Quarterback (2): Aaron Rodgers, Matt Flynn
Cut: Graham Harrell
Breakdown: So Aaron Rodgers survives another year of Saturday cuts. But seriously, Rodgers and Flynn were locked into their positions and the only real question was whether the Packers A) believed Harrell warranted a spot on the roster or B) would pass through waivers and be added to the practice squad. General Manager Ted Thompson went with the latter, cutting Harrell and hoping no team takes a flyer on him. There’s a small chance a team will grab Harrell and put him on their 53-man roster, but he didn’t show much in the preseason and is more of a system quarterback (the Packers’ system) than anything at this point. With Flynn set to test the free agent market in 2012, Harrell could be the top candidate to backup Rodgers next year.
Running back (3): Ryan Grant, James Starks, Alex Green
Cut: Dimitri Nance, Brandon Saine
Breakdown: Nance and Saine were two of the last cuts to be publicly announced, so there was optimism that one of the two would stick. However, the Packers instead decided to keep 10 linebackers. The decision to cut Saine and Nance should also dispel any rumors that the Packers will try to trade Ryan Grant, who is in the final year of his contract. Starks and Green provide excellent depth and Kuhn is able to run the ball as well, so there was really no need to keep either of the two cut.
Fullback (1): John Kuhn
Cut: Quinn Johnson (trade), Jon Hoese
Breakdown: The question of whether or not there was a roster spot for Johnson was answered when it was revealed the Packers were keeping five tight ends. However, it was announced that the Packers received an undisclosed draft pick for Johnson in a trade with Tennessee. The move coincides with Titans’ fullback Ahmad Hall being suspended for four games for violating the NFL’s drug policy. Since there really was no room for Johnson, it’s good to see him stick with another team and the Packers to get something back for him. Kuhn will enter 2011 as the Packers’ only fullback.
Wide Receiver (5): Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, Jordy Nelson, James Jones, Randall Cobb
Cut: Diondre Borel, Chastin West, Tori Gurley, Kerry Taylor, Shaky Smithson (I.R.)
Breakdown: No cuts were easy on the ultra-talented and deep Packers’ roster, but letting Gurley and West go rank as two of the toughest. It was known going into camp that the five who were ultimately kept were locks and, with the depth at tight end, it was going to be difficult for a sixth wide receiver to hang on to a roster spot. West’s production and Gurley’s size were obvious throughout training camp and the preseason, but the fact was that they were disposable with the depth already at the position. The Packers would love for West and Gurley to sneak through waivers, but it seems unlikely that both will and it’s more unlikely that both do.
Tight End (5): Jermichael Finley, Andrew Quarless, Tom Crabtree, D.J. Williams, Ryan Taylor
Training camp has come and gone for the Green Bay Packers, who will begin their preseason schedule tomorrow night in Cleveland against the Browns. Some players have shown up in a big way, others have floundered and others have suffered injuries that will hurt their chances of making the team.
On the eve of the the 2011 Packers season officially getting under way, here is one person’s take on who will make the 53-man roster when the team takes the field against the Saints on Sept. 8 in Lambeau Field.
QB (2): Aaron Rodgers, Matt Flynn
Why: Graham Harrell has performed well in training camp but there is no reason to keep three quarterbacks on the Packers roster.
RB (3): Ryan Grant, James Starks, Alex Green
Why: Dimitri Nance is ahead of Green on the unofficial depth chart right now, but Green should move to the No. 3 spot by the end of training camp. Green is expected to field kick returns, as well.
FB: John Kuhn, Quinn Johnson
Why: Quinn Johnson isn’t flashy but is an important aspect to the Packers’ offense as the only true “bruiser” in the backfield. The tight end situation could change things, however (see below).
WR: Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, Jordy Nelson, James Jones, Randall Cobb
Why: Tori Gurley, Brett Swain and Chastin West certainly are good enough to make the roster, but with so much talent at both wide receiver AND tight end mean the Packers are most likely to keep just five wide receivers.
TE: Jermichael Finley, Andrew Quarless, D.J. Williams, Tom Crabtree, Ryan Taylor
The Green Bay Packers released their first unofficial depth chart of 2011 Tuesday, four days before their preseason opener against the Cleveland Browns.
With four preseason games and just under a month before Week 1, take this depth chart with a large grain of salt. Plenty will happen between now and Sept. 4, meaning plenty of names will be moved around.
