GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Before all-pro cornerback Charles Woodson signed a $52 million contract in 2006 to join the Packers, he heard this community might not be as welcoming as other NFL cities.
But Woodson said Wednesday it has been "a blessing" to raise two children in Green Bay with his wife.
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As far as the football aspect goes, the 34-year-old would love to keep wearing the green and gold when his contract runs out after the 2012 season.
"I've had a lot of fun," Woodson said. "I never imagined that it would feel this good playing in Green Bay, but it has."
The citizens' passion for beating the Bears quickly rubbed off on Woodson -- and he claims their zeal for the rivalry fuels the players.
"During the week, no," Woodson said. "But once you get into the game, yeah, it's all there. You kind of take on the emotions of your community. You know how much they want to beat Chicago."
Re-energized Pack attack:
For the fifth weekend in a row, Green Bay finds itself forced to win or drop its preseason Super Bowl goal.
While this sounds like a stressful situation that should force the Packers to pay a mental toll sooner or later, they believe otherwise.
Coach Mike McCarthy said if anything, his team was guilty of having too much energy during Wednesday's workout.
Veteran left guard Daryn Colledge explains why:
"We've had three days off this week (after Saturday's win at Atlanta). That's the most we've had in a month. They say every day seems like a car wreck, so that's three days without a car wreck."
Waving the anomaly flag:
The NFL announced Wednesday that Terry McAulay will serve as the referee for Sunday's NFC title game.
In a related note, Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy announced that McAulay's presence at Soldier Field holds no statistical significance -- even though the Packers committed a franchise-record 18 penalties when his crew worked the Week 3 game between Green Bay and the Bears.
"Eighteen penalties in one game? We look at that as an anomaly," McCarthy said. "It's more of an all-star crew, but Terry is the referee. He's obviously been selected for this game for a reason."
If the Packers were too mean in that Bears loss, they regressed to the mean in their other games.
Green Bay committed just 60 penalties in its other 15 regular-season contests _ and matched that average in its first two playoff games.
Only Atlanta and Miami finished with fewer penalties and penalty yards in the regular season than the Packers' 78 for 617 yards.
Thirty is the magic number:
Just as the Bears increased their emphasis on the running game as the season rolled along, the Packers decided they couldn't win by Aaron Rodgers' arm alone.
While rookie running back Jason Starks posted a lousy 2.6 yards per carry last week at Atlanta, coach Mike McCarthy admired his 25 attempts and disregarded the rest.
"The most important statistic in the running game, as I state in here weekly, is attempts," McCarthy said. "I think we were (at) 31 attempts last week. And if we can run the ball more than 30 times this week, I think we'll be very successful."
For the record, the Packers had 15 rushes in their Week 3 loss at Soldier Field and 23 rushes in their Week 17 win over the Bears at Lambeau Field.