GREEN BAY – Aaron Rodgers has expressed his appreciation for the protection. His protectors appreciate the compliment.
The Packers’ offensive linemen aren’t about to relax, though, upon hearing Rodgers’ kind words earlier this week, which ranked Green Bay’s pass blocking the best it’s been in his eight years as starting quarterback.
“To hear him say that, we take pride in that, but we also realize it’s (after) Week 3,” center Corey Linsley said. “There’s a lot more football left to be played. We have to keep this thing rolling, keep stacking our successes and keep doing what we’re doing.”
What the Packers’ offensive line has done the last two weeks is keep two of the strongest pass rushes in the league at bay. Seattle’s Michael Bennett and Bruce Irvin, followed by Kansas City’s Justin Houston and Tamba Hali, are as formidable as it gets as edge combinations, and the Packers had to deal with them in back-to-back games.
Linsley credited tackles David Bakhtiari on the left side and Don Barclay, filling in the last two weeks for an injured Bryan Bulaga on the right side, for handling the toughest of assignments with aplomb.
The aforementioned quartet of Seahawks and Chiefs combined for just three sacks in 76 dropbacks by Rodgers (68 pass attempts, eight scrambles) over the two games.
“That’s unbelievable,” Linsley said. “Our tackles have played nothing less than phenomenal. That guy (Houston) had 22½ sacks last year, and Don didn’t give him one.
“Our guards do what they do, and everybody knows about them, too, and I’m just in the middle trying to solidify everything and do my job. But really, I would put the emphasis on our tackles. With the edge rush we’ve had (to face), a phenomenal job by them.”
The work of Linsley and guards Josh Sitton and T.J. Lang has made a difference, too, staying stout in the middle and providing Rodgers with escape lanes when the edge rushers jet upfield.
The three sacks serves as the season total after a zero-sack game in the opener at Chicago, and that’s right where the group wants to be.
“I think this is the best line I’ve been a part of. We just have all the pieces,” said Pro Bowler Sitton, the longest tenured player in the current group, having been a starter for all but Rodgers’ first year in 2008.
“Really, your goal is one (sack) a game all year. If you can do that, then you’re going to be tops in the league and you’re going to be in a pretty good place.”
Sitton then continued in his typical deadpan fashion: “If we can keep Aaron upright, he’s a pretty decent player.”
So is running back Eddie Lacy, who admitted to not being his “old self” with an ankle injury against the Chiefs on Monday night, yet he still powered his way to 87 yards from scrimmage (46 rushing, 41 receiving).
“It definitely feels better,” Lacy said of the ankle. “It’s a shorter week, but I’m still able to get a lot of rehab and get it ready. This week, I’ll be ready to go just like last week.”
This ankle injury isn’t nearly as bad as the one Lacy played through as a rookie in 2013. He said that one lingered and never went away, whereas he’s sensing improvement this time.
Lacy has proven since that rookie year he can be productive on gameday with little to no practice time, but already this week he’s been a full participant in practice both Wednesday and Thursday.
He said he’s developed a feel for where the line is between toughing it out while not risking a worse injury or the offense’s efficiency, but there’s a simpler analysis, too.
“Mind over matter,” Lacy said. “If you can go out and play, go play.”
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