Notebook: Bears' Defense Gets Ink

But that's just fine with the Packers, who are allowing fewer points per game. That and more as the buildup for the NFC Championship Game began on Monday.

The Chicago Bears are called the "Monsters of the Midway" and their defense, led by Brian Urlacher, has earned consistent praise over the years. And that probably will be the case nationally this week, but it's the Green Bay Packers who rank second in the league in scoring defense (15.0 points per game) while the Bears are fourth (17.9).

"They deserve it," Packers linebacker A.J. Hawk said of the Bears' accolades. "They've been doing it for a long time, I think. They've been a really solid defense for many years and I think they've had some guys there for a while that have really been producing, playing well. So, if they're getting more national attention, whatever, that's fine. That's OK with us. They can have it. We'll be fine with the guys we have here."

Those guys have been fine all season. Clay Matthews, who has three sacks in two playoff games, is the front-runner to win NFL Defensive Player of the Year. Cornerbacks Tramon Williams and Charles Woodson are having dominant postseasons. And the front seven bottled up the Falcons' potent running game on Saturday night.

Pulling the strings is coordinator Dom Capers, who has been on his game during the Packers' four-game winning streak.

"Those guys, they really fly around," receiver Greg Jennings said. "Obviously, with the kind of guys we have in the secondary, they're able to make plays with the ball in the air."

Williams used the word "relentless" for a defense that allowed 16 points to Pro Bowl quarterback Michael Vick in the wild-card game and 14 points to Pro Bowl quarterback Matt Ryan on Saturday.

"We just finished watching the film," Williams said. "And as a DB you don't get to see the front seven doing their job because you are in coverage all the time. But when you come back and watch film and see the way those guys are playing up front, it's crazy. They've done a great job up there and it's kind of made our job easy in the back end."

Injury update

After a rash of injuries early in the season, the Packers again emerged unscathed with a clean bill of health following Saturday's win at Atlanta.

"Really don't have anything to report," coach Mike McCarthy said on Monday. "Anticipate mostly everybody going on Wednesday. There may be some limited practice once the players see the doctor on Wednesday. Frank Zombo has a chance. We're going to test Frank tomorrow, so I'll have more information on his status for Wednesday. But relatively about as healthy as we've been."

Some R&R

Coming off the grind of two games in six days, McCarthy is giving the players time to relax rather than putting them into overdrive with a berth in the Super Bowl on the line.

Sunday was a day off, and Monday consisted of lifting weights and about 2 hours of meetings. Tuesday is another day off. That puts the players back on their usual Wednesday-through-Friday practice schedule.

"I really wanted to get back to a normal week," McCarthy said. "We played some intense football here the last four weeks. I just felt it was important for them to have three days off."

Four-point stance

‚— McCarthy, on using B.J. Raji at fullback: "I wouldn't want to have B.J. Raji blocking me. So it was a good matchup for us." He added that there are no plans to give Raji the ball, though McCarthy noted the "historical relevance" of doing it against the Bears in light of "Refrigerator" Perry's exploits a quarter-century ago.

— The Packers are a three-point favorite, though, for obvious reasons, nobody at Monday's press conferences cared. "It really doesn't matter whether we're the favorite or the underdog," Jennings said. "We know we're going into a hostile environment. We didn't get it done the last time we played up there."

— Maybe former Pro Bowler Tommie Harris is coming out of hibernation. The Bears' defensive tackle had one-half sack in his first 15 games but had one against Green Bay in the finale and two against Seattle.

— The Packers are 2-2 in NFC Championship Games, winning the conference title in the 1996 and 1997 seasons and losing in the 1995 and 2007 seasons.

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at and Facebook under Bill Huber.

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