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NOTEBOOK: Packers' new and improved defense a good challenge for Stafford

Matthew Stafford has had a ton of recent success against the Green Bay Packers. In his last four meetings he's thrown for 1,416 yards (354 per game) with 10 touchdowns vs. two interceptions earning a 118.3 passer rating.

The Packers have struggled on defense in the past, especially in the last couple years. They ranked in the bottom quarter of the NFL in pass defense in both of the last two seasons.

But there's a new sheriff in Green Bay, defensive coordinator Mike Pettine, and he's brought with him a new scheme and a new way of playing defense.

"Coach Pettine's been in the League for a long time, been really successful for a long time," Lions offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter said this week. "They've gone out and gotten a bunch of new young players.

"Athletic, a lot of corners, a lot of linebackers. Good players. So, it's an aggressive defense. Sometimes they'll blitz at you from every angle. They're aggressive, they'll figure out your tendencies and really play to those things."

The Packers have a nice mix of young and veteran cornerbacks, and the secondary might be the most improved unit on the entire team.

It will present some new difficulties for Cooter and Stafford this week, and should be a good challenge.

The Packers rank in the top 10 in yards allowed per game (326.3) and yards allowed per play (5.33). Their passing defense ranks seventh in the league (218.5).

"It's a different scheme and they have quite a few different players that are playing in that scheme," Stafford said. "Quite a bit to learn this week. Try to wrap our head around it and go from there."


Safety Quandre Diggs practiced all week long with a cast over the left hand he injured last week in Dallas. If he plays Sunday against the Packers, there's a pretty good chance he plays with the cast on to protect that hand. 

Obviously not ideal for any player, but playing with a cast is certainly manageable, just ask veteran safety Glover Quin.

"There's definitely some challenges," said Quin, who broke his hand back in 2010 and played with a cast. "Especially for a defensive back. You use your hands a lot. You can deal with the pain. You can make it.

"I did it my second year. Broke my hand against the Jets and then came back the next week and had a cast on. Caught three picks."

That's right, Quin recorded three interceptions, a Texans franchise record, against Tennessee in a 20-0 victory while playing with a cast in 2010.

He even showed off the pictures in the locker room Thursday.

Asked if Quin has mentioned that game to him this week, Diggs rolled his eyes and said yes. It sounds like Quin's told that story a few times.

"Man, it has (been every day)," Diggs said. "That's what he say, 'that's how I got my first three with a cast on.' Who was he playing as a quarterback? Not A-Rod (Aaron Rodgers). Definitely not A-Rod."


Tracy Walker filled in for Diggs after he left Sunday's game. The rookie has held his own and made the most of his opportunities on the field early this season.

He's another one of the rookies from this year's class – along with Frank Ragnow, Kerryon Johnson and Da'Shawn Hand – finding ways to make an impact early in their careers.

Walker made a great interception at the end of the Week 2 loss in San Francisco that could have turned the tide in that contest had Diggs not been flagged for defensive holding away from the play.

Walker's played 21.2 percent of the team's defensive snaps through four games. He's received a positive grade from Pro Football Focus in each of the last three games he's played on defense.

He has length and speed and seems to be picking things up in the back end quicker than some rookies do.

"Tracy has played some football for us here so far this season in some critical situations," head coach Matt Patricia said. "He does a good job of learning the playbook and understanding the different things that we're asking him to do from that aspect of it.

"He still has a lot to learn from some of the intricacies the situations that come up in a game and communication and the rest of it. But he's doing a good job of trying to stay on top of it and getting better every week."

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