Packers notebook

Will Blackmon

Blackmon returns to practice; fullback returns to championship game: Favre's tattoo

Cornerback Will Blackmon is giving it a go in practice this week, though his availability for the NFC championship game against the Giants on Sunday hasn't been determined.

Blackmon, who doubled as nickel back and punt returner toward the end of the regular season, was sidelined for the divisional-round win over Seattle because of an aggravated injury to his right foot.

Blackmon went through drills in practice Wednesday for the first time since re-injuring the foot in the regular-season finale Dec. 30.

Head coach Mike McCarthy was encouraged by the running and cutting Blackmon did on the field.

"How he feels (Thursday) will be key," McCarthy said. "He felt a little sore as he went through it, but he was able to work (Wednesday), so we'll see how he is (Thursday)."

McCarthy isn't committing to reinserting Blackmon in the nickel role and/or on punt returns if the medical staff deems him ready to play.

"He needs to go through the whole week before we make that call," McCarthy said. "I'm not comfortable just putting him out there based on this important game. I want to see him do it in practice."

Tramon Williams worked in place of Blackmon on both defense and punt returns in the last game and would likely remain in those roles if Blackmon isn't ready to come back.

A familiar setting for fullback
Fullback John Kuhn has something more in common with quarterback Brett Favre than occasionally lining up together in the same backfield.

The 25-year-old Kuhn, 13 years Favre's junior, and the legendary QB are the only active Packers with Super Bowl rings. Favre guided Green Bay to victory in Super Bowl XXXI during the 1996 season. Kuhn scored a cherished memento nine years later, when he was on the practice squad of Pittsburgh.

The Steelers did the improbable in winning Super Bowl XL. They were the No. 6 seed in the AFC and won all three games in the conference playoffs on the road.

Now, Kuhn is an integral part of a Packers team that will try to prevent the New York Giants from duplicating the Steelers' feat. The Giants, seeded fifth, come to Green Bay on Sunday for the NFC championship game as the league's ultimate road warriors. New York has won a league-record nine straight games away from home this season, including upsets over fourth-seeded Tampa Bay in the wild-card round and top-seeded Dallas in the divisional round Sunday.

"I try to explain to guys, 'When you win a couple of away games in the playoffs, momentum builds and your confidence just gets high. You feel and you know you can beat anybody,'" Kuhn said. "It's like that every game in the NFL. Every game in the regular season and in playoffs, it comes down to who executes best and who has the higher focus when game time comes around."

Kuhn remembered that three straight weeks of traveling wasn't a detriment for his Steelers teammates by the time they completed their odds-defying trifecta in the AFC playoffs with a rout of Denver in the conference championship. The previous week, Pittsburgh stunned top-seeded Indianapolis.

"At this point in time in the season, you don't get tired," Kuhn said. "You're playing in the NFC championship game, the AFC championship game, it doesn't really matter. If you're in a conference championship, you're not feeling the bumps and bruises from the week before. You're just jacked up to play that game."

Fishing analogy
Packers strong safety Atari Bigby was a big hit in the 42-20 divisional-round win over Seattle last Saturday for, well, a few big hits he laid on unsuspecting Seahawks.

Bigby swung the game in Green Bay's favor after it fell behind 14-0 by popping tight end Marcus Pollard on a short catch and causing a fumble that the Packers offense turned into a go-ahead touchdown to start the second quarter. Bigby, who was born in Jamaica and resides in Florida, likes to fish in the tropical climes. He has an angler analogy for his notorious hard hits.

"It's like catching a fish. You can just feel him fighting for his life. It's a great feeling," said Bigby, the NFC Defensive Player of the Month in December. "You can actually feel the electricity in his body. I'm telling you, it's hard to describe, but it's great.

"So, for guys that have never had a big hit, go out and catch a big fish."

Inside information on Favre
Backup Giants offensive lineman Grey Ruegamer played for the Packers from 2003-05. He started 11 games in 2004. Given how well he knows the Packers, can he provide some insight into Favre that a relative stranger couldn't?

"He has a tattoo on his (butt)," Ruegamer said. "That's about it. Everything else is on film."

Ruegamer offered further information by adding, "It's a leprechaun."

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I'm not disappointed or surprised. I knew New York was a good team. We'd rather play at home. It's not all about revenge. It's about getting to the Super Bowl and winning. Definitely not disappointed. I'm happy to be playing here in Lambeau (Field) and the cold weather. They've been good on the road; we've been just as good at home this year. So, we feel good about playing at home. We'd rather play here than anywhere."
-- Nose tackle Ryan Pickett, on hosting the fifth-seeded Giants in the NFC championship game on Sunday rather than playing at top-seeded Dallas and having a chance to atone for a 37-27 loss to the Cowboys in Week 13.

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