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Packers hit hard by injuries in loss to Falcons

A slew of injuries to key players could leave the Green Bay Packers scrambling this week. Perhaps the week after that, too.

Packers coach Mike McCarthy said earlier this week the team’s medical staff was still “trying to get their hands around” the avalanche of injuries that occurred during the team’s 34-23 loss to the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday night, although none of the injuries appear to be season-ending.

Already forced to play without starting offensive tackles David Bakhtiari (hamstring) and Bryan Bulaga (ankle), the Packers lost standout defensive tackle Mike Daniels to a hamstring injury on the Falcons’ first offensive possession. Then wide receiver Jordy Nelson, Aaron Rodgers’ top offensive weapon, sustained a quadriceps injury on the Packers’ first possession. Neither player returned to the game.


Packers’ Montgomery passes backfield test

Ty Montgomery’s transition to running back appears to be going well.

Yes, the converted receiver was listed as the starting tailback on the Green Bay Packers’ depth chart to open the season. He spent the offseason preparing as a running back.

Montgomery passed his first test in his first season opener as a full-timer in the backfield.

He ran for 54 yards on 19 carries in the season-opening win against Seattle, including 38 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries in the second half.

Montgomery played 90 percent of the snaps, and might have taken more if he didn’t limp off briefly at one point with a sore ankle.

It’s just the sort of effort that coaches love to see against a physical defense, one that opponents will remember come playoff time.


Budding rivalry: Packers-Falcons meet again

This is becoming a bit of a rivalry.

When the Atlanta Falcons host the Green Bay Packers on Sunday night, it will be both an early indicator of the NFC’s balance of power as well as the third meeting between the teams in less than 11 months.

All three of those games have been in Atlanta, though this one will be at a new venue.

The Falcons (1-0) are making the regular-season debut at $1.5 billion Mercedes-Benz Stadium, which replaced the Georgia Dome.

Green Bay (1-0) is coming off a season-opening victory over Seattle at Lambeau Field.

“We’ve seen a lot of them,” Falcons defensive end Brooks Reed said, breaking into a smile. “I’m sure they’re sick of coming down here. But we like it.”

Last season, the teams first met in Week 8 with the Falcons coming off two straight excruciating losses. Aaron Rodgers threw four touchdown passes, the last of which put Green Bay ahead with just under 4 minutes remaining.


Clinton-Dix, Dial up ‘Bama connection

Quinton Dial had been cut from the San Francisco 49ers when he received a text from an old college teammate from Alabama.

Packers safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix had figured out that Green Bay was interested in bringing Dial in for a visit. The scheme that the Packers run was similar to what Dial and Clinton-Dix played in with the Crimson Tide, and what the 49ers used to run before switching to a 4-3 system this year.

Dial was not happy about the change in schemes.

“I’m just being honest with you. It’s the business. It was (49ers coach Kyle Shanahan’s) decision and that’s what we wanted and that’s what he went with,” Dial said.

Throw in the fact that the Packers are one of the favorites in the NFC to get to the Super Bowl, and signing in Green Bay seemed like an ideal fit.

Clinton-Dix smiled after practice on Thursday when he looked across the locker room and saw his friend wearing the same uniform again.


Bennett brothers reunite when Seahawks, Packers meet

Packers tight end Martellus Bennett plans to give his older brother, Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett, a hug when he sees him this weekend.

Recent events off the field make the high-profile season opener Sunday between Green Bay and Seattle seem trivial by comparison.

Martellus Bennett, who went to high school in Taylor, Texas, has been working to raise money and supplies for residents of flood-ravaged parts of that state. This week, Michael Bennett released a statement alleging racially motivated excessive force by the Las Vegas police.

“Sometimes, a hug is the best thing you can give,” Martellus Bennett said as his voice started cracking. He talks to his brother several times a week.

“Two seconds this way, two seconds that way, the whole thing is different,” he added. “So for me, I’ll just be happy to see my brother.”


Packers getting new faces acclimated to team

So many new veterans for the Green Bay Packers.

At their core, the Packers still build through the draft. But general manager Ted Thompson has been more active than usual this year in signing veteran free agents.

“Well, I think you have to realize that any time you acquire a player, whether it’s through the draft, free agency, regardless of the time of year, it’s a process. It’s a process that’s always going on,” coach Mike McCarthy said before practice Wednesday.

“Now, the fact that you’re making transactions compared to prior years is obviously a little different. But it’s all part of the business … and at the end of the day you’re just trying to get better,” he added.

Other that pass-catching tight Martellus Bennett, the new additions aren’t really big splashes. Most of the signees have solid resumes — players who will fill depth but won’t necessarily have starring roles.


Hundley runs, throws for TDs in Packers win

Quarterback Brett Hundley proved he can also dish out a hit for the Green Bay Packers.

The backup to Aaron Rodgers looked like a tailback when he lowered his right shoulder into cornerback Dominique Hatfield near the goal line and barreled into the end zone for a 13-yard touchdown run. Hundley also threw for a score to lead the Packers to a 24-10 win Thursday night over the Los Angeles Rams in the preseason finale at Lambeau Field.

The Packers (3-1) look set at quarterback with Hundley backing up two-time NFL MVP Rodgers. The defense had its moments, too, albeit against a Rams offense that started third-stringer Dan Orlovsky at quarterback.


Packers looking for depth at OLB

With Clay Matthews and Nick Perry, the Green Bay Packers feel great about their starting outside linebackers.

The depth hasn’t quite developed, though, which is why the team signed free agent Ahmad Brooks on Tuesday, according to a person familiar with the discussions. first reported the agreement.

Brooks, a two-time second-team All-Pro, was released by the San Francisco 49ers last week. At 33, he would be the third-oldest player on a Packers roster that perennially has been one of the youngest in the league under general manager Ted Thompson.

The signing shows Kyler Fackrell, last year’s third-round pick, and Jayrone Elliott, a key special teams player, haven’t seized the opportunities created by the free-agent departures of veterans Julius Peppers (Carolina) and Datone Jones (Minnesota).


Bulaga out for Packers with ankle injury

Bryan Bulaga, the Green Bay Packers’ veteran right tackle, is cautiously optimistic that he will be ready to go for Week 1 after injuring his right ankle at practice.

“I’m not too concerned about it,” Bulaga said Thursday while on the way to treatment. “I’m able to walk and it feels better as the day goes on. Based on how it feels today and throughout the day, it’s a positive, I think.”

Bulaga was injured during Wednesday’s practice. After lying on the ground for about a half-minute, Bulaga got up and limped off the practice field in obvious pain. While X-rays were negative, Bulaga was waiting for results from other tests. He will miss Saturday night’s preseason game at Denver but is hopeful that he will be in the lineup for the season-opening game against Seattle in 17 days.


Backups following Aaron Rodgers’ lead

Aaron Rodgers isn’t the only quarterback playing well for the Green Bay Packers. His backups are shining, too, which could lead to some intriguing roster decisions with the start of the regular season three weeks away.

That’s just the way coach Mike McCarthy wants it.

A day after his quarterbacks played well again in the team’s second consecutive preseason victory, this time a 21-17 triumph at Washington, the coach explained earlier this week that his goal is for his young signal-callers to take after Rodgers, the two-time NFL MVP.

“There’s a focus on emulation of that No. 1 quarterback,” McCarthy said. “That’s having a lead dog that does it the right way and the (No.) 2 trying to be like him and everybody trying to coach that.”

Halfway through the preseason, that’s exactly what’s happened.


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