Team's Depth Has Produced Various Heroes

One of the keys to the current 12-2 mark, and an illustration of the depth on the team’s 53-man roster, has been the emergence of various, and in some cases unexpected, heroes in virtually every game. - More Audio | Video | Packers-Bears Game Center Notebook: Pickett Questionable, But Feels Ready Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Dec. 21


S Charlie Peprah made a big play on special teams against the N.Y. Giants on Sept. 16, forcing a fumble teammate Tracy White recovered to set up a touchdown.

Whether the Pro Bowl voting is a true measure or not, the Green Bay Packers have their share of stars who have propelled the team to what could result in its best regular-season record ever.

But one of the keys to the current 12-2 mark, and an illustration of the depth on the team's 53-man roster, has been the emergence of various, and in some cases unexpected, heroes in virtually every game. Sometimes it's the boost from those players further down the depth chart that make the difference, and that's been true for the Packers in 2007.

"I think anytime one of your players on the 53 takes his level of performance to another level, it gives you a lift," Head Coach Mike McCarthy said. "It's nice when the players from within are improving, and that's really what we feel is one of the foundations of our success this year with our players, particularly improving from Year 1 to Year 2."

That said, here's a look week-by-week at an emerging star from each of this season's games:

Sept. 9, vs. Philadelphia - Jarrett Bush

Having won the nickel job in the secondary during training camp, Bush opened the season actually making his biggest impact on special teams. He leveled Eagles' return man Greg Lewis as he muffed a punt in the first quarter that the Packers recovered for a touchdown, and then he recovered a second muff by J.R. Reed late in the fourth quarter to set up the game-winning field goal in the 16-13 triumph.

Sept. 16, at N.Y. Giants - Charlie Peprah and Tracy White

We'll recognize two players here who tag-teamed on perhaps the key play of victory No. 2. Continuing the early-season impact of the special teams, Peprah knocked the ball loose from New York's Ahmad Bradshaw on a fourth-quarter kickoff return and White recovered, setting up a quick TD that pushed Green Bay's lead from 21-13 to 28-13 in the eventual 35-13 win.

Sept. 23, vs. San Diego - Greg Jennings

The team's No. 2 receiver and touchdown leader, Jennings doesn't necessarily fit the profile of an unlikely hero. But keep in mind that heading into this game, Jennings had missed the first two games of the season with a hamstring injury, and hadn't really played at full health since injuring his ankle back in the sixth game of 2006. All he did upon his return was prove how valuable he is, turning a quick slant into the go-ahead 57-yard touchdown with 2:03 left in the fourth quarter in the eventual 31-24 win. It was the first of 12 touchdowns Jennings has scored in 12 games this season, and the first of his six TD plays of 40 yards or longer.

Sept. 30, at Minnesota - Atari Bigby

Bigby had won a spirited battle for a starting safety spot in training camp, and his first big play came here. The Packers were dangerously close to letting a 14-point lead slip away in the Metrodome when Bigby's diving interception of a deflected pass at the Green Bay 23-yard line with 1:06 left preserved the 23-16 victory. It was the first interception of Bigby's career and the first of four this season.

Oct. 7, vs. Chicago - Frank Walker

The first loss of the season was frustrating to be sure, with five turnovers contributing immensely. But with the game tight in the fourth quarter, Walker did his best to make sure Chicago return specialist Devin Hester wasn't the difference-maker, posting three special-teams tackles of Hester in the fourth quarter, including one for a 2-yard loss. The Bears eventually scored late to win 27-20, but it wasn't because of Hester.

Oct. 14, vs. Washington - Donald Lee

On a day the offense struggled mightily, Lee came up big. His 60-yard catch-and-run down the middle of the field to the Washington 3-yard line set up the game's first score, and he went on to record 75 yards receiving, one-third of the offense's total of 225 in a tight 17-14 win. A starter all season, Lee had just one touchdown on the year prior to this game, but since his emergence has added five TDs and signed a multi-year contract extension.

Oct. 29, at Denver - Ryan Grant

No one nationally, and very few Green Bay fans, had even heard of Grant until this game. But the Notre Dame alum stepped in early in the second quarter in a nationally televised Monday Night Football contest and posted the Packers' first 100-yard rushing game of the season with 22 carries for 104 yards. Following the 19-13 overtime triumph, the Packers had found a legitimate backfield threat, and since then Grant has been the No. 2 rusher in the league and has posted three more 100-yard games.

Nov. 4, at Kansas City - Corey Williams

During the defense's best performance to this point yardage-wise in 2007 with 234 yards allowed, Williams was making just his third start of the season but led the way with six solo tackles and two of the team's five sacks in the 33-22 win. Williams and the overall depth at defensive tackle have become increasingly important since the season-ending injuries to Johnny Jolly and Colin Cole.

Nov. 11, vs. Minnesota - Ruvell Martin

Relegated to the fourth or fifth wideout spot, Martin always has made the most of his chances and at no time moreso than this game, when the Packers unveiled their "Big Five" formation of five wide receivers. Martin caught two TD passes from Brett Favre and finished with four catches for 57 yards in the 34-0 blowout.

{sportsad300}Nov. 18, vs. Carolina - Tramon Williams

A reserve cornerback and kickoff return man, Williams started this 31-17 victory by picking up a Carolina pooch punt from field-goal formation and racing 94 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter. It's the longest punt return by a Packers player ever at Lambeau Field.

Nov. 22, at Detroit - Aaron Rouse

A rookie making his third start at safety in place of the injured Nick Collins, Rouse turned in a game-changing play. He anticipated a seam route to Calvin Johnson and stepped in front to intercept Jon Kitna's pass, returning it 34 yards to the Detroit 11-yard line. The ensuing touchdown gave the Packers, who had been scuffling on both sides of the ball early, a 7-6 lead on their way to a 37-26 Thanksgiving win.

Nov. 29, at Dallas - Aaron Rodgers

Stepping in when Brett Favre went down with elbow and shoulder injuries in the second quarter of the big NFC showdown, Rodgers rallied the team from a 27-10 deficit to within three points in the second half before Green Bay fell 37-27. He completed 18-of-26 passes for 201 yards and a touchdown for a 104.8 rating. Considering the circumstances, even in defeat Rodgers proved the offense is in good hands if Favre gets hurt again, or when he decides to retire.

Dec. 9, vs. Oakland - Will Blackmon

Injured for the vast majority of his first two pro seasons, Blackmon got an opportunity as the punt returner with a banged-up Charles Woodson playing only on defense, and he hasn't let go. He ran back a punt 57 yards for a touchdown and later recovered an Oakland fumble on a punt return for another score in a 38-7 win over the Raiders.

Dec. 16, at St. Louis - Koren Robinson

Waiting to get his football legs back after a year's suspension and sporadic playing time since his reinstatement, Robinson broke two long kickoff returns that set up touchdowns. His 43-yarder on the opening kickoff was followed by an 88-yarder (shortened to 66 by penalty), and he finished with 130 yards on three returns in the 33-14 triumph.

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