5 Things to Watch in Packers vs Cowboys: Defensive back shakeup?

Five things to watch as Mike McCarthy returns to Lambeau Field with his Dallas Cowboys.

Packers vs Cowboys was supposed to be a big game. Mike McCarthy returning to Lambeau Field. Two NFC powerhouses facing off for a potential playoff preview. Instead, it’s the 6-2 Cowboys vs the 3-6 and almost certainly dead Packers.

Green Bay has entered a different kind of season now, and the priority should be to look for anything they can build around next season, young players in particular. Here are five things to watch as the Packers host ‘America’s team’.

Defensive back shakeup?

Matt LaFleur confirmed Friday that Eric Stokes is likely to be out for the rest of the season, meaning there will be spare snaps to be claimed in Green Bay’s secondary.

The claiming of former Raiders safety Johnathan Abram earlier in the week would appear to point towards a new role for Darnell Savage, who said playing in the slot “feels like home” for him.

It may have taken too long, but kudos to the Packers and Joe Barry for at least showing a willingness to try something different.

Now the question is whether Abram can get up to speed in time to make a significant contribution on Sunday, or whether Rudy Ford or Micah Abernathy will primarily partner Adrian Amos instead.

Kingsley Enagbare

Changes are also in order on Green Bay’s front seven, with Rashan Gary’s season over due to an ACL tear. Rookie Kingsley Enagbare looks to be the next man up, and therein lies a silver lining for Packer fans.

Whatever ‘it’ is, Enagbare has it. He’s not the best athlete you’ll ever find, but man, does he know how to rush the passer. His technique is remarkably polished for a player of his age and ‘JJ’ has plenty of tools in his bag to get home.

His position coach, Jason Rebrovich, had plenty of praise for Enagbare this week, saying: He’s a very lengthy, slithery player. There’s a lot of things JJ does well that can’t be coached”.

Kylin Hill

One of the very few positives taken from Green Bay’s loss to Detroit was the return of Kylin Hill.

Having shown promise in his rookie year before an ACL tear, and with Aaron Jones’ struggling with an ankle injury, Hill could see more carries this Sunday after getting just one a week ago.

AJ Dillon hasn’t been particularly productive this season, so even when Jones is fully healthy, Hill could begin to see his snap count increase.

Will Aaron Rodgers bounce back?

The reigning back-to-back MVP produced one of his most putrid performances in recent memory versus the Lions, with his redzone interceptions arguably costing the Packers the game.

With his old coach coming back to town, you can bet Rodgers will be extremely motivated to get one over McCarthy and produce a vintage display this Sunday.

Rodgers hasn’t been helped by a surprisingly leaky offensive line and inconsistent receiver play, but he has to take some blame for Green Bay’s disappointing season. Can he find a way to flick the switch and go all ‘God Mode’ Aaron Rodgers?

McCarthy’s reception

Speaking of McCarthy, I’m hoping he gets a warm reception from the Green Bay crowd at Lambeau.

McCarthy was emotional when discussing what Green Bay means to him earlier this week, and although he returns as the enemy, and it’ll be understandable if he doesn’t get a good reception, he still won a Lombardi Trophy for the Packers and deserves a warm welcome back.

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Mark Oldacres is a sports writer from Birmingham, England and a Green Bay Packers fan. You can follow him on twitter at @Marko7LW

3 points

Comments (29)

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splitpea1's picture

November 12, 2022 at 04:02 pm

Sorry, but I don't think anyone deserves kudos fro trying something different in the secondary because, a) we haven't actually seen it happen yet, and b) it was forced by injury if it does happen. Ford has done reasonably when he's been in there, but I'm very curious to see what we have in Abernathy. Maybe Abrams sees some spot duty, I don't know.

This is going to be a tough game to win with so many starters out. The OL must hold up in pass protection against the Dallas pass rush, but give Jones and Dillon a heavy workload. Rodgers: I'm expecting a rebound, but only if he picks his spots carefully and doesn't go into panic/desperation mode.

I'm thinking this is going to be a competitive game, but I'm not sure we have the horses to pull off the win.

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PackyCheese500's picture

November 12, 2022 at 04:15 pm

This will be about as competitive as super bowl 48. My predictions: Packers get blown out and fail to score. McCarthy get the last laugh

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KenEllis's picture

November 12, 2022 at 04:03 pm

5 things to look for on Sunday:

1) Packer WRs and TEs getting absolutely blanketed while the Dallas defensive line tees off and attacks the QB;

2) Rodgers with a sour look on his face throughout the game;

3) The Cowboys running the ball down the throat of the Pack's soft defense;

4) Mike McCarthy, arms folded, thanking his lucky stars that Jerry Jones forced competent offensive and defensive coordinators on him; and

5) 20,000 to 30,000 Cowboys' fans in Lambeau whooping it up while celebrating a two-score win.

