Rodgers ma­jor ob­sta­cle

Dol­phins must face cold in Green Bay — plus an elite QB

South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Sunday) - - Sports - By Safid Deen

Mi­ami Dol­phins de­fen­sive back Bobby McCain has vivid mem­o­ries of the cold­est game he has played in dur­ing his ca­reer.

It was the Dol­phins’ AFC wild-card play­off loss to the Steel­ers two sea­sons ago, where the high tem­per­a­ture in Pitts­burgh was 16 de­grees.

“I’ve never played in a game that cold ever in my life,” McCain said. “I lit­er­ally had snot bub­bles freez­ing on my nose.”

The Dol­phins may not be play­ing in con­di­tions as cold in Sun­day’s game against the Pack­ers (3-4-1) in Green Bay, with tem­per­a­tures ex­pected to be in the low 30s for the 4:25 p.m. kick­off, but the cold, bit­ing wind at Lam­beau Field could af­fect the Dol­phins just as much as the stand­out quar­ter­back they hope to slow on the other side.

“Our guys know this: we’re go­ing on the road in a place that’s a very dif­fi­cult place to play with a Hall of Fame quar­ter­back,” Dol­phins coach Adam Gase said com­ple­ment­ing Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers.

“I don’t want to piss [New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots quar­ter­back] Tom Brady off, but he’s prob­a­bly the top guy.”

Rodgers and the Pack­ers (3-4-1) are coming off of road losses against two of the best teams in the NFL this sea­son, in the Los Angeles Rams and Pa­tri­ots, and will host the Dol­phins (5-4) in their first home game in a month.

Mi­ami had its best de­fen­sive per­for­mance of the sea­son, fea­tur­ing four sacks and four in­ter­cep­tions, to dis­rupt New York Jets rookie quar­ter­back Sam Darnold in a 13-6 home win last week.

The win helped the Dol­phins be­come one of 13 NFL teams to have a record above .500 at this point in the sea­son.

Gase, who rather fawn over Rodgers’ play­ing style than game plan for him, knows the Dol­phins may not be able to match last week’s sta­tis­ti­cal out­put de­fen­sively against the Pack­ers. The Dol­phins fig­ure to have their hands full with Pack­ers quar­ter­back Aaron Rodgers.

But the Dol­phins hope to ap­ply pres­sure on Rodgers, keep him from scram­bling out of the pocket, and keep the Pack­ers’ re­ceiv­ing tar­gets in front of them to keep Rodgers at bay.

“When I see him play, the guy doesn’t make a lot of er­rors. He looks like he’s play­ing jayvee foot­ball com­pared to ev­ery­body else,” Gase said of Rodgers.

“It’s just un­be­liev­able how ef­fort­less he makes the game look. Our guys know that. They know when you play a guy like this, you bet­ter bring your A-game. You bet­ter make sure that ev­ery­body is on the same page. Throw the records out. It doesn’t mat­ter be­cause of who we’re play­ing.”

Rodgers has com­pleted more than 60 per­cent of his passes for 15 touch­downs and just one in­ter­cep­tion this sea­son.

He has also grad­u­ally re­gained his mo­bil­ity while play­ing through a knee in­jury he suf­fered in the sea­son opener.

“He’s get­ting bet­ter,” Pack­ers coach Mike McCarthy said of Rodgers. “It’s been bet­ter each week. But it’s a big in­jury — some­thing that I think he’ll be deal­ing with as we move for­ward.”

Still, Rodgers is a threat when he is on the move.

And Rodgers has a slew of re­ceivers ready to break their routes and get into space when they know he has es­caped the pocket.

Lead­ing re­ceiver Da­vante Adams (58 catches, seven touch­downs) and for­mer Univer­sity of Mi­ami great Jimmy Gra­ham (32 catches, two touch­downs) are Green Bay’s lead­ing re­ceiv­ing tar­gets.

Rook­ies Mar­quez Valdes-Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown are

get­ting op­por­tu­ni­ties with Ran­dal Cobb slowed by a ham­string is­sue in re­cent weeks.

“You just have to be ready for it,” Dol­phins cor­ner­back Xavien Howard said.

“He can get out of the pocket. He can do a lot of great things, so you just have to be ready for it, stick on your man and just do your job, [and ex­e­cute] the game plan that we have for him.”

McCain, like many Dol­phins play­ers, is ex­cited to play in Lam­beau Field for the team’s first trip to Green Bay since 2010.

And the Dol­phins know what a stel­lar de­fen­sive per­for­mance against Rodgers could do for their play­off chances this sea­son.

“It’s an ex­cit­ing op­por­tu­nity and I can’t wait,” McCain said. “I want to see in per­son what he’s all about, and I know he’s one of the great ones.”


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