The Dolphins will be in Appleton, Wis. by late this afternoon. It will be interesting to see if defensive end Jared Odrick makes the trip or not.
Odrick is clearly not 100 percent yet. So my source that told me he would be back within two weeks was wrong and I was wrong for going with it. The source that told the NFL Network Odrick would be ready to go in six weeks wasn't right, either. Odrick can play, four weeks after he fractured his fibula.
The issue now is whether coach Tony Sparano decides playing Odrick with only two weeks of limited practice is worth risking the possibility of Odrick re-injuring the leg. My guess is Sparano will be conservative and not use Odrick. It is just a guess. We'll know more later today when we find out if Odrick traveled with the team or not. If he traveled, he's likely playing.
Odrick almost definitely will play next week, barring a strange setback.
Tomorrow, The Herald will publish my breakdown of the Dolphins versus the Packers. Because you read this blog, you get the breakdown today:
When the Dolphins run the ball: The Packers have been getting better against the run in recent games, improving four spots from their No. 19 overall ranking against the run to No. 15 today. But that still isn’t as good as what the Packers did last year when they led the NFL in rush defense. The truth is opposing quarterbacks have gashed the Green Bay defense while running the ball. Opposing running backs have averaged only 3.6 yards a carry against the Packers. So unless Chad Henne suddenly becomes a great threat running the football, it will be a challenge for Ronnie Brown to stay on his current 4.7-yard per carry average for the season. Brown is coming off his toughest outing of the season in that he gained only 27 yards on 11 carries against the Patriots. The Dolphins need to use Brown more. He’s not gotten more than 13 carries in any game this season with only 11 carries per game the last two losses. ADVANTAGE: Green Bay.
When the Dolphins pass the ball: The Dolphins have had good production from Brandon Marshall and Davone Bess but need Brian Hartline to make more of an impact down the field. It might be difficult to give Henne time to scan down the field if linebacker and NFL leading sack man Clay Matthews is healthy enough to play. Matthews is nursing a hamstring injury, which begs sympathy only if one does not realize Dolphins left tackle Jake Long has been playing with a bad right knee since the start of the season. The Packers have had a dozen players snare at least one interception since 2009, with 36 total interceptions in that time leading the NFL. Anytime Henne is passing, he is risking a turnover. Having said all that, the Packers have yielded 681 passing yards the past two weeks. ADVANTAGE: Green Bay.
When the Packers run the ball: Brandon Jackson has taken over for Ryan Grant, who is out for the season with an ankle injury. Jackson has been steady and even spectacular on one 71-yard run this year. Last week, Jackson rushed for 115 yards on 10 carries which marked the first time he seemed to be living up to the second-round pick the Packers used on him in 2007. The Dolphins have been unable to shut down another team’s running game since the first week of the season at Buffalo. The Dolphins have yielded at least 119 rushing yards in each of the last three games. ADVANTAGE: Even.
When the Packers pass the ball: The Packers have the highest-ranked passing attack the Dolphins have faced all season at No. 10 in the NFL. But the truth is that statistic is of no effect if quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who has been nursing a concussion, is not in the lineup. He has been practicing and is listed as probable so you should expect him to play. But if the unexpected happens and he sits, the Packers will resort to Matt Flynn as their starter. And the names of Dolphins players seriously worried Flynn might be more effective than Rodgers follows in parenthesis: ( ). Not a long list. Although Greg Jennings and Donald Driver are good receivers, the Dolphins feel good about the match ups with Vontae Davis and Jason Allen. Where the Dolphins are catching a huge break is that tight end Jermichael Finley, among the league’s best tight ends, is not playing because he injured. The Dolphins have struggled with fine tight ends for about three years now. ADVANTAGE: Packers if Rodgers plays.
Special teams: Welcome back from the bye week, Miami special teams. How are things? Last time we saw you, you were yielding or accounting for 21 points on returns or blocks against New England. Are the problems solved? Is that gaping hole through which the Patriots and the Jets blocked a punt now plugged? The Dolphins enter this game as the league’s worst kickoff coverage team. Brandon Fields is 31st in the NFL in net punt average and 29th in gross average. Darren Rizzi takes over for John Bonamego as the special teams coach because Bonamego was fired last week. On the bright side, anything that happens today will probably be an improvement. ADVANTAGE: Anyone but Miami.
Coaching: Mike McCarthy seems to have the talent to work with, but it somehow hasn’t translated on the field this season. Expected to be a Super Bowl contender, the Packers have been unspectacular on offense and unable to produce turnovers on defense. Injuries plays a factor in that, but overcoming injuries is something great coaches can often do. Tony Sparano, 20-17 in his third year, has spoken of his team’s much better record when it runs more than it passes. Look for the pragmatic coach to try and follow that formula. ADVANTAGE: Even.