Banged-up Packers defense faces Brees
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) This was one time when guessing wrong didn't hurt a defensive back.
Asked in the locker room Friday at Lambeau Field what year Drew Brees last threw an interception against Green Bay, veteran Packers cornerback Jarrett Bush answered 2011.
Turns out Bush had to be taken back to his rookie season in 2006 for the correct reply.
''Wow!'' Bush said, adding in a positive tone, ''OK, so he's due.''
A potentially short-handed Packers secondary faces what coach Mike McCarthy said is ''a big challenge'' against New Orleans' highly ranked pass offense.
At 35, Brees still is one of the elite quarterbacks in the NFL with his quick release and a penchant for putting up big numbers.
''He's one of the fastest guys just with his quick passes,'' Packers safety Micah Hyde said. ''It seems like he doesn't even get his hands on laces or anything, he can just get it out of his hand so fast. That's one thing we have to be ready for.''
The Packers' defense, tied for the league lead in creating turnovers, will look to force Brees into a rare mistake when the teams play at the Superdome.
Rare because Brees hasn't thrown an interception in his last three games against Green Bay. The Packers (5-2) will have to try to get their hands on the football with possibly two of their primary four starters at defensive back sidelined.
Cornerback Sam Shields is doubtful. He hasn't practiced this week after missing Green Bay's last game with a knee injury.
And safety Morgan Burnett, who also hasn't practiced since suffering a calf injury late in the Packers' win over Carolina on Sunday, is questionable.
The Packers didn't practice Friday, so McCarthy will wait to see if Burnett is able to move around in the team's workout Saturday before it heads to New Orleans.
''He's making progress,'' McCarthy said. ''It's kind of a time clock type thing, just what he's dealing with.''
Green Bay already will be without starting defensive end Datone Jones for a third straight game because of an ankle injury.
Still, the Packers are confident they can disrupt Brees in the prime-time matchup and extend their winning streak to five games.
''We're excited as a defense for this opportunity,'' McCarthy said. ''We've been playing better each and every week.''
Green Bay ranks sixth in the league against the pass, allowing an average of 214.9 yards per game - almost a full 100 yards less than the Saints' second-rated clip for yards passing.
The Packers have been opportunistic on defense. Their 14 takeaways ties them with New England for the top spot, and they are No. 2 with 10 interceptions.
Now Green Bay is craving its first interception off Brees in almost a decade. His seven picks this season are third highest in the league.
Brees goes into Sunday's game not having thrown an interception against the Packers in his last 163 attempts. The last one? By cornerback Al Harris in the first quarter of the Saints' 34-27 win at Lambeau in Week 2 of the 2006 season.
Bush and linebacker A.J. Hawk are the only remaining players on Green Bay's defense from that game.
''We've just got to get that (defensive) line to kind of move his feet a little bit, move his eyes and just make him either throw the ball just a little off or maybe on time where we're breaking at the same time,'' Bush said. ''Just kind of confuse him a little bit, make him frustrated because, I think, that's when the ball will come.
''Hopefully . like I said, he's due for one.''
NOTE: Packers RB James Starks is probable for Sunday's game. Starks, who said he twisted his ankle in the last game, practiced on a limited basis Thursday after being out Wednesday. The team estimated he would have been a limited participant Friday. ''Basically just going to take it day by day and move around and keep doing treatment on it,'' Starks said.
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