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The question is asked of Herb Waters without fail every time the Packers’ first-year cornerback returns home to Florida.

“People back home are like, ‘Are you still playing receiver?’” said Waters, smiling. “I’m always like, ‘Nah, I’m at corner now.’ It’s slowly setting in.” Before Waters made an in-season switch during his rookie season in Green Bay a year ago, the native of Homestead, Fla., was known as an offensive playmaker during his four years at the University of Miami (Fla.). Waters caught 99 passes for 1,534 yards and nine touchdowns in 47 games with 20 starts for the Hurricanes, with a bulk of that production coming his senior year when he set career highs in both receptions (41) and receiving yards (624). After going undrafted, Waters signed to play receiver with the Packers as a college free agent, but he went without a catch in four preseason games. One of two dozen players released on cut-down day, Waters was offered a spot on the practice squad under one condition. The Packers and position coach Joe Whitt wanted Waters to give cornerback a shot. “Coming out of high school, Charlie Strong wanted me to come to Louisville to play corner,” Waters said. “I played in high school but I said no because I wanted to play receiver. I talked to the guys in the (cornerbacks) room and they’re like, ‘See, you should’ve played corner.’” Whitt, who previously shepherded the conversion of Sam Shields from a Miami (Fla.) receiver to Pro Bowl cornerback, liked Waters’ makeup. At 6-foot, 188 pounds, Waters’ size, speed, quickness and arm length made him an ideal candidate to make a position switch. Waters showed enough progress during his rookie year to not only warrant staying on the Packers’ practice squad in 2016, but also earn a call-up to the 53-man roster during the team’s playoff run. He hoped to carry the momentum into 2017 before suffering a shoulder injury early in training camp, which led to Waters being placed on season-ending injured reserve. The news was devastating. “I was hurt (emotionally); I was let down,” Waters said. “Unfortunately, things happen and God has other plans. I was terrified. I was kind of sad for a couple weeks until I got back up here after surgery and got back around the team, and the guys.” Players who are placed on IR are allowed to rehab away from team facilities if they choose. However, Waters wanted to stick around Green Bay this season and continue learning the finer points of the position. While unable to do any on-field activities, Waters continued to participate in the meeting room and followed all the happenings on the field. He took notes on how Davon House, Damarious Randall and even fellow undrafted free agents such as Josh Hawkins and Lenzy Pipkins went about handling their week-to-week assignments. “Just picking up techniques from the other guys and seeing what they do in certain situations,” Waters said. “I’m a good learner. It just upped my game. Since I’m not playing, that’s all I can really do is learn from other guys and see how to handle situations.” As players cleared out their lockers earlier this month, Waters acknowledged he still has “a couple more months” of rehab ahead of him before he’s fully cleared to return from the shoulder injury. However, he’s hoping to be “100 percent” for organized team activities this spring. Since his injury occurred so early in training camp, Waters didn’t get a chance to play in a preseason game last August. Wanting to show how far he’s come as a cornerback, the idea of stepping on the field at his new position is what continues to push Waters during his training. Whenever he steps back on the field, Waters believes having a chance to sit back and learn the position at a more controlled pace this past year will serve him well in the long run. “I’m kind of glad I did stick around,” Waters said. “I just want to be the best cornerback I can be. Putting all my tools to the test and see where it goes. I haven’t really played in a game at corner, so I don’t know my ups and downs. But I’m just trying to keep a high pace and fly around.”

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Don’t get Blake Martinez wrong, he wasn’t happy about much of anything after the Green Bay Packers closed this past season with a dud of a performance in the finale at Detroit to finish with a 7-9 record.

But no one will ever be able to take one thing away from him in 2017: the second-year linebacker led the NFL in tackles.

It was his position coach, Scott McCurley, who informed him of the news after all the Week 17 games came to a close.

“He showed me a picture of the tackle stats and stuff to just congratulate me,” Martinez said.

And then the next day, McCurley was let go as assistant linebackers coach.

“I texted him after I heard the news; I was wondering what to say and how to go about it,” Martinez said. “I just said, ‘Hey, I heard the news and am extremely sorry to hear that.’ He just came back and said, ‘Hey, it’s part of the business. That’s what happens.’ I just told him you helped me tremendously these last two years just growing as a player, understanding the game of football that much more.”

McCurley had three players under his purview, and one of them led the league in tackles. Martinez finished in a three-way tie for the NFL tackles lead with Bills linebacker Preston Brown and Browns linebacker Joe Schobert. Each finished with 144 tackles.

