Packers: RB Jamaal Williams not expected to play vs Lions

Green Bay will likely be without one of its top weapons when it travels to Detroit this Sunday.

Coach Matt LaFleur essentially ruled out running back Jamaal Williams with a shoulder injury.

“I think we’ll probably hold him back this week and move forward with the guys we have,” LaFleur told reporters Friday.

Williams suffered the injury in the third quarter against Minnesota on Monday night and did not return. The third-year back has accounted for 713 yards (460 rushing, 253 receiving) and six touchdowns this season.

Without him available, the Packers will need someone else to step up and help starter Aaron Jones carry the load. That could be rookie Dexter Williams. The sixth-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft has played in just three games this season, carrying the ball three times for two yards.

“We’ve got a lot of confidence in him,” LaFleur said of Dexter Williams. “I think he’s been working hard all season long. Obviously, (the media) doesn’t get to see that, but we’ve got confidence that he’s going to go in there and do a really good job.”

Despite winning the NFC North already, the Packers would love to have their top players against the Lions as they are approaching the game as if it is a must-win. That’s because a victory would guarantee a first-round bye in the playoffs and the potential to be the top seed in the NFC if San Francisco were to lose. If Green Bay loses to Detroit, it would likely be the No. 3 seed and host Minnesota in the first round next Sunday.

LaFleuer on quick post-game handshake: ‘It is what it is’

The quick post-game handshake between head coaches Matt LaFleur and Mike Zimmer on Monday night after Green Bay beat Minnesota raised a lot of eyebrows and ended up going viral.

Asked about it on Thursday, though, the Packers head coach said it wasn’t something he had really thought about.

“It is what it is,” LaFleur said. “It’s a competitive game. I’ll leave it at that.”

LaFleur and Zimmer had a similar interaction after the first game between the two teams, which was also a win for the Packers.

Former Packers guard T.J. Lang took issue with Zimmer’s actions.

We may get a third post-game handshake in the postseason. If the Packers lose to the Lions on Sunday, they’d host the Vikings in the first round of the playoffs next weekend.

Packers 23, Vikings 10: 2-minute drill

MINNEAPOLIS — Green Bay used a dominating defensive effort to beat Minnesota 23-10 and claim the NFC North title for the first time since 2016.

Game Balls

Offense: Aaron Jones

The third-year running back ran for a career-high 154 yards, but it was one of his last that proved to be the back-breaker. With the Packers clinging to a 17-10 lead in the fourth quarter, Jones picked his way through the Vikings defense, and with some help from a couple excellent blocks, broke free for a 56-yard touchdown. It was his second of the night and it gave him 19 total touchdowns on the year.

Defense: Za’Darius Smith

The Vikings had no answer for the Packers edge rusher. He wreaked havoc in the backfield all night, finishing with 3.5 sacks and five tackles for loss. The sacks were he most by a Packers player since 2012. But Smith’s impact was more than just in the pass game. He met several Minnesota runners in the hole for minimal gains and seemed like a man on a mission. All of it led to a defense that held a fourth-straight opponent under 20 points for the first time since 2006-2007.

Special teams: JK Scott

The punter did his job well Monday night, averaging 46.8 yards per kick and routinely flipping the field in the Packers favor. His long went for 60 yard and Vikings’ returner Mike Hughes was able to return just one of the five punts.

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Aaron Rodgers on winning the NFC North at US Bank Stadium:

“It feels great to win it in this stadium where a couple of years ago I was jeered leaving the field after breaking my collarbone. Feels pretty good.”

Za’Darius Smith when asked if his big night was the result of him not being named to the Pro Bowl:

“Nah, I’ve been telling these guys for the last two two weeks, we’re not worried about the Pro Bowl. We’re trying to go to a Super Bowl.”

More Smith on what his performance means in a division-clinching win:

“It means a lot. I told the guys earlier, ‘man, you know what. The only thing I want for Christmas is a hat and a t-shirt.’ And they came through with it. Man, my Christmas gift his here already.”

In Case You Missed It

— Safety Will Redmond suffered a hamstring injury and did not return. Running back Jamaal Williams suffered a shoulder injury and also did not return.

— After the game, Packers coach Matt LaFleur and Vikings coach Mike Zimmer met for the normal post-game handshake but it went much quicker than most.

— Minnesota played without their top two running backs — Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison. The Vikings finished with just 57 yards rushing, the third-fewest they’ve had this year.

Inside the Numbers

278 — That’s how many passes Aaron Rodgers had gone without throwing an interception prior to his second quarter pick.

13 — That’s how many catches Davante Adams had. That tied his career-high and went for a game-high 116 yards.

5 — That’s how many interceptions Kevin King has this season after his key pick in the third quarter. King’s total leads the team and is tied for fourth in the NFL. King had just one interception in his first two years in the league.

7 — That’s how many first downs the Vikings had. It’s the fewest they’ve had in a home game against the Packers since 1971.

122 — That’s how many yards passing Kirk Cousins had. It was his second-fewest of the season.

2-2 — That’s the Packers record when losing the turnover battle this season. Green Bay was minus-2 on the night.

