GREEN BAY—It will take more than one player to fix the Packers’ run defense, but defensive end Datone Jones sounded encouraged on Monday about his chances of returning to the lineup this week from an ankle injury.
“Hopefully I can show the coaches what I can do on Wednesday in the first practice,” said Jones, who has been out since hurting the ankle in Week 5 against Minnesota.
“I felt like I was off to a great game when I got hurt. It was unfortunate, but I’ve been putting a lot of time into my rehabilitation, getting back. I’ve been moving great and I’m excited about this week.”
Chicago’s pending visit on Sunday night will serve as a referendum of sorts on Green Bay’s run defense, which ranks last in the league at 153.5 yards per game. In the first meeting with the Bears back in Week 4, ultra-back Matt Forte rushed for 122 yards and the Bears piled up 235 rushing yards as a team in Green Bay’s 38-17 victory.
“We just have to be on the same page,” Jones said. “We have to come out hard and fast and make sure we’re setting that standard from start to finish.
“We have to prepare harder. We have to practice harder. We just have to get it done on Sunday.”
After the first Bears game, the Packers appeared to be making strides against the run, holding the Vikings, Dolphins and Panthers to an average of just 110 rushing yards in three straight wins.
Then the Saints rolled up 193, with Mark Ingram getting 172 of them, in a 21-point loss before the bye. It sent the Packers back to square one as far as their run defense is concerned.
“We have to play harder, get off blocks up front and make tackles,” veteran Letroy Guion said. “You never want to be last. You just have to learn from the bad, and learn from the good, too, and keep moving forward and working hard.”
Head Coach Mike McCarthy said he would provide a more complete injury report on Wednesday, but he noted that cornerback Sam Shields (knee) and safety Morgan Burnett (calf) both went through the team’s indoor workout on Monday. Shields has missed the last two games while Burnett missed the New Orleans contest.
On offense, quarterback Aaron Rodgers (hamstring) also worked out, while guard T.J. Lang (ankle) was in “rehab mode,” according to McCarthy.
The Packers are coming out of their bye week at 5-3, one game behind NFC North leader Detroit, but with four of their next five games at home.
“You have to take care of your business at home,” McCarthy said. “That’s the formula that’s always worked in the NFL.”
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