Only one Packers defensive player was on the field for more snaps than Martinez was this past season. He played 979 of the 1,052 plays. Safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix led the team once again, but the big news was he finally missed a play – eight of them, to be exact. He played in 1,044 snaps a year after he played all 1,236, including the playoffs. Clinton-Dix was taken out of the game in Week 4 against the Bears and sat the final eight plays because the game was out of reach. It ended a streak of 2,033 straight snaps.

“It’s definitely tough not making the playoffs and doing that type of thing,” Martinez said of his season. “Obviously, I have two sets of goals – season goals, team goals of going to the Super Bowl, winning the Super Bowl. Then individual goals, and that was one of my individual goals, to lead the league in tackles. It’s just something I’m going to use to propel me into next season.”

One other noteworthy item as it pertained to playing time: cornerback Davon House will receive a $500,000 bonus for playing in more than 60 percent of the Packers’ defensive snaps. He could have gotten another $250,000 had he topped the 70 percent mark.

Below are the snap counts on defense from the 2017 season, including playoffs. For comparison, here are last year’s defensive totals.

Total defensive snaps: 1,052

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The Green Bay Packers are only halfway to fixing their problems on defense.

The decision to change coordinators was the first step. Packers coach Mike McCarthy fired Dom Capers after Sunday’s season-ending loss at Detroit.

Whether it was Capers, the revered Fritz Shurmur or the inventive Buddy Ryan, it might not have mattered who devised defensive game plans and called plays for the Packers. The resources weren’t there.

Like most things in the NFL, it comes down to playmakers.

And that’s where general manager Ted Thompson failed Capers. Yes, Thompson devoted draft pick after draft pick to the defensive side of the ball, yet a dearth of impact players still exists.

Despite what coaches will say, the NFL isn’t about depth. Teams can lose players in bunches, but as long as they have one or two more difference-makers than everyone else, it doesn’t matter.

Quickly scan the Packers’ defensive depth chart — and consider the players on injured reserve, too — and it explains why Capers’ unit ranked 22nd in the NFL this season and hasn’t been in the top 10 since the Super Bowl season of 2010.

That Super Bowl defense had impact players at every level. There was B.J. Raji and Ryan Pickett on the front line, and Clay Matthews and Desmond Bishop at linebacker. The secondary was loaded with talent — Charles Woodson, Nick Collins, Tramon Williams and a young Sam Shields.

Like this season, that Super Bowl team faced injuries in mass quantities, but the injured-reserve list isn’t about numbers but rather names. There were so many playmakers on the 53-man roster that it didn’t matter who was on 15-man IR list.

That defense, also coordinated by Capers, ranked No. 5 overall and came up with key takeaways in every postseason game, including Collins’ interception return for a touchdown early and the Matthews/Pickett forced fumble late in the Super Bowl.

What did Capers have to work with this season?

The veterans among his group were an aged Matthews, who still plays with high energy but hasn’t been as effective; an oft-injured Nick Perry, who was a risk to re-sign last year in free agency; an inconsistent Mike Daniels up front and Morgan Burnett, who for all his versatility in the secondary is a jack of all trades but master of none.

The secondary was supposed to be built around Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, who made his first Pro Bowl in 2016. But he inexplicably regressed. Veteran cornerback Davon House provided the steady play the Packers expected when they signed him to a one-year deal in free agency, and he battled gallantly through injuries, but the young defensive backs were either too inconsistent (Damarious Randall and Josh Jones) or too injured (Kevin King and Quinten Rollins).

The best prospect Thompson acquired on defense is Kenny Clark, the 2016 first-round pick who finished the season strong with 4.5 sacks in the final five games.

It’s not like Thompson ignored that side of the ball and tried to load up with weapons for Aaron Rodgers, although perhaps that would have been a better roster-building strategy.

In his 13th draft as GM last year, Thompson used his first four picks on defensive players: King and Jones in the second round, defensive tackle Montravius Adams in the third and linebacker Vince Biegel in the fourth. King didn’t have an interception before he went on injured reserve in need of shoulder surgery, and Jones had just one. Adams and Biegel were non-factors after both suffered offseason foot injuries.

Assuming Clinton-Dix bounces back next season, it’s not a stretch to say he and Clark are the only two defensive picks in the past five drafts that could be considered young defensive playmakers.

As much as coaching has been to blame for the Packers’ defensive struggles, the shortcomings in personnel remain as big an issue — if not bigger — for a defense that’s now in transition.

