GREEN BAY—The Packers defense is coming off one of its strongest performances of the season, and Defensive Coordinator Dom Capers is challenging his unit to continue the momentum.
“That’s been the whole goal. You want to keep the arrow pointing up,” Capers said.
His goal for this Sunday’s game in Tampa is to “have a good defensive performance and give us some momentum” heading into the season finale against Detroit, and beyond.
The defense’s ranking against the run is up to No. 26 from a dead-last ranking through much of the season. What’s important to note is that since the bye week, the rankings have done an about face, and are spoiled only by a bad second half against Atlanta. Against a Tampa offense that’s No. 30 in the league, the Packers defense figures to build on its momentum.
Controlling the Bucs’ two big receivers, rookie Mike Evans and veteran Vincent Jackson, will be the key to success for the Packers.
“He’s like a lot of big receivers, trying to use his body mass to open separation,” Capers said of Evans, who leads the Bucs with 11 touchdown catches. “Jackson is another 6-5, 240-pound guy.”
Josh McCown is the Bucs quarterback. He’s struggling at a not-so-impressive 72.6 passer rating. Capers is most concerned about McCown’s scrambling ability.
“He’s a good athlete, so you have to be concerned about your rush lanes,” Capers said.
Packers offense and special teams will be attempting to atone for underperforming in the loss in Buffalo.
“We had played well for a stretch. Last week was an aberration. We learned from it and we’re moving on,” Offensive Coordinator Tom Clements said.
Tampa’s defense is ranked No. 25 overall. It’s lost defensive tackle Gerald McCoy to injury.
“It’s a mixture of young guys with some experience. They rally to the ball. They try to create turnovers,” Clements said.
Special Teams Coordinator Shawn Slocum saw his punt team allow a 75-yard touchdown return and his field goal team have a kick blocked in the loss to the Bills. It’s made for a difficult week for Slocum and his players.
“Nothing changes in my world. If you don’t show up to fight, you have no chance to win,” he said. “No player is ever going to play at 100 percent. The right guys correct mistakes and move forward.
“We’re part of a very good football team,” Slocum added when asked to provide perspective for his special teams. “We have all goals right in front of us. This is a great time of year.”
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