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Packers Notebook - Ready For A Fight


If winning teams always won and losing teams always lost, then there'd be no reason for the Green Bay Packers to travel all the way to Arizona to pick up a victory this weekend.

Over the past decade, the Packers have been among the NFL's best, going without a losing season since 1991. The Arizona Cardinals meanwhile, have been a league doormat for even longer, with only one winning campaign since 1985.

But, as they say, streaks are made to be broken. And even though the Cardinals are 0-2 and coming off their worst loss since 1981 -- a 38-0 drubbing at the hands of the Seattle Seahawks -- the Packers insist they aren't taking their Week 3 opponent lightly.

"Overlooking them?" defensive tackle Cletidus Hunt asked. "You can't overlook anybody. I mean, they haven't been off to a great start, but who's to say when we go down to them Sunday that they're (not) going to come out swinging?"

The Packers don't expect the Cardinals to roll over. They expect them to stand up.

After all, what better way for a struggling franchise to redirect the tide of what has so far been an abysmal season than by upsetting a perennial contender like Green Bay?

"They always say a wounded dog is the worst to fight," wide receiver Javon Walker said. "By them being down two and us going to their home, this might be the game that they need to get them back on track."

Besides, the Packers insist that Arizona isn't as awful as its record suggests.

"When you look at this team on tape, they scare me a little bit," offensive guard Marco Rivera said. "They're 0-2 right now, they've got nothing to lose, so they're going to throw everything at us. A team like this is very dangerous."

That isn't just a bunch of hot air. The Cardinals actually lead the Packers in several statistical categories including total yards on defense (584 to 630) and offense (720 to 636).

Unfortunately for Arizona, its offense leads the entire league with nine turnovers. And the Packers only have to look back to their season-opening loss to Minnesota to see how much that statistic plays into wins and losses.

"When you turn the ball over like that, it's hard to overcome," GM/Head Coach Mike Sherman said. "Trust me, I know, because we had a somewhat similar experience in a couple of our most-recent games."

Sunday, the Packers will look to do more than just win the turnover battle. They'll also look to kick the Cardinals while they're down.

Considering that the Packers are 22-3 under Sherman when they score first, there's no need to let the Arizona build any positive momentum.

"We're going to go at them aggressively and try to not look at them being 0-2, because anybody can be 0-2," Walker said. "When they try to get up, if we can knock them back down, that will be a big key for us."

Road-field Advantage?

The number of butts in the seats was significantly less, but even the paid attendance at Sun Devil Stadium for the Arizona Cardinals' home opener last weekend was only a paltry 23,127.

The Packers have more than double that on their season ticket waiting list.

And if recent history is any indication, the Packers might also have double the number of Cardinals fans in the stands this weekend.

While no official breakdown is available, the Packers have drawn well in Arizona of late, from their last regular-season trip to the desert in 2000, to their preseason trip last year.

"Last time we went down there we had the majority of the (fans)," safety Darren Sharper said. "(Cardinals players) after the game told me, 'This is ridiculous. You have more fans than we have here.'

"It makes it like a home game, so hopefully it will be that way again."

GM/Head Coach Mike Sherman doesn't usually head into road games expecting any sort of a 'home-field' atmosphere, but said he wouldn't be surprised to see a lot of cheeseheads in the crowd this weekend.

"It certainly would be welcome," Sherman said. "It's certainly uplifting, obviously, but we're not going to count on that part of the game. We have to play our best game.

"Hopefully we'll be better this week than we were last week and play better collectively as a team in all phases."

If the Packers do that, Sun Devil Stadium could be rocking.

New Team, Same Player

Even after 13 seasons with the Dallas Cowboys, running back Emmitt Smith wasn't ready to retire. He just moved to the place where retirees go.

Two games into his Arizona career, Smith has added a total of 118 rushing yards to what already was the greatest career total in NFL history.

And while at 34 he's clearly in the twilight of his career, the Packers don't believe he's over the hill.

"He really hasn't lost much," Favre said. "I'll always remember Emmitt Smith and think of Emmitt Smith as a Cowboy ... but I definitely think he helps that football team (Arizona). To what degree I don't know, but he's still a good player."

Although Favre suggested that he would retire before he played for another team, Smith balks at the notion that by signing with Cardinals he's staying in the game too long.

"My question is, when are your best days?" Smith asked this week. "If you want to say your best days are the day you won the Super Bowl, fine. Say it was your best days and leave it alone. But the way I see it, the Super Bowl is just one particular year that you had a great year, and I think your best days are ahead of you.

"Any day you can get up and get out and do the things you love to do, and do it at a high level and compete and still get your job done, I think your best days are still ahead of you. The day you feel you cannot get your job done is the day I think you need to leave it alone."

Clearly Smith doesn't feel he's reached that point. And the Packers don't either.

He may not be the same runner that led Dallas to three Super Bowl titles in the 1990s, but the Packers won't expect anything less than greatness this weekend.

"Emmitt is still Emmitt," nose tackle Gilbert Brown said. "He's playing hard, running hard, doing the things he needs to do. And he's got a good, big athletic group blocking for him. So we've got our work cut out for us."

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