Here is a look at the depth chart, via Packers.com:
QB: Aaron Rodgers, Matt Flynn, Graham Harrell
RB: Ryan Grant, James Starks, Dimitri Nance, Alex Green/Brandon Saine
FB: John Kuhn, Quinn Johnson, Jon Hoese
WR1: Greg Jennings, James Jones, Randall Cobb, Brett Swain/Diondre Borel, Kerry Taylor
WR2: Donald Driver, Jordy Nelson, Chastin West, Tori Gurley/Antonio Robinson, Shaky Smithson
TE: Jermichael Finley, Andrew Quarless, Tom Crabtree, D.J. Williams/Ryan Taylor/Spencer Havner
LT: Chad Clifton, Marshall Newhouse, Theo Sherman
LG: Derek Sherrod, T.J. Lang, Adrian Battles
C: Scott Wells, Nick McDonald, Evan Dietrich-Smith, Sampson Genus
RG: Josh Sitton, Nick McDonald, Caleb Schlauderaff
RT: Bryan Bulaga, Chris Campbell, Ray Dominguez
The NFL lockout still remains after the players opted not to vote on the owner’s proposed labor deal. However, that short window when it looked as though the 2011 season would be underway shortly has this author excited to begin breaking down the 53-man roster.
The Packers, who currently stand approximately $62,000 under the salary cap, are not expected to make any big splashes in free agency. However, the Packers kept three undrafted rookie free agents on their roster in 2010 (Sam Shields, Nick McDonald, Frank Zombo), so this projected 53-man surely could change once free agency gets underway.
Here is the first (of many) 53-man projections for the 2011 Packers:
QB (2): Aaron Rodgers, Matt Flynn
Why: Graham Harrell should be back in 2011 as an emergency quarterback, but the Packers have gone with two quarterbacks ever since Rodgers took over as the starter. Flynn is an above average backup who could have trade value next year.
RB (4): Ryan Grant, James Starks, Brandon Jackson, Alex Green
Why: Jump aboard the Brandon Jackson bandwagon. The Packers will have to take one less lineman (in this projection) to keep Jackson, but he’s worth it in the long run. Expect Grant to be the “starter” but to split carries with Starks.
FB (2): Korey Hall, Quinn Johnson
Why: John Kuhn was a great success story in 2010, but Hall’s ability on special teams and Johnson’s use in the run game helps them make the roster.
WR (5): Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, Donald Driver, Randall Cobb, Brett Swain
Why: Jermichael Finley is basically a wide receiver, but Swain has earned a spot on the roster and will fill a depth void left by the departure of James Jones. Randall Cobb will be used all over the field.
TE (4): Jermichael Finley, Andrew Quarless, D.J. Williams, Tom Crabtree
The Green Bay Packers’ championship run was overshadowed by the Dallas Mavericks Wednesday Night at the 17th annual ESPY Awards. Nominated for five awards, only Aaron Rodgers took home any hardware, being voted by fans as the NFL’s best player. Here’s a look at the Packers’ nominations and how each category was voted. Winners are bolded.
Nominees: Dallas Mavericks, Texas A&M (women’s college basketball), Boston Bruins, Green Bay Packers, San Francisco Giants, Auburn Tigers (college football)
Why: The Dallas Mavericks stole the show at this year’s ESPY awards, culminating in their award for best team. While the Packers put together an excellent run in the 2010 NFL Playoffs, it’s hard to argue with this selection. The Mavericks lost just five games in four series, including a second round sweep of the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers. Helping their cause with the fan voting was their six-game NBA Finals victory over LeBron James and the Miami Heat. One could argue that the Packers defeating the top three teams in the conference, all on the road, was more impressive, but the timing of the ESPY awards certainly helped. The Mavs playoff run was clearly fresh in the minds of the voters.
Best NFL Player
Nominees: Aaron Rodgers, Clay Matthews, Troy Polamalu, Tom Brady, Arian Foster
Why: This was Rodgers’ award to lose, and he took home the trophy after a spectacular 2010. Rodgers threw 28 touchdowns in the regular season and ended his season as the MVP of Super Bowl XLV, a game which the Packers won 31-25. It would have been tough for Matthews to win the award over Defensive Player of the Year Troy Polamalu, and Brady had the numbers but failed to win a playoff game, and leading rusher Arian Foster stole the hearts of fantasy owners, but it wasn’t enough for him to win this award.
