson has been on the injured reserve, eligible to return list since Oct. 10, but is reportedly still considering surgery on his injured foot. ... The Packers have won nine straight games against NFC North opponents. Asked to explain their divisional success, McCarthy joked, ''Coaching.'' --- Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Dos Anjos: McGregor will 'break like a girl' at UFC 196

WATCH: D'Angelo Russell hit in groin by LeBron pass

Kobe Bryant has great response to Tyronn Lue story

Report: St. Louis Blues no longer interested in Jonathan Drouin

Doc Rivers: Warriors have 'swagger' of defending champion

Damian Lillard added as a finalist for 2016 U.S. Olympic Team

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Celtics legend Paul Pierce prepares for what ‘could be’ his last game in Boston

Free-agent WR Josh Morgan accidentally shot himself, charged with crime

Jon Beason retires after nine NFL seasons

Brewers Association sends Peyton Manning case of craft beer

Report: Police recommend charges against LeSean McCoy

Heat interested in Kings’ 3-point specialist Omri Casspi

Kevin McHale: James Harden being out of shape hurt Rockets early

WATCH: Kevin Love re-injures left shoulder

Johnny Manziel’s grandpa on ex-girlfriend: ‘The girl has her problems’

Andy Dalton reunited with missing luggage thanks to social media

Chad ‘Ochocinco’ Johnson used to soak his ankles in urine

Why Tom Thibodeau needs to be in New York

Defensemen in high demand as NHL trade deadline looms

Thank you Daniel Bryan

The timeless greatness of Jaromir Jagr

Security guard indicted for assaulting University of Houston football fan

The LeBron-Kobe rivalry and Finals matchup that never was

Mario Williams recognizes Bills may release him

Terrell Owens says Cris Carter 'begged his way' into HOF

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Thank you Daniel Bryan

The timeless greatness of Jaromir Jagr

The NCAAB power rankings

Report: Kings to keep coach George Karl

Was Alain Vigneault right about NHL's lack of punishment towards Wayne Simmonds?

Report: Knicks fire coach Derek Fisher

The best and worst commercials from Super Bowl 50

Best and worst from Super Bowl 50

Six best plays from Super Bowl 50

Eli doesn't look thrilled as Peyton wins Super Bowl

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker