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Cardinals Defense Prepares For "Different" Packers

After nine-sack thrashing in December, Rodgers has Green Bay offense playing well

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Cardinals linebacker Kevin Minter (51) signals after his teammates swarmed Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers during the Cards' win over Green Bay last month.


The NFL, Kevin Minter said, "is all about short-term memory."

That's a big reason defensive players for the Cardinals spent Tuesday shrugging off questions about their performance against the Packers Dec. 27, knowing that those same Packers will visit University of Phoenix Stadium Saturday for a Divisional Round playoff game.

The Cardinals had more sacks (nine) that points allowed (eight) that afternoon, a 38-8 whipping of Green Bay that left quarterback Aaron Rodgers beaten up and frustrated. But the Packers are coming off a 35-point showing against Washington to win a wild card game, and it is that offense that has grabbed the

attention of the Cards.

 "That second half, that looked like Aaron Rodgers who dang near went undefeated a couple years back," said Minter, an inside linebacker.

The first time around, the Cardinals allowed only 151 yards passing to Rodgers, with cornerback Justin Bethel making a crucial interception at the end of the first half. Green Bay rushed for 101 yards but many came after the game was decided. The Cards' defense also returned two fumbles for touchdowns.

Yet, "that game doesn't matter at all," defensive tackle Calais Campbell said.

"The only thing that game we had against them a few weeks ago helped us with is that we got them on film against our defense, versus our scheme," cornerback Jerraud Powers said. "But you look at them since we played them, they look like a completely different team.

"We know Aaron is probably licking his chops wanting to play us again."

After beating the Redskins, Rodgers sounded like he welcomed that chance.

"We kind of felt like this was a possibility to be able to go back there after that loss," Rodgers said.

"We're coming off, obviously, a big win, and in their last game they got beat by a lot. So it's going to be a more competitive game, I bet."

Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said the Packers will be different in large part because their offensive line – reeling because of injuries in the first matchup – will be healthier. The Packers, however, still aren't sure of the status of starting left tackle David Bakhtiari, and are unlikely to have wide receiver Davante Adams, who hurt his knee against Washington.

Safety Rashad Johnson acknowledged the Cardinals likely won't repeat a nine-sack day, but that the group has proven it is capable of doing so. That was the first game the Cards didn't have All-Pro safety Tyrann Mathieu, which helped the group's confidence.

The Cardinals are down two more players since then, losing defensive tackle Cory Redding and linebacker Alex Okafor to season-ending injuries officially Tuesday.

The defensive unit actually went into a players meeting immediately after coming off the practice field Tuesday, out of the ordinary for early in the week – the defense often has a players-only meeting after practice Fridays – but a move the group felt necessary as they prep for Green Bay.

"We want to make sure we don't leave any stone unturned," linebacker Sean Weatherspoon said.

There may be a tweak or two, but the Cardinals don't want to overthink it either. They did, after all, shut down a good offense less than a month ago.

"They will be better," linebacker Markus Golden said. "And we will be ready."

Images from the Cardinals' practice Tuesday before the Packers game



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