Q&A with Linebacker Brady Poppinga

The spirited linebacker talks about getting a chance to rush the passer and a nasty gash by his eye.

Packers linebacker Brady Poppinga flashed a wide smile when told of Sunday's frigid forecast. Poppinga, however, won't get the blizzard he's hoping for, which would have helped slow the Houston Texans' productive offense.

"They're great," said Poppinga, sporting an ugly-looking scrape by his left eye. "They've got a good running game. They've been able to pass the ball. They've got an explosive receiver in Andre Johnson, so we're going to have our work cut out for us. We're going to have to cover all our bases in terms of stopping the run and being able to cover their explosive wide receiver."

Here's what else the always-entertaining Poppinga said on Wednesday:

Question: Putting your hand down and rushing the passer, how do you like that?

Poppinga: It's great. That's who I am. I'm somebody that can play a lot of positions. So, wherever I'm needed, I'll do it.

Question: You were a productive pass rusher in college at BYU. Is it like riding a bike?

Poppinga: It feels that way. To be honest, it's been six years to the day that I got to rush from that position. There's a learning curve in a sense that I'm like a rookie at that position, but at the same time, it's already coming back to me.

Question: This past Sunday was six years to the day?

Poppinga: Yeah, and as a matter of fact, guess who it was against? Utah. And guess who their left tackle was? Jordan Gross (the Panthers' left tackle).

Question: Were you successful against him then?

Poppinga: This time, a lot more. Last time, I had an MCL tear and it was just like hobbling around with a brace on.

Question: They had you working on that during minicamps and training camp. Were you surprised it took this long for them to call your number?

Poppinga: You know what? You'll have to ask Coach about that. I just do what I'm told. I'm that kind of guy. I'll leave those questions to the Coach, because he's the guy running the ship. I do what he wants me to do.

Question: Do you think the team's success these last four weeks is going to be incumbent on how well you do?

Poppinga: Of course. That's how this league works. The league's a passing league. Obviously, with the weather turning against us a bit, teams are going to try to pound the ball a little more. We haven't really shown that we can stop anybody that tries to run the ball on us, but at the end of the day, teams are still going to try to pass the ball. The best way to combat that is to have a sound pass rush, give the quarterback pop, make him feel uncomfortable, make him feel like he's not just sipping on coffee and enjoying his time. You've got to get him moving, you've got to get him feeling, "You know what? Things are in a frenzy." That throws their timing off.

Question: Tell us about that party scar.

Poppinga: I got my helmet torn off, and as I got my helmet torn off, I just decided to slam my head up against another helmet. I don't know why. No, I'm just kidding. The momentum of the play just kept carrying on and then my helmet was off. I remember putting my helmet back on as I was running off to the sideline, and all of a sudden, I took my helmet off and it felt a little extra lubed up. There was blood just saturated all over my chin strap and all through my helmet. Sorry to be so graphic, but it's true. I passed my helmet to the guys and they looked at me and said, "You look like an ultimate fighter right now." And I said, "I'm probably tougher than those guys, but that's OK." It's my third black eye of the year. I think that breaks a record.

Question: How much harder is it to prepare for an uncommon opponent?

Poppinga: It's tougher in the sense that, yeah, they're uncommon and you don't play them a lot. But, they still run the same concepts that pretty much most teams in the NFL run. Obviously, they're going to have their own twists and twirls to things, but at the end of the day, it's still just you've got to tackle the guy with the ball.

Bill Huber is the Lead Analyst for Packer Report and PackerReport.com. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com.

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