For fans old enough to remember, this is just how the 1970s felt.

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PackyCheese500's picture

November 12, 2022 at 04:05 pm

Only two scores?

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Packers1985's picture

November 12, 2022 at 10:24 pm

4.) Not only big mike lucked out in terms of coordinators. They lucked out in terms of drafting as well. Here is a detailed draft call selection and how they helped their team.

https://www.si.com/nfl/packers/news/drafts-helped-cowboys-shoot-past-pac...

Agreed cowboys have been drafting up high than us but again they succeeded in the later rounds too and also we could've got impact players than we have selected even at the number where we selected too but as usual too much of RAS has screwed us up.

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Tundraboy's picture

November 12, 2022 at 11:56 pm

Not that bad, yet.

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PackyCheese500's picture

November 12, 2022 at 04:59 pm

The Packers are going to get blown out by the Cowboys. I'd be surprised if we score points. I legitimately only see one (vs DET), possibly two (vs LAR) games that we win for the rest of this year. At least I can look forward to drafting Will Anderson Jr. next year.

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Coldworld's picture

November 12, 2022 at 05:41 pm

Looking to see players like Toure, Enagbare, McDuffie get lots if opportunities to show what they can do. It’s going to be interesting to see who does what in the secondary. I’m happy to see Hill being worked in, but this week at least I hope it’s to not overdo Jones after injury while still leaning on the run

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Tundraboy's picture

November 12, 2022 at 11:59 pm

Me too. As well as Ford, Hill, Abernathy and maybe the new guy too. And no Amari on any type of returns! Savage on bench? Let's see what we have.

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Swisch's picture

November 12, 2022 at 06:32 pm

I, too, am hopeful Mike McCarthy gets a good reception in Lambeau Field as a sign of appreciation for him and a touch of class from Packers fans.
He had the Packers making the playoffs most years: contending for the Super Bowl perhaps a few times; and actually winning a Super Bowl and the Vince Lombardi Trophy, a rare achievement for just about any team in the NFL.

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Tundraboy's picture

November 13, 2022 at 12:03 am

Nice summation of MM.

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BirdDogUni's picture

November 12, 2022 at 07:32 pm

10 Jaxon Smith-Njigba WR | Ohio State A+
40 Brian Branch S | Alabama A+
71 Jaelyn Duncan OT | Maryland A+
109 Sam LaPorta TE | Iowa A+
142 Tre'Vius Hodges-Tomlinson CB | TCU A+
171 Brenton Cox Jr. EDGE | Florida A+
221 DeWayne McBride RB | UAB A
226 Ali Gaye EDGE | LSU B+

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LLCHESTY's picture

November 13, 2022 at 02:16 am

Have you watched any of the vids with Andy Herman and Mike Wahle? Wahle does a nice job breaking down the lines but lately has been going into other parts of the team and comparing it to crappy teams he played on after he left GB.

https://youtu.be/POe3otFRZ5k

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PackyCheese500's picture

November 13, 2022 at 09:03 am

Why do you have us picking at #10 overall? I see us in the top-5 at least. At very most, I see us winning 2 more games, against the Lions and Rams, but realistically, we possibly could only win one, vs the Lions.

Also I would not go receiver in the 1st round. There’s lots of talent in the 2nd, and overall talent has to trump positional value when picking that high. Smith Njigba also has a small frame, so I don’t see him being targeted by the Packers FO. A.T. Perry of Wake Forest, who is almost an exact replica of Allen Lazard physically, I think would be a good 2nd-round target. I would also address TE sooner, because we have been sorely lacking at TE for years, and it’s time we made a good investment in a TE. This years class is exceptional. Also Brian Branch isn’t going that low, we’d need to trade up to get him. I would put d-line above CB in terms of position of need

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BirdDogUni's picture

November 13, 2022 at 09:43 am

#10 overall is where the simulator had us picking. (No control over that.)

I seriously don't know any of these guys yet, but I'm sure I will by April... SMH

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PackyCheese500's picture

November 13, 2022 at 10:57 am

Ah. I think for PFF, you can change it. In my mock order (based upon my predictions for the rest of the season), I have the 2-14-1 Texans and 4-13 Panthers picking ahead of us (who I have ending the season 4-13), and the 5-12 Lions and 5-11-1 Colts rounding out the top 5.

