NFL notebook: Regular refs receive warm welcomes, get to work

Fans in Glendale show their appreciation to regular refs working their first Sunday games since the end of a lockout.


IRVING, Texas - Now that the Packers have arrived in North Texas for the Super Bowl, Aaron Rodgers has put his team's Twitter-driven mini-controversy to rest.

"I think, obviously, this was made a bigger issue than it was," Rodgers said shortly after his team settled in at its hotel. "There was nothing going on in Green Bay last week, so this little thing blew up bigger than we ever thought it would."

Rodgers hopes that's the last word in a week filled with bickering about hurt feelings of injured teammates who tweeted to complain when it looked like they weren't being included in this week's team photo. It's the kind of minor issue that can suddenly become a big deal when a team is in the spotlight preparing for the Super Bowl.

Packers coach Mike McCarthy will try to steer the team clear of such potential distractions the rest of the week.

"Our players were really excited to get down here today, just visiting with a number of them one-on-one," McCarthy said. "They're excited about the process leading up to the game. Like a lot of us, we wish the game was already here. We don't want to take away this experience. I told them to be very realistic, be practical. Enjoy it, it's unique."

First they'll have to figure out how they want to deal with the weather. They've left Wisconsin but can't seem to shake free from winter.

With icy conditions predicted in the Dallas area, McCarthy said he will consider taking the team indoors for practice but first wants to get a look at the indoor practice facility available to him.

"We discussed it earlier in the week," McCarthy said. "With the weather and the indoor facility and the surface and so forth, we'll probably make that decision sometime later tomorrow."

Polamalu chosen top defensive player

DALLAS - Now that the voters have chosen Troy Polamalu over Clay Matthews for The Associated Press 2010 NFL Defensive Player of the Year award, the two stars can prove their worth against each other on the field.

In the Super Bowl.

Pittsburgh safety Polamalu received 17 votes Monday from a nationwide panel of 50 media members who cover the league, edging Green Bay linebacker Matthews by a hair - two votes.

Despite missing two games, in which Pittsburgh went 1-1, Polamalu became the sixth Steeler to win the award. He had seven interceptions this season along with 63 tackles, but made his mark with big plays. In a late-season victory at Baltimore, his leaping tackle forced a fumble that set up the winning touchdown.

Matthews had 60 tackles, 13 1/2 sacks (fourth in league) and an interception return for a touchdown.

Extra points

• Commissioner Roger Goodell and union executive director DeMaurice Smith have met in New York about labor negotiations.

According to a joint statement from the league and union, Goodell and Smith spoke Monday and agreed to have a formal bargaining session with both negotiating teams in the Dallas area Saturday. The sides have not had a full-group negotiation since November.

• Jets strength and conditioning coach Sal Alosi resigned Monday, less than two months after he was caught tripping an opposing player during a punt return and suspended by the team.