When you think of tough football players — whether they play for the Packers or not — you probably think of Mike Singletary and his stare, Ray Nitschske and his scowl or Ronnie Lott lopping off part of his finger so he could keep playing.
You probably don’t think of too many wide receivers, especially modern-day receivers with their diva-like tendencies. There’s a couple of Packers wide receivers that are the exception to that rule, though, and should be on any list of tough guys in today’s NFL.
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When we talk about the Packers being a tougher, more physical team, I think most of us probably mean that the defense needs to hit harder and the offensive line needs to start pushing people around to get the run game going. We probably don’t put wide receivers into the toughness equation, but we should. Both Nelson and Cobb are coming off injuries and absorbed some wicked hits on Sunday. The kept getting up for more. They completely sold out on every single play and did whatever they could possibly do to punch back at the 49ers defense — the big bully on the block. Cobb and Nelson might not play a position defined by toughness, but they both proved on Sunday that they’re two of the toughest players on the Packers roster.
According to Pro Football Focus, Pickett has three stops on Sunday — solo tackles that resulted in an offensive failure. Frank Gore didn’t have the space he’s used to against the Packers and Big Grease is one of the reasons why. The soon-to-be 34 year old looked as good as he ever has, absorbing double teams, winning the battle when single-blocked, and causing chaos inside.
Ging matched all-world punter Andy Lee punt for punt and even took over kickoff duties. More importantly, Masthay is fearless! He made one tackle on a kick return and nearly had another. I wonder if he can play safety?
I thought the Neal-as-outside linebacker experiment would be a massive failure, but so far, so good. He’s an anchor on the edge against the run and even got after Colin Kaepernick a few times in the pass rush. He’s nowhere near an adequate complement to Matthews yet, but if he keeps making progress, who knows…
It wasn’t Jarrett Bush who shined on special teams Sunday, it was House. Splitting double teams, making three tackles, drawing a penalty. House was everywhere on the special teams unit. We’ll see if that earns him any more playing time on defense. Sam Shields looked shaky on Sunday.
Besides the final score, the most frustrating thing about Sunday’s loss was watching the Packers’ receivers get drilled after they made a catch while the 49ers’ receivers never had to fear at all about taking a shot. There were a few passes that floated over the middle where it looked like the stage was set for a safety to deliver a shot, but it never happened. McMillian and Jennings looked too slow to the ball and too tentative to be starting safeties in the NFL.
Clay Matthews late hit on Kaepernick
Dumb. Just plain dumb. If you want to be a tough guy and spark your team, lay the wood on somebody when they’re actually in bounds. Then flex your muscles and chest bump your teammates. A late hit in that situation does nothing but negate a big stop from your defense.
Adam Czech is a a freelance sports reporter living in the Twin Cities and a proud supporter of American corn farmers. When not working, Adam is usually writing about, thinking about or worrying about the Packers. Follow Adam on Twitter. Twitter .