Walkthrough: Onside redemption

Weston Hodkiewicz
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Brandon Bostick misses the ball while trying to recover an onside kick against the Seattle Seahawks during the NFC Championship game on Jan. 18.

Each Wednesday, Weston Hodkiewicz provides an inside look at the Packers in his Walkthrough blog post.

The magnitude of the situation didn’t fully hit Micah Hyde until the Green Bay Packers defensive back took his seat on the team bus after Sunday’s 31-23 win over the Chicago Bears.

A little more than an hour earlier, the Packers put the finishing touches on the victory when receiver Davante Adams recovered Robbie Gould’s onside kick with 34 seconds remaining.

In theory, most onside kicks make for manageable recoveries if everyone does his job. In Green Bay, there’s going to be more attention given to it after January’s NFC championship game against Seattle, when tight end Brandon Bostick left his blocking assignment and unsuccessfully tried to recover an onside attempt.

Bostick fumbled the ball, the Seahawks recovered and the rest is history. In the weeks after the 28-22 overtime loss, special teams coordinator Shawn Slocum and Bostick were let go and the Packers began retooling behind Ron Zook, promoted from assistant special teams coach to take Slocum’s place.

The Packers dedicated a lot of practice time in training camp to recovering onside kicks. It wasn’t until after Sunday’s successful recovery that Hyde began to wonder what the narrative would have been if they botched another recovery.

“I was just thinking to myself, ‘What if that would’ve went wrong?’” recalled Hyde, who was lined up deep on the play in case of an emergency. “In the media, the whole thing would have blown up again. ‘Oh, they didn’t work on it at all all offseason,’ which we have. We spent tons of time. We worked on it a lot and it felt pretty good getting that (Sunday) and getting it straightened up and having Tae get that ball.”

What was interesting about the play is Gould’s short kick fell in the same spot as it did the NFC title game. Rookie linebacker Jake Ryan, working in Bostick’s former spot, fulfilled his blocking assignment and helped clear enough room for Adams to find the ball and secure it.

Mission accomplished.

Despite issues in the preseason, the Packers’ special teams unit was exemplary in the regular-season opener. Kickoff return Ty Montgomery had two explosive returns early and Zook’s units put together a sound performance outside of cornerback Sam Shields jumping offsides on a Gould field goal attempt.

An unsuccessful recovery with the Packers clinging to a 31-23 lead could have made for some bad press in the week leading up to Sunday’s rematch with the Seahawks. Instead, it was nothing more than a play.

“Right when they called onside kick, I wasn’t like, ‘Last year, we messed this up,’” Hyde said. “It was just a second thought after the game, I was just on the bus and reminiscing about the victory and how we finished it off. Thank God we got that.”

A few other things …

» Count Clay Matthews in as an NFL player who wouldn’t mind taking part in HBO's "Hard Knocks" if the opportunity ever presented itself.

The Packers linebacker said he’s a fan of the show during an appearance Monday on "The Dan Patrick Show," but acknowledged how unlikely it is the organization would ever invite cameras into the team’s locker room.

“I enjoyed 'Hard Knocks,'” Matthews said. “I think it would be fun, yeah. But the Packers wouldn’t do that. I don’t think we’d let the cameras in here. We have a really cult kind of following up here in Green Bay, so we just want the cameras out of here.”

The Packers are exempt from being forced to participate in the show because of their string of six consecutive playoff appearances. So the only way they’d appear on the HBO series is if they volunteered, which won’t happen given Ted Thompson’s preference for a quiet structure.

Matthews also spoke about his interception against Chicago, who didn’t block for him on the return and why he prefers smaller shoulder pads.

» Nate Palmer was one of the first to go to Twitter to show support for starting inside linebacker Sam Barrington, who was placed on season-ending injured reserve on Tuesday afternoon because of a foot injury he sustained in the first half against the Bears.

Palmer, who was drafted a round before Barrington in 2013, replaces him in the heart of the Packers' defense. He had six tackles in 61 defensive snaps in relief against Chicago.

» The Packers need only one more win to even their all-time series with the Bears at 93-93-6.

Not all series are equal, though. The Packers’ highest regular-season winning percentages have come against San Diego (9-1), Baltimore (4-1), Arizona (44-22-4), New Orleans (16-8) and Carolina (8-4). Meanwhile, the Packers have more victories (95) against Detroit than any other NFL team.

So who’s fared the best against Green Bay? That honor belongs to the Kansas City Chiefs, who’ll bring a 7-2 advantage over the Packers into Lambeau Field in Week 3. Miami is the next closest at 10-4.

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