GREEN BAY—The Packers can only guess. Will it be rookie Teddy Bridgewater or veteran Christian Ponder at quarterback for the Vikings on Thursday night?
“You prepare for Bridgewater,” Defensive Coordinator Dom Capers said.
Bridgewater made his first NFL start last Sunday and led the Vikings to a 41-28 win over Atlanta. Late in the game, however, Bridgewater sustained an ankle injury that has kept him out of practice this week and clouds his status for Thursday’s game.
The Vikings, of course, are doing their best not to tip their hand, which they did successfully two years ago for a playoff game at Lambeau Field. Ponder was coyly listed as questionable, and the Vikings surprised everyone when they made him a scratch 90 minutes before kickoff. It left Capers to shift gears and prepare for a completely different type of quarterback, runner Joe Webb.
“That offense was in sync,” Capers said of the Vikings’ performance against the Falcons. “They had over 500 yards. I thought Bridgewater played with a lot of poise. It helps when you have the ability to run or throw.”
Bridgewater threw for 317 yards and a 98.9 passer rating. He has new-age ability, but prefers to stay in the pocket.
The Vikings’ running game might be an even bigger concern for Capers. The Vikings are No. 8 in the league in rushing; the Packers are last against the run.
“We’re not happy with the yards we gave up,” Capers said of the 235 yards rushing the Packers allowed the Bears this past Sunday.
The Packers only allowed 17 points; that was the saving grace of the defense’s performance in Chicago.
“It shows what a great equalizer turnovers are. I’ve always felt you measure a defense by how many points it gives up. Our No. 1 goal is to give up the fewest points. If you give up 17 or less, your chances of winning are pretty good,” Capers said.
Through four weeks of the season, the Packers are 17th in the league in points allowed.
The issue on offense this week could be ball security, as stormy weather is forecast for Thursday night.
“I don’t think it’ll affect us. We’ve handled the ball well in the rain,” Offensive Coordinator Tom Clements said.
Under new Head Coach Mike Zimmer, the Vikings are a blitzing defense.
“It’s a different style from what we faced last week. They give you a number of different looks and you have to be ready for the various pressures they give you. They’re very good in their disguises when they blitz,” Clements said.
Time of possession is another issue. Only the Eagles, another up-tempo offense, have a worse time of possession average than the Packers. What does it mean?
“You like to possess the ball more, but the bottom line is you want to be productive and score points. Would you rather hold it for six (minutes) and get a field goal, or hold it for two (minutes) and get a touchdown?” Clements said.
Special teams could be a major player on Thursday, especially considering the weather forecast and Vikings kickoff returner Cordarrelle Patterson, who returned the opening kickoff of last year’s game in Minnesota 109 yards for a touchdown.
“Great player. Hard to tackle. Runs with confidence,” Special Teams Coordinator Shawn Slocum said of Patterson.
“It just heightens the sense of awareness of ball security,” Slocum said.
ADDITIONAL COVERAGE - OCT. 1