All week long we've heard how the Pack without their star QB Aaron Rodgers should be easy pickin's for the Birds' secondary defense… but not so fast…
Seneca Wallace, the Packers' backup quarterback, knows how to read weaknesses in secondary coverage as well as many starting QB's in the league. And right now, the Eagles are dealing with some injury problems at cornerback.
If Bradley Fletcher, the surprise performer for the Eagles at CB so far this season, is unavailable to play any meaningful sets of downs this Sunday, the Packers offense may well find our Achilles heel.
Fletcher was limited in practice all week after suffering a pectoral injury in last week’s win over Oakland and is listed as questionable for tomorrow’s game in Green Bay.
“I’m feeling better every day,’’ Fletcher said. “I was able to do a little more every day. We’ll just see how it goes. I’ll see how I feel (today) before we leave and then how I feel (tomorrow) before the game. Hopefully, I’ll be all right.’’
Fletcher has started eight of the Eagles’ nine games this season, missing the second game of the year against San Diego, and has been the team’s best cover corner. He shares the team lead in interceptions with two and leads the team in pass breakups with 12.
If he cannot go, the Eagles coaches have three options: they could move nickel back Brandon Boykin outside, but they have been against doing that all season; they could start Roc Carmichael; they could start Curtis Marsh and in either case leave Boykin in the slot.
“We’re going to take some looks at some different combinations,’’ Eagles defensive coordinator Bill Davis said this week. “How much nickel are we going to play? What’s coming at us? All those things factor into our decision making.’’
“We’ll just see what we have to deal with and go from there,’’ Davis said. “I’m still hoping we have (Fletcher).’’
Carmichael, 5-foot-10, 197 pounds was signed off the Houston Texans’ practice squad by the Eagles on Sept. 18. He’s played in six games this season and 12 in his career. But he has never started a game.
Marsh, 6-1, 197, was a third-round pick of the Eagles in the 2011 draft and was cut in training camp. Cincinnati signed him, but released him after two games. The Eagles signed him again Tuesday.
“It’s great that I know the system,’’ Marsh said. “It’s not like I have to learn everything. I was here all through camp, so I know the play calls, I know the scheme. I can come right in and play.’’
He may have to, if Fletcher can’t go.
On the official injury report, quarterback Mike Vick (hamstring) and backup linebacker Jake Knott (hamstring) are both listed as doubtful.
Green Bay expects to have Pro Bowl linebacker Clay Matthews back from a broken thumb this week. He’s missed the past five games, but is listed as probable this week. Linebacker Nick Perry (foot) is listed as questionable for the Packers.
Damaris Johnson was not on punt or kickoff returns last week in Oakland and head coach Chip Kelly said it was because of a bum ankle that limited him in practice the week before the game.
This week Johnson was fine.
Let’s see who returns punts and kickoffs tomorrow.
Johnson is averaging 8.6 yards on 11 punt returns and a decent 25.9 on 17 kickoff returns, but his decision-making has left a lot to be desired.
DeSean Jackson replaced him on punt returns last week and averaged 13 yards on three returns, including a 32-yarder.
Boykin replaced Damaris on kickoffs and averaged 25 yards on two returns.
Speaking of special teams, tight end James Casey certainly hasn’t made the impact on offense the team thought he might when they signed him to a three-year $12 million contract with $8 million guaranteed. Casey, however, has been pretty good on special teams this season.
According to Pro Football Focus, which rates every play of every game, Casey is tied for third in the league in overall special teams performance thus far this season.