All of Donald Lee's family and friends from Maben, Miss. have one query for the Green Bay Packers tight end.
"They're always asking me how Brett (Favre's) doing," Lee said. "They're always telling me to make sure I take care of him. I'm like, 'he's up here taking care of me.'"
Indeed when not joking with him before walk-through practices, Favre has offered pointers to his fellow Mississippian. And Lee has become one of the 15-year-veteran's favorite targets.
"They both seem to be on the same page," tight end Bubba Franks said.
That synchronism has paid off for the Packers. Lee leads the team's tight ends in receptions and yardage with 26 catches for 258 yards despite not joining the team until Sept. 6. He has helped bolster a depleted unit where injuries have forced Franks to miss three games and David Martin to miss two.
Favre has tutored Lee, who was born and raised in Maben -- a one-hour-drive from the quarterback's residence in Hattiesburg. No. 4 has helped Lee become more precise on his routes, instructing him to run his corner routes deep and to middle of the field instead of breaking it off to the sideline as he did with Miami.
"Brett and I are getting the timing down," Lee said. "We're connecting a lot on the field. I think he's got a lot of confidence in me."
Lee has mastered the corner routes and most of the Packers offense quickly after joining the team five days before the 2005 season began.
"He came in and picked up this West Coast offense fast," Martin said. "It's just remarkable the speed he picked it up in. It just goes to show the kind of player he is."
Accounting for the speediness in understanding the offense, Lee worked extensively with tight ends coach Joe Philbin. In September and October, they watched film and reviewed plays until 10 or 11 p.m. each night.
"That's what really got my confidence up in practice," Lee said. "I sort of knew what to do and where to line up."
Lee still works diligently with Philbin, but their sessions no longer stretch quite so far past the dinner hour. They often meet at the basketball court in Lambeau Field for a post-practice review. In addition to seeking out Philbin and Favre, Lee queries Franks daily, and the three-time Pro Bowler and six-year veteran respects that desire.
"I like guys who are hungry like that," Franks said.
Lee's abilities extend beyond his hunger to improve. His college coaches at Mississippi State used him primarily as a blocking tight end, and he caught only 20 passes in his two years with the Dolphins, but he has proven himself to be a deft receiver.
"He's a very good route runner, and he's got very good feet," Martin said. "He can get open real easy."
Favre has taken to Lee because of those receiving skills and because of their shared origins.
"We're both from the same of the neck of the woods," Lee said. "I say half of everybody in Mississippi knows me, and everybody -- the whole state -- knows Brett."
If Lee continues progressing at this rate, the entire state of Wisconsin will know him as well.