The Green Bay Packers will be well-represented when the 19th annual ESPY Awards ceremony airs on ESPN on Wednesday, July 13 at 8:00pm CT.
After defeating the top three NFC seeds in the playoffs and then taking down the Pittsburgh Steelers, 31-25, in Super Bowl XLV, the Packers were nominated as the NFL representative for “Best Team.” They will go up against the Dallas Mavericks, Auburn Tigers (football), Connecticut Huskies (men’s basketball), Boston Bruins, San Francisco Giants and Texas A&M Aggies (women’s basketball). NFL teams have taken home this award in three of the past five seasons.
Aaron Rodgers’ impressive jump to superstar earned him two nominations. The first, “Best NFL Player”, was a no-brainer. During the 2010 regular season, the Packers’ signal caller threw 28 touchdown passes, just 11 interceptions and 3,922 passing yards. He also completed 65.7 percent of his passes and ran for 356 yards and four rushing touchdowns.
NFL.com polled players to rank the top 100 athletes in the game, and last week the final list was revealed. A league-high six Packers were ranked, so here’s the breakdown of each player and where they were voted.
99. Chad Clifton, LT: Two years ago many wondered whether Clifton had run his course in the NFL and was on his way out, but back-to-back stellar seasons proved his importance as Aaron Rodgers’ blindside protector. He was the sixth best tackle on the list and should have a year or two left playing at a high level.
96. Nick Collins, FS: One of the Packers’ biggest playmakers on defense was rewarded with a spot on the Top 100, and for good reason. With 17 interceptions and four touchdowns over the past three years, Collins has become one of the best coverage safeties in the league. Like Clifton, Collins was also ranked as the sixth best at his position.
81. B.J. Raji, NT:
Here is version 3.0 of my 2011 NFL mock draft for the Green Bay Packers. This mock will be different from the first two in that it will include wildcard picks. Ted Thompson has surprised Packers’ fans on more than one occasion and with so much talent on the current roster, the Packers can be flexible with their picks in 2011.
Version 1.0 can be found here.
Version 2.0 can be found here.
Round 1, Pick No. 32: Torrey Smith, WR, Maryland: The Packers have no glaring needs they must fill immediately, but they might be closest to needing a solid return man. Smith would do the trick. A combination of Tramon Williams, Jordy Nelson, James Starks and Sam Shields shared duties, but Smith would give the Packers a legitimate threat. He set the ACC record for kick return yards and has good size as a wideout. The Packers do not have a true speedster at wideout and with James Jones’ status in the air and Donald Driver aging, the slot could be a position of need in the near future.
Round 2, Pick No. 64: Sam Acho, OLB, Texas: This draft class has its fair share of top tier pass rushers, and while Acho isn’t one of them, he would still be a nice fit at outside linebacker. He’s a bit bulkier than a normal outside linebacker at 257 pounds, but that hasn’t stopped Acho. What he lacks in pass rushing he makes up for against the run, which is something the Packers struggled with in 2010.
Round 3, Pick No. 96:
NFL schedules for the 2011 season were announced today, and the Super Bowl-champion Packers were awarded with four primetime games, including games on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. Here’s a look at how the Packers’ 2011 schedule breaks down.
