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Rodgers: Ton of respect for Sherman

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GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Contrary to the way it may have looked in the season opener, Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers say they aren't afraid of throwing at Richard Sherman.

But that doesn't mean they actually will throw the way of the Seattle Seahawks All-Pro cornerback often in Sunday's NFC Championship Game.

Rodgers never once threw the ball Sherman's way in the Packers' 36-16 loss at CenturyLink Field in Week 1, even though Packers coach Mike McCarthy insisted this week that it was not intentional.

"You have to be aware of him. Not scared of him, but you have a ton of respect for him. Look at the numbers, they don't lie. Not a lot of guys catch passes on his side, and for the amount of times he's targeted, his interception totals are very impressive."

Aaron Rodgers, on Richard Sherman

"You have to be aware of him," Rodgers said Tuesday on his ESPN Milwaukee radio show. "Not scared of him, but you have a ton of respect for him.

"Look at the numbers, they don't lie. Not a lot of guys catch passes on his side, and for the amount of times he's targeted, his interception totals are very impressive. You just have to play your game, but if he's locking his guy down, he's probably not going to get a lot of passes thrown his way."

Sherman returned the respect to Rodgers, whom he endorsed in an interview with "The MMQB" website as the season's best player in the NFL.

"In my mind he's the MVP," Sherman said. "People want to talk about [Texans defensive end] J.J. Watt getting it, but he's sitting at home. No knock on what he was doing, but it wasn't enough to put them in the playoffs. In the NBA, you'd never see the MVP go to a guy who isn't in the playoffs."

The Packers kept their top receiver, Jordy Nelson, on the opposite side from Sherman in the opener in the hope that Sherman would switch sides, but he never did. So Sherman ended up covering Jarrett Boykin or Davante Adams. Neither had the ball thrown his way in that game.

Meanwhile, Nelson caught nine passes for 83 yards, and Randall Cobb had six catches for 58 yards.

"You play it the way you always play it," Rodgers said on his show. "You look for matchups and you go through your progression and you throw it to the guy who's most open. He's a great player. You watch the film, and it wasn't like the guy he was guarding was open. Not surprising. That's why he gets paid the way he does and he has the reputation that he does. He's a great cover guy. He's very intelligent. He's got great ball skills. He's got very good timing with his technique, and he knows how to cover people."

Rodgers doesn't expect to get much more practice time this week than he did leading up to Sunday's NFC divisional playoff win over the Dallas Cowboys. Rodgers' strained left calf limited him to just part of one practice on Thursday.

Although McCarthy said Monday that Rodgers' calf was in better shape than it was a week earlier, Rodgers said Tuesday that it remains an issue. He completed 24 of 35 passes for 316 yards and three touchdowns against the Cowboys despite his limited mobility.

"It was worse than when I started the game," Rodgers said. "But yeah, it's doing OK. Probably, I think a lot of people are tired of it. I'm tired of talking about it, but it is what it is.

"It's just going to be an injury. The training staff did a great job of helping me get ready to play. I was able to get through it. It will be a similar schedule this week as far as practice time, but I'll be definitely playing."