Dear Sam Bradford, Remember this image. You'll be seeing it.....a lot. - Bob Levey
Clay Matthews has got to smell blood in the water this week with both of the potential starting LT's for the Rams on the injury report. Can Wayne Hunter or Rodger Saffold get healthy enough to play on Sunday?
You know how we are kinda worried about stopping the Rams pass rush? Well, it looks like that worry is going to go both ways this week. Now the Packers as a team have not done a good job of protecting Aaron Rodgers and have the second highest sack total in the league. Fun fact though, do you know who has the third highest sack total in the league? That would be the St. Louis Rams. Whether due to injury or just shaky play, there should be some opportunities for the Packer pass rush to get to Sam Bradford this weekend; and that is going to be led by none other than Clay Matthews.
The man responsible for stopping Matthews is going to be Wayne Hunter. Hunter is an interesting story. He was a free agent pick up coming from the Jets. Due to an injury to Rodger Saffold he was pressed into duty as a left tackle. The problem is that he never played that position before….but low and behold he actually turned out alright. Now if the story stopped here then I would say that Matthews may have a bit of work cut out for him, but where would the fun of that be? Turns out that Hunter has landed himself on the injury report this week with a bad back. Back injuries are especially bad for offensive linemen who need to be flexible in order to be the low man and win the battles of leverage. Hunter has not participated in practice Wednesday or Thursday…neither has Saffold. Now this does not mean that Hunter will be out of the game, but it does show that his injury is not a minor one.
And if neither Saffold nor Hunter can go? Well then the third string left tackle according to the Rams depth chart is Jon Barksdale. Who is that? I don’t know, but it’s can’t be good for Bradford to have a third string LT against the Claymaker.
So far this year the Packers have enjoyed an enhanced pass rush. The best evidence of this trend is the fact that Matthews is currently second in the league in sacks, behind only J.J. Watt. The fun part about this though is that Matthews has not been doing this alone. Last week the Packers registered three sacks, none of which came from Matthews. The Packers have had the ability to rush the passer with both inside and outside pressure. Despite this team effort, it’s going to be important for Matthews to have a big game playing against an injured opponent (Hunter or Saffold) or a back up pressed into service (Barksdale).