Notebook: Bigby Quietly Excels

The safety has more mental and coverage responsibilities under the new defensive scheme; coach Mike McCarthy is planning ahead for the possibility the Packers will open the playoffs on Saturday; plus more from Friday.

Atari Bigby knows what the statistics say, but he knows those numbers don't define his performance.

His 50 tackles are less than half of what he recorded in 2007, when he finished third on the team with 121. His three interceptions are less than his five from two years ago.

"In terms of statistics, nah," Bigby said when asked if he was satisfied by his performance. "But as far as doing what I have to do to make sure the team is on the right track, I feel like I've managed it well. We haven't been perfect and I haven't been perfect, but as far as explosive gains and things like where I was supposed to be, I think I've handled it well this season."

Bigby, coming off a two-interception performance against Seattle, must be doing something right. The Packers rank second in total defense and first against the run. If Bigby was out of position or being beaten regularly, the Packers would be giving up a lot more big plays and they wouldn't hold such lofty spots in the rankings.

"Exactly my point," he said. "As far as just keeping everyone in line and making the defense look honest as whole, I feel like I've been doing a good job with that."

While it might not be apparent, Bigby says he's still thinking too much in the new scheme. He's lining up deeper in the secondary and has more responsibilities, frequently moving to where there are multiple receivers and having to diagnose multiple routes quickly. If last week's game against Seattle is a barometer, he's peaking at the right time.

"From what I see, I have a great responsibility," he said. "For the most part, I feel I've been doing it."

Short week?

Coach Mike McCarthy is planning ahead.

With what he considers a "high probability" that the Packers will play their playoff game next Saturday, McCarthy accelerated installation of the game plan in order to give his players a light day of work on Friday. Because the players hit McCarthy's on-the-field and classroom targets on Wednesday and Thursday, Friday's practice was primarily a jog-through and didn't include any 11-on-11 work.

"I was looking for a day to kind of give the team their legs back, rest and recovery built in," McCarthy said on Friday. "I felt it was important for us to have the padded practice yesterday, work through all the different situations. I thought our work was of high quality. We hit the targets that was needed on Thursday, and actually we took some of the things we normally do on Friday and put it into Thursday's practice. We felt very good about that as a staff, and just with us projecting to a potential six-day workweek as opposed to a normal seven-day workweek in the first week of the playoffs was all part of our planning."

Packers injury report

Out — S Derrick Martin (ankle); Doubtful — LB Brandon Chillar (back). Questionable — FB Korey Hall (elbow); DE Michael Montgomery (ankle); NT Ryan Pickett (hamstring). Probable — LB Nick Barnett (illness); T Chad Clifton (knee); CB Trevor Ford (knee); DE Johnny Jolly (foot); CB Charles Woodson (shoulder).

The key questions involve Chillar and Pickett. Chillar is fighting through back spasms and played last week, while Pickett was given last week off and didn't practice this week. The Packers promoted Anthony Toribio from the practice squad this week with the possibility that Pickett won't play.

"Well, they have 48 hours to get a chance to play," McCarthy said. "I thought Brandon would make a little more progress at this point, but we'll see how it goes. You do get concerned with his type of injury with the three-hour flight out there. I'll just take these next 48 hours like we normally do."

Cardinals injury report

Questionable — DE Kenny Iwebema (head); FB Dan Kreider (neck); WR Sean Morey (head); TE Ben Patrick (head); K Neil Rackers (groin); S Antrel Rolle (thigh); RB Beanie Wells (groin). Probable — LB Will Davis (knee); WR Larry Fitzgerald (elbow); CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (toe); CB Greg Toler (elbow).

Four-point stance

— Packer Report went one-on-one with quarterback Aaron Rodgers for the cover story of the next magazine. Asked what he takes the most pride in, he said: "I take pride in the fact that I have played in every game that I've been the starter. I've played in 31 straight. I take pride in the fact that I am recognized as one of the leaders of this football team. I enjoy that role. I take pride in the fact that I've improved. I still think there's room for improvement and I am going to play better, but I'm satisfied that I'm not digressing. I'm progressing and continuing to get better in all phases on and off the field."

— Rodgers has a chance at two franchise records, and playing time will dictate those possibilities. With 4,199 passing yards, he's 260 yards short of Lynn Dickey's franchise-record 4,458, set in 1983. Plus, Rodgers has not thrown an interception in 11 games this season. That's tied with Bart Starr's mark, which he set in 1964.

— If Donald Driver gets 4 receiving yards, he'll reach 1,000 for the team-record sixth consecutive season. That would make the Packers the first team in NFL history to have a 4,000-yard passer, 1,200-yard rusher and two 1,000 yard receivers in back-to-back seasons.

— Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner last week joined Hall of Famer Fran Tarkenton as one of only two quarterbacks in NFL history to throw 100 touchdown passes for two teams.


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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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