GREEN BAY, Wis.
The Green Bay Packers are 3-0 and still feel like they havent come anywhere near playing up to their potential, particularly on defense.
Thats potentially bad news for the Denver Broncos (1-2), who bring a sputtering offense into todays game at Lambeau Field.
The Packers are stopping the run better than any team in the league three games into the season, allowing only 55 yards rushing per game. And theyve been tough in the red zone, allowing only four touchdowns in 13 opponent trips inside the 20-yard line.
But the Packers have been remarkably vulnerable to the pass and will be without Pro Bowl safety Nick Collins for the rest of the season after he injured his neck in Week 2.
Thats definitely motivation, defensive lineman Ryan Pickett said. Because we watch film, were like, Man, we left plays out there. We have so much room to grow as a defensive unit, and thats the exciting part. I think were getting better. Were preparing harder, and were getting better. Were looking to make an even bigger step this week toward having a dominant defense.
The Packers pass defense might be an area to target for the Broncos, a team quarterback Kyle Orton said can play much better on offense. Having wide receiver Brandon Lloyd back healthy for the second game in a row should help.
When we have everybody on the same page doing the right things, were a pretty danged good football team, Orton said. On the flip side, when you only get eight or nine guys doing the right thing, we cant overcome it. I think our focus heading forward is getting on the right page and get more guys doing the right thing on every play.
Orton has struggled since winning his first six starts for Denver in 2009. Some fans who want to see more of Tim Tebow, at least in short-yardage and goal-line situations, but Orton said hes ignoring it.
When youre 1-2, your only thoughts are what can you do to get to 2-2, and after that, what can we do to win the next game, Orton said.
Dating back to his time in Chicago, Orton is 3-1 as a starter against the Packers.
I cant wait to come back, Orton said. Ive always had a great amount of respect for the team and always had fun playing against them in Chicago. Ive always had a ton of respect I came out in the draft with Aaron (Rodgers) and really just watched him from afar and really respect his game and what he brings to the table. Im excited to come out there. Its a huge game for us.
Rodgers is at his best against the blitz but certainly will have his eye on Broncos rookie Von Miller.
I think hes going to be a really good player, Rodgers said. Hes got great athleticism; hes an active player. They like to bring him in their rush. Hes a tough guy to handle during the game. So were going to make sure we pick out where hes at and try to slow him down a little bit.
The Packers high-powered offense might be without two key players: right tackle Bryan Bulaga (knee) and running back Ryan Grant (kidney bruise).
But Green Bays main concerns come on defense.
Its a high standard around here, nose tackle B.J. Raji said. Anything short of greatness is not going to be accepted.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy said his defense plays great adversity football, playing its best when its backed into a bad situation, but he said it needs to be better overall.
We have a lot of work to do, McCarthy said. Were 3-0. Its a good place to be in, to know youve won all your games, but you know that youre not really scratching the surface of how good you can be as a team.