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Notebook: Rodgers' Season Draws Praise

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers was one of three Packers to be selected to the Pro Bowl on Tuesday night, and although players aren’t allowed to vote for their own teammates, it’s pretty clear that he has earned the respect of the other players in Green Bay’s locker room. - More Pro Bowl Honor Reflects Team Success To Rodgers | Mike McCarthy Press Conf. Transcript - Dec. 30

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers was one of three Packers to be selected to the Pro Bowl on Tuesday night, and although players aren't allowed to vote for their own teammates, it's pretty clear that he has earned the respect of the other players in Green Bay's locker room.

In just his second season as the Packers' starting quarterback, Rodgers earned Pro Bowl honors for the NFC along with the Saints' Drew Brees and the Vikings' Brett Favre. Votes from players, coaches and fans each count for one-third of the final tally.

"It feels pretty good, it does," Rodgers said Wednesday. "It's exciting to be recognized by my peers in the league and the coaches and obviously the fans, so I'm very appreciative of that.

"It also means that our team has had some success, so this is definitely bigger than myself. It takes a solid receiving corps, an offensive line that blocks for you, and we've got a 1,200-yard rusher (Ryan Grant) and some guys that can get down the field and catch the ball."

Through 15 games, Rodgers ranks in the top 10 in the league in every significant passing category. He is currently fourth in passer rating (102.4), tied for third in touchdowns (29), fifth in yards (4,199) and first in interception percentage (1.4). With all of those impressive numbers, it was somewhat surprising to hear the individual statistic he is most proud of.

"Probably 31 straight starts," Rodgers said. "That is important to me. As a quarterback, you need to be accountable and available. I've been able to be available for all 31 of the games that I have started in and the guys see how bad I want it.

"At times you are playing through some pretty intense pain, and you've got to be accountable at the same time. That comes from the preparation you put in each week and it comes from standing in front of you guys and taking the blame when it's your blame to take and dishing out the credit when people are trying to give you all of the credit. I think I have done a pretty good job of both of those things."

This is the second straight season that Rodgers has posted 4,000 yards passing as he became the first quarterback in league history to hit that mark in each of his first two seasons as a starter. In 2008, he had to deal with the pressure of succeeding the future Hall of Famer Favre, who came out of retirement before being traded to the New York Jets, as well as a right shoulder injury sustained in Week 4 that he played through for several weeks.

"I'm not shocked, but I'm very impressed," wide receiver Greg Jennings said. "Just the way he has handled everything. He has been a true professional throughout the entire ordeal. I'm not sure if anybody else could have really stepped up to the plate and answered the bell the way he has done that.

"As far as his numbers, they speak for themselves. They are pretty much second to none."

Rodgers continued that strong play this season, but was sacked a league-high 37 times in the first eight games as the Packers got off to a 4-4 start.

"I'm very impressed," said cornerback Charles Woodson, who also earned Pro Bowl honors on Tuesday. "The numbers speak for themselves, to go back-to-back seasons with 4,000 yards. I don't know too many quarterbacks that have gone through the transition that he had to go through when Brett left the team. For him to go through that, this year to go through the numerous amount of sacks that he has gone through and taking a lot of heat for supposedly holding the football too long and that sort of thing.

"He comes to work every day, prepares every day like a winning quarterback, and then on Sundays he shows up. Again, he keeps getting up off the ground and making plays for this team. There is not enough that can be said about what he has done this year."

With the Pro Bowl being played the week prior to the Super Bowl for the first time at the same site, Rodgers knows his season will end in Miami, but hopes it will be with all of his teammates.

"We've won 10 games this year and we've got a playoff spot," Rodgers said. "That's important, but my personal goals and I think our team goals are bigger than the Pro Bowl, and they include winning multiple championships. It starts with one, and it starts with one game this weekend and then we'll figure out where we are slotted.

"The Pro Bowl is a good individual honor, but we have bigger goals as a team."

Winning the focus

Even though Green Bay could very well know who its opponent in the opening round of the playoffs will be by the time they take the field on Sunday afternoon against Arizona, Head Coach Mike McCarthy said his team's mentality will not change.

The Vikings host the Giants on Sunday at noon, and if Minnesota wins that game, the Packers will face the Cardinals again the next week in the Wild Card game. If the Giants beat the Vikings, the Packers could still face the Cardinals but there are also scenarios that have Green Bay visiting either Minnesota or Dallas.

