Notebook: New Kid On The Block Sees Plenty Of Action


Wide receiver Rod Gardner enjoyed an auspicious Packers debut after just three days of practice.

"For what we asked him to do, he responded well," Head Coach Mike Sherman said. "He's a big receiver. He has good hands."

Despite joining the team on Dec. 20, Gardner played in 30 to 35 plays on Sunday. When David Martin left the game with a concussion, the Packers only had one healthy tight end, Donald Lee. That eliminated their two-tight end, two-wide receiver (Tiger) package and necessitated three-wide receiver (Zebra) sets. Andrae Thurman and Gardner took turns as that No. 3 receiver.

"He surprised us that he was able to do those things," offensive coordinator Tom Rossley said. "Every snap was a challenge for him -- just to know where to line up and his assignments on the play."

Gardner caught two passes for 23 yards, including a sideline reception with 7:40 left in the second quarter.

"He had a nice key third-down conversion and run after the catch certainly in a critical point of the game," Sherman said.

As the Packers wrap up their regular season on Sunday, Gardner will receive one last chance to impress the coaching staff. But so far the coaches like what they see.

"We're glad we got him," Rossley said. "We're encouraged we get to see some more."


Gado Returning To Health

Samkon Gado, third among all rookie runners with 582 yards, has served as a silver lining of a disappointing 3-12 season.

Gado may have also made the best of a knee injury, which was expected to keep him out of action for three to six weeks.

"Samkon Gado is doing much better," Sherman said.

Less than one week after he sprained his medial collateral ligament during the first quarter of Week 14's game against the Baltimore Ravens, Gado has made significant strides in recuperating from the injury. Last Wednesday he tried running and cutting.

"It's encouraging," Rossley said.

Despite the rookie's improving health, the Packers will not do anything to jeopardize his health and likely will keep him on the sidelines for the year's final game.

"We're not going to put him on the field unless he's 100 percent or close to it," Sherman said. "We'll wait and see with that."


Favre's Good And Bad Day

Brett Favre would like to forget the Packers' loss to the Chicago Bears for several reasons.

The Bears clinched the NFC North division title on the Packers' home turf. They swept the Packers for the first time during Favre's tenure. And the 15-year-veteran threw four interceptions.

Favre, however, threw for 317 yards -- the second most of any player during Week 16. That passing yardage total marked the most the Bears had surrendered all year. He also completed the longest play allowed by the Bears all season. With the Packers trailing by seven points, Favre's 56-yard pass to Donald Driver with 1:26 left placed the ball at Bears' 35-yard-line.

"He gave us a chance to win," Sherman said.

Favre also motivated the team throughout the game.

"He was passionately involved in the game," Sherman said. "He did everything he could from that standpoint."

Before the game Sherman told him to smile, have fun and resemble the Favre of old. Favre did just that, grinning, pumping his fist after big plays and encouraging his younger teammates.

"Attitudinally, he was as good as he's ever been," Sherman said.

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