It's becoming an on again, off again relationship between Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre and the splint that protects his broken thumb.
And in Wednesday's practice, the two were once again separated.
A week ago, Favre practiced without the splint for the first time since breaking his right thumb early in the Packers' Week 7 loss to the St. Louis Rams (Oct. 19). But after four splint-free workouts, Favre went back to the support for the Wild Card playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks.
"I was dead set on playing without it up until Saturday night last week," Favre said. "It's gotten to the point where I don't even really think about it. But that's practice.
"I was sitting in my room Saturday night and I got around to thinking, 'Well, tomorrow won't be practice. It's for real. Everything goes and they can hit the quarterback in the game.' That's what kind of talked me back into it."
At this stage, the decision to play with or without the splint is Favre's alone.
The hairline fracture in the thumb of his throwing hand still isn't completely healed, but the tissue around the bone has strengthened in the months since the injury.
The Packers' medical staff cleared Favre to play without the splint prior to the team's Week 15 contest against the San Diego Chargers, Dec. 14, but Favre stuck with the support until last week because he feels it gives him better protection against further damage in the event the thumb were to be banged again accidentally.
"I've been playing with it for so long, I've gotten fairly used to it," Favre said. "It's going on 12 weeks where when I put it on, I don't even think about it ... even though I can pretty much throw without it now."
For the most part, neither the broken thumb nor the splint has had a devastating effect on Favre's performance.
Including last weekend's playoff game, Favre has completed 59.5 percent of his passes (206-for-346) for 2,419 yards and 22 touchdowns since sustaining the injury.
His only major trouble came in a Nov. 10 meeting with this weekend's opponent, the Philadelphia Eagles, when pouring rain at Lambeau Field contributed to three fumbles. But even those mishaps weren't solely due to the injury.
"The conditions were favorable -- even if I had a healthy hand and no splint -- for the ball slipping out," Favre said Wednesday. "I don't know if they're forecasting rain or not this weekend (in Philadelphia), but before that (November) game and since, I've thought about that. But I've gone on and played and not really worried about it."
Sunday's NFC Divisional playoff game against the Eagles will mark Favre's 12th game since the injury, including the St. Louis game.
GM/Head Coach Mike Sherman revealed Wednesday that backup defensive end Chukie Nwokorie may require offseason surgery to repair his broken right wrist, but that doesn't mean Nwokorie is being ruled out for Sunday.
Ten days removed from breaking the navicular bone in his right wrist, Nwokorie returned to practice Wednesday with his entire right hand and most of his forearm heavily wrapped in a club-like fashion similar to the wrap offensive guard Mike Wahle was forced to play with last weekend to protect a broken finger on his left hand.
"We sent him to a hand specialist (Tuesday) so that he can play with the injury and not cause further injury to the hand," Sherman said of Nwokorie. "It's just a matter of being able to function with the hand the way it is. Probably at the end of the season we'll need to put a screw in there, but right now he can go with a cast if he can function with a cast or a club. And that's really the determining factor this week."
Nwokorie wouldn't be the first defensive end to play one-handed. Starting power end Aaron Kampman played with a mummified hand last season after breaking a finger.
But because of the nature of Nwokorie's injury, managing the pain could be a more difficult challenge.
"The last thing I want to do is put the team in a bad situation," Nwokorie said. "If can go, I'll tell Coach Sherman that I can go. And if I can't, I'm not going to be selfish and tell him I can go when I can't.
"So I'm just going to take this week a day at a time and make sure that I can contribute. If I can't, then I won't, so we'll see how I feel."
The availability of Nwokorie this week affects more than just the man who is going to replace him.
Against the Seattle Seahawks, Sherman chose to activate Jamal Reynolds to the 45-man game-day roster, even though he hadn't played the previous nine games, because of a need for depth behind Kampman at power end.
That move contributed to nose tackle Gilbert Brown sitting out for a second straight week with ailing knees.
Brown is again listed as questionable this week, but his odds of playing will go up or down depending on Nwokorie's status.
"The decision of who to dress this week will rest partly on how Chukie is available," Sherman said. "Gilbert wants to play ... In regard to (last) Sunday, I told him what I was thinking about doing based upon our lack of availability of defensive ends in the game and he said, 'Coach, just do what you have to do to win the football game.'
"And he certainly was disappointed he wasn't playing (last weekend) and felt like he could have played ... but that just shows you the unselfish nature of Gilbert Brown."
Starting left tackle Chad Clifton sat out Wednesday's practice with a case of the flu.
Sherman said he hoped it would only be "of the 24-hour variety."
Clifton is listed as probable for Sunday.