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Notebook: Rodgers Looks To Rebound

Like any first-year quarterback, it was expected that there would be some bumps in the road for Aaron Rodgers in his first season as the Packers’ starter. After back-to-back losses on the road to Tennessee and Minnesota, Rodgers will look to rebound against Chicago in a crucial divisional matchup on Sunday at Lambeau Field. - More Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Nov. 12

Like any first-year quarterback, it was expected that there would be some bumps in the road for Aaron Rodgers in his first season as the Packers' starter. After back-to-back losses on the road to Tennessee and Minnesota, Rodgers will look to rebound against the Chicago Bears in a crucial divisional matchup on Sunday at Lambeau Field.

After posting quarterback ratings of 100-plus in five of his first seven games this season, Rodgers has had his struggles the past two weeks, throwing just one touchdown pass as he posted his two lowest passer ratings outside of Week 4 at Tampa Bay.

Rodgers completed 65.6 percent of his passes the first seven games, but saw that drop to 55.6 combined against the Titans and the Vikings. Part of that was due to the increased pressure he was under as Rodgers was sacked four times in each of those contests. His longest completion against Minnesota on Sunday was a 19-yarder to Donald Driver and the Packers converted just one of 11 third-down attempts.

"Personally, I missed some throws that I should have hit," Rodgers said. "The first one of the game, unfortunately Jordy (Nelson) and I were on a different page or that would have been a big play.

"Those are the ones I was thinking about laying in bed Sunday and Monday night, but after watching that film we've tabled that and we're moving on to Chicago."

Part of that preparation will include more work in practice, something that has been limited since Rodgers sustained an injury to his throwing shoulder against the Buccaneers. Head Coach Mike McCarthy said Rodgers practiced the most he has since the injury on Wednesday, taking part in between 90 and 95 percent of the practice.

"The first thing in my experience for quarterbacks that goes is your footwork is not as sharp as it can be, and your timing can be off," McCarthy said. "This is no excuse. He's played well when he didn't practice, and he didn't have his best games when he didn't practice.

"We're a big believer in preparation helps our performance, and I know from an offensive coordinator standpoint I've always believed when your center, quarterback and your backs practice all the time, the offense from a responsibility standpoint is built from the inside out, so it's important to have the middle of your offense there to get the constant continuity, particularly in the communication of checks and adjustments and so forth, and that gives you the ability to be sharp on game day."

The 5-4 Bears, tied for first place in the NFC North with Minnesota, enter Sunday's game with the No. 4-ranked rush defense in the NFL, but they are 30th against the pass, allowing an average of 251.8 yards through the air per game, including 295.0 per game over their last four.

"It's a big game for us," Rodgers said. "They are in first place right now. We are a game back and we've got them at home. It's a huge game rivalry-wise.

"We realize that is one of the tiebreakers coming down the stretch. We've got Chicago twice, Detroit one more time. We have three division games and we need to win all three of them."

Tauscher honored

The team announced Wednesday that offensive tackle Mark Tauscher has been selected as the Packers' 2008 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year, an award that recognizes off-the-field community service as well as playing excellence.

"I think it's great for what he has done in his career and the way he has given back," McCarthy said. "For him to be honored is a credit to Mark and all he has done. Once again, he is a great representative of the Green Bay Packers. We appreciate that."

Tauscher's community efforts have included various visits to local schools, hospitals, food pantries and civic organizations, as well as speaking to youth football players and organizing a charity basketball game to benefit cancer research.

As Green Bay's winner of the award, Tauscher will receive a $1,000 donation for his TRIFECTA (Tauscher's Reading Initiative For Every Child To Achieve) Foundation, which he established in 2005.

Tauscher also is nominated for the league-wide award to be selected from 32 NFL players. Four finalists for the award will receive an additional $5,000 and be invited to the Super Bowl in Tampa, with the winner announced on the field directly before kickoff.

Long time coming

When the Packers take the field Sunday against the Bears, it will be their first game at Lambeau Field in 28 days.

After beating the Indianapolis Colts at home on Oct. 19, the Packers then had back-to-back road games at Tennessee and Minnesota.

"I really enjoy the schedule when we've got a home game to spend time in the hotel as a team and sleep in your own bed Sunday night," Rodgers said. "We're excited about coming back home. We need to get this crowd rocking early and keep the Bears fans that come up quiet."

The extended time away from their home turf is something the Packers are accustomed to after having an identical break in 2007. Last season Green Bay played Washington on Oct. 14, had their bye, then consecutive games on the road at Denver and Kansas City, before returning to host the Minnesota Vikings on Nov. 11.

{sportsad300}Question at quarterback

With Bears starting quarterback Kyle Orton's status uncertain for Sunday because of an ankle injury suffered Nov. 2 vs. Detroit, the Packers will prepare for him as well as backup Rex Grossman, who started in the Bears' 21-14 loss against Tennessee last Sunday.

Green Bay has familiarity with both quarterbacks as Orton started at Chicago last season in the Packers' 35-7 loss at Soldier Field on Dec. 23 and Grossman started both games in '06 against Green Bay. Each quarterback started a game against the Packers in 2005 as well. Brian Griese, now with Tampa Bay, started at Lambeau Field last season on Oct. 7.

"I think Kyle has a stronger arm than Grossman," McCarthy said. "I thought Kyle was playing at a very good level when he was in there. They are different in stature, those types of things, so those are all things we address and talk about. We do have experience playing against both guys, so we don't feel like we are at a disadvantage."

Orton started the first nine games this season before injuring his ankle in the first half of Chicago's win over Detroit, and has completed 151-of-244 attempts for 1,777 yards, 10 touchdowns and four interceptions this season for a 90.8 rating.

Grossman completed 20-of-37 passes for 173 yards, one touchdown and one interception vs. the Titans in his first start of the season.

Injury/participation update

Linebacker Nick Barnett (knee) is out for Sunday. Cornerback Will Blackmon (quadriceps), cornerback/safety Jarrett Bush (ankle) and defensive end Jeremy Thompson (groin) did not participate in Wednesday's practice.

McCarthy described Blackmon's quad injury as a bruise/contusion, and said he anticipated that Blackmon would probably practice Thursday.

McCarthy said it would be a challenge for Thompson to practice this week and that he was "definitely questionable" for Sunday's game.

Rodgers and cornerback Charles Woodson (toe) were both limited participants Wednesday. Tackle Chad Clifton (knees) and linebacker Brandon Chillar (shoulder) both participated fully.

For Chicago, Orton, cornerback Charles Tillman (shoulder) and linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer (thumb) were limited participants.

Safety Mike Brown, defensive tackle Tommie Harris, running back Kevin Jones and center Olin Kreutz did not participate, but all were not injury related.

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