Rodgers trying to win Monday night game on the road

The Sports Xchange

--If Ted Thompson had designs on taking former Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson in the middle rounds of the draft this year, the Seattle Seahawks beat Green Bay's general manager to the punch.

The Seahawks brass, which includes genral manager John Schneider (a former Packers executive under Thompson), took Wilson 12 picks into the third round with the 75th overall choice.

Despite the rap on the 5-11 Wilson going into the draft because of his short stature, Seattle looks to have come up with a diamond in the rough for the Emerald City.

Wilson beat out Matt Flynn in the preseason for the starting job. That came as a shocker since Flynn left Green Bay as the understudy to Aaron Rodgers the last four years and signed as a free agent with the Seahawks under the premise he would be their starter.

Any clamoring by Seattle fans for Flynn to get the job may have been hushed by Wilson's performance Sunday. The rookie was economically sharp, completing 15 of 20 passes for 151 yards and a touchdown without an interception for a passer rating of 112.7 as the Seahawks punished visiting Dallas 27-7 for their first win.

"Russell is going to make the plays," Packers defensive end Jerel Worthy said. "He's a very good quarterback. He's very efficient, very smart. If he can't see back there, he's going to find a way to where he can get down the field and see the wide receivers. He'll make the plays. He's a damn good player."

Worthy knows of Wilson's skills better than any of his Green Bay teammates. They became fast friends in the past year after Worthy's Michigan State team played Wilson's Wisconsin team twice in Big Ten Conference play last season and then when they were in Indianapolis in February for the pre-draft scouting combine.

Thompson didn't dismiss the notion of taking a shorter quarterback, particularly Wilson, when the topic was broached at the combine.

"At the end of the day, yeah, you'd like to have the prototypical (quarterback)," Thompson said. "(But) that doesn't mean it's an end-all, be-all. There's some really good players, one (Drew Brees) certainly in New Orleans that's probably not ideal height. It doesn't seem to bother him at all. There are players in every draft that maybe don't fit the ideal height-weight-speed thing but they turn out to be good players. That applies to all positions and certainly with the quarterback position."

Instead of looking forward to a matchup with Flynn, who set Green Bay passing records with 480 yards and six touchdowns in an otherwise meaningless regular-season finale against the Detroit Lions on New Year's Day this year, the Packers will see how Wilson measures up as an NFL quarterback.

They travel to Seattle to play the Seahawks on Monday night.

"As a defense, we're going to have our hands full with (Wilson), (running back) Marshawn Lynch and the weapons they have," Worthy said. "We just have to stay sound on defense."

Worthy, a second-round draft pick taken 24 spots ahead of Wilson, feels the former Wisconsin standout is playing bigger than advertised.

"Players make plays regardless of your size and your height," Worthy said. "As long as you go out there and give good effort, if you can play football you can play football. Doug Flutie wasn't tall. Russell Wilson isn't tall. Darren Sproles isn't tall. At the same time, they know how to go out there and make plays, and he's shown he knows how to make a lot of good plays."

--The toughest task for punter Tim Masthay in the Packers' last game, a 23-10 win over the rival Chicago Bears on Sept. 13, may have been being almost flawless with his directional kicks to limit star returner Devin Hester to two returns for a meager sum of 8 yards.

As for throwing a pass for the first time in an NFL game, nothing to it.

"I had the easiest job of anybody," Masthay asserted as he recounted the play that more or less catapulted him to being selected NFC Special Teams Player of the Week on Wednesday.

A shovel pass from Masthay, who was the holder, to Tom Crabtree as the tight end motioned behind the line turned into a 27-yard touchdown on a fourth-and-26 fake field goal late in the first half.

"All I'm doing is catching the snap, putting it down and flipping it to Tom," Masthay said. "The rest of the guys were the ones doing the work. It was really cool."

Green Bay last had a punter throw a touchdown pass Nov. 19, 1972, when Ron Widby connected with Dave Davis for a 68-yard score.

"We have things that we do in both of the kicking elements where you can fake instead of kick," special teams coordinator Shawn Slocum said. "So, it's something we practice often. It's just that everything lined up for us (that) night."

Masthay became the first punter to earn the special teams honor from the league in each of his first three pro seasons.

Despite a career-high 3.5 sacks by outside linebacker Clay Matthews in the game against the Bears, Arizona Cardinals defensive end Calais Campbell gained the nod for NFC Defensive Player of the Week. Campbell had two sacks in the Cardinals' 20-18 upset victory at the New England Patriots.

--Rodgers has accomplished plenty in his four-plus seasons as the leader of Green Bay's offense.

The league's reigning MVP, however, has come up empty when the Packers play a Monday night game on the road.

Since the beginning of Rodgers' starting tenure at the start of the 2008 season, Green Bay is 0-4 on "Monday Night Football" when away from Lambeau Field.

The Packers lost 51-29 at New Orleans and 20-17 in overtime at Chicago in 2008, 30-23 at Minnesota in '09 and 20-17 at Chicago in '10.

Green Bay is playing its only Monday night game of the season.

Coupled with the Thursday night conquest of the Bears last week, the Packers will play their final 13 regular-season games on Sunday.

--Fresh off opening the season with two straight home games, Green Bay will be in travel mode for the better part of the next month.

The Packers play four of their next five games on the road.

They will host the New Orleans Saints on Sept. 30, then play away games the subsequent three weeks: Oct. 7 at the Indianapolis Colts, Oct. 14 at the Houston Texans and Oct. 21 at the St. Louis Rams.

6 - Consecutive victories by the Packers in their first road game of the season, all since Mike McCarthy's first year as head coach in 2006. It is the longest active winning streak in the NFL for road openers.

"It's our style of play. We go out to leave it all on the field. We feel like if we train properly those plays have a good chance to work for us." - Special teams coordinator Shawn Slocum, on the fourth-and-26 fake field goal that resulted in a 27-yard, catch-and-run touchdown by Tom Crabtree on a shovel pass from holder Tim Masthay in the 23-10 win over the Chicago Bears on Sept. 13.

Copyright (C) 2012 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.


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