Saturday, September 12, 2009

Afalava Ready for Big Moment

Chicago Bears strong safety Al Afalava has flown under the radar this week -- never a bad thing for a rookie expected to start Week 1.

Playing on the road against Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay's talented offense would a be a tough assignment for any first-year player, but the Bears coaching staff hopes Afalava can keep building on a strong preseason.

"It's going to be a very special game," said Afalava. "They said my college rivalry game [Oregon] was nothing compared to this. Plus, it's going to be my first NFL game, so just watching the film and noticing the speed of the game is a big deal. Aaron Rodgers is a great quarterback, and I've seen how fast the ball comes out, so we'll see how it goes."

Will there be some butterflies?

"I don't know," smiled Afalava. "We'll see how it is when I get out there in warm-ups."

Butterflies shouldn't be an issue for veteran Danieal Manning, who is expected to start at nickel and receive plenty of work -- since the Packers are known to favor sets of four and five receivers.

"They're moving the ball well," said Manning. "I think in one preseason game they didn't even punt. They look pretty impressive."

Greg Jennings, Donald Driver and Donald Lee are the givens on the Green Bay offense, but keep an eye on second-string tight end Jermichael Finley. The 2008 third-round pick led the Packers with nine receptions in the preseason, one more than fellow second-year player Jordy Nelson, who caught 33 balls as a rookie. Finley, Nelson and James Jones gives Mike McCarthy plenty of options to compliment his skill position starters.

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