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Packers synergy has team on verge of clinching NFC North this weekend

Green Bay can clinch the division with a win at DET and a MIN loss at TB
Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers drops back during the second half of an NFL football game...
Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers drops back during the second half of an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer)(Mike Roemer | AP)
Published: Dec. 9, 2020 at 10:47 PM CST
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - As the Packers start Lions Week practices, first up, some housekeeping. Green Bay did, indeed, place Tyler Ervin, Raven Greene, and Billy Winn on injured reserve. But on the practice field? Only Jace Sternberger and Equaniemous St. Brown missed work Wednesday. Both are in the concussion protocol.

The 9-3 Packers are riding high. And with Matt LaFleur now 9-1 in NFC North games as a head coach, Green Bay has a chance to wrap up its 2nd straight division crown with: a win this week at Detroit AND a Vikings loss at Tampa Bay. And the offense has been a consistent producer, ranking #1 in scoring and #2 in yards.

LaFleur has simplified the offensive verbiage in year 2, players are embracing and excelling in their roles, and communication has reigned supreme on both sides of the ball. Za’Darius Smith says he talked to defensive coordinator Mike Pettine last week about simplifying things. The unit then went out and registered 7 sacks against the Eagles. Aaron Rodgers loves his team’s synergy.

“Player led teams are the best teams in my opinion,” Rodgers said. “Coaches aren’t going to go out there on the field and play for us. I think it’s important that their voices are heard, in a respectful manner, and that they are taken into account. Because we are the ones out there playing. We respect the time the coaches put in on the plan, the preparation that they do, but the most important thing is execution. Not credit. Or guru status. When coaches have their players on the same page, man, some great things can be accomplished.”

You remember when Davante Adams missed the 2018 finale -- against Detroit of course -- and came up 1 catch shy of the packers’ single-season record and 133 yards short of the franchise yardage record?

Well, Adams is on pace to challenge both records again, despite missing 2.5 games after straining his hamstring in the first meeting with the Lions this year. Even after showing mastery in 2018, Adams has never rested in his pursuit of improvement.

“Just continue to grow,” Adams said of his approach. “Before there were things I felt I would do well, but you know I always try to find the small things, the mind games that I play. I feel there is a different edge that I can get. You know I have got on the ball before and stared down a certain part of the field, without looking at the DB, and then the DB will see me looking at that portion of the field, and from that he will gather that’s where I’m running to, when really I am running across the field the other way.”

“He is a phenomenal player,” Rodgers said. “He is as good as they come. I wouldn’t want to throw to anybody else. I am so thankful to have him on our squad. I have his back 100 percent in everything he says and does. He is a man of his word. He is a man of high integrity and high class. And I am better because of him as a person and as a quarterback.”

And while the Packers can wrap up the north this week if things go their way, LaFleur remembers his team’s sleepwalking performance at Detroit last year with plenty of playoff implications (a playoff bye on the line) so he’s not going to focus on postseason scenarios this week.

“No, no,” LaFleur said. “I think that stuff will take care of itself. Our sole focus is on the Detroit Lions and what happens after that, happens. You don’t have to look too far, at least in my recent history with the Lions. A year ago didn’t lead at all and found a way to end up on the right side of the scoreboard. And then you look at this year, I think after the 1st quarter we were down 14-3. We know that it is imperative to come out with great, emotion, energy, focus.”

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