Dallas Cowboys

Packers run defense will be in spotlight against Elliott, Cowboys

Green Bay Packers running back Eddie Lacy carries the ball during the second half against the Detroit Lions in Green Bay, Wis. Lacy tweaked his ankle in last week’s win over the New York Giants and his status is unknown for Sunday’s game.
Green Bay Packers running back Eddie Lacy carries the ball during the second half against the Detroit Lions in Green Bay, Wis. Lacy tweaked his ankle in last week’s win over the New York Giants and his status is unknown for Sunday’s game. AP

The Green Bay Packers have made seven consecutive trips to the postseason and are favorites to make it eight straight as they’re off to a 3-1 start.

But that record is somewhat misleading as the Packers have been inconsistent at times. The offense has been held to less than 300 total yards in two games, and the secondary has been suspect.

In all, though, the Packers have managed to win games and have plenty of promise. They are the league’s top-ranked run defense, allowing only 171 rushing yards on the season, and rank fifth in sacks with 14.

Running back Eddie Lacy is having a bounce-back season, averaging more than five yards a carry, and wide receiver Jordy Nelson has shown signs of getting back to his old self after missing all of 2015 with an injury.

Running matters

Defensive coordinator Dom Capers has Green Bay playing at a high level, as no team has rushed for more than 50 yards against them.

That defense will be put to the test this week as the Dallas Cowboys have the top-ranked rushing offense behind rookie Ezekiel Elliott. The Cowboys had little trouble establishing the run against a stout Cincinnati Bengals front, and will look to do so again against the Packers.

But Green Bay gets a boost with the return of defensive tackle Mike Pennel from suspension. Pennel is a force inside, and should pose plenty of issues for the Cowboys’ interior linemen.

“That’s a strength of ours right now that we’ve exhibited the first four weeks and we have the No. 1 rushing offense in the league coming to town,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said about the defensive line. “So it’s going to be part of the game that we’re all looking forward to.”

Mr. Nelson

Jordy Nelson is among the top receivers in the game, and the Packers certainly missed the Kansas State product last season.

But Nelson has come back strong and leads the Packers with 244 receiving yards and five touchdowns so far. Nelson, though, was not pleased with his performance against the New York Giants last week.

Nelson dropped two passes, and finished with a season-low 38 receiving yards. He’ll be hungry to put on a better show against the Cowboys.

“It was beyond a rough game,” Nelson told reporters afterward. “That was pretty embarrassing.”

Lacy’s status

Lacy injured his ankle against the Giants last Sunday, and his status is unknown going into the Cowboys game.

Lacy has rushed for 295 yards this season, but has yet to score a touchdown.

“I would say it’s not serious, but I don’t know what his status is for this week,” McCarthy told reporters Monday.

If Lacy isn’t able to go, expect veteran James Starks to get most of the carries in his place.

Drew Davison: 817-390-7760, @drewdavison

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