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Cornerback Davon House could return to the Green Bay Packers before the season is over, despite the transverse process fracture in his back that he suffered during Sunday’s victory at Cleveland.

A source told ESPN that House does not need surgery and could return “sooner rather than later.”

The diagnosis of a fracture was first reported by the NFL Network.

House was a surprise starter Sunday after he was listed as doubtful because of a shoulder injury. He played 30 snaps before he was injured early in the fourth quarter. House slipped while in coverage against receiver Corey Coleman and was accidentally kicked by receiver Josh Gordon, who was running a crossing route.

House had to be carted off the field and appeared to be in considerable pain.

The Packers are dangerously thin at cornerback after losing top draft pick Kevin King for the season last week. King was placed on injured reserve and will undergo shoulder surgery on Tuesday to repair a torn labrum, an injury that dates to his college days at Washington and had been bothering him off and on since training camp this past summer.

Another one-time starting cornerback, Quinten Rollins, also is on injured reserve because of a torn Achilles.

Even with House, the Packers used safety Morgan Burnett as their slot cornerback in the nickel and dime packages and then played rookie Josh Jones in Burnett’s spot. Jones had the interception in overtime that set up the game-winning touchdown.

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Kevin King might as well have played his rookie season with one arm tied behind his back, according to Joe Whitt.

And while the Green Bay Packers’ top draft pick has been praised this week for his toughness while playing through a painful left shoulder injury, his position coach thinks King never really got the chance to show his potential.

“You haven’t really seen the real Kevin King yet,” said Whitt, the Packers’ long-time cornerbacks coach.

King’s shoulder injury, which goes back to his college days at Washington, became an issue right away in training camp this summer. The 33rd overall pick in the draft missed two of the past three games because of it before the Packers shut him down this week. He was placed on injured reserve and was scheduled for surgery — the second on his left shoulder since his freshman year of college. King said he will have the surgery on Tuesday with Dr. James Andrews of Birmingham, Alabama.

“He’s a tough young man, no doubt about it,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. “He’s been dealing with it for quite some time. Just playing with the harness and trying to gut it out, I think it speaks volumes. It just obviously got to a point there where it was time to do more scans and things like that, and the decision has been made for surgery.”

King said the surgery will be to repair his labrum, the same surgery he had in college. He estimated that his shoulder popped out of place “nine or 10 times” this season.

“It was something that was happening more frequently than not,” King said. “It came out, especially these last few games, it probably came out probably each game. So, yeah, it came to a point where they kind of just shut me down. It was hard because especially with something that I was trying to fight through, but in the end it got to the point where it was probably better to get it done.”

The Packers drafted King because of his size (6-foot-3), speed (4.43 in the 40) and arm length (32). They saw how the first two attributes could help him but never really got the chance to see how his long arms would help him jam receivers at the line of scrimmage, something Whitt loves in his corners when they’re playing press-man coverage.

“I know what he can be, but with him not being able to throw that arm — he has a chance to be a really, really good player,” Whitt said. “Once he’ll be able to throw and control people at the line of scrimmage the way that his length and his ability to be able to bend and move and do those types of things, once he gets that taken care of, you’re going to see a player that you’ll be really excited about. But you haven’t seen it yet.”

King did not record an interception in nine games this season.

“I think I had a pretty productive year even with the circumstances and everything,” King said. “Now I’m just trying to get healthy. I know I belong in this league. I proved that to myself and to the viewers. I know I can play at this level and at a high level. Now I’ve just got to get healthy and get the confidence back.”

King’s injury leaves the Packers short-handed in the secondary. They’re likely to be without fellow starting cornerback Davon House for Sunday’s game at Cleveland. House has a shoulder injury, too. Demetri Goodson, who was activated off PUP after his year-long recovery from a knee injury was completed and replaced King on the roster, has a hamstring injury.

It might force defensive coordinator Dom Capers to use safety Morgan Burnett as a slot cornerback for the second straight week because behind Damarious Randall and Josh Hawkins, the only other corners on the roster are undrafted rookies Lenzy Pipkins (who has played just 47 snaps all season) and Donatello Brown (zero snaps).

“[It's] kind of what we’ve been doing all year,” Capers said when asked about the cornerback position.

The same could be said for the past two years. In 2016, they lost No. 1 cornerback Sam Shields to a Week 1 concussion, and he never played again. They also dealt with injuries to Randall and Quinten Rollins (who is on injured reserve this season).

It’s why the Packers drafted King in the first place.

“That seems like that’s been the story the last two years,” Whitt said. “So it is what it is.”

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The Green Bay Packers lost Clay Matthews early and Kenny Clark late in Sunday’s loss to the Baltimore Ravens, and the latter injury, which appeared to be serious, did not sit well with members of the defense.

Clark, the Packers’ first-round pick in 2016, had to be carted off the field with an ankle injury that occurred while he was engaged with Ravens center Ryan Jensen.

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix said Clark was down on two knees and Jensen hit him repeatedly. The injury occurred during the fourth quarter of the Packers’ 23-0 loss at Lambeau Field.

“No. 66, I don’t even know his name, but he’s trash,” Clinton-Dix said of Jensen. “He’s a bad player. He doesn’t play fair. This is a game that we all love to play and love to enjoy, and you never want to see a guy get hurt when you’re playing overaggressive and doing things that you shouldn’t be doing. It’s uncalled for.

“[No.] 66, I don’t like him. He needs to tighten up on his play. Play ball. If you can’t whup him regularly, don’t cheap shot him. That’s what that guy’s been doing all year. I’ve been watching film of 66, and he’s a dirty player. I would love to have him on my team if he was like that, but at the end of the day, you can’t play like that and want to be a great in this league. It’s uncalled for.”

Clark was not available for comment after the game, and Packers coach Mike McCarthy had no update on his injured players.

“It was a play that a lot of us Packer players didn’t really like too much,” cornerback Davon House said.

Matthews sustained a groin injury in the first quarter, shortly after he ended the second-longest sack drought of his career. He dumped Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco to force a punt on Baltimore’s first possession.

Matthews played the next series and then was examined on the sideline by the Packers’ medical staff. He returned for one more snap but limped off. He was then taken to the locker room early in the second quarter, then ruled out for the rest of the game.

Matthews had 2 1/2 sacks after four games, but then went the next five games without a sack until Sunday.

“It’s huge, man, especially the way Kenny got hurt,” House said of losing Clark and Matthews. “Guy’s a young guy, and for him to get hurt the way he got hurt sucks. Hopefully he’s all right, hopefully Clay’s all right too. They’re our big dogs. You need them. They do a great job rushing the [passer], collapsing the pocket for us. Makes our job a lot easier on the back end when they’re playing healthy and they’re doing what they’re doing.”

The Packers’ defense was already playing without two starters: cornerback Kevin King (shoulder) and safety Morgan Burnett (groin).

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There has been plenty wrong with the Packers’ defense this season. Just getting enough players on the field has been a problem at times. (See New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram’s 22-yard touchdown run in last week’s loss, when only 10 defenders were on the field.)But in a shocking turn of events, cornerback Damarious Randall hasn’t been the misfit he was just a few weeks ago.

Since Randall’s benching — and getting kicked off the bench — in Week 4 against the Bears, he has been one of the Packers’ most productive players, with three interceptions. From Weeks 5 to 7, only one other NFL player — Tennessee Titans safety Kevin Byard — had as many interceptions as Randall did, and no one had more.

“You have to say he’s responded very well,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said.

It didn’t seem that way at first.

The week after the incident against the Bears, Randall returned an interception for what turned out to be a key touchdown in the win at Dallas, but he was penalized for flicking the football toward Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott.

If that wasn’t problematic enough, Randall’s response to it — claiming that he didn’t toss the ball toward Prescott and that he wasn’t penalized — was puzzling, especially since the NFL fined him $9,115 for it.

Randall came back the next week with an interception at the Minnesota Vikings that allowed backup quarterback Brett Hundley to lead a drive that resulted in a field goal. And his interception against the Saints came on an athletic play in the end zone.

“He had a huge play in the Dallas game; that was a big-time play [against the Saints] too,” McCarthy said. “You take points off the board.”

Who knows how close the Packers came to cutting the former first-round pick after the incident against the Bears, but since then, Randall has been one of the few bright spots for an otherwise struggling defense. The Packers rank 23rd in overall defense, 27th against the run and 16th against the pass. The defense will need more big plays from Randall — and others — if the Packers have any hope of keeping the season alive after Aaron Rodgers broke his collarbone at Minnesota in Week 6.

Randall had been in and out of the lineup throughout the season, based both on injuries and production, but it appears he has taken a significant step toward solidifying his role on defense. If Kevin King and Davon House both are healthy, the Packers would prefer to play them on the outside and use Randall as the slot defensive back in the nickel package.

“He’s kind of kept his nose down and has gone about his work,” McCarthy said. “I’ve been impressed.”

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The same unit that held back the Green Bay Packers when it mattered most last season remains so problematic that even Aaron Rodgers’ presence may not have been enough to get them back to the brink of the Super Bowl this season.

Without Rodgers to cover up for the missteps on defense, coordinator Dom Capers’ unit was exposed for what it is: a subpar unit that may have fixed some of the problems that ended their season in the NFC title game last year but ultimately has too many other issues.

From a pure rankings standpoint, the Packers are once again below average at best on that side of the ball. They finished 22nd in total defense last season and rank in the same spot after seven games this year. They stand better against the pass (16th this year compared with 31st last season) and worse against the run (27th now, eighth last season).

Things looked even worse in last Sunday’s 26-17 loss to the New Orleans Saints at Lambeau Field. Two early takeaways — interceptions by a resurgent Damarious Randall and Davon House — only delayed the inevitable collapse against quarterback Drew Brees, who hardly ever tested the Packers deep. Instead, a variety of screens and short passes confounded the 11 on defense — when they bothered to field 11, that is. They had only 10 defenders on the field for Mark Ingram’s 12-yard touchdown run on a third-and-2 play in the second quarter.

“That was kind of a gift touchdown off having 10 people on the field,” Capers said.

This defense isn’t good enough to give anything away.

“We’ve got to be better there,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. “We talked about the communication; it was clearly not good enough. We’ve got to be way better than we were. We knew they were going to roll the personnel group in; they rolled in nine personnel groups [during the game]. They stretched you at the end of the 40-second clock. We weren’t even close to where we needed to be.”

The same could be said for the collective performance through seven games. Sure, injuries have ravaged the secondary, but at least on Sunday against the Saints they had all of their preferred players except for starting strong safety Morgan Burnett.

The issues that have plagued the defense have been many, missed tackles and the lack of a pass rush chief among them. The Packers rank 27th in sack percentage overall but 32nd (last) in the past three games, when they have recorded just two sacks (both by Nick Perry).

When the pass rush should be most effective on obvious third-down pass plays, it hasn’t been. Brees got the ball out quickly on a hitch to Ted Ginn, who converted a third-and-17. Earlier, tight end Coby Fleener was wide open for a 17-yard gain on third-and-3. On a third-and-9 play in the third quarter, Mike Daniels got to Brees a second too late to prevent a throw downfield to Michael Thomas for a 21-yard gain. On that play, safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, a Pro Bowler with five interceptions last year, sat back behind Thomas and did not make a play on the ball.

Although Clinton-Dix insisted he isn’t hurt, his play this season would suggest otherwise. He hasn’t been around the ball as much as he was last season, and when he has been he hasn’t made many plays. Without Burnett, who has missed the past two games because of a hamstring injury, Capers has relied more on Clinton-Dix to get players lined up.

“He’s had a lot more on his plate, so who knows how much that affects people,” Capers said of Clinton-Dix. “When you get used to playing, he’s been playing with Morgan out there. Morgan takes on a different role and Ha can focus in on certain things, and now Ha’s had to pick up that role and it gives him a lot more responsibility.”

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It’s no secret what the defense needs to do to become the unit the Packers feels it’s capable of being. The blueprint was laid out since the summer. It’s going to take big plays, turnovers, sure tackling and an ability to get off the field consistently on third downs.

While the Packers have had their moments in all four of those areas this season, they weren’t able to do enough to keep pace with New Orleans’ high-octane offense down the stretch during Sunday’s 26-17 loss at Lambeau Field.

The Saints, who entered as the NFL’s fourth-ranked scoring offense, produced 485 total yards against Green Bay, converting on 8-of-15 third downs and winning the battle for time of possession (36:56-23:04).

“We have to play better,” safety

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix  said. “We have to find a way to get off the field on third down. That hurt us a lot today. We’ll look at the film (Monday) and figure out what we can work on to get better and go from there.”

For all the things that didn’t go Green Bay’s way in the second half, the defense couldn’t have gotten off to a much better start against the Saints.Cornerbacks Damarious Randall and Davon House  each picked off New Orleans’ 10-time Pro Bowl quarterback Drew Brees to end the Saints’ opening two series. Heading into Sunday, Brees had only thrown two picks in his first 183 passes this season.

Randall, who has an interception in each of the Packers’ last three games, halted New Orleans’ opening drive with a pick in Green Bay’s end zone for a touchback before House then pulled in a ball down the sideline intended for Michael Thomas.

House has missed three games this year due to a lingering quad injury, but said he came through fine in his first extended action since the opener against Seattle.