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Packerlifer's picture

November 12, 2022 at 08:03 pm

I expect the Packers to lose about 27-10. Either the Cowboys bury them in the first half but the Pack stands up in the second, similar to the Buffalo game. Or the Packers keep it close for the first half but, as they've done all season long, unravels in the second.

If they can only score 9 on the worst defense in the league last week there's not much to hope for against one of the league's best this week.

The Packers' best chance for staying in this one will be running the ball like they did at Buffalo. If Rodgers starts spraying passes all over, with the passing offense in its current state, it'll be a lot of punts and a couple of picks and the defense will be gassed by the fourth quarter.

Mike McCarthy can join Mike Holmgren as the only championship winning coaches to come back and beat Green Bay with another team. https://www.packers.com/news/a-title-winning-packers-coach-has-faced-for...

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vin0770's picture

November 12, 2022 at 09:39 pm

Did Dallas’ plane find the airport? Dang….😢

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Tundraboy's picture

November 13, 2022 at 12:05 am

Could we at least have some bad weather.

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LLCHESTY's picture

November 13, 2022 at 02:23 am

It's going to be colder than normal for this time of year.

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LLCHESTY's picture

November 13, 2022 at 02:09 am

I was waiting for one of the 5 to be whatever else is on. I turned the game off a couple weeks ago and caught the 2nd half of The Dirty Dozen. That was cool.

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4thand10's picture

November 13, 2022 at 08:24 am

Packers finally have an opportunity to keep things real simple and play a 4-3 cover2 to stop a running game as they have enough DL on the roster to do it. Will Joe Barry do it? No, and it’s sad. Will Lafluer say “ hey, we’re following my game plan with rushing , reverses and screens mixed with some play action and possibly a few QB keepers…not a chance as long as AR is at the helm playing hero ball. will they use an extra OL or 2-3 TEs to keep the Dallas D at bay …nope. There is a very real chance a goose egg is laid at Lambeau. I’ll be optimistic when the coaches show me they have the ability to play multiple and make adjustments.

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Fubared's picture

November 13, 2022 at 09:19 am

I was somewhat shocked at the success of this pass d last year until the playoffs of course, then the better team discovered Stokes and it was all over.
Look, I heard and tv analyst who questioned Barry about the zone d he was using and why not cover more and Barry told him "we dont have the talent to play cover". This is pre injury time.
Stokes, is too dumb, Amos and Savage too slow, Jairre can be non existant since they know he is good they pass elesewhere.
He has been chomping at the bit to play cover man and they wont let him because no one else can. I bet he is dam sorry I signed that contract now. Cant be a happy camper.
Gonna be a long day and long end to the season.

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PhantomII's picture

November 13, 2022 at 12:25 pm

Savage is not slow on speed...out of position and thinking...yes. Amos needs to live near the LOS. We have no FS on this team. Only one CB with actual anticipation and he is the slowest of all but does usually catch the INT, unlike the highest paid CB. Tackling-Anticipation-good hands-speed-health to stay on the field...That's what we need in the secondary.

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HarryHodag's picture

November 13, 2022 at 09:23 am

Cowboys 31 Packers 17.

Then, after a stinging defeat, the Packers have to host Tennessee Thursday night. Then they have 10 days off before they get crunched by Philadelphia. The Bears game is a toss up, but the bruins still harbor some venom for the "I own you" stuff from Rodgers. The Rams game will be competitive, they then lose to Miami and Minnesota before recovering for a victory against the Lions. I predict 35,000 seats will be empty Jan. 8 and the players leave town by Jan. 9.

Buckle up for this coming off season.

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Rarescope's picture

November 13, 2022 at 10:24 am

Ah so I see you’re an optimist!

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PackyCheese500's picture

November 13, 2022 at 10:58 am

Rams and Lions games are toss-ups, and everything else is a L. We are a bad, incompetent team right now

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coolhand's picture

November 13, 2022 at 01:40 pm

Watching other games, the Packers look to me like the worst coached team in the league right now. I don't know what MLF is doing, but this group he has brought in have no clue what they are doing. Along with 12 trying to be the play caller at the LOS with guys who don't know him has been a complete disaster.

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PackyCheese500's picture

November 13, 2022 at 02:21 pm

I completely agree. Other teams, like the Eagles or Patriots, would probably be able to get veterans like Dean Lowry or Jarran Reed to perform better, and if they didn't think they could, they probably wouldn't sign them. Our combination of bad coaching and a stupid FO is driving this organization into the ground, and the only way to climb out, in my opinion, is to clean house

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