"Our approach is going to be the same this week as it has been for the first 15," McCarthy said. "It's important for us to continue the way we have been playing the last seven weeks, and that's really the message to the football team.

"We're not in this situation to back off. It's important for us to continue our style of play. Our approach this week will be the same that it has always been. I think routine in your preparation and your approach is a big part of your success, so we're going to go out there and our goal is to go to 11-5."

Rodgers pointed to two recent Super Bowl champions, the 2005 Pittsburgh Steelers and the 2007 New York Giants, as examples of teams that parlayed a strong finish into a Super Bowl title. Both teams had to win on the road three times to advance to the Super Bowl, with the Steelers entering the playoffs with a four-game winning streak.

"I think that teams that finish out the season playing their guys a lot of times hit their stride quicker in the playoffs," Rodgers said. "Now that's not to say that a team that has already wrapped up home-field advantage, they are a good team and there is a reason they have done that, but I think there is a lot of merit to hitting your stride going into the postseason.

"We want to keep this momentum going. We've put together seven games (where) we have been pretty consistent. We've won six of those and we want to keep that thing going."

Moving on up

Nose tackle Anthony Toribio, who has been on the Packers' practice squad all season, was signed to the active roster on Wednesday to take the spot of linebacker Jeremy Thompson.

Thompson was sidelined for the past four games after spraining his neck in a Dec. 4 practice, and was placed on injured reserve.

{sportsad300}The 6-foot-1, 315-pound Toribio was on Green Bay's 53-man roster for the final two games of the 2008 season, but was inactive for both contests. With the status of both nose tackle Ryan Pickett (hamstring) and defensive end Michael Montgomery (ankle) uncertain for Sunday, Toribio could see some playing time against the Cardinals.

"(Tuesday) was our day off, so I was just chilling at my apartment watching TV and my agent texted me," Toribio said. "I was like, 'What?' My heart was pounding. It's what you have been waiting on.

"You see the nicked-up (players) the last couple of days and you think something is up, so you've kind of got your eye out for it but you don't know for sure. But you're hoping, and it happened. It's pretty good though. It feels great."

The Packers have had at least five defensive linemen active for every game this season, so if Pickett and Montgomery can't go, rookie B.J. Raji would likely start at nose tackle for the second straight game between defensive ends Johnny Jolly and Cullen Jenkins. Rookie defensive end Jarius Wynn and Toribio would most likely be the backups.

Toribio is the sixth player from the Packers' practice squad to be promoted to the active roster in 2009, with cornerback Trevor Ford, linebacker Cyril Obizor and wide receiver Patrick Williams having spent time on the practice squad this season. Wide receivers Jake Allen and Biren Ealy, who are no longer with the team, also spent time on the 53-man roster after stints on the Packers' practice squad.

"Anthony has been with us and he'll fit right in, won't miss a beat," McCarthy said. "It's exciting when you are able to bring up one of your own practice-squad guys, and we'll look for him to potentially contribute on Sunday."

Injury/participation update

Safety Derrick Martin, who leads the Packers with 21 special teams tackles this season, is out for Sunday with an ankle injury sustained on defense in the second half of last Sunday's win over Seattle.

McCarthy called Martin's ankle injury a "significant sprain", and said the team would evaluate him further next Monday.

Pickett and linebackers Nick Barnett (illness) and Brandon Chillar (back) did not participate on Wednesday.

McCarthy said Barnett was sent home after reporting to Lambeau Field on Wednesday morning, but added that he didn't think it would prevent Barnett from playing on Sunday.

Montgomery, Woodson (shoulder), Chad Clifton (knee), fullback Korey Hall (elbow) and defensive end Johnny Jolly (foot) were limited participants on Wednesday.

Ford, who was inactive vs. Seattle due to knee injury sustained in practice last week, participated fully.

For Arizona, safety Antrel Rolle (thigh) did not participate in Wednesday's practice. Defensive end Kenny Iwebema (head), fullback Dan Kreider (neck), wide receiver Sean Morey (head), tight end Ben Patrick (head), kicker Neil Rackers (right groin), cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (toe) and running back Beanie Wells (groin) were limited participants.

Linebacker Will Davis (knee), wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (elbow) and cornerback Greg Toler (elbow) all participated fully.

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