Packers: Five players key to victory in NFC Championship Game

Green Bay Packers, Aaron Rodgers - Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Green Bay Packers, Aaron Rodgers - Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /
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Green Bay Packers, Kenny Clark
Green Bay Packers, Kenny Clark (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

1. Kenny Clark

It wasn’t that Tom Brady had a dominant game last time. His stats were pedestrian for him, 17/27 166 yards with two TDs. No, it was Tampa’s ground game led by Ronald Jones, 32 carries 113 yards and two TDs, that carried the way.

It was the first game back from injury for Kenny Clark and he might not have been all the way healthy yet. Either way, he was pushed aside and Tampa’s running backs had large holes to run through all day.

Clark and his interior teammates have picked up their games quite a bit since then. They haven’t allowed a 100-yard rusher in almost two months, facing the league’s leading rusher Derrick Henry, a hot player in David Montgomery and playoff hero Cam Akers along the way.

Even though they have Tom Brady to lean on, Tampa’s run game will be key. The elements, while not horrible, will play a factor and the ground game will need to set up the pass.

If Green Bay wants to follow the game plan the Saints used, Clark will become that much more important. New Orleans played their safeties back to prevent the big play and allowed their front four to handle Brady and the run game.

If they follow that lead, Clark will need to eat up two blockers down after down.

He has some new help. Damon “Snacks” Harrison was signed before Week 16 and could play a large role in this game. But the focus will be and needs to be on Clark.

Clark has played his best football at the end of the season and carried that over in the playoff victory over the Rams. Now he gets a bigger task taking on Jones and Leonard Fournette.

Jones has been and probably will be limited in practice all week due to a quad injury but you can bet he’ll be ready to go come game time. You can also bet Clark will be as well.