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Opponents on Steelers

Packers are talking about Ben, T.J. and Tomlin

They are two historic franchises in the NFL, but two teams that don't face each other often.

But on Sunday, they will meet up at Lambeau Field when the Steelers take on the Green Bay Packers. The Packers hold a 22-16 series edge, but the Steelers have won the last five regular season meetings, including the last three under the combination of Coach Mike Tomlin and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. The Steelers did lose to the Packers in Super Bowl XLV in 2010, though.

While the teams have faced each other three times in the regular season, only once did Roethlisberger and Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers go head-to-head. That was a 2009 meeting when the Steelers pulled out a 37-36 win late at Heinz Field.

Rodgers spoke with Pat McAfee earlier this week, sharing a little bit about his knowledge of Pittsburgh people, including his take on 'Pittsburghese.'

"I've been around a lot of Pittsburgh people over the years," said Rodgers. "I have loved my time with all of them. I have learned to speak the language really well. Which has allowed me to follow and become a big fan of 'Pittsburgh Dad.'"

Rodgers and Coach Matt LaFleur weighed in on a bunch of topics concerning the Steelers.

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Quarterback Aaron Rodgers on the Steelers defense:
"They have a great defense. It's been a part of the Pittsburgh franchise for a long time, great defense. T.J. Watt is one of the top 2 or 3 defensive players in the league. Having him back is a total game changer, if he comes back this week, which I am expecting him to."

Rodgers on facing the Steeles in the past:
"I think the only guy on the roster who was there for that (Super Bowl XLV game) is Ben. It is strange how that happened. In '13 and '17, breaking my collarbone and missing both of those games. I remember the '09 game very well. We were pretty explosive on offense. I hit Greg (Jennings) down the middle for about an 85-yard touchdown (83-yard to be exact). I hit J.J. (James Jones) on a post late in the game to put us ahead. Big Ben took them down to beat us there right there at the end. It was a pretty good football game."

Coach Matt LaFleur on the Steelers in general:
"We know we have a great team coming in there. A team that is going to be really hungry. I know they haven't started the way they wanted to. I have so much respect for Mike Tomlin and what he has been able to accomplish through the course of his coaching career. No matter who is in there player wise, they are as consistent as it gets. We'll have our work cut out for us."

Rodgers on his relationship with Roethlisberger:
"I met Ben I think in 2005 or 2006 at the Tahoe golf event. Been friendly over the years when I see him. Haven't spent any time with him outside of the few times I saw him on the field. He was drafted in the draft right before me, 2004, him and Eli (Manning) and Phil (Rivers). I always followed his career pretty closely. He has had a lot of success. He's had a great career. A Hall of Fame career. It is strange that we just played the two times."

LaFleur on Roethlisberger:
"Any time you are dealing with a future Hall of Famer, you take that last game with a grain of salt. You know what he is capable of doing. We know we have to be on point. All we have to do is look at the guy's past. He has been one of the stars of this league for a long time. A Super Bowl winner. We have a lot of respect for him as a football player."

Rodgers on what he has seen of T.J. Watt on film:
"He's a difference maker. I haven't played against him, but you know the kind of ability and talent. He could have been defensive player of the league the last three or four years. Definitely last year. He had an incredible year and the year before. He is a guy you have to account for, for sure. He's a premiere pass rusher. He's a premiere athlete in the league. He is a difference maker."

LaFleur on if Watt is the best defensive player in football:
"It he's not, he's right there. Him, Aaron Donald. I think Heyward probably doesn't get the credit he deserves as well. That guy's a game wrecker. It's hard to pinpoint. Watt is all over the place. This is the first time I have had a chance to sit down and study him. He is so talented. When you mix that with the effort and relentlessness that he displays every time he is out on that field. It doesn't come as a surprise to how he is able to generate these big-time plays. He is all over the tape. He does a great job when he gets to the quarterback of raking the ball out. He does a great job of making tackles trying to punch the ball out. He is a force to be reckoned with."

Rodgers on if he will recognize coverages or alignments the Steelers have since Mike Tomlin has been coaching there so long, even from the 2009 game:
"If you are talking about Lawrence Timmons running through the 'A' gap and drilling me a couple of times, that would probably hit my brain pretty quick. The ends when I was playing them was closer to playing against Greg Lloyd and Kevin Greene maybe than some of these guys we are playing now, having not played against them since the regular season since 2009."

Rodgers on facing the Steelers:
"They're 1-2 right now, coming off a tough divisional loss. That seems like a dangerous football team."

LaFleur on Najee Harris:
"He can do it not only in the run game but in the pass game. He is a big, physical back. We watched a clip of him where he stiff armed a Raiders defensive back and threw him down on his back and was able to get extra yards. There were a couple of clips in the Cincinnati game where he caught a ball out of the backfield, and he gets 20 yards and makes five guys miss. We're going to have to swarm around him and do a great job of maintaining leverage and wrapping him up. He is a big guy that can make you look silly."

LaFleur on how rare it is to not have faced the Steelers in a long time as a coach:
"It's rare. But I will say from an offensive perspective, the foundation of the defense has been in place for years. A lot of their coverage principles certainly have helped. Back in my days in Washington, I had four years with Jim Haslett who came from the Pittsburgh system. Some of the coverage principles are there. Personnel is a lot different than it used to be. It's evolved just like every other aspect of football evolves. It's a great challenge. This is a really sound, good defense. They're physical. They are so disruptive. They are very opportunistic. I watched all of their sacks from the last two years, and I think I got nightmares from it. They do a great job of getting push in the pocket. They are really sound. Their rush lanes. And they have game wreckers up front. (Cameron) Heyward is all over the place. (T.J.) Watt is all over the place. (Melvin) Ingram. There are a lot of great players there that can cause you a lot of problems."

Rodgers on Pittsburgh in general:
"It's a great blue-collar town. There are a lot of great people that live there. It's got a lot of history. Mike Tomlin has been there forever. I have a ton of respect for Mike. I think he is a fantastic coach. I love the way he leads. I love the way he talks after the game. He always seems to keep things even keeled. Looks like he is somebody the players love to play for."

LaFleur on the Steelers secondary:
"I think this is one of the better secondaries we'll play. Minkah (Fitzpatrick) is a Pro Bowl player. He is all over the place. You can't really count on what the defense is supposed to look like. He is very calculated when he takes his risks. He is a playmaker in the backend. (Joe) Haden has been doing it for a long time. (Terrell) Edmunds is also a good safety. I think they have a lot of pieces. When you combine that with their ability to put pressure on the quarterback, even just when they rush four, it creates problems for offenses."

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