GREEN BAY – Elsewhere in the NFC, two contenders bolstered their roster with veteran acquisitions as the trade deadline came and went.
The Seattle Seahawks addressed their biggest need with the acquisition of left tackle Duane Brown from the Houston Texans and the Philadelphia Eagles boosted their rushing attack by acquiring running back Jay Ajayi from the Miami Dolphins.
In Green Bay, the Packers stood pat, putting all their chips down on two rookies to address their biggest need on defense: the pass rush.
When the Packers take on the Detroit Lions on Monday night, outside linebacker Vince Biegel and defensive tackle Montravius Adams will be integrated into the defense with the hope that sometime in the remaining nine weeks the two rookies will make them a better team.
Both players spent August rehabbing broken bones in their feet, missing critical practice time that fellow rookies Kevin King and Josh Jones used to get themselves ready for substantial playing time.
Their addition is the Packers’ last best hope to improve a pass rush that ranks 26th in sacks per pass play and 28th in quarterback hits (including sacks). The defense has allowed opposing quarterbacks to post a combined 90.2 passer rating.
Adams has been available for action since Week 3, but he has played just four snaps all season and has been inactive the last four weeks. That is expected to change this week following the release of veteran defensive lineman Ricky Jean Francois, which opened a spot for Adams to play.
“You get these young guys and we’re asking them to do some different things than they did in college,” defensive coordinator Dom Capers said. “So, guys like that benefit greatly from training camp and he wasn’t able. We lost him very early in camp. He missed camp.
“I think physically he’s gotten better and I think he’s become more familiar with what we’re doing. So, hopefully, we’ll see him ascend and make progress as we go through the next three or four weeks.”
Adams admitted it’s been frustrating not to be able to help despite being healthy, but he said he has used his time in practice to refine his game and learn from veterans such as Mike Daniels and Jean Francois.
The 6-3½, 304-pound third-round pick had impressed his teammates with his quick get-off at the snap in offseason workouts and two training camp practices, leading them to believe he would help the pass rush right away. Whether he can regain that form and get the snaps necessary to improve will be worth watching in the weeks to come.
“I’m healthy,” Adams said. “I feel good. I’m ready to help any way I can.”
For Adams to help, however, Capers and defensive line coach Mike Trgovac must put him on the field. If defensive tackle Quinton Dial (chest) doesn’t play Monday night, then Dean Lowry and Adams will be the only ones available to divvy up the 30 percent of snaps in which Daniels and Kenny Clark are off the field.
That would suggest Adams could be on the field for 20 or more snaps.
In Biegel’s case, the process of getting him to be a productive player is much more difficult because not only did he miss all of training camp but he also was ineligible to practice the first six weeks of the regular season because he was on the physically unable to perform list.
He has had two weeks of practice — just two practices in pads — to prepare for live action and so getting him accustomed to playing real football will be the first order of business. It’s likely he’ll play mostly on special teams, but with Ahmad Brooks (back) expected to miss another week, there are snaps to be had.
“We’ll have to see,” Capers said of what Biegel can offer. “It’s hard when, you know, we’ve only had him on the practice field for a couple of weeks.
“But he’s taking the right approach in the meeting room. He obviously brings some energy and enthusiasm and we’ll have to see how that translates. It’s like anything, this is his first shot and we’ll just have to see how it goes.”
Biegel said he hasn’t had much time to hone his pass-rush techniques, so he’ll be relying a lot on hustle, something he regularly brought to the Wisconsin Badgers. Whatever he can bring in the effort to put pressure on quarterback Matthew Stafford will be a bonus Monday night.
"I think as a pass rusher for me it's been fun just getting right back at it,
Biegel said. “Being a pass rusher, I haven't done anything for five or six months. So, to be able to come back out there, start working my hands again, start working with (outside linebackers) coach (Winston) Moss, the D-line coach (Trgovac) has been awesome.
“The confidence has been building. For me, my biggest aspect is I'm bringing energy to the Packers.”