GREEN BAY — On the eve of his first NFL start, Demetri Goodson planned to head to his room at the team hotel Wednesday and put in one more late-night study session.
When he got there, the Packers’ third-year cornerback was surprised to find he had company in the form of LaDarius Gunter.
Unbeknownst to either cornerback, the Packers’ coaching staff had them room together in preparation of Thursday night’s game against the Chicago Bears.
“It’s funny because normally the night before the game, I have my own room and he has his own room, and the coaches put us together,” Goodson said. “The whole night we were sitting there going over plays and coverages.”
The strategy paid off in a big way for a Packers’ secondary that contained the NFL’s fourth-ranked passing offense to only 130 yards during Thursday night’s 26-10 win over the Bears.
Sam Shields (concussion), Damarious Randall (groin) and Quinten Rollins (groin) were all ruled out going into the game, leaving Gunter and Goodson to man the boundary cornerback positions.
The Packers often matched Gunter against Pro Bowl receiver Alshon Jeffery, who finished with only three catches for 33 yards. All week long cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt Jr. preached physicality and that’s what Gunter provided Thursday.
“That was the game plan – hands on all day and work my technique,” he said. “It’s great to go out there and compete and show everybody I belong. It’s great to get the team win, too.”
Chicago’s starting quarterback, Brian Hoyer, completed only 4-of-11 passes for 49 yards before leaving in the second quarter with a broken arm.
His replacement, Matt Barkley, didn’t fare much better with only six completions on 15 attempts for 81 yards and a pair of interceptions by linebackers Nick Perry and Blake Martinez.
With the run defense allowing only 69 yards, Gunter, Goodson and the rest of the Packers’ secondary held the Bears quarterbacks to a 22.9 passer rating. Overall, the defense had nearly as many passes defensed (nine) as completions allowed (10).
“That’s just a credit to the guys for preparing themselves and always being ready when their number is called,” safety Morgan Burnett said. “It’s not surprising to me because they’re professionals since they got here. As a unit, I feel like we have a good bond.”
It’s been a strange week for Goodson, who was making his season debut Sunday against Dallas before being thrown into extensive action after Randall aggravated his groin injury.
After waiting two full seasons for his chance to start, suddenly here was Goodson’s chance.
“All my life I’ve been waiting to be a starter,” said Goodson, who finished with four tackles. “I think this is the time. I didn’t think it would come like this but that’s why you have to be ready.
“When your number’s called, you have to come in there and play well because you don’t know when that next time you’ll get a chance to be out there. I’m just trying to take full advantage of this.”
Shields was placed on injured reserve earlier this week, but the Packers hope to have Randall and Rollins back in the fold soon.
After studying for almost three hours on Wednesday night, Goodson and Gunter hope Thursday night’s performance proved the depth chart at cornerback is a lot deeper than maybe some were giving it credit for.
“To be honest, people outside of here don’t think me and ‘Gunt’ can hold it down, so that kind of gives us more juice,” Goodson said. “Everybody in here knows we can play. Now it’s just showing everybody that just because Sam, ‘D’ and ‘Q’ are out, me and ‘Gunt’ definitely can handle this.”
First interception: Martinez felt a surge of jubilation when he caught the first interception of his career off a deflection from Burnett with a little less than 5 minutes remaining in Thursday night’s game.
However, his joy quickly turned to fear when the rookie fourth-round pick got up off the ground and saw a horde of Chicago offensive players charging his way.
Martinez bounced off a few would-be tacklers before finally going down after a 4-yard return.
“I was so lost at first,” said Martinez, who finished with a team-high five tackles, two passes defensed and the interception.
“I touched one of their offensive players, so I was like, ‘I must be down.’ So I get up and … and I see like seven guys running at me (ready to) rip my head off, so I went into survival mode and didn’t even think about going down. I was just like, ‘Don’t get hit.’ It was a crazy play.”
On top of the interception, Martinez scored a minor victory in that the recurring cut above his nose didn’t come open again like it has the past few weeks.
“I was scared,” Martinez said. “I made a tackle in the fourth quarter and thought I felt it start bleeding, but I’m so happy it’s not open again.”
The Packers needed every rep they got out of Martinez after second-year linebacker Jake Ryan left in the second half and did not return.
First impression: New running back Knile Davis was only on the field for a handful of offensive plays after being acquired in a trade from Kansas City on Tuesday.
However, the fourth-year veteran liked what he saw from the Packers’ offensive line, which helped pave the way to Green Bay rushing for 103 yards on 23 carries Thursday night.
“I’m telling you when I was behind that O-line, it was a pretty thing,” said Davis, who had two carries late in the second half.
“I see nothing but good things in the future because they’re on their guys. They’re not letting people come through the backfield. I’m excited to run behind this O-line.”
It was the sixth consecutive game the Packers featured the same five starting offensive linemen. While T.J. Lang left momentarily with a hip injury, the veteran right guard returned in the third quarter and finished the game.
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