Gameday notebook

Packer Report editor Bill Huber clears his tape recorder and notebook before today's game.

Can anything of importance be gleaned from last year's 37-27 Cowboys victory over the Packers?

Perhaps because they were on the losing end of that score, the Packers say the answer is no.

Defensively, the Packers were dismantled for 414 yards. Merely 309 of those came through the air, as Tony Romo faced practically no pass rush and picked apart the Green Bay secondary.

"I think it's totally different. We had a lot of injured guys last year," defensive tackle Ryan Pickett said, alluding to injuries that kept star cornerback Charles Woodson and pass-rushing defensive end Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila on the sideline. "It was a whole different situation last year. We're a different team this year and they're a different team this year."

Offensively, Aaron Rodgers replaced an injured and erratic Brett Favre, breaking onto the national scene by completing 18-of-26 passes for 201 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions.

"Not much. That was last year," Rodgers said of what that performance means heading into tonight's game. "Like their media says, they didn't get to game plan for me."

Packers coach Mike McCarthy, however, said that was a big game for Rodgers.

"I think it definitely helped his confidence from an individual standpoint," he said. "It was important for him in his quarterback development, but it was also important for our offense too just to be able to stay in that game. We got it I think in the fourth quarter to a three-point game and he had us in position to potentially get the lead, so that's an excellent experience that he can draw from."

Pro Bowl espionage

McCarthy, who coached the NFC Pro Bowl team last season as the consolation prize for losing the NFC title game, joked that half of his roster was made up of Dallas Cowboys. The number was "only" 13, a record.

Joining them was Packers defensive end Aaron Kampman, but he laughed at the suggestion anything of use could be learned after spending a week with so many of the enemy.

"We're all having a good time out there," Kampman said. "There's no competitive edges necessarily that guys are trying to get. If it is, it's pretty sly. You're out there to have a good time."

McCarthy came away from the experience impressed.

"They have a lot of talent, just reflected off the number of Pro Bowl players that they have," he said. "They were a good bunch of guys to be around, too. You can see why they are successful. But this will be a great challenge for our football team, and we're excited about it.

Zach attack

Linebacker Zach Thomas, who spent his first 12 seasons with the Miami Dolphins, signed with the Cowboys during the offseason. The seven-time Pro Bowler has 12 tackles while playing mainly on running downs.

"I think we're getting teams into longer-yardage situations because he and the rest of the group are doing a good job there," Dallas coach Wade Phillips said, noting the Cowboys haven't given up 100 rushing yards in either game.

No worries

Before hiring McCarthy in January 2006, general manager Ted Thompson interviewed Phillips. Thompson and Phillips are friends, dating to Thompson's playing days with the Houston Oilers, when Phillips coached under his father, Bum Phillips.

Phillips, who was Dallas' defensive coordinator under Bill Parcells at the time and took over as head coach in 2007, said there's no bitterness with how things worked out.

"We're still friends," Phillips said. "There's no hard feelings, because I didn't play him when he was with the Oilers, you know? He let that go, so I let the other go."

Egos in check

With a star-studded cast that includes volatile Terrell Owens, Phillips was asked if it was a challenging team to coach.

"It's a lot of fun to coach," he said. "I call them characters with character. We've got a lot of characters on the team, but they're all pulling the wagon the same way. They're a good bunch of guys who really want to do well."

Meanwhile, for all of his off-the-field fame — including his relationship with Jessica Simpson — Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo insists he's nothing special and that he'll fade into obscurity once his football career is over.

"I guess I don't take myself too serious," Romo said. "I don't think I'm that important of an individual. I think I'm blessed with an ability to play a game, but I also think that outside of that, it's not as if I'm someone who's changing the landscape of anything of relevance. I'm not naïve to that."

Meaningless stat of the week

The Packers are 5-0 against the Cowboys at Lambeau Field. The TV folks like to point to that as some sort of omen, but it's not like the Packers will be spotted a seven-point lead based on history.

"That doesn't matter to us, because it's 2008," Packers linebacker Nick Barnett said. "The Dallas Cowboys are the Dallas Cowboys, and the Packers are the Packers. We're different teams than all of those different teams that came in here."

Meaningful stat of the week

Last season, the Packers failed to pressure Romo. Through two games this season, Romo hasn't been sacked.

The Packers know those facts have to change tonight, and a big part of that will be Gbaja-Biamila, who missed last year's matchup.

"They've very talented. Big guys, big fellows. Very talented, obviously," Gbaja-Biamila said of the NFL's biggest offensive line, which tips the scales at more than 327 pounds per player.

"How good do you think they are?" KGB asked.

Told the Cowboys haven't allowed a sack this season, KGB replied: "Well, there you have it. It will be a great challenge for us.

Hail to the leaders

In a conference call on Thursday, NBC's Cris Collinsworth saluted the Packers' brain trust.

"I don't think that anybody has done enough talking about the job that Mike McCarthy and Ted Thompson have done with the Green Bay Packers," Collinsworth said, noting the Packers again have the NFL's youngest team.

"They were not good when they got there. Mike McCarthy, let's face it, he wasn't exactly the big name. He wasn't Bill Parcells or Mike Holmgren or somebody. And they have completely restructured it. They have taken monstrous chances. They have taken bold stands, obviously. They were questioned be everybody."

Something to prove

In Week 1, the Packers' offense were sick of hearing about the Vikings' defense. By the end of practice this week, the Packers' defense was sick of hearing about Dallas' offense.

"We love it," defensive tackle Ryan Pickett said. "We get a chance to showcase what we can do. We're a very confident team. We're excited to show everybody what we can do.

"We don't look at them as an all-star team," he added. "We feel good about the guys we have. We may not get some of the recognition they get, but we have a good team. And they have to come to Lambeau to play us."

Added linebacker Nick Barnett: "I'm not going to put them in the Hall of Fame and we're not intimidated by them. We know what we face, and we're going to go out there and swing with the best of them. We're not scared."

Inside KGB's head

While fans are understandably hyped about this game, the mood is a little different in the locker room. This is just one of 16, as the players like to say, and it is only Week 3, after all.

"Every game is exciting," Gbaja-Biamila said. "I don't know if people understand that it's not like you go in and say, ‘Now this game is a big game.' Every game is important. This just has more of an atmosphere of a big game because of the two teams, Dallas being a good team, us being a good team, Sunday night, so it's going to be an exciting game because of all the hype that goes with it. You don't even have to hype it, but it doesn't change I approach the game. It's not like I say, ‘I've got to be really focused.' We'll just do what we do."

The last word

From McCarthy, on the key to the game: "Actually I talked about this (Friday) as a team. I think the game of football doesn't ever change. I just think it adjusts. I think the guy that's standing up here 20 years from now will be talking about turnover ratio, pad level, footwork and tackling and all those types of things. Those are key components in the game. As far as the way both teams match up Sunday, I think there's going to be incredible energy and emotion. They've illustrated that in both their games this year, and particularly having the opportunity to watch "Monday Night Football" with them playing the Eagles, I was impressed with both teams, the level they played at. That will be part of it. But I think this game is going to come back to who did the fundamental things at the highest rate of efficiency, and big plays will also factor in this game.


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