Packers notes: Mike McCarthy backs Kentrell Brice as starter

Jim Owczarski
Packers News
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Green Bay Packers defensive back Kentrell Brice (29) looks at the replay board after a Washington touchdown Sunday, September 23, 2018 at FedEx Field in Landover, MD. Jim Matthews/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

GREEN BAY – Despite seeing deep touchdowns thrown in Kentrell Brice’s coverage area over the last two weeks, Mike McCarthy’s confidence in his starting safety has not waned.

“No, I’m all for Kentrell,” the Green Packers coach said Monday. “I think in the big picture of things you’ve got to look at his whole body of work. I really like the way he’s taken his opportunity and what he’s done with it throughout the spring and the summer. Had a fast start there.

“I mean, we had some tough moments in the game. If you look at the defense, it was a tale of two halves and some of the things, part of it is a little bit the new system and going through the tweaks of that. But nah, K.B. will bounce back and I think our defense as a whole, the performance in the second half is exactly what you’re looking for. They gave us a lot of opportunities and so we’ll grow from this experience.”

Brice has been in the vicinity of a 75-yard touchdown pass by Minnesota two weeks ago and a 46-yard touchdown pass by Washington on Sunday, and he deferred schematic questions to the coaching staff after the game.

On that play, Brice looked to be in proper position but he eventually drifted into cornerback Jaire Alexander as he attempted to track the ball.

“It’s a passing league,” fellow safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix said. “We’ve got to be able to make plays on the ball. Those guys are good, too, so it’s just about capitalizing on the plays we get a chance to make plays on. Like I said, they’re good too, so they’re going to make plays, but us DB’s, we’re hungry. We want it. We’re going to continue to challenge ourselves.”

Fackrell, Gilbert see more time

In the days leading up to the game Sunday, Packers defensive coordinator Mike Pettine acknowledged he needed to work in outside linebackers Kyler Fackrell and Reggie Gilbert to ease the burden on Clay Matthews and Nick Perry. Through the first two games, Matthews played 56 snaps and Perry 40 — or 77 percent and 55 percent of the Packers’ total defensive plays, respectively.

Against Washington, Fackrell played 23 snaps and recorded one tackle and Gilbert was on the field for 24, making two stops.

“As the game kind of progressed it really got to where we were taking either a whole set of downs or a whole series,” said Fackrell, who had seen the field for just 13 snaps over the first games. “So that helps when you’re able to kind of get into that flow rather than just either doing first and second down.”

Neither recorded a sack or hit on Washington quarterback Alex Smith, however.

“It’s definitely up to us to kind of look at our group and look at our front as a whole and what we can do a little bit better to get some more pressure,” Fackrell said.

Packers continue to talk Matthews

On Monday, McCarthy was asked if he has had any discussions with Packers president and CEO Mark Murphy about the three consecutive roughing-the-passer penalties that have been called on Clay Matthews. Murphy sits on the National Football League’s competition committee, which has enacted new use of helmet rules and emphasized others such as the “full body weight” element of landing a quarterback.

“There’s a normal process regardless of what’s going on in the league during the in-season as far as the officials and the opportunity to communicate with them,” McCarthy said. “I know Mark has had more communication the last two weeks and it’s stating the obvious, yeah, we’re all talking about it internally and going through it because at the end of the day, the league office, the officials, the players, the coaches, I mean everybody wants the same thing. So, you want some clarity and how can we communicate and maybe make it more of a clearer situation. So, but yes, Mark’s been very involved from that perspective, yes.”


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