GREEN BAY - Safety Darnell Savage has quietly moved about the locker room the last couple weeks, but he has yet to return to the field after suffering a high-ankle sprain against Dallas on Oct. 6. Such sprains can often take six weeks to heal, and the rookie starter out of Maryland can only bide his time.
“I’m good, obviously staying positive,” he said. “In football you can’t really control injuries so I’m just coming in here – they say if you have a positive mindset and vibe, you heal faster – so I’m just trying to be positive and do everything I can to get back.”
While Savage was able to make the step of shedding a protective walking boot, fellow safety Raven Greene is still wearing one on his right foot and using a scooter to move around. When the team placed him on injured reserve Sept. 16 following his injury against Minnesota in Week 2, the hope was he may have a chance to return in about 10 weeks. That would put him in the discussion for a potential return at the start of December.
The club has only one return designation from injured reserve left after they started the process for rookie tight end Jace Sternberger to come off IR last week.
In terms of immediate help on the back end, safety Ibraheim Campbell is eligible to come off the physically unable to perform list. He began practicing last week, so he can come off at any point. The club must make a decision on his status within the next two weeks, however. Campbell played three games with the Packers last season before tearing his anterior cruciate ligament Dec. 2.
Kumerow breaks down ‘hole shot’ TD
Jake Kumerow caught the second touchdown pass of his career from Aaron Rodgers on Sunday, and it was on a play, and against a coverage, that normally would call for the ball to be thrown elsewhere.
“Unless you’re Aaron Rodgers and he likes the hole shot, then that’s the No. 1 look,” Kumerow said of the coverage.
The “hole” in the coverage came about after Kumerow’s outside release on a go-route with about 20 seconds left in the first half, “and I see the safety just hanging way inside and I’m like ‘oh, this is a good shot for a hole shot’ and I look up and the ball’s in the air and I’m like ‘OK, let’s go.’”
The key for the wide receiver in that moment is to sell out on his route and run hard to stress the safety and open that hole for the completion and eventual tight-rope walking touchdown along the sideline to put the Packers up 21-10 at the half.
“It ended up working out where I got outside of him and Aaron saw it right away, which I don’t know how, but he did, and he put it right on the money,” Kumerow said. “Just over the outside shoulder. So when I caught it the momentum, the ball kind of brought me (to the sideline) and I was like ‘Oh, shoot, keep my feet in.’ Then did the dance and it worked out.”
After their 42-24 victory over the Raiders, the Packers' defense rose to No. 9 in the NFL in scoring defense. But while they have proven to have a knack for keeping teams out of the end zone, the Packers are in the bottom third of the league in total defense at No. 26, allowing an average of 381 yards per game.
Broken down further, the Packers allow large chunks of those yards on individual plays. That was the case again against the Raiders, who had plays of 46, 42, 36, 31 and 27 yards from scrimmage.
“There’s some things we definitely need to clean up on the defensive side of the ball,” Packers head coach Matt LaFleur said Monday. “We gave up way too many explosives.”
But it has been a trend. Including the two 40-yard plays from scrimmage Sunday, the Packers have allowed 11 plays of 40 yards or more and 30 of at least 20 or more. But, only five have resulted in touchdowns.
“We might make some mistakes, but in the red zone we just make sure we don’t give them nothing easy,” Packers linebacker Preston Smith said. “Make them earn everything, and just go out there and play hard, regardless of we’re back up against the wall. We’ve got to go out and play together and make sure we execute better than they execute.”