A Puncher's Chance

With a history of toughness, speed and desire, Matt Giordano has a chance of filling a key role on the defense. If you don't believe it, flip on the highlights of the Colts' victory over Devin Hester and the Bears in Super Bowl XLI.

New Packers safety Matt Giordano never got to know his famous grandfather, 1933 world welterweight champion Young Corbett III, but, in boxing lingo, the guy's got a good chin.

"We were playing Southern Miss," Giordano said, recalling a game at Southern Mississippi during his senior season at California. "What happened is I had a plastic chin strap and it broke and split open, and one of my teammates landed on me and it just split my lip and cut my tooth out and cut my gums. Luckily, it didn't go the other way (to his neck) or I'd probably be in big trouble. So, it an old war wound."

That old war wound required about 30 stitches, he said. Blood kept pouring out of the half-inch gash. Still, like a boxer who wants to go just one more round, he wanted to go back in the game.

"I tried, but I was bleeding a lot," Giordano said. "I cut some vein, so I was losing a lot of blood and they couldn't put the tooth back in and keep it in. So, they said I was done, but I played the next game."

It's that kind of desire that has carried Giordano. He wasn't offered a scholarship out of high school, so he enrolled at Fresno City College. His hustle and heart caught the eye of Cal coach Jeff Tedford, and Giordano blossomed into a first-team all-Pac-10 performer as a senior.

As a fourth-round draft pick by Indianapolis in 2005, Giordano barely played as a rookie before becoming a valuable reserve and core special teams player in 2006. The Colts won the Super Bowl that season, and Giordano was part of two noteworthy plays.

The first was on the opening kickoff, which the Bears' Devin Hester returned for a touchdown. Giordano was almost 10 yards behind Hester when Hester broke into the clear, and his diving tackle came just a few yards too late.

Matt Giordano breaks up a pass to Desmond Clark in Super Bowl XLI.
Nick Laham/Getty Images
The second clinched the championship. With Chicago facing fourth-and-9, Giordano drilled tight end Desmond Clark to break up a pass.

"That whole game was a memory, man," Giordano said. "That's something I'll carry with me the rest of my life. I was hoping for a play like that and make an impact, and that's what happened. I came in over the middle and jarred the ball loose. It was fun. It was a great feeling, and hopefully I'll get a couple chance up here to make a big hit like that."

It's that combination of athleticism, hitting ability and desire that make Giordano an intriguing prospect — a prospect good enough to convince the Packers to give up on former third-round pick Aaron Rouse.

"What I see is a guy who has good movements." defensive coordinator Dom Capers said. "He runs well. I think he's a smart guy. He seems to pick things up well. I think he's very motivated — obviously, if you've been out there and not had a job, you're going to be very motivated. I like those qualities about him."

With just three practices under his belt, Giordano has a good chance of being on the 45-man gameday roster on Sunday. On his first day on the job, he was rotating in with the No. 1 units on special teams. And with Pro Bowl safety Nick Collins not 100 percent healthy, Giordano could be thrust into the defensive backfield with just three practices under his belt.

Unlike new starter Derrick Martin, who was acquired three weeks ago with considerable knowledge of the scheme after playing in Baltimore's 3-4 defense for three-plus years, Giordano spent four-plus years playing in Indianapolis' 4-3.

"I would say it's about maybe 10 percent carryover," said Giordano, who was worrying more about learning the defense than finding a place to stay. "It's different, but you know what, the biggest thing right now for me is just the terminology. Once I get that down, then I feel I'll be on the right track."

At least there's one friendly face in the locker room. Giordano and quarterback Aaron Rodgers were teammates at Cal and helped the Golden Bears to a 10-2 record. During Giordano's first practice with the Packers, he picked off Rodgers — though, Giordano said Rodgers claims the ball hit the ground.

"I have lots of memories of Aaron. He was a great guy — still is a great guy. Hopefully, I can continue to frustrate him out on the field," Giordano said with a smile.

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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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