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Packers' run defense takes hit with Wilson injury

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Packers' run defense takes hit with Wilson injury

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) The Green Bay Packers might have the worst timing in the NFL.

Adrian Peterson and the Minnesota Vikings roll into town Sunday, and the Packers expect they'll be without defensive end C.J. Wilson, a cornerstone of their run defense. That's on top of the absences of Charles Woodson and, most likely, Clay Matthews.

``I feel better from Sunday ... but it's a longshot,'' Wilson, who injured his knee in last weekend's blowout loss to the New York Giants, said Wednesday. ``It's a horrible feeling knowing I won't be able to play Sunday and help the team with my defense, to stop this beast.''

Few teams have been hit harder by injuries this year than the Packers (7-4), who have lost more than a dozen starters or projected starters for at least one game, and their timing has only made the pain worse.

With No. 1 receiver Greg Jennings already out, Jordy Nelson, Aaron Rodgers' second-favorite target, missed one game and most of another. James Starks, Green Bay's leading rusher last season, was still nursing a toe injury when Cedric Benson went down with a foot injury. Starks got healthy just in time for fullback John Kuhn to suffer a hamstring injury.

The Packers had to take on Calvin Johnson and the Detroit Lions without both Woodson and cornerback Sam Shields. The last time Green Bay faced a bulldozer of a running back, Houston's Arian Foster? Nose tackle B.J. Raji was in sweats.

Now comes Peterson, and Wilson will be on the sidelines.

``Without C.J., it's definitely going to be tougher,'' fellow defensive lineman Ryan Pickett said. ``C.J. is a real good player, especially against the run.''

The Packers have been tough to run on lately. After giving up a total of 407 yards rushing in the first three weeks of the season, they've held opponents to an average of 91.9 yards over the last eight games, fourth-best in the league.

They were particularly stingy with Foster. Though he scored two touchdowns, Foster was held to just 29 yards, his fewest in two seasons, and his 1.7 yards per carry was a career low.

But Wilson played a big part in that. And, no offense to Foster or any of the other running backs the Packers have faced, but Peterson is a much, much bigger challenge.

``This is a different animal,'' Pickett said. ``I mean, he's a once-a-decade kind of runner.''

Peterson leads the NFL with 1,236 yards rushing, almost 200 more than Foster. He's averaging a whopping 5.8 yards per carry, about a yard better than almost every other top running back. He's run for 100 yards in five straight games, matching Robert Smith's franchise record.

And this from a guy who blew out his ACL not even 12 months ago.

``I think he's better, scary to say,'' Pickett said. ``I already thought he was the best back, hands down, in the league, and now he's looking better on tape. I was shocked when we started watching tape on him. He's running the ball real hard and he's breaking a lot of tackles.

``You just don't expect to see him do the things he's doing,'' Pickett added. ``This is probably one of his better years he's ever had. He's running the ball great. We were watching the run cut-ups and it's like a highlight reel. I'm like, `Wow, what is this?' He's averaging almost 6 yards a carry. That's unheard of.''

If Wilson doesn't play, the Packers will lean on rookies Mike Daniels and Jerel Worthy, who filled in after Wilson got hurt against the Giants.

Welcome to the big time, kids!

``We'll have to have the young guys step up,'' Pickett said. ``They've been stepping up all year, they'll have to again.''

When it comes to stopping Peterson, though, it really is a job for the entire defense.

He's savvy and slick enough to find even the smallest of holes, and he'll make anyone who leaves his assignment look silly. He's also guaranteed to make at least one guy miss every play, so there'd better be a second wave ready to stop him. Third and fourth wave, too, and probably a fifth just for good measure.

It sounds like a defensive lineman's nightmare - and Pickett can't wait for it.

``I like playing against this, this is a challenge. A big challenge,'' he said. ``He's the leading rusher in the league right now and it's the Vikings. And we don't like the Vikings. It's an extra push to get ready for this game.''

Notes: Matthews did not practice Wednesday and coach Mike McCarthy said he thinks it's ``a stretch'' the linebacker would be ready for Sunday's game. But ``he's getting close,'' McCarthy said. ``He wants the opportunity to talk again on Friday.'' ... McCarthy said RB Cedric Benson was being re-evaluated Wednesday. Benson has been on the injured reserve, eligible to return list since Oct. 10, but is reportedly still considering surgery on his injured foot. ... The Packers have won nine straight games against NFC North opponents. Asked to explain their divisional success, McCarthy joked, ``Coaching.''

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NASCAR at New Hampshire: everything you need to know about racing this weekend

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NASCAR at New Hampshire: everything you need to know about racing this weekend

Still not over that finish from Kentucky Speedway? Good, us either. NASCAR is right back after it this weekend in the Granite State and New Hampshire Motor Speedway for some short-track summer action.

Here's what we're watching for on Sunday afternoon in the Foxwoods Resort 301 (3 p.m. EST on NBCSN).

