As we outlined yesterday, hauling down beefy Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is a major challenge. Nobody knows that better than Cullen Jenkins, who failed to sack Roethlisberger on the second-to-last-play of last year's game at Pittsburgh. Instead, Roethlisberger got away, killed the clock and won the game on the final play.
"The bad thing was it wasn't just one, it was two because the play before that I had sacked him but they called it back for the penalty," Jenkins said on Friday. "Then, the next play, I break through again, and I miss him."
Big Matt attack
Since the Packers don't have a 6-foot-5, 241-pound backup quarterback, Matt Flynn and Graham Harrell — who are both 6-foot-2 — are doing their best to impersonate Roethlisberger. (Editor's note: At practice, not, umm, out in public.)
"Oh, yeah, I was breaking so many tackles out there, slinging 'em off me," Flynn joked. "Nah, they don't really make a change. They'd rather have someone back there that can throw the ball. We didn't change during the Philadelphia week. No one's in there acting like Michael Vick. It's one of those things where I'm going to be throwing on time but if I can get outside the pocket or scramble around and make the DBs work a little bit down the field."
Full speed ahead
The Packers returned to work in the Hutson Center.
Mike Roemer/AP Images
"It was great to get back to football, no question," coach Mike McCarthy said. "It was great to be on the field today. We actually had a very good practice. We finished 13 minutes early, so that tells you something about the tempo. We didn't have any repeated plays in the team period, so that's very good for a Wednesday-type practice."
In case you missed it, McCarthy's from Pittsburgh. So, he was asked to recall his first Super Bowl memory. Turns out it was Super Bowl IX, when the Steelers beat Minnesota 16-6 on Jan. 12, 1975.
"It was all about watching the Steeler games," said McCarthy, adding that games were watched at home or while cleaning his dad's bar, which was closed on Sundays. "That's a part of the fiber of growing up in Pittsburgh. It's the same thing in Wisconsin. It's very, very similar. It's all about your home team. I just remember the reaction of the town when they won the first Super Bowl. It was incredible. And then having the experience to go through Austin-Straubel Airport after the NFC Championship Game and to experience that personally, it was very special. A lot of positive memories from the ‘70s."
Keyshawn Johnson, team-first guy that he was, once authored a book called "Just Give Me the Damn Ball."
Don't expect B.J. Raji to be writing the sequel. Not that he wouldn't mind getting the ball while lined up at fullback.
"What offensive or defensive linemen wouldn't want to carry the ball?" Raji said with a laugh.
Asked if he was jealous of Raji's role, Ryan Pickett started laughing. "Maybe in my younger days, but not now. I need to save all that for defense, man, let the young fresh legs get back there. We're excited. I want them to give him the ball so we can score."
Meaningless injury report
The NFL, for God knows what reason, forced the Packers to fill out an injury report on Wednesday and Thursday, even though they didn't practice. And on Friday, they had to fill out an injury report complete with the usual designations of probable, questionable, etc., as if they were going to play a game that Sunday. Never mind that the game is next Sunday. For what it's worth, outside linebackers Erik Walden and Frank Zombo were listed as questionable, with Desmond Bishop, Chad Clifton, A.J. Hawk, Greg Jennings and Jason Spitz probable.
To be Frank ...
Zombo, who's been out since suffering a knee sprain at Detroit in Dec. 12, finally thinks he's ready to play after suffering a few setbacks while trying to come back too quickly. It's been a great year for the undrafted rookie, and while he understands that Walden has replaced him as a starter, playing in the Super Bowl would be the icing on that cake.
"I didn't expect to be anywhere close to this, know what I mean? Our team's in the Super Bowl. As weird as it is, I thought it was kind of only in college where you loved your players, it is like that here, maybe it's why we're doing so well. Everyone's so close. I'm just happy to be a Packer, I'm happy for the city. Everyone in the city's just so awesome, they've got so much pride. I'm just happy for the organization and the community."
Putting the ‘fan' in fanatic
Bishop says the Super Bowl berth might mean more to the fans. "I've been here four years and this is definitely my home. At the same time, it's their life since they were born. They're more excited than we are. … We really play for them. They're really the 12th man, so to speak. We affect people's lives. Somebody was telling me that they do a certain thing during a play, they have to be touching a certain thing so good things will happen. I'm like, ‘Man, that's deep.' We play for them."
The Packers leave for Dallas on Monday, and fans can cheer them on as they depart from the Mills Fleet Farm gate at 11:45 a.m.
If the Packers beat the Steelers, they'll hold a televised "Return to Titletown" celebration at Lambeau Field on the Tuesday after the Super Bowl.
Gates would open at 2 p.m., with the event running from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets would be $5 and available through Ticketmaster, with a portion of the proceeds going to the Green Bay Packers Foundation for charitable purposes.
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.