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Packers count on ‘D’

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Associated Press
January 18, 2011
— The Green Bay Packers don’t have a catchy nickname like “Monsters of the Midway” to describe their tough defense. Maybe they should.

Clay Matthews is back to pouncing on quarterbacks after a late-season sack drought. Charles Woodson does just about everything on defense, and does it well. And cornerback Tramon Williams has made a decisive play in each of the Packers’ first two playoff victories.


So while the Bears might have a more established defensive reputation entering Sunday’s NFC championship game in Chicago, linebacker A.J. Hawk says the Packers’ defense doesn’t mind taking a back seat during the buildup this week. They’ll just have to show what they can do Sunday.


“They’ve had some guys there for a while that have really been producing, playing well,” Hawk said of the Bears. “So if they’re getting more national attention, whatever, that’s fine. That’s OK with us. They can have it. We’ll be fine with the guys we have here.”


While quarterback Aaron Rodgers wins over fans with the way he runs one of the league’s most dangerous offenses, the Packers wouldn’t be preparing to play for a spot in the Super Bowl this week without an aggressive, consistent defense.


There’s always a starting and an ending point in everything they do,” said McCarthy. “It’s no different when we go out and practice.”


McCarthy isn’t even crazy about the term or idea of a walk-through,


“I don’t really like walk-throughs. We do a jog-through and it’s more up-tempo,” he said. “That’s something that you’re taught since the day you played peewee football. You don’t walk on the practice field or the game field.”


Hawk’s revenge

Back in the season opener against Philadelphia, inside linebacker A.J. Hawk sat out a game for perhaps the first time in his life. He did not play a single snap from scrimmage in the Packers’ 27-20 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles since the Packers played the entire game in their nickel package. He was left out.


It was unsettling time for the fifth overall pick in the 2006 draft. Then when Ryan Grant went down, the Internet was abuzz with Hawk trade rumors.


What a turnaround for Hawk. His teammates voted him, with WR Greg Jennings, QB Aaron Rodgers, CB Charles Woodson, CB/S Jarrett Bush and K Mason Crosby, a playoff captain.


“He’s one of the leaders on our defense,” said linebacker Desmond Bishop, a playoff captain a year ago. “He directs, he gets the call, he lines everybody up and I think there’s a quality that he has that everybody looks up to: He never panics.”


Hawk said Monday that he tried never to worry over trade rumors.


“If that happened for some reason, if they wanted to get me out of here, they would,” said Hawk. “I couldn’t change it. All I can do is when I go out on the field, try to make things happen.”


Honors

Pro Football Weekly and the Pro Football Writers Association announced their all-pro team, and Green Bay linebacker Clay Matthews was named the defensive most valuable player. He was also the only Packer to make the first team.


Odds are

Some Packers weren’t aware they were actually favored by the oddsmakers, even though they’re the No. 6 seed going on the road to face the No. 2 seed.



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