Notebook: Hair Today, Hero Tomorrow

They're a sideshow now, but Clay Matthews and Troy Polamalu will be key performers on Sunday night. Plus, the first injury reports, practice highlights and an award for Aaron Rodgers.

DALLAS – The mane event has been a humorous sideshow to Sunday's main event.

When Super Bowl XLV kicks off, Green Bay's Clay Matthews and Pittsburgh's Troy Polamalu will be known as much for their hair — and hair sponsorships — as their playmaking on the field.

"Troy may have won Defensive Player of the Year and that's great but there's no doubt that I won best hair in the game on the defensive side," Matthews joked at Tuesday's Media Day, at one point putting on a black wig to mock Polamalu's long locks. "I'm really happy about that. I think it's a unanimous decision. It's just something we're having fun with."

Polamalu won the NFL's top defensive honor on Monday, edging out Matthews by two first-place votes. Polamalu, with seven interceptions, is the heart and soul of the NFL's top-ranked scoring defense. Matthews, with 13.5 sacks in the regular season, is the heartbeat of the front seven of the NFL's second-ranked scoring defense. Whoever makes the bigger impact on Sunday figures to be basking in the postgame confetti.

"I hope to influence games in any way I can," Matthews said. "If I'm playing on the left side, I expect to control that side of the field. If it's the right, or middle, I expect to have a hand in the outcome. If they're going to run the ball my way, I expect them not to be able to. If they're going to sit back there and pass, I expect to get to the quarterback. Me personally, that's how I feel."

For the rest of this story, visit Fox Sports Wisconsin.

Rodgers wins Fed Ex award

Aaron Rodgers was named the FedEx Air Player of the Year based on fan voting. The Chiefs' Jamaal Charles won the FedEx Ground award. FedEx is donating $25,000 to the Safe Kids USA coalitions in Green Bay and Kansas City.

Hall of Famer Bart Starr accepted the award in place of Rodgers.

"I'm very biased. I've had the pleasure of getting to know him," Starr said of Rodgers. "He's a superb gentleman. I don't have to tell you what a quality player and leader he is."

From practice

One person is allowed to watch practice, with Sports Illustrated's Jim Trotter doing the honors for the Packers. Among his highlights:

-- Because the winter storm left SMU's field unplayable, the Packers practiced at Highland Park's indoor facility. "The players rolled their eyes at first when I told them where we were going to work," coach Mike McCarthy said afterward. "I said, ‘Now, just hold on. This is Texas football.' My daughter went to Lake Travis High School (in Austin), and their facilities are similar to this. I don't think anybody was disappointed when they walked through the doors."

-- Because the team held its usual pre-practice jogthrough at the hotel in Las Colinas, practice was about 25 minutes shorter than usual. Practice was held in pads and the players were "banging around pretty good," McCarthy said.

-- Kicker Mason Crosby and punter Tim Masthay practiced at Cowboys Stadium to get acclimated to the surroundings.

Packers injury report

Limited participation: T Chad Clifton (knees); C/G Jason Spitz (calf); LB Erik Walden (ankle). Full participation: LB Frank Zombo (knee).

Walden participated in some of the 11-on-11 work. How he feels on Thursday will be key to his availability. If he can't start, Zombo will reclaim his spot in the lineup.

Steelers injury report

Did not participate: C Maurkice Pouncey. Limited participation: DE Aaron Smith (triceps).

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, who conducted practice inside TCU's indoor facility, refuses to rule Pouncey out. Smith, who's missed most of the season with a torn triceps, is looking increasingly unlikely to play, as well.


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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 packwriter2002@yahoo.com, 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.


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