Advertisement
  1. Archive

Packers mull pass coverage

The Packers are going to respect Randy Moss.

If he walks to the locker room with 10 minutes left in the game, cornerback Al Harris and safety Darren Sharper are going to follow him.

But as the Packers prepare for their second winner-take-all showdown in three weeks with the Minnesota Vikings, the way in which they cover Moss might very well be dictated by what occurs across the field.

In what could be the match-up that decides which team moves on to the next round of the playoffs, the Packers probably will have to put their faith in rookie cornerback Ahmad Carroll to cover explosive receiver Nate Burleson.

What Burleson has done to the Packers in two games is impressive. Two weeks ago at the Metrodome, he caught two passes for 110 yards and a touchdown, and in the November meeting at Lambeau Field, he caught 11 passes for 141 yards and a touchdown.

Burleson, the Vikings' yardage leader with 1,006 on 68 catches, has receptions of 24, 40, 42 and 68 yards against the Packers this season. He has outgained Moss 251 receiving yards to 30 in those two games, although Moss sat out the first meeting with a hamstring injury.

"Burleson, he puts me in that mind frame like a Jimmy Smith," said Harris, who spent the entire day on Moss in the last meeting. "He runs really good routes and pays attention to detail. He does a great job. He doesn't have the speed that Moss has or his jumping ability, but he runs precise routes. That's what kills guys."

It would seem a no-brainer that the Packers would play the Cover-2 zone defense that held the Vikings to 171 yards and three points in the second half of the 34-31 victory at the Metrodome Dec. 24, but they strongly have to consider whether Carroll can handle his assignments in that defense.

If they had their druthers, the Packers would play the Vikings man-to-man the entire game because Carroll doesn't play zone well and Harris wants to be in Moss' face wherever he goes. But if Carroll can't handle Burleson and his returner's speed, 42{-inch vertical leap and precise route-running, the Packers might have to play zone again.

SEAHAWKS: Koren Robinson returned to practice after a one-day absence to rest a sore right hip.

He's listed as probable for Saturday's wild-card playoff game against St. Louis, but coach Mike Holmgren hadn't decided whether the troubled receiver will play because of a disciplinary issue.

"We're going to talk about that. He is going to suit up," Holmgren said.

Robinson, who missed meetings before last weekend's win over Atlanta, sat out six of the last seven regular-season games _ two for breaking team rules and four in an NFL suspension for violating the league's substance-abuse policy.

Holmgren consulted a players committee to discuss Robinson's situation, mostly to keep the team informed.

"I told them it wasn't their decision," Holmgren said. "It was going to be my decision, but I did want them aware of what was going on. I wanted to hear what they thought. Koren and I have spoken, and there are a few things he has to do."

He declined to elaborate.

Another receiver, Darrell Jackson, is probable with a strained right hamstring and practiced Thursday for the first time this week. Cornerback Marcus Trufant is probable with a strained right thigh.

FALCONS: Quarterback Michael Vick didn't practice because of an illness. He showed up at the training complex but was sent home. He apparently contracted a stomach flu that several teammates had earlier in the week.

_ TIMES WIRES

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Advertisement
Advertisement