The NFL notebook …
GREEN BAY, Wis. ó When Aaron Rodgers needs to rekindle the feelings that drove his rise from a junior college quarterback to Super Bowl MVP, he doesnít have to look too far.
Rodgers held on to the many rejection letters he received from marquee college programs as he was coming out of high school. Even today, he leaves a few of them sitting out at his house.
ěI chose the couple that I thought were most demeaning to display in a space in my house that really nobody is able to see but myself,î Rodgers said. ěItís something that I think is important to keep fresh on your mind. Maybe not every day, but once a week your eyes might pan across it and you have a little laugh about the journey youíve been on ó at the same time, remembering that there still are people out there that you can prove something to.î
Good luck finding those doubters now.
Rodgers is the 2011 Male Athlete of the Year, chosen by members of The Associated Press, after he turned in an MVP performance in the Green Bay Packersí Super Bowl victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers in February and then went on to lead his team on a long unbeaten run this season.
HARRISON BACK TO PRACTICE
PITTSBURGH ó Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison understands his helmet-to-helmet hit on Cleveland quarterback Colt McCoy was illegal by the letter of the law.
He can also understand, grudgingly, why the NFL suspended him one game as punishment for a series of similar hits over the last three seasons.
What Harrison doesnít quite understand, however, is why the Browns havenít also been disciplined by the league for allowing McCoy to return to the game so quickly if the quarterback was in such bad shape.
ěIf he was hurt so bad I donít know why they let him back in … two plays later,î Harrison said. ěSomething should be done to them, I would think. I donít know. I got a game, what should they get?î
McCoy was escaping pressure late in the fourth quarter when he tucked the ball as if to run. Harrison, who had been in coverage, approached ready to strike. McCoy pulled up at the last second and flipped the ball to running back Montario Hardesty right before Harrison mashed McCoy with his facemask.
JACKSON ON VERGE
ST. LOUIS ó St. Louis Rams running back Steven Jackson is on the verge of a milestone.
Just 34 more yards rushing, and he will become the seventh player in NFL history to gain 1,000 yards in seven or more consecutive seasons. Only Emmitt Smith, Barry Sanders, Curtis Martin, Thurman Thomas, Eric Dickerson and LaDainian Tomlinson have done it.
Jackson knows he is close to being in elite company going into Saturdayís game at Pittsburgh. And it would give Jackson something to smile about in another lost year for the Rams.
He has played in just one playoff game in eight seasons with St. Louis.
RAVENS SIGN GRAHAM
OWINGS MILLS, Md. ó The Baltimore Ravens dipped into the past Wednesday to address an ongoing problem with their kicking game, signing Shayne Graham as a possible replacement for injured Billy Cundiff.
Cundiff has a sore left calf and has struggled this month. He missed a 36-yard field goal Sunday night in a 34-14 loss to San Diego and is 2 for 5 in December.
That prompted the Ravens to add Graham, who worked out with Baltimore last week. Graham has played for six teams, most recently the Miami Dolphins earlier this season.
Graham, 34, was cut in training camp by the Ravens last summer.
HOLMES SEES CHANCES
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. ó Santonio Holmes expects the New York Jets to have a big day against the Giantsí secondary.
The Jets wide receiver, adding to a week of trash talk, didnít hesitate Wednesday when he was asked to assess the guys heíll be lining up against Saturday.
ěTheyíve given up big plays,î he said. ěTheyíre poor tackling guys. We know plays can be made over their heads. Weíve just got to be willing to take advantage of them and make them count.î
In other words, Holmes doesnít think much of the Giantsí defensive backs.
ěThey depend on their front four to get in and get pressure on the quarterback,î Holmes said. ěA smart enough defender knows that he has a few seconds in his play clock that the ball should be released and if not, heís depending on his guys to take care of business and I think those guys just fall victim to a lot of that at times.î
The Giants are ranked 29th in the NFL against the pass, but cornerback Corey Webster is actually having a pretty solid season with a team-leading five interceptions.
ěI canít wait to see him come Saturday,î Holmes said. ěI hope heís ready to bring his ëAí game.î
But, does he agree that Webster is playing well?
ěI could care less,î a defiant Holmes said.
Holmes had a rough game in the 45-19 loss at Philadelphia last Sunday with two turnovers that led to scores and a touchdown celebration that resulted in a taunting penalty when he stepped on the ball in the back of the end zone and flapped his arms like an eagle.
Both coach Rex Ryan and offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer said theyíve talked to Holmes, who acknowledged that he made a mistake.
Not that it means heís particularly eager to get back on the field to put that overall performance behind him.
ěNope,î Holmes said. ěIíve been in this league six years. I make plays every Sunday.î
He got particularly testy when he was asked if Ryan or Schottenheimer yelled at him on the sideline after his ill-advised celebration.
ěDid you see that on the sideline?î Holmes asked. ěDid you see anything between any of us?î
When told that Schottenheimer appeared angry, Holmes snapped back: ěDid you see him yell at me? Did you see him say anything to me on the sideline?î
Holmes then acknowledged that he and Ryan ěhave each otherís back,î and then added that he and Schottenheimer have a ěgreatî relationship.
ěI canít complain about anything with our relationship,î Holmes said, ěbut our relationship is offensive coordinator-wide receiver.î
Added Schottenheimer: ěHe knew what he did was not right. You always have to just communicate. We have a relationship that we can do that.î
Teammate Plaxico Burress had no doubts that Holmes would be back to his playmaking self against the Giants.
ěHeíll be the best player on the field this week,î Burress said. ěThatís the type of player he is, and thatís what I expect from him and what he expects from himself.î
The Associated Press