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2013 Opponents Preview: Green Bay Packers

Posted Jul 11, 2013

As the 2013 season approaches, ClevelandBrowns.com looks at the Browns’ regular-season opponents. Today, we highlight the Oct. 20 road game at the Green Bay Packers.

Browns at Packers -- Sunday, Oct. 20 -- 4:25 p.m. ET

Storylines:

In the regular season, the Cleveland Browns last played the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on Sept. 18, 2005, and came back to Cleveland with a 26-24 victory over their NFC North Division counterparts. However, the Packers returned the favor with a 31-3 win over the Browns at then-Cleveland Browns Stadium on Oct. 25, 2009.

The Packers finished 11-5 and won the NFC North Division last year, but fell to the San Francisco 49ers in the Divisional Round. They are looking to remain atop a division that has produced two playoff teams in each of the last three years.

This year’s game at Lambeau Field will be the second of three contests at non-AFC North Division stadiums that the Browns will visit for the second consecutive year.

During the regular season, the Browns will travel to Lambeau Field, where they played a preseason game in 2012, and the second-to-last road game of 2013 will be against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium, where Cleveland faced off against the Giants last year.

They will also play against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium in the preseason.

Stats:

The Packers finished 2012 ranked in the top 15 in points (fifth, 27.1), yards (13th, 359.4) and passing yards (ninth, 253.1), as well as points allowed (11th, 21.0), yards allowed (11th, 336.8), and passing yards (11th, 218.2).

Despite being outrushed (1,896 to 1,702) by their opponents, the Packers converted more first downs (341 to 308), total offensive yards (5,751 to 5,388), and passing yards (4,049 to 3,492). They held an advantage in time of possession and were plus-seven in turnovers.

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers completed 371 of 552 attempts (67.2 percent) for 4,295 yards and 39 touchdowns against eight interceptions. Despite being sacked 51 times for 293 lost yards, Rodgers carried a 108.0 quarterback rating throughout the regular season.

Randall Cobb was Rodgers’ favorite target, catching 80 passes for 954 yards and eight touchdowns, and James Jones proved to be a red-zone target. Jones caught 64 passes and was on the receiving end of 14 touchdowns.

Running back Alex Green led the team with 464 yards rushing on 135 carries, but Rodgers, DuJuan Harris and Ryan Grant led the way with two touchdowns each.

Cobb was also an impact player on special teams, averaging 9.4 yards over 31 punt returns, and gaining 964 yards on 38 kickoffs.

Defensively, linebackers Morgan Burnett and A.J. Hawk paced the Packers. Burnett registered 123 total tackles, 88 solo stops and two forced fumbles, while Hawk totaled 120 tackles and a team-leading 39 assists.

Outside linebacker Clay Matthews made 43 tackles, but 13 of those were sacks on opposing quarterbacks. Since entering the league four years ago, Matthews has registered 42.5 sacks, including double-digit production in three of those seasons.

Defensive back Casey Hayward collected a team-best six interceptions, which he returned an average of 13.5 yards. Sam Shields, Tramon Williams, Erik Walden and Burnett each collected two interceptions, while M.D. Jennings returned his only pick 72 yards for a touchdown.

Transactions:

Key Additions: The Packers extended the contract of linebacker Clay Matthews III, and re-signed linebackers Robert Francois and Brad Jones. They also signed tight end Matthew Mulligan and cornerback Loyce Means.

Key Losses: Wide receivers Donald Driver (to retirement) and Greg Jennings (to Minnesota); center Jeff Saturday (released) and defensive back Charles Woodson (released).

Draft: The Packers added 11 players -- five defensive and six offensive -- through the 2013 NFL Draft. After taking defensive end Datone Jones (first round) and running back Eddie Lacy (second), Green Bay made three selections in the fourth round (offensive tackles David Bakhtiari and J.C. Tretter, as well as running back Johnathan Franklin), and two in the fifth (cornerback Micah Hyde and defensive end Josh Boyd). The Packers added linebacker Nate Palmer in the sixth round before selecting wide receivers Charles Johnson and Kevin Dorsey, as well as linebacker Sam Barrington in the seventh with their final pick.

Familiar Faces:

Cleveland Browns running back Brandon Jackson was a second-round pick of the Packers in the 2007 NFL Draft. He rushed for 1,383 yards and seven touchdowns on 355 carries in Green Bay, and had his best year during the Packers’ run to a Super Bowl XLV win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. He rushed for 703 yards and three touchdowns in the 2010 season.

Browns offensive lineman Joe Thomas is a native of Brookfield, Wisc., and went to Brookfield Central High School. He captained his football and basketball teams as a senior, and later went to the University of Wisconsin.

Inside linebackers coach Ken Flajole was the Packers’ defensive assistant/quality control coach in 1998.

Packers offensive lineman Garth Gerhart spent the 2012 season on the Browns’ practice squad, and quarterback Graham Harrell attended the team’s rookie minicamp on a tryout basis in 2009 and 2010.

Packers quarterback Alex Gillet (Green Springs/Clyde High School), Hawk (Kettering/Centerville), Hyde (Fostoria), tight end Jake Stoneburner (Dublin/Coffman), and defensive lineman Jerel Worthy (Dayton/Chaminade-Julienne) are Ohio natives.

Hawk, defensive lineman Ryan Pickett and Stoneburner all went to The Ohio State University.

Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers is a native of Cambridge, Ohio, and started at Meadowbrook High School before playing college football at the University of Mount Union and earning a Master’s degree at Kent State University. He also served as an assistant coach at Kent State (1972-74) and Ohio State (1982-83).

Defensive line coach Mike Trgovac was born in Youngstown and earned All-Ohio recognition in both football and wrestling at Austintown-Fitch High School. As a senior, he was Ohio’s Defensive Lineman of the Year and the state heavyweight wrestling champion.

Assistant offensive line coach Joel Hilgenberg is the son of Jerry Hilgenberg, a fourth-round pick of the Browns in 1954. His brother, Jay, spent the 1992 season with the Browns.

Quarterbacks coach Ben McAdoo assisted The University of Akron’s football recruiting efforts in 2004 before joining the New Orleans Saints’ coaching staff.

Secondary coach Darren Perry mentored the Cincinnati Bengals safeties in 2002.

Matthews III is the son of Browns Legend Clay Matthews. The elder Matthews played for the Browns from 1978-93, and holds franchise records for the most consecutive seasons (16), games played (232), and quarterback sacks (76.5).

History:

All-time, the Browns are 7-11-0 against the Packers, and 3-4-0 in games played at Lambeau Field.