Notebook: YAC Falls a Bit Short

The Packers finished fourth in the NFL in yards after the catch; Charles Woodson is named NFC defensive player of the month (again); plus the latest injury updates and some quick-hit playoff notes.

Aaron Rodgers will be flying to the Pro Bowl but he'll get there on the wheels of his receivers.

The Green Bay Packers' Pro Bowl quarterback finished fourth in the NFL with 4,434 passing yards, and his receivers finished fourth in yards after the catch with 2,090, according to STATS. When yards lost on sacks are subtracted off the quarterbacks' total (net passing yards), the Packers are one of only four teams to pile up half of their passing yards after the catch.

"We have some work to do," receivers coach Jimmy Robinson said without a touch of sarcasm when told of the Packers' YAC ranking. "Really, we think we can be the best at doing that and we obviously fell short. We've got to work harder to get there. It's good to be in the top five, obviously, but you'd like to be No. 1."

Greg Jennings finished 11th among individuals — and sixth among wide receivers — with 474 yards after the catch. A lot of that work has come on those one-step throws from Rodgers in which Jennings (or Donald Driver, who ranked 15th among receivers in YAC) is allowed to test his open-field skills one-on-one against a defensive back.

"That's where you have some room a lot of times," Robinson said. "That's where you can make some yards after catch. Donald caught one on the first play of the game last week and had a 14-yard gain on it. A couple years ago, Donald caught one and went 59 yards with it against Seattle.

"It's tough for a corner to be able to take that away if he's not playing up real, real tight. If he's playing up real, real tight, then we have other options. You hope our guys can win in that situation. Make a guy miss and then it can really become something big."

That's the good news. The bad news is the Packers ranked fifth in drops with 36 (Kansas City had a league-high 48). Driver tied for 16th in the NFL with seven drops, and Jennings and James Jones had five apiece, according to STATS.

Playing in the great indoors against Arizona, with wind and cold, rain and snow not a factor, the receivers' ability to catch the ball — and make something happen with it — could be critical in what could be a shootout. None of the Packers' receivers seemed particularly down in the dumps about having to leave the Frozen Tundra.

"I have a lot of confidence in our guys," Robinson said. "We have an excellent group from top to bottom."

Broken record is a record

Charles Woodson joined running back Barry Sanders and kicker Mike Vanderjagt as the only player to be named a player of the month three times in one season.

Woodson claimed the NFC's December defensive honor, adding it to the awards he won in September and November. Woodson, who had two interceptions in five December games, already was the NFC's only two-time winner of the defensive award.

"It means a great deal," Woodson said. "But it's just not enough. I don't want to sound like a broken record. It feels good when you get recognized with those types of achievements, but until I can say I'm a Super Bowl champion, those things will just be nice awards."

Packers injury report

Did not participate — S Derrick Martin (ankle). Limited participation — None. Full participation — LB Brandon Chillar (back); T Chad Clifton (knee); FB Korey Hall (elbow); DE Johnny Jolly (foot); DE Michael Montgomery (ankle); NT Ryan Pickett (hamstring); CB Charles Woodson (shoulder).

At this rate, the Packers will be at their healthiest for Sunday. Clifton, Jolly, Montgomery, Pickett and Woodson all went from limited to full.

Cardinals injury report

Did not participate — WR Anquan Boldin (ankle); G Deuce Lutui (back). Limited participation — DE Calais Campbell (thumb); CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (toe/knee); S Antrel Rolle (thigh); QB Brian St. Pierre (back). Full participation — RB Tim Hightower (knee); DE Kenny Iwebema (head); FB Dan Kreider (neck); WR Sean Morey (head); TE Ben Patrick (head); K Neil Rackers (groin).

Rodgers-Cromartie returned to practice, telling reporters that he went "full speed and I felt good." Lutui, a starter at guard, was given the day off as a precaution because of back spasms but should be good to go for Friday. Boldin is the biggest question. He continues to rehab, with the sprained ankle a bigger issue than a sprained knee (which is not listed on the injury report).

"It depends on how I feel, if I can go I'm going to go definitely," Boldin said. "I've been on the field without practicing the entire week so that's not a problem."

Four-point stance

— Just like last week, McCarthy "accelerated" installation of the game plan to help keep the players' legs fresh. That meant more time dedicated to fundamentals and individual work on Thursday and what figures to be an hourlong jogthrough practice on Friday ahead of Saturday's flight back to Arizona.

— The Packers usually designate captains on a weekly basis, but they must be solidified in the playoffs. So, the team elected Aaron Rodgers and Donald Driver as the captains on offense, Nick Collins and Charles Woodson on defense, and Derrick Martin and Desmond Bishop on special teams.

— The Packers' playoff record of 25-15 (.625) trails only Baltimore's 7-4 (.636). Among those games, the Packers are 3-1 in wild-card games and 6-11 on the road.

— Only once have the Packers faced a team in the preseason, regular season and playoffs. In 1961, Vince Lombardi's Packers beat the Giants in the preseason and regular season and crushed them 37-0 at Lambeau Field for the title. The Packers, of course, beat the Cardinals in the preseason and regular season.


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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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