Sports

Jets secondary braces for Rodgers and potent offense; Packers look to improve run D

New York Jets running back Chris Ivory (33) rushes for a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game against the Oakland Raiders Sunday, Sept. 7, 2014, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

New York Jets running back Chris Ivory (33) rushes for a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game against the Oakland Raiders Sunday, Sept. 7, 2014, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)  (The Associated Press)

New York Jets coach Rex Ryan's checklist to successfully shut down the Green Bay Packers includes counting on quarterback Aaron Rodgers to stay in bed.

"Well, I hope he gets sick. That's the first one," Ryan joked this week.

That's probably not going to happen, so the Jets' secondary is on its own Sunday at Lambeau Field in the Packers' home opener.

Safety Antonio Allen made his first NFL start at cornerback last week and fared pretty well when New York faced Oakland. Career backup Darrin Walls started at the opposite corner. First-round draft pick Calvin Pryor started at safety. The Jets won 19-14.

But it's one thing to beat the Raiders and rookie quarterback Derek Carr. Rodgers and the Packers are at a whole different level.

"The thing that he kills you with is obviously he's got a big arm and he can make every throw," Ryan said. "But he keeps plays alive and that allows them to make big plays down the field."

Except for last week, when the Seahawks' punishing defense contained the Packers in the NFL opener. Rodgers didn't have his best game, going 23 of 33 for 189 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

No Richard Sherman to contend with Sunday, though. No Antonio Cromartie, either, for that matter; the former Jets cornerback is now with Arizona.

The secondary will be in the spotlight facing Rodgers and the receiving duo of Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb.

"Well, shoot, I feel a lot better about my corners than the experts do, I guess," Ryan said. "Everybody thinks that we can't play there."

Still, no one in Green Bay is underestimating Ryan.

"Anytime you have a creative schemer like Rex, you can come up with some stuff that you just don't see all of the time with the different personnel packages they put out there," Rodgers said.

Here are a few other things to watch as the Packers try to improve to 7-2 in home openers under coach Mike McCarthy:

MISSING MILLINER: At least the Jets have one veteran locked into the secondary at safety in Dawan Landry. And they got Dee Milliner back in practice on a limited basis after the team's top cornerback missed a month with a high ankle sprain. If Milliner returns Sunday for even limited snaps, it could be a huge boost for a defense that also has to face potent NFC North offenses in the Bears and Lions this month.

RUN OVER: The Jets rolled for 212 yards rushing in the win over the Raiders, led by Chris Ivory's 102 yards and touchdown, and Chris Johnson's 68 yards.

Couple it with quarterback Geno Smith's good day — 23 of 28 for 221 yards — and New York had positives on which to build headed into Titletown. The Jets are also looking to be more efficient in the red zone after going just 1 for 4 on touchdowns last week when they got inside the 20.

RUN OVER, PART 2: The Packers allowed 207 yards rushing to Seattle. This is not what McCarthy was expecting after tweaking the defense in the offseason to get more big plays.

The defensive front is lighter than last year — particularly without injured nose tackle B.J. Raji — which is supposed to make the line more athletic. The Packers, who have played a base 3-4 defense, unveiled a four-lineman look against Seattle. But there was apparent confusion over personnel at one point that led to a touchdown run.

And a familiar issue re-emerged: poor tackling.

"It's just something we know we have to work on as a group, that's what we're doing going into this week," safety Morgan Burnett said. "We can't think about last week. That's gone, so now we're getting ready for the Jets."

LOOKING FOR LACY: In the Packers' backfield, running back Eddie Lacy had a few extra days to recover from a concussion suffered at Seattle. McCarthy liked how the 2013 Offensive Rookie of the Year was progressing, and it appeared possible the bruising back would be available Sunday.

ROOKIE SAFETIES: The first two safeties who came off the board in this year's NFL draft will meet. The Jets' Pryor went with the 18th overall selection, three picks ahead of Green Bay's Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.

"We would have been happy with either guy. But I took the guy who will knock your face in," Ryan said.

The competition isn't new. Pryor and Clinton-Dix have known each other since being elite prospects in high school.

"It's a dream come true ... and just to be here on this stage and be able to perform at the highest level we've dreamed of is amazing and a blessing," Clinton-Dix said.

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