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Packers begin big game hunt

by Mark Daniels

The Bengal Tiger roams the dense jungles of India, once considered a prize catch of big game hunters. The NFL's Bengals roam the grasslands of Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio and that's where the Packers are headed for a big game three matchup.  For the second week in a row, it's a game pitting a pair of 2012 playoff teams.  The Bengals are roaring again in the AFC and the Packers will venture into their habitat to try and steal a second straight victory.  The practice week began today and the first injury report of the week was released.   Eddie Lacy did not work, three days after suffering a concussion at the hands of Washington safety Brandon Merriweather.  The NFL announced the former Patriot has been fined $46,000.00 for the helmet to helmet contact.  He wasn't penalized on the play and it was only his first headshot last Sunday.  When he tried to take out James Starks with a similar hit, Merriweather was left prone on the field, knocked cold himself.  Mike McCarthy didn't comment on the fine or lack of a flag.  He only said he followed procedure by sending a clip of the play to the league office with his comments.  Whether it was an offense worth penalizing, McCarthy said that's left up to the game officials.  Lacy will continue with the concussion protocol with more testing Thursday to determine if he can practice on Friday.  He hasn't yet been ruled out for the Cincinnati game.  John Kuhn didn't practice as well with a hamstring injury, leaving the Packers with two healthy backs.  James Starks, who picked up the slack big time with 132 yards against the Redskins, and rookie Johnathan Franklin who's barely made a cameo appearance in the backfield so far.  That should change this weekend.  Jarrett Bush (hamstring) and Jermichael Finley (toe) were the other two players who did not participate today.  Casey Hayward, as expected, has been ruled out for the Bengals game.  The Packers are hoping Hayward will be ready to return from his hamstring injury after the bye next week.  Morgan Burnett practiced on a limited basis with his hamstring  pull.  While that might sound encouraging, Burnett practiced each of the past two weeks but was in street clothes on game day.  The only other name on the Pack's injury report was Johnny Jolly, a full participant with a sore neck.

This will be just the 12th meeting all time between the Packers and the Bengals with Cincinnati holding a 6-5 series lead, winning the last two meetings.  A 31-24 Cincinnati win at Lambeau in 2009 and a Bengals 21-14 victory at Paul Brown Stadium in 2005.  That game will be remembered by a fan who jumped out of the stands, raced across the field and took the ball out of Brett Favre's hand just as he received a snap.  The two head coaches, McCarthy and Marvin Lewis, are well entrenched with their franchises.  McCarthy is in his 8th season while Lewis has been able to withstand some ups and downs and playoff disappointments in now his 11th season.  These two coaches are good friends and they even cut their coaching teeth together at the University of Pittsburgh in 1990 and 1991.  McCarthy was already on staff when Lewis was hired by then head coach Paul Hackett.  In a conference call from Cincinnati today, Lewis reminisced about joining the Panther staff and beginning his friendship with McCarthy.

Audio:  Bengals Head Coach Marvin Lewis.

And at Mike's post practice news conference today, he also took a couple of minutes to talk about a coach he has gained plenty of respect for, especially after Lewis reached out to him in his early Green Bay days.

Audio: Mike McCarthy,

Aaron Rodgers was named the NFC's Offensive Player of the Week today.  Talk about a slam dunk.  Rodgers hit 34 of 42 passes for a franchise record tying 480 yards, his personal best, and four touchdowns without an interception in the 38-20 victory over Washington.  Rodgers joins Hall of Famer Y.A. Tittle as the only quarterbacks to pass for at least 480 yards and 4 scores without a pick.  He's now thrown at least three TD passes in five consecutive games, second time he's done that, joining Tom Brady and Peyton Manning in that rare company.  This is the 8th time Rodgers has been named the player of the week, all since December of 2010, the most in the NFL over that span.