Packers' Lacy, Adams on track to return
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) The Kansas City Chiefs have heard enough about their last-minute collapse to Denver.
With a trip to Lambeau Field to play the Green Bay Packers on Monday night, the Chiefs will end an agonizing 11-day stretch since that disheartening defeat to the Broncos.
”They understand the challenge that’s ahead of them,” coach Andy Reid said. ”Move on and learn from your mistakes and we roll.”
But boy did the Chiefs commit some late blunders in the 31-24 loss at home to Denver back on Sept. 17.
Five turnovers, none bigger than a fumble by the typically sure-handed Jamaal Charles that was scooped up and returned by cornerback Bradley Roby 21 yards for the go-ahead touchdown with 27 seconds left. No third-down conversions on seven chances. A late fourth quarter touchdown drive allowed by the defense.
All caught on national television in prime time. How deflating.
But the Chiefs (1-1) promise that they’re not looking back. It just so happens that they get a chance to redeem themselves in another nationally-televised night game.
”Try to finish plays and just go out there and play ball and just finish plays to the best of our abilities,” safety Eric Berry said.
This is exactly what the Packers (2-0) did on Sept. 20 when they beat the Seattle Seahawks 27-17.
Green Bay outplayed the defending NFC champions in the fourth quarter, inspired by a 10-play, 80-yard drive for the go-ahead score masterfully orchestrated by MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers. The defense came up with two turnovers in the game’s final seven minutes.
”That was an emphasis coming into the season, finishing,” veteran linebacker Julius Peppers said. ”It’s shown up in the games when we needed it.”
Some other things to watch ahead of the teams’ first meeting since a 19-14 win by the Chiefs in 2011:
RODGERS VS. SMITH: Rodgers and Chiefs counterpart Alex Smith are buddies. Rodgers roots for his fellow quarterback when they’re not playing each other.
But Monday night, Rodgers gets another chance to remind teams what they missed after passing him up before the Packers selected him with the 24th overall pick of the 2005 draft. Smith was the first pick that year by the San Francisco 49ers.
Neither quarterback wanted to rehash the past this week. Keep in mind that Rodgers, a two-time NFL MVP, makes his loudest statements on the field.
GROUND CONTROL: Chicago’s shifty Matt Forte ran all over the Packers in the season opener. Seattle’s bullish Marshawn Lynch was stopped cold by gang-tackling Green Bay last week.
Charles, an explosive all-purpose threat for the Chiefs is up next for Green Bay. He ran for 125 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries last week.
Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers said the key to stopping any back, no matter the style, is to slow him early.
”If you play it well early, some people will get away from it quicker than others,” Capers said.
FIND CLAY: Clay Matthews’ role in the Packers’ defense continues to evolve. Once primarily a pass rusher, the long-haired linebacker now finds himself in the middle of the defense more than ever.
Matthews’ athleticism helps Green Bay slow down the run on early downs. Last week, he was also at times the only linebacker on the field along with six defensive backs in passing situations. Matthews helped cover Seahawks tight end Jimmy Graham; the Chiefs also have a big-play tight end in Travis Kelce.
TRAINER’S ROOM: Running back Eddie Lacy and receiver Davante Adams appeared to be on track to return from ankle injuries for the Packers. Each player has a capable backup, though a Packers offense already without Jordy Nelson (right knee) for the year and operating with Randall Cobb (right shoulder) at less than a 100 percent can’t afford to lose many more quality weapons for Rodgers.
GET IN THE END ZONE: This is not the kind of milestone that a receiving corps wants to have: No Chiefs wideout has caught a touchdown pass since Jan. 4, 2014, when Smith connected with Donnie Avery on a 79-yard catch-and-run in a wild-card game against Indianapolis.
Packers top cornerback Sam Shields bounced back last week after a tough day in the opener against the Bears. The other starter, Casey Hayward, has a pedigree of coming up with turnovers as a slot cornerback.
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