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Poor Packers

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  • Poor Packers

    By Dylan B. Tomlinson

    It seems that every game this season, the Green Bay Packers face an opponent with a No. 1 receiver who is supposed to give them nightmares.

    This week, that’s a much bigger problem.

    This time, there are two of them.

    When the Green Bay Packers host the St. Louis Rams on Monday night at Lambeau Field, there will be two Pro Bowl receivers lining up on the other side of the ball. Isaac Bruce has 58 catches for 856 yards and three touchdowns this season. Torry Holt has 53 catches for 724 yards and six touchdowns.

    “It’s dangerous, dangerous and more dangerous,” Packers defensive coordinator Bob Slowik said. “This group is the most dangerous. They’re very experienced. They’re playmakers. They’re Pro Bowl players. They’re definitely one of the best.”

    Rams quarterback Marc Bulger said having two top receivers gives the Rams offensive options that most teams don’t have.

    “We don’t have to prepare like Minnesota does when you know teams are going to double one receiver,” Bulger said. “The minute a team doubles Isaac, we can single it up with Torry. We have been getting a lot of Cover 2, where they double both of them and that opens up the run. Anytime we get one-on-one, we feel like we can beat anyone.”

    This week, the Rams receivers will have to try to beat Packers defensive backs Al Harris and Ahmad Carroll. Harris already has shown this season that he’s capable of stopping or at least shutting down some of the NFL’s best receivers. It’s presumed that Harris will be on Holt, who is the better deep threat of the two. That leaves Carroll, an improving rookie, to cover Bruce.

    Defensive backs coach Kurt Schottenheimer said it should be the biggest test so far this season for Carroll.

    “I think it is,” Schottenheimer said. “They’re just outstanding. They’re fun to watch when you don’t have to play against them. (Harris and Carroll) will have their hands full.”

    Rams coach Mike Martz said it would be tempting to try to throw to whichever receiver is being covered by Carroll, since any rookie would seem to be overmatched by either Bruce or Holt, but he said he’s confident that either of his receivers can get a favorable matchup against almost any defensive back.

    “We just kind of do what we do and not worry so much about where everybody is,” Martz said. “You can kind of tie yourself up with that. All of a sudden, you’ve limited yourself. You just kind of have to be careful about getting involved too much in that.”

    After struggling early in the season, Carroll is quickly proving his worth. According to Schottenheimer, Carroll did not give up a reception in Sunday night’s win over the Houston Texans.

    “He’s done a really good job on some good receivers like (Washington’s) Laveranues Coles and (Houston’s) Jabar Gaffney,” Schottenheimer said. “He struggled a little bit against (Minnesota’s) Nate Burleson. He wasn’t on him the whole game, but (Burleson) did catch the TD pass on (Carroll).”

    Assuming that Carroll has to cover Bruce, it will be a considerable step up from any of the other receivers Carroll has been assigned to try to stop this season. While Coles, Gaffney and Burleson are all nice receivers, Bruce is a superstar with six 1,000-yard seasons and four Pro Bowls under his belt.

    Packers coach Mike Sherman said he has confidence in Carroll, but said he realizes what a tough task Carroll has ahead of him on Monday.

    “He has made a ton of progress since the start of the year,” Sherman said. “I just see a player who continues to get better. Hopefully that will continue. He certainly will be challenged this week by this group.”

    If Carroll’s not up to the challenge, it could be a long game Monday night for the Packers.