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GREEN BAY, Wis. – While they received relatively good news on the injury front Friday, the Green Bay Packers still must fix all that went wrong during a season-opening loss to the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy confirmed Friday that starting right tackle Bryan Bulaga escaped major damage to his surgically repaired left knee. He said running back Eddie Lacy, who suffered a concussion late in the Packers' 36-16 loss on Thursday, had already passed one of the initial post-concussion tests.
Still, from shoddy tackling to poor communication from the sideline to an uneven performance from what was supposed to be one of the NFL's top offenses, McCarthy acknowledged that there is much to be done before the team's next game on Sept. 14 against the New York Jets at Lambeau Field.
"Everybody puts so much into the opener. We understand that," McCarthy said, one day after the defense gave up 398 yards, including 207 yards rushing, to the Seahawks.
"We'll take a hard look at everything, we'll correct it, but (then) we will move onto the Jets. This is not a one-game season.
"We're not going to sit here and dwell on it. Trust me, I get the disappointment. I felt very good going into the game. But I had to go back and check my preparation, because I think anytime as a coach when you feel your team's prepared and they don't perform, I think the first guy you have to look at is yourself and look in the mirror. That's what we spent a lot of time doing today.
"We're not making crazy changes. We don't feel that's the right answer. We have a program, we have a process and I promise you our team will be better this coming week against the Jets."
It would help if they have both Bulaga and Lacy on the field. Bulaga, who missed all of last season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during a team scrimmage at the start of training camp, was rolled up on during the first half against the Seahawks and did not return.
With Bulaga out, the Packers turned to 2011 first-round pick Derek Sherrod, who hadn't played a meaningful snap in regular-season play since a career-threatening leg injury in December 2011.
Sherrod gave up two sacks — one by Cliff Avril on a critical fourth-and-5 play from the Seattle 41-yard line midway through the third quarter.
And then another by Michael Bennett that resulted in a sack and fumble that Sherrod recovered in the end zone for a safety. He was also pushed into quarterback Aaron Rodgers on a 2-point conversion failure.
McCarthy said Bulaga wants to give it a go when the Packers return to practice on Wednesday, but if he can't go against the Jets, McCarthy said Sherrod would get the start.
"I think Derek will play better than he did this week," McCarthy said. "There's some things that we weren't totally in tune with (as a group). That first sack, we had a protection call there that everything wasn't done correctly so Avril was able to get the edge there.
"The second sack, you know, really, we were playing uphill there. That's something that we could probably do a better job of as we move forward."
But on defense is where the Packers must do significantly better. After working on a 4-3 look all offseason and throughout training camp, McCarthy and defensive coordinator Dom Capers unveiled it against the Seahawks, and it was ineffective.
Traditionally a 3-4 team, the Packers lined up outside linebackers Julius Peppers and Mike Neal as defensive ends, played 3-4 ends Datone Jones and Mike Daniels inside and then had three more linebackers — A.J. Hawk, Brad Jones and Clay Matthews — completing the front seven.
Most of Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch's 110 yards rushing came against that set.
"We're doing things that are best suited for our players," McCarthy said of the scheme change. "Now, some of the things we did, did not get off to a good start as far as wins and losses with the particular personnel groups. (But) it's one game. We have a big commitment (on defense). We're going to continue to do the things our players do best. That's what coaching is."
McCarthy also said the coaches bear some responsibility for the poor defensive performance, including on Lynch's 9-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, when the Packers only had 10 men on the field because nickel back Casey Hayward was on the sideline.
"We're fine. There's no need for any panic right now," Peppers said. "It's one game. I am not dismissing the fact that we got beat pretty soundly. (But) it's one game."
And as of now, that one game has left the Packers with a lot of room for improvement.
"I mean, you are what you are," McCarthy said. "And after one game, we've put out there our performance and our next opponent will stress us in those areas that we did not perform very well in."
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