Bills-Packers Preview

BY foxsports • September 17, 2010

The Green Bay Packers won their opener despite an imperfect performance from their star quarterback, but any more victories in 2010 must come without contributions from their top running back.

The Packers begin their home schedule - and life without Ryan Grant - on Sunday against the Buffalo Bills, who have three healthy rushers but major offensive problems to correct.

Grant led Green Bay in rushing each of the last three years, but he won't again after suffering a season-ending ankle injury during a 27-20 win at Philadelphia last Sunday.

"When you lose a running back of Ryan's caliber, it's a big loss, but this is something we have to deal with and move forward from as a team," general manager Ted Thompson said in a statement.

Brandon Jackson, who carried 18 times for 63 yards against the Eagles, will start in place of Grant. He'll likely get some help from fullback John Kuhn, who scored the Packers' lone rushing touchdown with a three-yard plunge.

Aaron Rodgers may also carry a heavier load for the Packers, who are hopeful of an even better finish after going 11-5 and reaching the playoffs last year.

Rodgers threw for 4,434 yards and 30 touchdowns with seven interceptions in 2009, but was picked off twice last weekend and wasn't pleased after going 19 of 31 for 188 yards and two TDs.

"I played terrible. It was as bad as I can play. I've got to be better," said Rodgers, who had reached 200 yards passing in 20 of his previous 23 games. "I missed a lot of throws. The defense played good. We made enough plays to win. I personally made too many dumb mistakes."

That defense limited the Eagles to three points in the first half, knocking Philadelphia quarterback Kevin Kolb out of the game on a big hit from standout linebacker Clay Matthews.

A Pro Bowler as a rookie last year, Matthews overcame a preseason hamstring injury and picked up where he left off with two sacks, seven tackles and a forced fumble in the opener.

"We know what we have, we know what we can do," Matthews said. "It's all about putting it together now."

A similar performance by Matthews won't make things any easier for Buffalo, which wasn't able to do much offensively during a 15-10 home loss to Miami last Sunday.

The Bills managed 166 yards - the fewest of any NFL team in Week 1 - and nine first downs. Their three-pronged rushing attack of Fred Jackson, Marshawn Lynch and rookie C.J. Spiller combined for 38 yards.

Back as the starting quarterback after losing the job last year, Trent Edwards went 18 of 34 for 139 yards and a touchdown.

"Obviously, it didn't go as we planned - and that would be an understatement," first-year coach Chan Gailey said. "And that's mostly my fault.

"I know where we want to go, and we've got a plan to get there. I told the players, 'I don't know if it's going to take two games, five games, eight games. I don't know how many it's going to take, but we're going to get there."

While Gailey is new in Buffalo, offensive problems are not. The Bills have ranked no better than 25th in total yards in any of the last seven seasons, during which their AFC-worst playoff drought has reached 10 years.

They spent the ninth overall draft pick on the dynamic Spiller in hopes of jolting their attack, but after a promising preseason the former Clemson star had six yards on seven carries in his debut.

"I let a couple runs get away from me," Spiller said. "I was trying to play too fast, but that just comes with getting adjusted. And now I've got a good understanding of what it will be like."

Lynch had only three carries. The former first-round pick played at California with Rodgers and may be a potential trade target for the Packers.

Rodgers was a member of the Golden Bears the last time he appeared in the same game as Edwards, who attended rival Stanford.

The Bills will have at least one major hole to fill defensively as they attempt to slow down Rodgers. Middle linebacker Paul Posluszny is expected to miss about three weeks after injuring his knee Sunday.

Outside linebacker Reggie Torbor will make his Bills debut after missing the opener with a chest injury.



share story