NEW HAMPSHIRE STATISTICS
New Hampshire Motor Speedway: 1.058-mile oval in Loudon, N.H.
Race information: 318.46 miles, 301 laps
Stage lengths: 75 laps, 75 laps, 151 laps
Defending winner: Kevin Harvick
Most wins: Jeff Burton (4)

WEEKEND SCHEDULE

NEW HAMPSHIRE MOTOR SPEEDWAY

Friday, July 19

12:05 – 12:55 p.m. – Cup practice (NBCSN)

1:05 – 1:55 p.m. – Xfinity practice (NBCSN)

3:35 – 4:25 p.m. – Final Xfinity practice (NBCSN)

4:35 p.m. – Cup qualifying (single vehicle/two laps all positions) (NBCSN, Performance Racing Network)

Saturday, July 20

10:05 – 10:55 a.m. – Cup practice (CNBC)

11:15 a.m. – Xfinity qualifying (single vehicle/two laps all positions) (NBCSN)

12:35 – 1:25 p.m. – Final Cup practice (NBCSN)

4 p.m. – Roxor 200 Xfinity race (stages 45/90/200 laps = 211.6 miles) (NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Sunday, July 21

3 p.m. – Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 (stages 75/150/301 laps = 318.46 miles) (NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Is It Time For SHR To Panic?

Past the halfway point in the 2019 season, Joe Gibbs Racing, Team Penske, Hendrick Motorsports, Chip Ganassi Racing and Spire Motorsports (!) have visited Victory Lane.

Notably absent is Stewart-Haas Racing.

2014 Monster Energy Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick had five wins at this point last season, Clint Bowyer had two, and the duo of Aric Almirola and Kurt Busch had been running consistently inside the top five and top 10. This season, they're a step behind.

Whether it's the adjustment to the new Ford Mustang or the new aerodynamic rules package for this season, SHR is behind, there's no sugarcoating it.

Although Harvick is safely in the playoffs, Almirola is in but does not have a large buffer, Bowyer is on the bubble and Daniel Suarez is on the outside looking in.

Harvick did win this race last season, and another checkered flag for the No. 4 camp this weekend would go a long way confidence wise for the organization.

More Sticky Stuff

PJ1 is back, and it seems here to stay.

The sticky adhesive that was put down last weekend in Kentucky, as well as multiple times last season, has been applied at NHMS and will be applied next weekend at Pocono Raceway as well. The adhesive is in hopes to create more racing lines and in turn, a better on track product.

With temparatures this weekend reaching upwards of triple digits, the PJ1 will become more active earlier on. The hotter it is, the more grip the substance has.

Lobstah

New England NASCAR trips and somewhat cringeworthy New England NASCAR accents go hand in hand. Like it or not, that's part of it, right?

The winner of each NHMS race gets a big ole lobster to celebrate with. But don't give one to Denny Hamlin. We remember what happened to him a couple years back, right?

2019 NASCAR STANDINGS

Next week, NASCAR heads to the Pocono Raceway for the second time this season for the Gander Outdoors 400 on Sunday, July 28 at 3:30 p.m. EST on NBCSN.

Quick Links

Nationals Roundup: Late Victor Robles magic not enough as Braves walk-off Nats

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Nationals Roundup: Late Victor Robles magic not enough as Braves walk-off Nats

As you would expect a first-place NL East team to do, the Atlanta Braves bounced back to even the series with Washington Friday night inside SunTrust Park. Josh Donaldson erased Victor Robles' game-tying, two-run home run with his walk-off single in the ninth. Atlanta improved to 59-40 and increased its lead over the Nationals to 6.5 games with a 4-3 final. 

Consider these notes as Washington grinds through a pivotal series in Atlanta: 

Player Notes:

Washington's first-year lefty didn't have his best stuff going Friday night in Atlanta. Patrick Corbin tossed just five innings allowing eight hits, two runs, two walks on 100 pitches. He struck out five Braves on his 30th birthday. 

The Nationals' third baseman has brought new meaning to the word 'consistency' all year long in his first season as an All-Star. Two games into this four-game series in Atlanta, Anthony Rendon has five hits, a walk, and 2 RBI.  

Victor Robles brought the fireworks in the ninth at SunTrust Park. The 22-year-old delivered a game-tying, two-run home run off Luke Jackson. The long-ball traveled a whopping 446 feet. 

The Fernando Rodney experience was alive and well. Davey Martinez made the questionable decision to bring his 42-year-old back out in the ninth for a second consecutive inning. It backfired. Just 14 of his 32 pitches were thrown for strikes. 

Injuries: 

SP Max Scherzer: Back, Expected to be out until at least Jul 25

RP Jonny Venters: Back, Expected to be out until at least Jul 26

SP Jeremy Hellickson: Shoulder, Expected to be out until at least Jul 20

RP Justin Miller: Shoulder, Expected to be out until at least Jul 20

RP Koda Glover: Elbow, Expected to be out until at least Aug 7

RP Austen Williams: Shoulder, Expected to be out until at least Jul 26

Coming Up:

Saturday 7/20: Nationals at Braves, 7:20 p.m., SunTrust Park 

Sunday 7/21: Nationals at Braves, 7:20 p.m., SunTrust Park 

Monday 7/22: Nationals vs. Rockies, 7:05 p.m., Nationals Park 

MORE NATIONALS NEWS: