Mason Crosby. Raymond T. Rivard photograph

Which Packers players should we be watching Sunday?

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Neither Clay Matthews nor Desmond Bishop will play a role in the Packers defense this Sunday as Green Bay throws a much different defense onto the field against the Giants. Raymond T. Rivard photograph

Each week the tendency for Green Bay Packers fans is put Aaron Rodgers front and center – easy to do, considering the television producers and directors make that easy for Packers Nation.

But there are other Packers players who have a huge impact on the outcome of every game.

We’ll concede that we will again be watching Rodgers with great interest, but let’s consider some of the other Packers players who could make a big splash Sunday night when the Packers play the New York Giants.

Here are the players I feel will be of importance Sunday:

James Starks. Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE

James Starks: The Packers running back who made it back on the field in a big way in last weekend’s win at Detroit, Starks will be given the ball in an attempt to soften the Giants’ defensive line and slow the pass rush that has caused Rodgers problems in the past. Whether Starks is the guy Sunday or whether the Packers also try to platoon him with Alex Green, it will be Starks who must be watched. If he can hit the 4-yard-per-carry mark, his job will be done. Not only will that give Rodgers time to throw, but it will also open things up for Green in the open field with quick pitches, screens and checkdowns over the middle.

Packers guard Evan Dietrich-Smith. Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE

Evan Dietrich-Smith and T.J. Lang: Last week these two offensive linemen played for the first full game without right tackle Bryan Bulaga. Going against a Giants’ defensive line that has historically caused Aaron Rodgers problems, these two players have to hold their own. If they don’t and Rodgers takes a beating, it will be difficult for the Packers to win. They struggled at times last week and will have to play at a higher level this week to be effective.

Randall Cobb.

Randall Cobb: The Packers’s second year rising star has continually caused defenses difficulties and how McCarthy has designed plays specifically for this special talent is impressive. I’m still waiting for the surprise reverse play to Cobb for big yards. That’s just about the only way the Packers haven’t utilized him. Rodgers is relying more on Cobb for the big play and I don’t expect that to change this week.

Davon House.

• Packers defensive backfield versus Giants wide receivers: The youngsters filling the Packers defensive backfield (Hayward, McMillian, House) have been aggressive, intimidating and consistent as they continue to fill in for the likes of Charles Woodson and Sam Shields. Throw in Morgan Burnett and Tramon Williams to that mix and you’ve got a group of defenders who should compete well with the Giants receivers. The Giants will be facing a different defense than they saw back in January, but it’s different to Packers players and coaches, too. How they respond in this big conference game will tell us a lot about their potential to be playing come Playoffs time.

Dezman Moses.

Dezman Moses and Frank Zombo: Filling in for the injured Clay Matthews isn’t an easy task, but Moses did quite well last week. The undrafted rookie brings outside speed and strength to the field. The coaching staff says they are going to try to work Zombo back into the rotation, too.

How he responds will be important to his future as well as that of the team. Whichever is on the field at any given time has to show a presence for the Packers to have a chance.

Mason Crosby: Need I say more? Maybe it’s time to turn the beer labels out for this guy. There’s got to be some kind of invisible force that’s working against him. He’s always been far from perfect, but he’s got the leg strength to hit those 45-yarders in December. It’s a wonder why he’s missing all those kicks indoors and under perfect conditions. December will be very important to his future with the team and the watching will be intense continuing this Sunday night.

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Tags: Dezman Moses Evan Dietrich-Smith Frank Zombo Green Bay Packers James Starks Mason Crosby NFC Randall Cobb T.J. Lang

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