The Green Bay Packers players and coaches are doing a lot of interviews. From Sports Radio Interviews is one with Dom Capers, who talked about how dangerous QB Ben Roethlisberger is because he does such a great job at extending the play. They also have one with CB Sam Shields, who doesn't seem to have a problem with speed receivers like Steelers WR Mike Wallace, but said that veteran WR Deion Branch was the toughest receiver he faced this season.
RG Josh Sitton was also interviewed, transcript at Packers.com, and asked about the Steelers physical defense: "They have three big guys, three really big experienced guys up front." The Steelers linebackers are the big name stars, but who's on the Steelers defensive line?
DE Ziggy Hood. Former starter DE Aaron Smith hasn't played since October due to a ruptured triceps tendon, but he's never been placed on I.R. Though this week they finally realized that his season is over. Hood was their 1st round pick in 2009, but he didn't earn the starting job out of training camp. Smith's injury opened the door for him. Maybe he's finally coming on with four sacks in his last seven games.
NT Casey Hampton. If you hated the big contract the Packers handed out to DE Ryan Pickett, here's the Steelers equivalent. A quality veteran nose tackle, even one on the decline, is always an expensive player. Before they resigned Hampton, Football Outsiders ranked the Steelers are the worst power rank (short yardage) defensive line in 2009. Since his new contract, Football Outsiders said they've moved up to No. 10 in power rank and were the best defensive line against the run in 2010. He's the guy Sitton will spend a lot of time blocking.
DE Brett Keisel. He's got the best beard in the NFL. Hood might have been drafted to replace Keisel, but Keisel kept his starting job and he kept Hood on the bench (to start the 2010 season). Keisel has missed some time this season due to a hamstring injury, but he's started their last seven games. He also has seven pass defenses over those past seven games, and he's probably the defensive lineman most likely to deflect a pass.
That's not a list of big name players, and it might be really easy to say that the Packers starting line of Pickett, NT B.J. Raji, and DE Cullen Jenkins is better. But against the run, the Steelers have a far superior run stuffing line. It won't be critical for the Packers to run the ball, but they have to win some of those short-yardage battles on the ground. It will be very hard to run against the Steelers defensive line on any down and distance.