Week 1: Packers vs. Saints — The Super Bowl champions usually open up the NFL season each year, and this year is no different. This should be a game full of offense and scoring, with plenty of adrenaline going for both teams. The Saints underachieved last season, falling to the Seattle Seahawks in the wildcard round while trying to repeat as Super Bowl champs. Expect a tough game, but it’s hard to see the Packers losing on Opening Night at home. Prediction: Win
Week 2: Packers at Panthers — The Packers will open the road portion of their schedule in Carolina, where there is a good chance they will face quarterback Cam Newton, who is expected to be taken first overall by the Panthers. Just 2-14 last season, the Panthers have a lot of rebuilding to do and probably will not get it done between now and Week 2. Prediction: Win
Week 3: Packers at Bears — In a rematch of last year’s NFC Championship Game, the Bears will surely be seeking revenge after the Packers celebrated their trip to the Super Bowl on their own turf. After the Bears’ rise to success the NFL’s oldest rivalry is back in full swing, and this should be a game that is decided late in the fourth quarter. It’s nice that the Packers travel to Soldier Field early in the season, when weather will not have an effect on the game. Prediction: Loss
Week 4: Packers vs. Broncos: — Aaron Rodgers and the Packers should have a field day in their second home game of the season, facing a Broncos defense that ranked dead last in all of football a year ago. Kyle Orton should still be the starter this early in the season, but this author admittedly is hoping to see Tim Tebow under center. Either way, the Packers should cruise. Prediction: Win
Week 5: Packers at Falcons — After a heartbreaking overtime loss in the regular season, the Packers extracted their revenge with a 48-21 thrashing of the Falcons in the NFC divisional round. It’s always tough to beat Matt Ryan in the Georgia Dome, but the Packers had a few miscues in their regular season loss that may have changed the outcome of the game. Prediction: Loss
Week 6: Packers vs. Rams — The Packers will face another young quarterback, Sam Bradford, in Week 6, and they should move to 3-0 at home. The Rams missed the playoffs last season after falling to the Seahawks in the final game of the regular season. They are targeting a wide receiver early in the draft that could give Bradford some power on offense. Prediction: Win
Week 7: Packers at Vikings — The Packers’ second primetime game of the year, their only Monday night game of the year, will pin them against the Brett Favre-less Vikings (for now). Minnesota is still searching for answers at quarterback and have interest in Donovan McNabb, but the Packers should shut down the Minnesota defense, regardless of who is at quarterback. That being said, never underestimate rivalry games on national television. Prediction: Win
Week 8: Bye week — Fantasy owners, take note.
Week 9: Packers at Chargers — This could be the Packers’ toughest game on the schedule, so it’s great that it’s coming off a bye week. The Packers have had success in San Diego, most recently a 31-24 comeback win in 2007. The matchup between Rodgers and Phillip Rivers should be a fun one to watch. The Packers will have to bring their best stuff if they want a chance to win this one. Prediction: Win
Week 10: Packers vs. Vikings — The Packers had to hang on to beat the Vikings at home last year, 28-24, and this one should come down to the wire as well. With no Brett Favre leading the way, the Packers’ defense will need to bring the heat while Rodgers attempts to keep up his recent success against their rivals to the North. Prediction: Win
Week 11: Packers vs. Buccaneers — The biggest surprise in the NFL last year, the Buccaneers are back on the national stage. A young core is headed by quarterback Josh Freeman and suddenly this game looks a lot more difficult than it did last season. No one can forget the Packers’ brutal loss in Tampa Bay two years ago to the then-winless Bucs, so hopefully 2011 is kinder. Prediction: Loss
Week 12: Packers at Lions — The Packers will play on Thanksgiving Day this season against an up-and-coming Lions’ team looking for an upset. Detroit always plays well on Turkey Day and this year should be no different. Rodgers was knocked out of last year’s 7-3 loss and will be looking for a little revenge. Prediction: Win
Week 13: Packers at Giants — Green Bay ruined the Giants’ playoff chances a year ago with a huge 45-10 win in Lambeau Field a year ago, so expect New York ready to go this time around. The weather should be chilly but the Packers have to hope they have the same luck in the New Meadowlands Stadium they did a year ago, when they shut out the Jets 9-0. Prediction: Win
Week 14: Packers vs. Raiders — Oakland will leave sunny California for what is sure to be a snowy Lambeau Field in this one, but no weather conditions should change the outcome of this one. Rodgers and the Packers have been excellent at home in December (6-1) and 2011 should be no different. Prediction: Win
Week 15: Packers at Chiefs — Arrowhead Stadium is one of the toughest places in the NFL to get a win, but the Packers will give it a shot when they head to Kansas City in Week 15. The Chiefs underperformed last season but have a young defense and are only going to get better under Todd Haley. Expect this one to be a defensive dogfight. Prediction: Win
Week 16: Packers vs. Bears — Merry Christmas! The Bears will travel to Lambeau Field on Christmas night for what is sure to be one of the most highly anticipated games of the year. Both teams should be in contention late in the season, and there’s a chance this game could decide the NFC North. The Bears will also be looking for a win after last year’s loss in Lambeau allowed the Packers into the playoffs and, well, we all know the rest. Prediction: Win
Week 17: Packers vs. Lions — The Packers finish the season with three of their last four games at home, and if history is any indicator they should be fine. The Packers closed the year with the Lions in 2007 and 2008, and won both handily. Then again, let’s hope the Packers have nothing to play for at this point and are resting starters for another long playoff run. Prediction: Win
Predicted record: 13-3
The Packers toughest stretch of the year happens early. Three of the first five opponents are vs. New Orleans, at Chicago, and at Atlanta, so the Packers will need to come out of the gates hot.
