Detroit Lions' Dan Campbell: Saints 'kicked the hornet’s nest' with big win over Packers

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An angry Aaron Rodgers is a dangerous Aaron Rodgers, and Detroit Lions coach Dan Campbell is preparing for the most menacing version of the three-time MVP quarterback when his team faces the Green Bay Packers on Monday night.

"I know this," Campbell said before practice Thursday. "New Orleans kicked the hornet’s nest so we’re going to get everything they’ve got and we have to assume we’re going to get their A game and that’s how we’re preparing."

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The New Orleans Saints handed Rodgers the most lopsided loss of his 17-year career in last week's opener, beating the Packers, 38-3.

Packers QB Aaron Rodgers throws during the first half on Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, in Green Bay, Wis.
Packers QB Aaron Rodgers throws during the first half on Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, in Green Bay, Wis.

Green Bay had two possessions and ran 12 offensive plays in the game's first 28 minutes, and Rodgers finished with a 36.8 passer rating, the fourth-worst of his career.

It was the Packers' lowest-scoring output since a 31-0 loss to the Lions in Week 17 of the 2018 season, when Rodgers left with a brain injury in the first quarter.

The Saints stymied Green Bay's offense by stopping the run with light boxes, clouding the passing lanes with two-deep safety coverage and controlling possession with their own offense to keep Rodgers off the field.

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The Lions, with a head coach in Campbell and defensive coordinator in Aaron Glenn who spent the past five seasons in New Orleans, could use a similar approach Monday.

"We looked at the ways New Orleans attacked them, what worked for them, and what worked for them was physicality," Lions defensive tackle Alim McNeill said. "They just put it on them all game, every snap."

Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell reacts to a play  against the Buffalo Bills during the second half of the preseason game at Ford Field in Detroit on Friday, Aug. 13, 2021.
Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell reacts to a play against the Buffalo Bills during the second half of the preseason game at Ford Field in Detroit on Friday, Aug. 13, 2021.

Lions cornerback Amani Oruwariye said other teams have had success playing physical football against the Packers, too, including the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFC championship game last season.

For that reason, and because they struggled defensively in their loss last week to the San Francisco 49ers, the Lions have emphasized physical play in practice this week.

Campbell said the Lions ran a shallow crossing drill in practice Wednesday "just like you would with a seventh-grade football team," and McNeill said being stout in the run game is key to avoid being stung by the hornet this week.

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"You also have to take into account who's over there," he said. "A-Rodgers is a great quarterback, speaks for himself. We know he can make plays with his feet, with his arm, so we're not just going to look at it, 'Oh, they're going to have another bad week.' We're prepared for him as well. But we definitely looked at what worked for New Orleans."

Injury report

Wide receiver Tyrell Williams and defensive tackle Kevin Strong missed their second straight practices Thursday with brain injuries suffered in last week's loss to the 49ers. Campbell said Williams was not at the team's Allen Park practice facility Thursday, leaving his status for Monday's game further in doubt.

Strong's absence should open the door for second-round pick Levi Onwuzurike to make his NFL debut.

Detroit Lions defensive tackle Levi Onwuzurike runs a drill during an NFL football practice in Allen Park, Mich., Tuesday, June 8, 2021.
Detroit Lions defensive tackle Levi Onwuzurike runs a drill during an NFL football practice in Allen Park, Mich., Tuesday, June 8, 2021.

Onwuzurike was inactive last week after missing time in the preseason with back and hip injuries.

"I would say he’s trending (toward playing)," Campbell said of Onwuzurike. "We put him through a real good workout Sunday to see how he felt for gameday even though he was done, and he responded well. So we’re excited. I think we’d like to see if we could get him up this week, but we’ll see where the week goes."

Running back D'Andre Swift was a limited participant in practice because of a groin injury. Swift, who had 104 total yards against the 49ers, did not play in the preseason because of the same ailment and was a full participant in practice all of last week.

Contact Dave Birkett at dbirkett@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Lions say being physical key vs. Green Bay Packers