5-0 — That’s the Packers record against the rest of the NFC North. They can sweep the division for the first time since 2011 with a win at Detroit next week.

10 — That’s how many NFC North titles the Packers have since the division was created in 2002. That’s more than the other three teams combined.

1 — That’s how many wins the Packers need to clinch a first-round bye in the playoffs. If they beat the Lions, they will be no worse than the No. 2 seed. They can still be the No. 1 seed if they win and Seattle beats San Francisco.

What’s Next

Green Bay (12-3) will travel to Detroit (3-11-1) to face the Lions on Sunday at Ford Field.

Two Packers named to the Pro Bowl

Green Bay has posted its best record through 14 games since 2011 but that success didn’t translate to a lot of players receiving Pro Bowl recognition.

The Packers saw just two players selected — quarterback Aaron Rodgers and left tackle David Bakhtiari.

It’s the eighth time Rodgers been selected. Only his predecessor, Brett Favre, has been selected more often in team history. In his 15th season, and 12th as the starting quarterback, Rodgers has thrown for 3,463 yards, 24 touchdowns and just two interceptions as Green Bay has gone 11-3.

Bakhtiari was an injury replacement in 2016, but this will be the first time he’s been voted in. It closes an odd hole in a resume that’s seen him earn All-Pro honors the last three seasons but not officially have been selected to the Pro Bowl. He is one of the starting tackles for the NFC.

Kicker Mason Crosby and outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith are first alternates.

Other players that are further down the alternates list: wide receiver Davante Adams, cornerback Jaire Alexander, safety Adrian Amos, defensive lineman Kenny Clark, running back Aaron Jones, center Corey Linsley, linebacker Preston Smith and fullback Danny Vitale.

The New Orleans Saints led the NFC with seven selections, the Philadelphia Eagles got five and the San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys each had four players.

Packers 21, Bears 13: 2-minute drill

GREEN BAY — Green Bay built a 21-3 lead and then held on for a 21-13 win over the Chicago Bears on Sunday at Lambeau Field.

Game Balls

Offense: Davante Adams

The Packers featured the talented wide receiver a bunch on Sunday and he largely delivered. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers targeted him 13 times and he caught seven passes for 103 yards. It was his fourth 100-yard game of the season and his third against Chicago in his career. Among his catches was a 29-yard touchdown catch in which he carried one of the Bears defensive backs into the end zone with him.

Defense: Kenny Clark

The talented defensive tackle plays his best late in the year and that continued on Sunday. He finished with a season-high six tackles, including three tackles for loss. He also had a pair of sacks, which was also a season-best. Clark now has 15.5 sacks in his career and eight of them have come in the month of December.

Special teams: Tyler Ervin

Green Bay’s new addition keeps making an impact. He had one punt return for 12 yards and a pair of kick returns for a total of 71 yards. That included a season-long 45-yarder just before the end of the half. Though the Packers didn’t manage to score points on that return, Ervin’s work did put them in position to do so.

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On the final play of the game, the Bears probably should have scored a touchdown. They still would have needed a 2-point conversion to tie the game.

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Aaron Rodgers on where he sees them right now:

“I don’t know that we have the full respect of the entire league at this point based on some of our performances where we got beat by a couple scores … But we’re 7-1 at home. We have an inside track at the two seed. Obviously, we have an opportunity to wrap up the division next week, which guarantees a home game and the third-seed at worst. I like our chances. I like our football team.”

In Case You Missed It

— Cornerback Tramon Williams took a shot to the head when he was trying to catch a punt in the first quarter. He was evaluated for a concussion and eventually returned.

— Dean Lowry picked off a Mitch Trubisky pass in the fourth quarter. It was the first interception by a defensive lineman since Mike Daniels in 2015. It was also his first career pick.

— The loss dropped the Bears playoff chances to less than 1-percent.

— Aaron Jones scored twice, giving him a total of 17 touchdowns this year. It leaves him just three short of the all-time franchise record in a single season. The record is currently held by Ahman Green. He had 20 scores in 2003.

Inside the Numbers

111:51 — That’s how long it took for the Bears to score a touchdown against the Packers this season. After not getting into the end zone in the first seven quarters, Chicago scored with 8:09 left in the fourth.

1 — That’s how many first downs the Packers had after going up 21-3 in the fourth quarter. In that same time, they had five punts.

17-4 — That was the Packers record against the Bears in the 2010s

11 — That’s how many wins the Packers have. It’s their most wins in a season since 2014.

What’s Next

Green Bay (11-3) will travel to Minnesota (9-4) to face the Vikings next Monday night at U.S. Bank Stadium.

Brett Favre, Jordy Nelson to be inducted into the Wisconsin Athletic HOF

The 70th anniversary class is a big one for the Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame.

It was announced Thursday that former Green Bay Packers legends Brett Favre and Jordy Nelson would be enshrined during a ceremony in Madison on June 5, 2020.

The duo will join 143 of the state’s “greatest athletic icons,” according to a press release from organizers.

