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Cheese Curds, 12/29: Capers won’t speculate on future; young Packers to get more audition time

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We don’t yet know what will happen to the Packers’ DC, but he’s talking like a guy who knows that he’s done.

NFL: Houston Texans at Green Bay Packers Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

As the Green Bay Packers look ahead to 2018, their week 17 game against the Detroit Lions may set the stage for several big changes across the roster and coaching staff.

As was the case last week, the Packers are likely to be missing several veteran players on both sides of the football. The injury report for this week is a mile long, with seven players listed as non-participants on Thursday and another six being limited in practice. That should open up plenty of opportunities for players like Reggie Gilbert, Michael Clark, and even Devante Mays to step up and contribute, showing their worth to the coaching staff and giving the coaches something to talk about in their one-on-one closeout meetings.

The end-of-season meeting that probably interests most Packers fans, however, is the one that will take place between head coach Mike McCarthy and defensive coordinator Dom Capers. The calls for Capers to be fired continue and have a valid basis in statistics. According to Football Outsiders, the Packers rank last in points allowed per defensive drive, time of possession per drive, and “down success rate,” which measures how often an opponent gets a first down or touchdown on each set of downs. The team also ranks second-to-last in red zone touchdown rate allowed at 66% (second only to the Browns), and is bottom-five in third down conversion rate allowed.

So while the team ranks in the low twenties in total yards and points allowed (22nd and 21st, respectively), it’s these stats that illustrate the biggest problems with the unit.

Capers and several young players are in the spotlight for today’s curds, which also give us a look at a notable bowl game on this evening. Enjoy as you prepare for a January without Packers football for the first time in about a decade.

Dom Capers puts 'the blinders on' despite shaky status with Packers - ESPN
Dead man walking? Capers sounds like someone who is either unwilling to discuss his fate or who is resigned to it and is trying to be a professional about the final game of the season.

Mike McCarthy identifies next step for Packers rookie WR Michael Clark | Packers Wire
Clark had some nice moments last Saturday, but he still needs to work on making tough, contested catches.

Pass rusher Reggie Gilbert impresses with motor, athleticism | Packersnews.com
Gilbert played the most snaps of anyone last weekend, and he was consistently putting pressure on an uncomfortable Case Keenum. That is the start of the payoff for a player who has spent the last 18 months learning how to play outside linebacker, something that began a year ago in OTAs and that continues to this day.

Young RBs ready to 'take care of business' this offseason | Packers.com
Ben Sirmans, the Packers' running backs coach, commented that there will be an open competition for snaps at running back next year, given the production of players like Jamaal Williams and Aaron Jones and the ability of Ty Montgomery and Devante Mays.

Sam Darnold vs. Ohio State's defense is why NFL fans should watch the Cotton Bowl - SBNation.com
San Darnold could be one of the top few picks in the 2018 NFL Draft, while Ohio State's defense is loaded with NFL talent for 2018, 2019, and probably beyond. It should be a fun matchup to watch as two schools that always seem to pump out draft prospects meet on a big stage.