Notebook: Favre's Streak Not In Jeopardy

Quarterback Brett Favre’s elbow injury is a muscle issue rather than the same nerve problem he dealt with last year, but it’s considered less serious and the team’s medical staff does not believe Favre’s starting streak is in jeopardy, Head Coach Mike McCarthy said on Friday. - More Packers-Cowboys Game Center Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Nov. 30

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Quarterback Brett Favre's elbow injury is a muscle issue rather than the same nerve problem he dealt with last year, but it's considered less serious and the team's medical staff does not believe Favre's starting streak is in jeopardy, Head Coach Mike McCarthy said on Friday.

Favre took a helmet hit to his right elbow from blitzing cornerback Nathan Jones in the second quarter of Thursday night's game in Dallas, and it knocked Favre out of the game. Afterwards, Favre likened the injury to the shot he took to his elbow nerve, or funny bone, last year against New England.

But the diagnosis from the medical staff on Friday was that the injury is to the "belly of the muscle around the elbow," McCarthy said, and it's been classified as an elbow bruise. As such, it's not considered serious enough to prevent Favre from starting his 250th straight game (270 including playoffs) on Dec. 9 vs. Oakland.

"He was in for treatment today, and we see him playing next week against Oakland," McCarthy said.

Favre also aggravated an old separated shoulder injury to his left (non-throwing) shoulder, but McCarthy said that's even less of a concern.

The only thing that could keep Favre from playing is if McCarthy decides to rest him just to be sure he'll be fully healthy for the stretch run and the playoffs. McCarthy said that's something the coaching staff could talk about, like they did with cornerback Charles Woodson this week, but it won't be discussed until the team returns to practice next week.

The players are off until Tuesday, and the four days off should provide a needed break to allow several players to get healthy. Woodson (toe), defensive end Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila (ankle) and safety Aaron Rouse (knee) were among the players who missed the Dallas game that McCarthy believes should be fully healthy when the team comes back.

He said two players who probably still won't be back to full strength would be defensive tackle Johnny Jolly (shoulder) and tight end Bubba Franks (knee).

"I think this four-day break will be huge for our football team," McCarthy said. "This will really help us, and more importantly just to get back on a normal flow, a normal week."

Competitive spots

McCarthy indicated it's likely Jason Spitz and Junius Coston would be the starting guards on the offensive line for the next game. Starting left guard Daryn Colledge was replaced in the second quarter in Dallas by Coston, who played right guard while Spitz shifted from the right to the left side.

But McCarthy said he expects the situation to remain a competitive one, much like it has been all season. McCarthy opened up the guard spots to competition in practice after the Kansas City game on Nov. 4, but with Coston not fully recovered from an ankle injury and Tony Moll also less than 100 percent, the coaching staff stuck with Colledge and Spitz.

Colledge responded well, but the consistency hasn't been there and his struggles in pass protection showed up again in Dallas. Coston had started for Spitz in Weeks 2 through 5 before going down with the ankle injury.

"It was a very competitive situation for some time now," McCarthy said. "I look at that group of linemen, particularly those three young guys, they're all at about the same point in their career, they're all playing about the same level, and we're just trying to find the right combination, keeping it competitive.

"Daryn has struggled with some things he needs to improve on, and has just been up and down with it. But I cannot say enough about that group from a character standpoint. I love the way they work. I love the way they interact together. It's a very healthy room, it's a very competitive environment, and it will make us better over the long haul."

McCarthy views the cornerback situation similarly. With Woodson out Thursday night, Jarrett Bush was elevated to the No. 2 cornerback spot but struggled and was replaced by Tramon Williams, who played well until a questionable pass interference penalty on a deep throw in the fourth quarter set up a Cowboys' touchdown.

With veteran Frank Walker having gotten significant snaps as the nickel and dime back in the past two games, and second-year pro Will Blackmon also back from his foot injury, the competition remains open for the top backups to starters Woodson and Al Harris.

"We're keeping them all involved, and whoever steps up we're going to go with him," McCarthy said. "But just keep it competitive. I think we have a bright future with that group, a lot of depth there."

In what McCarthy referred to as the secondary's worst game of the season, he said much of the problem was the defensive backs getting caught looking into the backfield, which allowed the Dallas receivers to get greater separation in their pass routes.

That, more than anything, contributed to the Cowboys' 11 explosive gains, more than twice as many as McCarthy would like to see his team surrender.

"That's way too much," McCarthy said. "Nobody should score 37 points on our defense. I think Dallas is a very good football team. I thought they played at a very high level in the first half, but we made way too many mistakes. Our mental errors were way up. We were not very detailed in the first half."

Not reviewable

McCarthy explained that the Packers had no chance of being awarded the ball on the play he challenged in the first quarter, when Harris snatched the ball away from Terrell Owens on a sideline pass.

{sportsad300}The officials on the field disagreed when the initial call was made, with one ruling a reception by Owens with forward progress being stopped, and another ruling an interception by Harris. After a brief conference, the ruling on the field was the former, and with forward progress being stopped, referee John Parry told McCarthy that he couldn't review the play for a potential change of possession. He could only review whether or not the pass was complete, so that's what McCarthy challenged.

"That was a call that frankly should have went our way," McCarthy said. "But the forward progress, once you make that call, the interception is out the window. It's not an option as far as the challenge.

"What I attempted to challenge was it was an incomplete pass, because I was hoping that the interception would have been ruled an incomplete pass. But it just didn't work out that way."

McCarthy also didn't think Williams should have been called for the long pass interference in the fourth quarter when he turned to look back for the ball and his legs got tangled with receiver Miles Austin. The 42-yard penalty gave Dallas a first-and-goal, which was turned into a touchdown for a 10-point lead.

But despite the questionable calls, McCarthy wasn't about to blame the officials for the loss and absolve his players of responsibility. One critical play that had nothing to do with the officiating came on third-and-19 from the Dallas 11 with the Packers trailing by just three points in the third quarter. A defensive stop and good field position after a punt could have kept momentum strongly on Green Bay's side, but Dallas completed a 35-yard pass to Patrick Crayton.

"There are a number of plays we could have made without the referees that could have changed the course of that football game," McCarthy said.

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