The worst part of Brett Favre's battle with a broken thumb appears to be behind him.
Wednesday, in his season-ending press conference, GM/Head Coach Mike Sherman said that the Green Bay Packers quarterback isn't expected to undergo surgery and that the hairline crack in the thumb of Favre's throwing hand is expected to heal naturally.
"He has healing powers beyond all of us," Sherman said. "It's really true. This guy is a freak of nature in regard to his body. That's why I have confidence that he'll play for quite a while."
Favre threw a league-best 32 touchdowns in 2003, despite sustaining a broken thumb in the opening minutes of the Packers' Week 7 contest against the St. Louis Rams.
Meanwhile, he ran his consecutive games played streak to 210 -- including playoffs -- which is an NFL record among quarterbacks, while also establishing the Packers record for consecutive regular season games played, currently at 191.
Favre will look to add to that streak in 2004, in what will be his 14th NFL season and 13th with the Packers.
In NFL history, only Dan Marino (420) has thrown for more touchdowns than Favre (346), who passed Fran Tarkenton (342) this season for the No. 2 spot. At his current pace, Favre wouldn't catch Marino until 2006, but there are few signs that Favre is slowing down.
Favre's 32-touchdown season was the seventh 30-touchdown effort of his career. Only Marino is close to Favre in that category, having done so just four times.
Also, by passing for 3,361 yards, Favre reached the 3,000-yard plateau for the 12th consecutive year, extending his own NFL record.
Favre may have been lucky enough to avoid surgery, but one of his top receivers from 2003 is likely to go under the knife.
Javon Walker, who caught a team-high nine touchdowns among his 41 receptions, could undergo minor shoulder and knee surgery, Sherman indicated.
Walker's agent has asked for a second opinion before going through with the operations on the 25-year-old Florida State alumnus who developed into one of the Packers' top playmakers in only his second season in the league.
"Javon wants to get it done as soon as possible," Sherman said. "As soon as he gets second opinions we'll probably go in there and clean those things up. It's nothing overly serious, but it's something we need to get done as soon as possible."
Nose tackle Gilbert Brown is scheduled for surgery this offseason, but not on his torn biceps, which will be allowed to heal naturally.
Brown suffered what was expected to be a season-ending injury in the Packers' second of five preseason games this year, but managed to play 15 of 18 games in the regular season and playoffs, including 14 starts.
Brown was hampered at the end of the season by knee problems and will undergo surgery for that while also waiting on results of an MRI to see if surgery will be necessary on his left shoulder as well.
Sherman said it was too early to predict Brown's status for 2004, but noted that the impact of the 10-year veteran went beyond his 14 tackles in 2003.
"God bless, Gilbert Brown," Sherman said. "I can't say enough about what he brought us this year. Obviously he would have liked to play more during the course of the season, but he was banged up a number of times.
"He gave us everything he had. He was a tremendous, tremendous guy in the locker room and on gameday."
Grady Jackson, who shared time at nose tackle with Brown, will also share healing time.
Jackson will undergo surgery for a pre-existing injury before the end of the month.
"Nothing overly serious," Sherman said. "I'm sure it will get him out of a couple preseason practices."
Other offseason surgeries include defensive end Chukie Nwokorie (wrist), offensive lineman Marcus Spriggs (shoulder) and defensive tackle Rod Walker (knee).
The health of his offensive line and fullbacks as well as the Packers' depth at running back did wonders for Ahman Green this season.
Although he compiled a personal-best 355 carries -- 51 more than his previous high -- for a Packers record 1,883 yards in the regular season, plus 48 carries for 222 yards in the postseason, Green walked away from the season relatively free of injury.
Only rib contusions sustained in the playoff game against the Philadelphia Eagles stood out in his end of the year physical.
"It's probably the healthiest he's come out of a season since I've been here," Sherman said.
The following Packers players are scheduled for MRIs: Kevin Barry (knee), William Henderson (shoulder), Aaron Kampman (knee), Hannibal Navies (knee), Marco Rivera (knee), Darren Sharper (knee).
Safety Antuan Edwards is an unrestricted free agent, but could be available for April mini-camp after missing the final month of the season on injured reserve with a hamstring injury ... Cornerback Chris Johnson is expected to be able to participate in mini-camp. Johnson, an undrafted free agent pickup by the Packers, sat out his rookie season on injured reserve with a knee injury that has since been surgically repaired ... Defensive end Joe Johnson, who went on injured reserve in October with a torn quadriceps, is expected to be limited in mini-camp ... Wide receiver Scottie Vines, who spent almost three months on the Packers practice squad before hurting his knee will be limited in mini-camp ... Wide receiver Devin Lewis injured his knee in training camp, but will be ready for mini-camp ... Linebacker Marcus Wilkins, who was placed on injured reserve in the playoffs due to a strained calf, is expected to participate in mini-camp.