Rookie first-round pick Clay Matthews III will play in the Pro Bowl after Bears veteran Lance Briggs withdrew. Matthews, with a team-high and Packers rookie-record 10 sacks, will join fellow Packers Aaron Rodgers, Charles Woodson and Nick Collins on the NFC's all-star team.
Matthews is the first Packers rookie defensive player to be named to the Pro Bowl since the AFL-NFL merger.
"It means a great deal to me," Matthews said in a news release from the team. "Like I have said before, even being named an alternate is something you dream of growing up, to be with guys like DeMarcus Ware. To be able to go and represent the whole Green Bay Packers organization, it just means a great deal to me and I'm really looking forward to it. It's a great honor, but we've got a game to play this weekend, so I'm just focusing on Arizona."
Matthews got the news from a fellow rookie, outside linebackers coach Kevin Greene.
"He and I share a lot of similarities as far as our upbringing and college experience and now into the NFL," Matthews said. "He's definitely excited. All of the work he has put in trying to give back to us players is paying off. I know he is very excited to see one of his own be able to enjoy being invited to the Pro Bowl."
Meanwhile, Greene is not one of the 15 modern-era finalists for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The finalists: receivers Tim Brown, Cris Carter, Andre Reed and Jerry Rice, running backs Roger Craig, Floyd Little and Emmitt Smith, defensive end Richard Dent, defensive end/linebacker Charles Haley, linebacker Rickey Jackson, defensive tackles Cortez Kennedy and John Randle, tight end Shannon Sharpe, center Dermonti Dawson, guard Russ Grimm, cornerback Dick LeBeau and coach Don Coryell. Little and LeBeau are the senior nominees.
Greene has failed to get past the 25 semifinalists for the last three years. Carter, Dawson, Dent, Grimm, Kennedy, Randle, Reed and Sharpe have been finalists in previous years. Although they were eligible in previous years, this is the first time Coryell, Craig, Haley, Jackson, Little, and LeBeau have been finalists.
Matthews is one of five finalists for the Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Year. This isn't the official rookie vote but is a chance for the fans — and a chance for Packers fans to stuff the ballot box.
The other finalists are Buffalo's Jairus Byrd (nine interceptions), Houston's Brian Cushing (the official rookie of the year), Minnesota's Percy Harvin (2,081 total yards) and Baltimore's Michael Oher (16 starts at both tackle spots).
To vote, click here.
Packers injury report
Out — None. Doubtful — S Derrick Martin (ankle). Questionable — None. Probable — 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).
Just like Thursday, everyone on this list was a full participant besides Martin, who again didn't practice. McCarthy said Martin, one of the team's top special teams players and a captain on the kicking units, "still has a chance" — and will be given "every opportunity — to play Sunday.
Cardinals injury report
Out and Doubtful — None. Questionable — WR Anquan Boldin (ankle); DE Calais Campbell (thumb); G Deuce Lutui (back); CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (toe/knee); S Antrel Rolle (thigh); QB Brian St. Pierre (back). Probable — RB Tim Hightower (knee); DE Kenny Iwebema (head); FB Dan Kreider (neck); WR Sean Morey (head); TE Ben Patrick (head); K Neil Rackers (groin).
Boldin, battling a high-ankle sprain and MCL sprain, didn't practice all week and will be a game-time decision.
"We've game-planned all week for Anquan Boldin and we, frankly, have planned for all their injured players to be part of it," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "It's easier to react the other way than to plan for them not to play. That's just part of it. Conceptually, they're not going to probably change a whole lot what they do. If anything, they would probably do less, just philosophically, would do less with a backup player or second player because we're talking about Anquan Boldin here. We're talking about a Pro Bowl player. We're talking about a prominent, a very physical player that you can do a lot of things with."
Rodgers-Cromartie says he's "100 percent" and Lutui was a full participant after not practicing on Thursday.
Hang onto the ball
If there's one X-factor in this game, it's turnovers.
The Packers — the first team since the 1997 Giants to lead the NFL in most takeaways and fewest giveaways — finished a league-best plus-24. Arizona was minus-7, and only Detroit (41) had more giveaways than the Cardinals' 36.
"I think anytime you play a football game, the football is very important," McCarthy said. "You need to take care of it, and we've done it very well during the regular season, and you have to take it away, and we've also done that very well. It's very important for us to play to our capabilities, but also to our strengths. We're plus-24 in turnover ratio. We feel that's a strength of how we play football, and that's something that we need to do in the playoffs."
— Packers quarterbacks coach Tom Clements is being mentioned as a possible successor to the fired Ron Turner as offensive coordinator for the Bears. Clements, a CFL Hall of Fame quarterback, was Buffalo's offensive coordinator in 2004 and 2005.
— The Packers are 3-3 against playoff teams (wins over Dallas, Baltimore, Arizona; losses to Minnesota and Cincinnati). Arizona is 1-2 against playoff teams (win against Minnesota, losses to Green Bay and Indianapolis).
— The Packers and Cardinals have met once in the playoffs, with Green Bay romping past St. Louis 41-16 at Lambeau Field in the 1982 playoff tournament. Lynn Dickey threw for 260 yards and four touchdowns, including a 60-yard strike to John Jefferson.
— Asked if he expects a last-team-with-the-ball wins sort of game, defensive coordinator Dom Capers said: "I hope not. But you have to be prepared to play that way, because that's the kind of big-play talent they have."
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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 email@example.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.