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Notebook: Hawk To Battle Old Friend Again

As a childhood friend and college roommate of Jets center Nick Mangold, Packers linebacker A.J. Hawk isn’t doing much trash talking with his old pal heading into this weekend’s matchup.


He's got no standing to do so. Back when the two were rookies in 2006, Mangold's Jets were all over Hawk and the Packers, bolting to a 31-0 halftime lead en route to a 38-10 drubbing at Lambeau Field.

"The last time we played them, they beat us pretty good, so I don't have room to say anything about this one," Hawk said. "But he doesn't really give me a hard time for it."

Even if he did, the friendship would be strong enough to withstand it. The football careers of Hawk and Mangold date back to when they were pee-wee teammates growing up together in Centerville, Ohio (for a look back at the 2006 story with all the background, click here).

They eventually became freshman roommates at Ohio State and first-round draft picks in 2006 (Hawk was taken fifth overall by the Packers, Mangold 29th by the Jets).

Now in their fifth NFL seasons, the two keep in touch regularly, though they don't see each other much because when they're back in Ohio, Hawk is usually in Columbus while Mangold is in Dayton, Hawk said. One topic that comes up on occasion is how close each has been to playing in a Super Bowl.

They've both been on the cusp, as the Packers lost in overtime in the 2007 NFC Championship and the Jets fell in last year's AFC title game.

"Both of us were expecting to win those games, so it's just something that's tough," Hawk said. "It's tough to lose a game like that, but it's also a good experience I think to be a part of it."

Recalling their first head-to-head meeting as pros, Hawk said he didn't remember too many instances when Mangold was assigned to block him. But he thinks that could change on Sunday.

"Surprisingly, we didn't have a whole lot of plays like that the first time, even though as a linebacker you're really just dealing with the center and guards," Hawk said. "That time, we didn't get matched up too much where he was the guy blocking me, but I'm sure we will this time. They're a great running team and they run the ball a lot, so we'll definitely run into each other a few times."

Quite the journey
The Packers' newly acquired nose tackle, Howard Green, was not on the practice field Thursday morning as expected because he was completing a ridiculously long journey to Green Bay.

Green was released by the Jets on Monday, so he packed up his truck and set out for his home state of Louisiana on Tuesday afternoon. By Wednesday afternoon, he said he was within about an hour of his house when his agent called to tell him the Packers had claimed him off waivers and he needed to get to the nearest airport, right away.

Having already driven past New Orleans, he tried to catch a late-afternoon flight out of Baton Rouge but ran into heavy traffic and missed it. So he turned back around and went to New Orleans to catch an evening flight to Atlanta, where he would be able to connect to Green Bay.

Only weather problems forced him to spend the night in the Atlanta airport and he couldn't get out as hoped at 6 a.m. Thursday either. He was finally able to leave late morning and he arrived in Green Bay in the early afternoon, with little time to get acclimated before his first practice on Friday.

"It's funny but it's all worth it," Green said when he stopped in the locker room to talk to reporters. "It's for the love of the game."

Whether Green has enough time to get ready to play for the Packers on Sunday against his old team remains to be seen. He'll only get the one practice in on Friday – albeit on minimal sleep this week – but the defense could be dangerously thin on the defensive line if Cullen Jenkins and Ryan Pickett are unable to play due to injuries.

"I think I can contribute a lot," Green said. "The game is pretty much all the same. You just have to get acclimated to calls, hearing other guys making calls. Technique-wise it should be pretty much the same.

"I think I'll be a great help. I know they're going to try to run the ball, so that's the main thing – stop the run. If I can get the calls down, I can play."

Green was originally drafted out of LSU by the Houston Texans when Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers was the head coach. He also played two seasons in New Orleans (2003-04) when Head Coach Mike McCarthy was the offensive coordinator there.

"We're hoping for some carry-over as far as the defenses that he's played in compared to our defense, but we won't know that until we have time to work with him," McCarthy said.

Maturation process
In his second year as the Jets' starting quarterback, Mark Sanchez doesn't have many stats that jump off the page.

He's completing just 55 percent of his passes. His 1,100 yards through six games is just off a 3,000-yard pace. And he has only 5 rushing yards, so he's not much of a scrambler.

But one number of Sanchez's really stands out. He's thrown just two interceptions in 177 pass attempts (1.1 percent), a dramatic drop in the rate from his rookie season, when he threw 20 picks in 364 attempts (5.5 percent).

"He's not throwing interceptions," McCarthy said. "He's been smart with the football. Their run game is definitely keeping them in favorable down and distances, so I think that helps any quarterback. He's doing a very good job managing their system.

"He definitely looks like he's made a big step from last year."

Meanwhile, the Packers are hoping last week's three-interception effort against the Vikings is a sign they're soon to return to their 2009 ways. Green Bay led the league with 30 interceptions last season but has just 10 through seven games this season.

The three picks against the Vikings were a season high and just the third time this season the Packers have had more than one interception in a game.

Back-to-back games with multiple interceptions would not only be a first in 2010 for Green Bay, but it also would at least double Sanchez's season total, no simple feat.

"That's what you want to do with all quarterbacks -- you come in and say you want to make them make mistakes," said cornerback Tramon Williams, who has an interception in two of the last three games. "It's our job to come in and make him more uncomfortable and see if we can get the ball."

Injury/participation updateThe only change to the Packers' injury report on Thursday was that tackle Chad Clifton (knee) was upgraded from limited to full participation.

Jenkins (calf) remained limited and Pickett (ankle) did not participate for the second straight day. McCarthy said the initial thought of having both of them test their injuries on Friday could be put on hold to give them the entire week to rehab.

Receiver Donald Driver (quadricep) missed practice for the second straight day, while safety Nick Collins (knee), cornerback Charles Woodson (toe), and tackle Mark Tauscher (shoulder) remained limited.

For the Jets, linebacker Calvin Pace (foot) was upgraded from limited to full participation.

Additional coverage – Oct. 28

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