It’s not a bad percentage.
Rookie cornerback Brandian Ross has stepped onto Lambeau Field twice, and he has two interceptions to show.
Ross, undrafted from Youngstown State, first grabbed fans’ attention when he notched a pick-six against Aaron Rodgers on the opening snap of what turned out to be an abbreviated “Family Night” practice on Aug. 6.
On Friday, against the Arizona Cardinals, Ross snagged his second interception, this one in the end zone to preserve the Packers’ 28-20 fourth-quarter lead. Arizona quarterback Richard Bartel never saw Ross, as the QB scrambled away from pressure and tried to hit Rob Housler in the back of the end zone.
“It’s always good to get an interception to make up for a bad play,” Ross said.
The bad play got the Cardinals into scoring range in the first place, and Ross – who is fighting an uphill battle for a roster spot in the defensive backfield – was thinking far more about that play after the game.
On the first snap of that Cardinals drive, Ross was beaten deep by receiver DeMarco Sampson for a 45-yard gain.
“It was a double move,” Ross said. “I thought he was going to throw it and the receiver broke deep on me. I should have just leveraged it, like we’re taught, but I was trying to make a play, trying to do too much, and he just got behind me.”
It’s hard to blame Ross, who knows it’s the “splash” plays that are going to gain him attention. There’s always the risk of those efforts backfiring, of course, but Ross deserves credit for coming back and making another positive play.
“Playing this position, you have to have a short-term memory,” he said. “I was just trying to stop them from scoring. That was my first goal.”
Gaining an edge: If T.J. Lang grabbed the lead in his battle with rookie first-round pick Derek Sherrod for the starting spot at left guard, it’s probably as much for what he didn’t do than it is for what he did.
Lang didn’t have any glaring problems, whereas Sherrod surrendered two sacks, the first while playing left guard and the other at left tackle. In the first quarter on the Packers’ second series, Arizona’s Calais Campbell beat Sherrod for a 9-yard sack of Rodgers. Then in the third quarter, O’Brien Schofield beat Sherrod around the edge and got to Matt Flynn, knocking the ball from his hands. Running back Dimitri Nance recovered for the Packers.
“I just have to go back to practice, keep working on stuff and get ready for the next game,” said Sherrod, who credited his opponents with good pass-rush moves.
Lang isn’t considering the competition won, though. He wasn’t overly pleased with his own game, which he called an “OK performance.”
“There are probably a lot of good things on film, but a couple of things stick out in my mind that I need to work on,” Lang said. “They ran a couple of stunts up there on the defensive line, a lot of twist games. I’m going to work on fixing those and reacting a little quicker to those.”
Coming back strong: Tight end Jermichael Finley hadn’t played in a game since last Oct. 5 in Washington, when he injured his knee, but he made his presence known upon his return.
Finley finished with four catches for just 33 yards, but he showed his ability to take over, grabbing three consecutive throws from Rodgers on a second-quarter, no-huddle scoring drive. The catches covered 6, 7 and 17 yards for a total of 30 and set up a TD pass to Greg Jennings.
“I’m knocking the rust off, but at the same time I felt the old (number) 88 come out,” Finley said. “I felt great. I’m ready for Sept. 8, ready to get it rolling.”
Keeping it up: Punter Tim Masthay is stringing his strong performances together, following up a solid preseason debut last week with just as good if not a better showing in Week 2.
Masthay averaged 46.6 yards on five punts, with a long of 60 for the second straight week. He placed two punts inside the Arizona 20, which were fair-caught, had one touchback (on the 60-yarder), and the Cardinals had just one return for 2 yards, for an overall net of 42.2.
That’s better than last week’s net of 40.2, when Masthay’s gross average was 52.2, but the coverage team missed some tackles. Masthay had a dynamite practice this past Wednesday when he placed a series of long, high spirals between the numbers and the sideline, right where they need to be to limit opponent returns.