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Metrodome noise will be a factor

GREEN BAY -- Bryan Bulaga can't exactly draw on his previous experience at the Metrodome when the Green Bay Packers play the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday.

GREEN BAY -- Bryan Bulaga can't exactly draw on his previous experience at the Metrodome when the Green Bay Packers play the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday.

Crowd noise wasn't a factor when Bulaga, then a sophomore at Iowa, played in Minneapolis in 2008 because there were more Hawkeyes fans than Minnesota Golden Gophers fans in the building.

The Packers rookie right tackle isn't expecting the atmosphere to be quite as friendly this time around.

"It's going to be loud," Bulaga said. "Guys have told me a lot about it. I mean, it's going to be loud."

The Packers are practicing with crowd noise this week, but nothing can really prepare young players such as Bulaga for the decibel levels they'll face Sunday.

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"I've played in some big, big stadiums -- Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin -- but I think the fact that it's a dome and we're the Packers, it's probably going to be a little bit louder than what I've (experienced)," Bulaga said. "But you've just got to be on the same page communication-wise, and if that's right on, it shouldn't be an issue."

The Packers have 15 false start penalties this season, the 10th-most in the NFL. Detroit and St. Louis lead the way with 19 apiece.

Bulaga has three false starts, tied for the most on the team with left guard Daryn Colledge and left tackle Chad Clifton.

False start penalties are only one effect of the noise, however.

Worse yet is a delayed reaction by an offensive lineman because he can't hear.

That could lead to Minnesota defensive players getting a headstart in their pursuit of Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

"It's a home-field advantage, kind of like Lambeau (Field) is," Vikings coach Brad Childress said. "It's noisy. It's AstroTurf, so your line's able to get off a little bit quicker. Offensive lines get off a little bit slower. Just like it's a game of inches, it's a game of split-seconds, too."

From the infirmary

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Packers wide receiver Donald Driver was a limited participant in Wednesday's practice because of a quadriceps injury that caused him to miss the Dallas game on Nov. 7.

"I'm one of those guys that can fight through anything," said Driver, who hasn't caught a pass since Week 6 against Miami. "I couldn't fight through it anymore. It was one of those things, I had to let it heal on its own. It feels good now, and I'm hoping everything works out and I'll be going on Sunday."

The other big injury concern for the Packers is defensive end Ryan Pickett, who has played very little in the last four games because of an ankle injury. Pickett was also a limited participant in practice Wednesday but coach Mike McCarthy was optimistic Pickett would be a full participant Thursday.

Comedy hour

It's been a tough season for Childress, a former University of Wisconsin assistant under Barry Alvarez.

But at least Childress is keeping a sense of humor through it all.

He joked around several times Wednesday during a conference call with Wisconsin reporters, including one crack about his own weight. "I'm wintering well right now, I might add," he said. "I'm up about 20 (pounds). How about you guys?"

Later, Childress joked that playing at home should be an advantage for the Vikings "as long as the boos aren't too loud when I come out from underneath the tunnel."

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NOTES: McCarthy (6-3) and Childress (3-6) have same career record against each other as current marks of their teams this season. ... The Packers are 9-3 under McCarthy indoors in regular season. ... After allowing 14 sacks in two games against the Vikings last season, the Packers have protected Rodgers much better. He went sack-free against Vikings last month -- for third time in nine games this year. ... Likely last of four grudge games for Vikings QB Brett Favre against Packers, with retirement expected after season. After throwing seven TDs without an interception or taking sack over two emotional victories against old teams last season, Favre was picked off three times -- one for a TD -- for a lowly 50.4 passer rating in last meeting at Lambeau Field. ... Vikings WR/KR Percy Harvin leads NFL in net yards with 1,443 -- including rushing, receiving and returning. ... Vikings RB Adrian Peterson has rushed for a TD in five straight games against Packers. ... Hope for the Vikings is not all lost. In 20 seasons since the NFL's current 12-team format began in 1990, three clubs have made playoffs after starting 3-6 -- Patriots in 1994, Lions in 1995 and Jaguars in 1996.

-- Copyright (c) 2010, The Wisconsin State Journal/Distributed by

McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

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