Third and one: Packers

Posted by ESPN.com’s Kevin Seifert

After Green Bay’s 31-24 loss to Cincinnati, here are three (mostly) indisputable facts I feel relatively sure about:

  1. The Packers are preparing to play at St. Louis without two significant starters. Left tackle Chad Clifton has an ankle sprain that could sideline him for several weeks, and safety Nick Collins has what coach Mike McCarthy called a sprained clavicle. Clifton is likely to be replaced by left guard Daryn Colledge, with Jason Spitz moving to left guard and Scott Wells playing center. If Collins can’t play, the Packers would be without both starting safeties. Backup Aaron Rouse already is starting for the injured Atari Bigby. That means Jarrett Bush or newcomer Derrick Martin would have to take over at Collins' spot. Collins was one of the Packers’ few bright spots Sunday before he got injured, and there is definitely a dropoff when Rouse enters the game.

  2. Sunday, I questioned why Packers coaches didn’t give more help to Clifton and Colledge as Cincinnati’s Antwan Odom motored to five sacks. But McCarthy said Monday that he called “heavy-protection” pass plays for the most part and said, if anything, he’s giving his linemen too much help. “I’m not going to go overboard,” he said. “But four of those [six] sacks are totally uncalled for and unacceptable.” McCarthy said some linemen are just getting “flat-out” beat. To me, that paints a worse picture than I thought. I’d rather hear that coaches were slow to make an adjustment, as opposed to the adjustments didn’t work. If your quarterback gets sacked six times while operating behind “heavy-protection” schemes, then you have a fundamental problem that might not be easily solved.

  3. Inside linebacker Nick Barnett, a prodigious Twitter user, is pledging to stop tweeting until after the season after expressing a few emotional thoughts Sunday night. One of them suggested he isn’t happy with the Packers’ rotation at linebacker. (“Tough game!! Hard to get in The swing of things in a rotation.. Don't know why we are even in a rottion t this point..”) The other chastised fans who were upset that he celebrated after making a tackle. Monday morning, he tweeted: “I am a emotional person and sometimes … With this Twitter thing I forget that everything is public..” As for the linebacker rotation, Barnett should recognize that it’s in his best interest to keep the rotation going. While he was rehabilitating this summer, two other players -- Brandon Chillar and Desmond Bishop – proved they were more than capable of playing his position.

And here’s one question I’m still asking:

How good will the Packers’ 3-4 defense be against the run? Sunday, Bengals tailback Cedric Benson rolled up 141 yards. We’ve heard a lot about Dom Capers’ creative blitz schemes against the pass but not quite as much about its approach to the run. McCarthy said Monday that the Bengals’ offensive line outplayed the Packers’ defensive line Sunday. Does this mean we’ll see rookie B.J. Raji in St. Louis? As of Monday, McCarthy said Raji was still walking with a limp because of a sprained ankle.