The easiest stretch of the season comes at the end of the season. The last quarter of the season includes vs. Oakland, at Kansas City, and vs. Detroit. If the Packers can give themselves room before this stretch they should be golden to finish the year.
For dates and times of each game, click here.
For comments from Mike McCarthy, click here.
Outside linebacker Clay Matthews followed up his stellar rookie campaign with an even better sophomore season, racking up 13.5 sacks and 60 tackles and finishing second in the AP Defensive Player of the Year voting. Making his production even more impressive was that, opposite Matthews, four players saw significant time due to injuries.
Frank Zombo, Brad Jones, Erik Walden and Brady Poppinga all saw time at right outside linebacker, with Jones and Poppinga being lost to season-ending injuries. There’s no question the Packers have plenty of depth at outside linebacker and, as is the case at a couple positions, there will be some tough decisions when Ted Thompson has to cut the roster to 53 players.
Zombo, an undrafted rookie free agent in 2010, is probably the best of the bunch with the brightest future, while Walden performed admirably after being signed in late October. Jones, a seventh round choice two seasons ago, has potential as well but projects as a back-up. Poppinga may make the roster as depth and a good special teams body, but that remains to be seen.
With the NFL lockout in full swing and no apparent signs of a resolution, one way to stay in touch with your favorite Packers is Twitter. If you don’t know what Twitter is, I don’t know what to tell you or where you have been the last two years, but here’s a rundown of players using the social media website as well as informative reporters for all things Packers.
Aaron Rodgers: @AaronRodgers12 — Rodgers only tweets in the offseason, so you’ll only get to hear from him until the season begins. He rarely talks about the Packers but is funny and discusses other sports. He loves quoting movies and will tweet back people who mention him.
Clay Matthews: @ClayMatthews52 — Maybe the best tweeters on the team, Matthews doesn’t hold back and loves to tweet about whatever is going on in the world. No surprise, he loves to tweet about his hair, but he tweets Erin Andrews on occasion and will tweet back fans.
Nick Barnett: @NickBarnett — One of the veteran Tweeters, Barnett is passionate about what he tweets and loves cracking jokes. He will talk football and give updates on his workouts, and he loves to go back and forth with teammates.
Tom Crabtree: @TCrabtree83 — He doesn’t post huge numbers, but his Twitter game is Pro Bowl worthy. He loves tweeting about his favorite movies and TV shows, and is a big gamer. He tweets back at fans as well and is a good follow.
Tramon Williams: @HighRizer38 — Williams is brand new to Twitter, but he gets it. He recently did a Q+A with fans, always popular on Twitter, and will hopefully continue that through the offseason.
Five members of the Green Bay Packers have been selected for the 2011 NFL Pro Bowl in Hawaii. Outside linebacker Clay Matthews, cornerback Charles Woodson, and safety Nick Collins were selected as starters for the NFC, while wide receiver Greg Jennings and left tackle Chad Clifton will come off the bench as reserves.
The Packers also had five alternates selected, including first alternates Aaron Rodgers and cornerback Tramon Williams. Wide receiver Donald Driver, inside linebacker A.J. Hawk, right guard Josh Sitton, and defensive tackle B.J. Raji will also serve as alternates.
Here’s a breakdown of each player and how they earned their spot on the NFC roster.
Clay Matthews (starter): Early in the season Matthews looked like the frontrunner for Defensive Player of the Year with 11.5 sacks in his first nine games. While that pace has slowed, he still has 12.5 sacks on the season and has played a huge role in the Packers’ late playoff push. He is constantly garnering double teams on passing downs, freeing up lanes for other blitzers and has played well against the run as of late, showing he has more than one dimension in his game. He has forced two fumbles and intercepted a pass for a touchdown on the season as well, making him an easy selection for voters.
Charles Woodson (starter): For those who claim Woodson was voted solely on name recognition, take a closer look. Tramon Williams may be having a better season but Woodson is no slouch. He has recorded 86 tackles, forced five fumbles, intercepted two passes, and returned one for a touchdown on the year and is the emotional leader of a Packers defense that ranks second in points allowed and ninth in yards allowed. His value on the field goes far past numbers, making Woodson’s seventh Pro Bowl bid a worthy one.