“We are honored and excited to welcome two legendary Packers, and two of my good friends to this historic institution,” said former Green Bay wide receiver Donald Driver, who serves as the Hall of Fame Board president.

For Favre, it’s just the latest honor for his remarkable career. He’s already been enshrined in the Packers Hall of Fame and the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Nelson will certainly find himself in the Packers Hall of Fame soon enough after accounting for 550 catches, 7,848 yards and 69 touchdowns in his time with the club.

The Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame has been around since 1951 and among those already enshrined include Barry Alvarez, Bud Selig, Charles Woodson, Robin Yount and Bob Uecker.

Packers add tackle Jared Veldheer to active roster

The Green Bay Packers have added one offensive lineman to their active roster and cut another.

GM Brian Gutekunst announced Monday that they had activated tackle Jared Veldheer off the injured/reserve list. Tackle Adam Pankey was cut to make room on the 53-man roster.

Veldheer signed with New England last March but retired after just one day of OTAs due to a hip injury. He is apparently now healthy enough to at least try to make a comeback.

A third-round pick in the 2010 draft by Oakland, Veldheer has played in 118 games with 113 starts in his career. He spent four years with the Raiders, four years with Arizona and last season with Denver. The 32-year-old has played left and right tackle during his career.

Veldheer was signed prior to the game against the New York Giants when it was unclear if tackle Bryan Bulaga would be able to play with a knee injury. He did play and did so again on Sunday against Washington. Veldheer figures to just give the Packers an option behind Bulaga and starting left tackle David Bakhtiari.

Green Bay will host the Chicago Bears this coming Sunday.

Green Bay beats Washington, moves to 10-3

It wasn’t pretty but the Green Bay Packers did enough to beat Washington 20-15 on Sunday at Lambeau Field.

Running back Aaron Jones scored on the team’s first possession and quarterback Aaron Rodgers found tight end Robert Tonyan for a score two drives later to give them a 14-0 lead. But then the offense went silent, getting just a pair of Mason Crosby field goals in the second half.

Green Bay did move the ball, especially when it put it in the hands of Jones. He accounted for 192 yards, including 134 yards on the ground. That was a season-high for third-year back and it came on just 16 carries. He also caught six of the seven balls thrown his way.

As a team, the Packers ran for 174 yards but struggled to get the passing game going. Rodgers threw for just 195 yards and routinely found it difficult to find guys open. Outside of Jones, it was Jimmy Graham (3 catches, 49 yards) and Davante Adams (4 catches, 41 yards) that saw a majority of the action.

The Packers were able to survive the ugliness on offense because the defense slowed an inept Washington offense. Quarterback Dwayne Haskins had less than 100 yards passing before the final Redskins drive and Green Bay held running back Adrian Peterson to 76 yards on 20 carries and one touchdown. The one guy that got loose — Derrius Guice — was lost to injury after a 23-yard run.

But the game wasn’t done until Adams recovered an onside kick with a little more than a minute remaining in the fourth quarter.

The win moved Green Bay to 10-3 on the year, a game up on Minnesota and three games up on Chicago in the NFC North with three games to play. The Packers finish the season by hosting the Bears, and then a pair of road games at the Vikings and at Detroit.

Guard Josh Sitton to officially retire as a member of the Packers

Three years after his surprise release, Josh Sitton is returning to Green Bay.

The team announced Wednesday that the former All-Pro guard will retire as a member of the Packers this Friday. He will also apparently be in attendance at the game against Washington Sunday, as another former Packers guard, TJ Lang, tweeted.

A fourth-round pick in the 2008 NFL Draft, Sitton went to four Pro Bowls, including three with the Packers. He was also a second-team All-Pro three times with the club. Sitton started 13 playoff games for Green Bay, including all four during the team’s run to the Super Bowl XLV title in 2010.

Sitton was released by former Packers general manager Ted Thompson just days before the start of the regular season in 2016. He eventually signed with the Chicago Bears, playing two years there and earning a Pro Bowl nod in his first season. Sitton then signed with Miami prior to the 2018 season but played in just one game before being put on injured reserve.

The Central Florida product will speak with the media Friday.

Packers cut one return man, reportedly claim another

The Green Bay Packers appear to be changing out return men.

It was reported by NFL Network that the team had claimed running back Tyler Ervin off of waivers Monday afternoon. He was just cut by the Jacksonville Jaguars, though he hadn’t played since Week 8.

A fourth-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, Ervin spent his first three years with the Houston Texans. He was mainly a return man, averaging 8.9 yards per return on punts and 21.0 yards per return on kickoffs.

Though the Packers haven’t announced that acquisition, they did reveal they’d cut cornerback Tremon Smith. He’s served as the club’s return man in six games this season, averaging 23.3 yards per return on kickoffs.

But he, like the rest of Green Bay’s returners, has had zero success on punt returns. So far this year, the Packers have -8 return yards. The record for fewest punt return yards in a season is 77. No other team this year has fewer than 90 yards.

Despite the return struggles, Green Bay is 9-3 and sitting in first place in the NFC North. The Packers will host Washington this Sunday at Lambeau Field.