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  1. Bucs

Bucs prepare for NFL's 'best QB'

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has the league’s top passer rating, 35 touchdown passes and just five interceptions.
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has the league’s top passer rating, 35 touchdown passes and just five interceptions.
Published Dec. 18, 2014

TAMPA — The Bucs are blunt about the challenge they face Sunday against Packers QB Aaron Rodgers. The MVP candidate has the league's top passer rating, 111.2, to go with 35 touchdown passes and five interceptions.

"Best quarterback in the league, if you ask me," coach Lovie Smith said, "and I've seen him quite a bit."

Smith praised Rodgers' ability to move in the pocket and his decision making. The percentages of his throws that have ended in touchdowns (7.6 percent) and interceptions (1.1) are the best in the league.

So how do you stop him? DT Akeem Spence said the key is to focus on Green Bay's other strength by slowing RB Eddie Lacy, who has rushed for a touchdown in four of the past five games.

"First, we've got to knock the run out," Spence said. "Slow Eddie Lacy down, therefore they can't be two-dimensional. Try to make Aaron Rodgers throw the ball 40, 50 times and try to beat us with his arm, which he can do."

FIRST STEP BACK: DT Clinton McDonald, who has missed three games with a hamstring injury, was back at practice in a limited capacity for the first time Wednesday, joined by MLB Mason Foster, who has missed two games with an Achilles injury.

"I feel pretty good right now," McDonald said before practice. "I ran on Monday, and (the hamstring) felt pretty good, didn't tighten up or snatch on me. It's not good being on the sideline. We're here to play ball, so if we're not playing ball, in a sense we're not doing our job."

The only active players sidelined during drills were S Major Wright (ribs) and nickel Isaiah Frey (ankle). WR Solomon Patton was back practicing after missing Sunday's game against the Panthers with a foot injury.

DRAFT BREEZE: ESPN draft guru Todd McShay released his first mock draft, and it had the Bucs picking Heisman Trophy-winning Oregon QB Marcus Mariota with the top pick. McShay had the Titans drafting Florida State QB Jameis Winston second overall.

THIS AND THAT: The Bucs signed DL Lawrence Sidbury. The 6-foot-3, 269-pound Sidbury was a 2009 fourth-round draft pick and spent four years in Atlanta, but he hasn't played in the league since the 2012 season. … The Bucs' Lavonte David finished eighth among outside linebackers in the final Pro Bowl balloting with 170,744 votes. Last year David was fifth with 197,428 votes.

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