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Wednesday, Feb 22, 2017
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs notes: Defense faces tough Packers offense

TAMPA - A battered Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense is gearing up for the ultimate NFL challenge. In the third year of the Raheem Morris regime, Tampa Bay has plunged to 31st on defense, with opponents averaging 31 points during a five-game tailspin that has seen Tampa Bay drop from 3-1 to 4-5. Waiting at Lambeau Field on Sunday are the Super Bowl champion Packers, riding a 15-game winning streak behind the league's top-rated passer, Aaron Rodgers. "It would be great to break Green Bay's streak,'' Bucs DE Michael Bennett said. "You never want to be added to that list. We want to be streak-killers. Rodgers definitely has it all going. You can tell he studies a lot of film. …He knows what's going on before it happens.''
Opposing quarterbacks have fashioned a 94.6 passer rating against the Bucs and starting safety Tanard Jackson may be sidelined with an injured hamstring. Jackson felt his hamstring tighten up in the early stages of Sunday's 37-9 loss to Houston and he said it hampered him the rest of the way. The Packers spread the ball all over the field and four different targets – TE Jermichael Finley and WRs Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson and James Jones – boast at least four touchdown catches apiece. Preston Parker leads the Bucs with three scoring receptions and Tampa Bay's young receiving corps faces one of the NFL's premier cornerback tandems in Charles Woodson and Tramon Williams. "They've got four tight ends that can all catch and two talented tailbacks,'' Bucs secondary coach Jimmy Lake said. "Their offensive line is like a ballet, with the way they're all in sync and know who they're blocking. Chad Clifton, their left tackle, isn't playing because he's injured and you don't even notice. At some point, we're going to have to man up and play man coverage against these talented guys.'' For Lake, the only way to contain Rodgers is to throw different looks at him. "You've got to change it up,'' he said. "You've got to drop everybody, then you've got to bring everybody, then sometimes you play a little soft. The Packers play real physical and we have to match that intensity.'' Extra points Tampa Bay's Connor Barth, who kicked a 55-yard FG against Houston, has made 17 of 19 tries this season and all 13 extra-point attempts. …Former Zephyrhills High standout Ryan Pickett tops Green Bay defensive linemen with 32 tackles. Pickett has made a smooth transition from nose tackle to left defensive end. …Twenty-nine players on Green Bay's 53-man roster are either undrafted or were selected in the sixth or seventh round.