Nick Collins (starter):
It’s day two of the Green Bay Packers’ reign as world champions and to most fans it feels just as good as it did last night. As it should have, the game came down to the final minutes and could have gone in either team’s favor. But as it usually is in close games, there were a handful of plays that went the Packers’ way which ultimately helped them take down the Steelers.
Here’s a look at five plays in which the ball bounced in Green Bay’s favor, helping them pick up their fourth Super Bowl title and 13th world championship.
1. Clay Matthews’ forced fumble on Rashard Mendenhall, recovered by Desmond Bishop
The set-up: 21-17 Packers, 4th quarter, 15:00 remaining, Steelers with the ball on the Packers’ 33
The breakdown: At this point in the game, the momentum had completely swung in the Steelers’ favor. The Packers had just punted after a three-and-out, and an 8-yard run by Mendenall to begin the drive had the Steelers looking at the go-ahead score. But on the second play of the drive, Mendenhall took a handoff and attempted to bounce outside, but was met by Matthews, who popped the ball free with a huge hit. Desmond Bishop recovered the fumble and the Packers scored on their next possession, an 8-yard touchdown pass from Aaron Rodgers to Greg Jennings.
2. Nick Collins’ interception returned for a touchdown
The set-up: 7-0 Packers, 1st quarter, 3:34 remaining, Steelers with the ball on their own 7
The breakdown: On the heels of a Jordy Nelson touchdown reception to get the scoring going, the Steelers found themselves backed up to the 7-yard line after an illegal block in the back call. On the first play of the drive, Steelers’ quarterback Ben Roethlisberger looked for Mike Wallace on a deep fade down the left sideline. However, defensive lineman Howard Green had snuck into the backfield and hit Big Ben’s arm as soon as he released it, causing the ball to be severely underthrown. Waiting for the pass attempt was Nick Collins, who swooped in and caught the ball at the 37, dodging Steelers’ defenders all the way to the endzone. The play gave the Packers’ an early 14-0 lead that they were able to work with the remainder of the game. They never trailed.
3. Aaron Rodgers throws a 31-yard bullet to Greg Jennings
The Vince Lombardi trophy is coming home.
Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers fulfilled its season-long goals Sunday night by taking down the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-25 in Super Bowl XLV.
The Packers jumped out to a quick 14-0 lead and led by as many as 18 in the first half, and managed to hang on in the second half despite injuries to key players to nab the franchise’s fourth Super Bowl and 13th World Championship.
Certainly more to come, but here are five quick game balls to hand out in the Packers’ monumental victory in Super Bowl XLV.
Aaron Rodgers: The Packers’ signal caller capped off one of the best post-seasons ever by dissecting the Steelers’ secondary all night long. Rodgers passed for 304 yards and three touchdowns and, most importantly, did not turn the ball over. He took sacks when he needed to instead of forcing anything and also converted key third downs late in the game. Rodgers’ numbers would have been even more impressive had it not been for four or five drops by Green Bay receivers. The Super Bowl MVP seems to have finally ended any negative comparisons to Brett Favre and is a bonafide star in the NFL. He will enter 2011 as arguably the game’s best quarterback.
Jordy Nelson: If anyone was wondering whether or not Nelson could get the job done if Donald Driver were to retire or James Jones left via free agency, those people are now silent. Nelson finished with nine catches for 140 yards, breaking the Packers’ team record for receiving yards, previously set by Max McGee’s 138 yards set in Super Bowl I. He scored the first touchdown of the game and made big catch after big catch, and he also picked up two MVP votes in the process. Nelson should enter 2011 as the Packers’ No. 2 receiver, regardless of what happens with Driver or Jones.
Super Bowl XLV got itself another storyline Monday night when it was announced that Steelers’ safety Troy Polamalu, and not Packers’ linebacker Clay Matthews, was awarded with the AP Defensive Player of the Year Award.
Polamalu received 17 of the 50 nationwide votes, two more than Matthews, to take home the award.
The eighth year safety played in 14 games this season, racking up seven interceptions and 63 tackles in the process. Polamalu has long been considered the engine that makes the high-powered Pittsburgh defense run. The Steelers ranked first in the league in points per game allowed this season (14.5), first in rushing yards allowed (62.8), and 12th in passing yards allowed (214.1).
Much like the Packers’ Charles Woodson, who won the award a season ago, Polamalu can be found anywhere and everywhere on the field over the course of a game, making him one of the most versatile players in the league.