“I played maybe 80 percent, 85 percent, so it was good to know how good I did and was able to play at a high level,” House said. “To know I did that at 85 percent, I’m excited to see what I can bring to the table when I’m 100.”

Green Bay’s defense conceded 225 total yards in the first half, but only gave up seven points on the scoreboard in forcing the Saints to punt twice in the second quarter.

The second half was another story. The Saints scored on the opening series off a 22-yard pass from Brees to receiver Brandon Coleman, and then capped their next two series with Wil Lutz field goals to take a 19-17 lead with 10:21 left in the game.

The Packers, down to one inside linebacker (Blake Martinez , were forced to stay in their sub-packages on a critical series with 8:25 left, which ended with Brees sneaking in a 1-yard touchdown to pull ahead by two scores.

The one-two backfield punch of Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara produced 217 total yards, with receiver Ted Ginn Jr. leading the Saints with seven catches for 141 yards.

“The first half I thought we got after them pretty well,” said linebacker Clay Matthews, who had three tackles (one for a loss). “But unfortunately in the second half, it was night and day. We obviously didn’t hold up our end of the bargain and gave up way too many big plays.

“It was just simple mistakes that they took advantage of when you have guys like their quarterback and running back. It was just too much, too much.”

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It’s upsetting to Mike McCarthy he has lost his MVP quarterback possibly for the season, but his displeasure on Monday was directed just as much at the rest of his team.

The update on Aaron Rodgers is he’ll have surgery soon on his broken right collarbone and begin a recovery process that has no timeline as of yet.

Regardless of when that information becomes available, though, McCarthy is focused on getting the awful taste of Sunday’s loss to the Vikings out of his mouth.

“It was a poor performance as a football team, one I’m frustrated by,” McCarthy said. “When the mental mistakes are what they were yesterday, it’s something I take very personal from the chair of the head coach.”

McCarthy didn’t go into detail on the errors, but his tone and words suggested they were numerous.

Communication and assignment mistakes were made repeatedly against Minnesota’s pass rush, leading to four sacks and more than a dozen quarterback hits. Three starting offensive linemen departed with injuries at different times, but the lineup shuffling wasn’t handled as well as it had been in other games.

Defensively, the Packers had their highest number of missed tackles in a game this season, according to defensive coordinator Dom Capers. Multiple penalties on third down also extended drives.

Monday was focused on going over the extensive corrections in the film room and then working ahead a little on the next opponent, the Saints, who have won three straight after an 0-2 start. Normally that initial film study occurs on Wednesday, but in the wake of Rodgers’ injury and the team’s rough day without him, McCarthy and his coaches are turning the page as quickly as possible.

“It’s important to shift gears,” McCarthy said. “We’re looking forward to playing again after our performance yesterday.

“My challenge is to win game No. 5. This is what we do as coaches. This is what we’re committed to as a football team. It’s unfortunate for all these guys to be hurt right now, and it’s unfortunate for Aaron to get hurt like that, but this is where we are. All the energy needs to be poured into beating the Saints.”

That energy is also fully behind Brett Hundley as the new starting quarterback, with Joe Callahan  as his backup. McCarthy made that unequivocally clear.

Having invested multiple years in both backup signal callers, McCarthy is calling upon himself, the QBs, and the entire offense to “turn it up” after producing a measly 118 yards on Sunday from the time Rodgers left the game until a late desperation drive.

“I have to do a better job. I have to get Brett into a flow. More importantly, we need to get our offense into a flow,” McCarthy said. “We didn’t run the ball very well, pass protection was a negative, we didn’t handle basic blitzes they came with. We have to play cleaner football.”

It would help to get some continuity up front, but McCarthy had no injury updates on offensive linemen Lane Taylor , Bryan Bulaga or David Bakhtiari , saying their prospects for Sunday will be sorted out later in the week. The defense remains banged-up as well, with three top defensive backs in Morgan Burnett , Kevin King and Davon Housemissing the Minnesota game.

As for the injury to Rodgers, McCarthy said he watched the video of Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr’s outside-the-pocket takedown and termed it “totally unnecessary.”

“I didn’t like the hit,” he said. “He’s clearly expecting to get hit, and to pin him to the ground like that, I felt it was an illegal act.

“To sit here and lose any of your players to something like that, it doesn’t feel good.”

But a performance like Sunday’s almost feels worse to a head coach, whose resolve and determination were unmistakable one day later.

“I’m focused on getting back to playing Green Bay Packer football,” McCarthy said. “Yesterday was not anything we needed to be. We’re not going to play like that anymore.”