Quarterback Aaron Rodgers has talked about his desire to be with the Packers for the long term, and that became a reality on Friday when he signed a contract extension with the team.
The fourth-year quarterback and the team agreed on an extension that will run through the 2014 season.
"I'm very excited knowing that my future is going to be here in Green Bay," Rodgers said. "I appreciate the commitment that they have made to me and I plan to reciprocate that commitment in my play and hopefully prove to them that they made the correct decision to give me this extension."
Rodgers has started all seven games this season and ranks seventh in the NFL with a 98.8 passer rating in his first season as the starter. He has completed 145-of-221 passes (65.6 percent) for 1,668 yards, 12 touchdowns and just four interceptions.
Rodgers has not thrown an interception in five of seven games, and his 3-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio ranks third in the NFL behind only Washington's Jason Campbell and San Diego's Philip Rivers.
"As we talked about in the past, we try to be proactive in our discussions with our current players and we felt like this was an appropriate time to try to come to an agreement with Aaron," General Manager Ted Thompson said in a statement. "We feel like this is good for the organization and the players, and we will continue this approach as we move forward."
Rodgers, who was a first-round pick by the team out of the University of California in 2005, wasn't due to become a free agent until after the 2009 season, but said the contract talks had been ongoing the past couple of weeks.
"I've felt that they have proven a strong commitment to me since I got here in 2005 and this is just another example of that," Rodgers said. "I just couldn't be happier to know that I am going to be in Green Bay for a long time.
"I've enjoyed my time here in the three years that I have been here so far. I've learned a lot. I've gotten to know the community. I love living in Green Bay. It's a great change from California, and I look forward to spending many more years here."
Rodgers' success this season has been even more impressive considering he has played the last three games with a sprained right shoulder suffered in Week 4 at Tampa Bay. Despite being limited in practice since the injury, he has completed 67-of-95 passes (70.5 percent) for 707 yards, six touchdowns and just one interception for a passer rating of 108.5 in the three-game stretch.
"Just to be able to play the way I did starting the season definitely helped, but this was still a little unexpected," Rodgers said. "I still had a year-and-a-half on my deal left, but this definitely means a lot to me that they are saying I am going to be the guy, and not just for the next two years. I'm going to be the guy for the future."
One catch away
With a catch against the Titans on Sunday, wide receiver Donald Driver will tie former wide receiver Sterling Sharpe's team record of 103 consecutive games with a reception.
"To be mentioned in the same breath as Sterling Sharpe is a great honor," Driver said. "To be just one game from tying and two games from breaking his record, that tells a lot about the person and it tells a lot about Sterling. I know when I get there he will call and congratulate me on that because we are real close friends."
Driver, who has 532 catches in his career, also ranks second to Sharpe (595) on the franchise's all-time reception list.
Fellow wideout Greg Jennings, who has a streak of his own at 34 straight games with a catch, said that he is most impressed with the longevity of Driver's production.
"In my eyes honestly he has been one of the most underrated receivers to play the game," Jennings said. "Most of the time they go off stats and his stats are up there with the best of them. He has been productive since I have been here and years before I even came here.
"He's always been that big-play guy, that go-to guy. It is just a phenomenal feat and we're excited for him. It's just a testament to his work ethic and the way he goes about handling his business."
If Driver catches a pass on Sunday, he would then have a chance to break Sharpe's streak at Minnesota on Nov. 9.
For a player who entered the league as a seventh-round draft pick in 1999, the significance of the record is not lost on Driver.
"When I first got here I didn't think I would be able to accomplish anything like that," Driver said. "It was just make the team and be happy that you are in the National Football League.
"You think about how many games that is to catch a ball in, and my biggest thing is to catch a ball in already over 100 games, that is big. Not too many guys get an opportunity to do that. I am happy that I was able and God blessed me to be able to play this long."
Linebacker Desmond Bishop (hamstring) did not participate for the third straight day and is doubtful for Sunday's game.
Wide receiver Jordy Nelson was added to the injury report with an ankle injury that he sustained in Thursday's practice. He did not participate in practice Friday.
Head Coach Mike McCarthy said the team would test Nelson's injury on Sunday morning in Tennessee to determine his status for the game.
In addition to Rodgers (right shoulder), tackle Chad Clifton (knees), defensive end Jason Hunter (hamstring), linebacker Danny Lansanah (hamstring) and cornerback Charles Woodson (toe) are probable.
McCarthy said cornerback Al Harris, who has been sidelined the past four games with a spleen injury, had a good week of practice and didn't foresee any problems with Harris' availability for Sunday.
Defensive tackle Justin Harrell, who has been on the physically unable to perform list all season, said his reps in practice increased as the week went on and is hopeful he will be active for Sunday in his home state of Tennessee.
"The excitement is just building every day I get closer," Harrell said. "It has been a long time. When I got hurt the second time, this Tennessee game was my goal game to get back."
For Tennessee, linebacker Colin Allred (groin) is out and defensive end William Hayes (illness) is doubtful.
Cornerback Chris Carr (back) and defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch (groin) are questionable. Defensive end David Ball (concussion) and running back Quinton Ganther (concussion) are probable.