- Associated Press - Saturday, August 21, 2010

GREEN BAY, WIS. (AP) - As far as the Green Bay Packers are concerned, bland is the new blitz _ at least when it comes to the preseason.

Entering their second year in defensive coordinator Dom Capers‘ 3-4 scheme, the Packers are facing a far more gentle learning curve to get ready for the regular season.

So unlike last year, when the defense was new and Capers felt players had to practice everything under game conditions, he’s now keeping his most exotic blitzes under wraps and off of game film.

Capers said he intentionally went conservative in the Packers‘ first preseason game, a loss to Cleveland. He expects to do more of the same in Saturday’s game at Seattle.

“I think your first four teams you’re playing, you’re giving them a lot of things to work on in practice,” Capers said. “So you’d rather not do that, I think.”

Not every team played it that way in its first preseason game. According to reports out of Chicago, the Bears pulled quarterback Jay Cutler out of their game at San Diego earlier than planned because the Chargers were blitzing so aggressively.

But as much as defensive players would like to run wild and get after the quarterback every game, Packers outside linebacker Clay Matthews said saving their best stuff for the regular season is a smart play.

“Obviously you don’t want to show too much with the initial opponents we’re going to face the first half of the season,” Matthews said. “You don’t want to put too much on tape. But we’re running our base defenses and a few pressures here and there.”

With Matthews sitting out because of a hamstring injury and the Packers keeping most of their pressure packages in their back pocket for now, it wasn’t time to panic when Green Bay’s defense didn’t look particularly sharp against Cleveland.

Still, the Packers did give up three first-half touchdowns to the Browns.

“We have to do a better job of getting pressure, and that falls on everybody,” Matthews said. “It’s not just outside linebackers or D-linemen. We can’t rely on the blitz to bail us out, especially this early in preseason (when) we’re trying not to show our cards right now. We do need to put emphasis on getting pressure. That’s how it is.”

Vanilla defense or not, the Packers still want better results against the Seahawks.

“To me, that’s part of the evaluation process,” Capers said. “Those are the things you have to find out right now in preseason. Like I say, you might be able to camouflage some things by blitzing every down, but that isn’t going to work. Once you get into the regular season, that can catch up with you in a hurry.”

Packers coach Mike McCarthy said he would prefer to use the preseason as a chance for players to show sound fundamental play than use it to experiment with the most complex portions of the playbook.

The Packers only brought a lot of pressure in the preseason last year because they felt they had to.

“Last year was a totally different mindset for us because we were going from a totally different defensive scheme to more of a pressure scheme,” McCarthy said. “It wasn’t the schematic volume that was important in preseason, it was the ability to play pressure football in live game. That’s why we pressured as much as we did last year.”

Capers said he doesn’t want to blitz all the time in the regular season, either, making the preseason a valuable platform for the defense to show what it can do without really turning up the heat.

“If you go into the season feeling you’ve got to rely on the blitz all the time, sooner or later it catches up with you,” Capers said. “I think now’s a time we can see how well we can play base fundamental football.”

And as always, the Packers‘ defensive philosophy starts with stopping the run.

“The most helpless feeling is if you’re trying to play your base defense and they’re running the ball for 5 or 6 yards a crack in there,” Capers said. “If we can stop the run, people are going to try to spread us out, and we have to be able to put a group out there where we can match up and play good football that way. I don’t worry about the blitz stuff right now as much as I do us playing sound fundamental football and get a basis to build on.”

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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