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The Bears trailed the Packers by just eight points with about four minutes left and had driven inside the Green Bay 30-yard line when Matthews stepped in front of Chicago TE Martellus Bennett, picked off QB Jay Cutler’s pass and ran all the way into Chicago territory. The turnover set up the clinching TD drive that sealed a season-opening victory.
I know the average football fan eats up the free-agent frenzy and that’s why media outlets have to report on rumored free-agent movement and trades, but it gets to be so reckless at times. It was rumored the Packers would attempt to trade for Martellus Bennett. I can’t imagine a scenario in which either team would want to hand something over to a divisional opponent that would be beneficial. Do you really think there is a scenario in which there could be any validity to a rumor like that?
“I learned a lot from Tom last year about how to communicate better with the quarterback. I speak several different quarterback languages, and I just have to learn which one to speak to Aaron now.”
Kendricks, who joins the Packers after six seasons with the Rams, is already opening that line of communication. Over the last two years, he has trained in the offseason at the same Thousand Oaks, Calif., facility where Rodgers, Clay Matthews and David Bakhtiari work out as well.
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“I hated playing against Aaron,” said Bennett with a laugh. “I just got off the phone with him, I said, ‘I hate that guy on the other side,’ but it’s going to be pretty good to be on Green Bay Packers jerseys the same side with him and catching passes. I’ve seen him make a lot of amazing throws and he’s been one of the best for a really long time. I’m just going to try to come in and contribute to the best of my ability.”
Bennett has played a few games inside Lambeau Field as an opposing player. He fondly remembers it for its unique atmosphere and good playing conditions.
As for what Bennett and Kendricks might be able to do on the field together as a dynamic pair of tight ends, Bennett said as long as both are effective as blockers and pass-catchers, defenses will have a decision to make whether to have more coverage defenders or run-stoppers on the field.
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The talent always has been there for Clinton-Dix, but both he and Perry agree the young safety is acting more on his instincts this year. He’s also improved his tackling, reducing his missed tackles from double-digits as a rookie to significantly less the past two seasons.
Clinton-Dix was tossed into the leadership fire early last season when Burnett missed five games with a hamstring injury. It was a tough spot considering Burnett often serves as the lead communicator and quarterback of the secondary.
His absence forced Clinton-Dix to be more vocal in his declarations. He worked to develop chemistry with Burnett’s replacement, Micah Hyde, and the two helped stem the tide until the veteran safety’s return after the Week 6 bye.
Packers S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix has been named the NFC Defensive Player of the Week for Week 15. The third-year safety intercepted two passes from Bears QB Matt Barkley on back-to-back series in the third quarter on Sunday in Chicago, both setting up touchdowns for Green Bay’s offense in the victory.
Contrast that with 2013, the year before Clinton-Dix’s arrival, when a hamstring injury kept Burnett sidelined for the first three games of the year. The Packers went 1-2 and gave up more than 30 points in each of the two losses. The defense lacked a reliable safety complement to Burnett, and without him, the dropoff was noticeable.
Clinton-Dix is now tied for the league lead among safeties with five interceptions. The Giants’ Landon Collins also has five. This is the first player of the week award for Clinton-Dix, a first-round draft pick out of Alabama in 2014.