Brett Favre sat out the last two OTA practices this week with minor soreness in his shoulder, but otherwise the veteran quarterback feels he's in good physical shape with six weeks to go before the start of training camp.
Favre and Head Coach Mike McCarthy both said the shoulder soreness, which Favre termed tendonitis, is nothing serious, while the recovery from offseason ankle surgery continues to go as expected, with only occasional soreness. Also, Favre said his weight is at 220 pounds, which is as good as it's been in a while.
"Obviously I'm not in opening-day shape right now, but I feel pretty good," Favre said during his press conference on Thursday. "I felt like I threw the ball better with each practice. I started feeling better physically moving around, (but) my legs are not where they will be."
After his annual charity softball game on Sunday, Favre plans to return to Mississippi to continue working with his personal trainer on the core strengthening he's done in recent years. Thus far Favre's offseason conditioning has been limited due to the ankle surgery, but he expects to be back to full-speed workouts shortly.
The daily workouts focus on quarterback-specific drills to improve his strength and agility, and they're a productive follow-up after getting his body loose in nine days of OTAs, seven of which he practiced.
"I came away from not one practice thinking, 'Man I've got a ways to go,'" Favre said. "I came away with the thought after each practice, 'That was good,' physically and mentally. I got out of it what I wanted to get out of it.
"I wasn't going to the Pro Bowl after any of these practices, but I felt I got a lot accomplished, so we'll go into this five- or six-week training session feeling pretty good, knowing I've got a ways to go, but I'm up for it."
Favre is also up for moving around in the pocket more this season than he did last year. Whether it was the nagging ankle, or the inexperience on the offensive line, or some of both, that kept Favre more stationary in 2006 is difficult to say.
But Favre and McCarthy have talked about running more keeps and rollouts this season and believe it can still be an effective part of Favre's game. McCarthy said it's something defenses still respect, having seen defensive ends line up wide and rush well up the field to take away the edges on Favre.
"You're always critical of yourself of a number of things, but I could have probably moved him a little more last year than I did," McCarthy said. "I had concerns why I didn't, and that's irrelevant now, so that's something we may look to do more in the future."
Favre feels his body will be up to the task, though as expected at this stage of his career, it will simply take more work.
"I think that's what I do best," Favre said of moving the pocket. "We've talked about it numerous occasions, and (McCarthy's) going to go to it, so I have to be ready for that. I get tired a lot quicker now than I used to, so after a play I have to be able to regroup and run the next play."
Attendance, injury updates
Cornerback Charles Woodson participated in a full week of OTAs this week, saying that he told McCarthy he would show up at some point in June and kept his word.
Cornerback Will Blackmon has missed several workouts due to a minor groin injury, and McCarthy is hoping he'll be back on the field next week for the final two OTAs. Receiver Greg Jennings also has missed some practices because of a hip flexor.
Receiver Robert Ferguson has been back to full duty for most of the past two weeks, getting clearance on his foot injury from last season, but first-round draft pick Justin Harrell has remained limited to individual and position drills with the defensive line because of his biceps injury, and he is not likely to participate in team (11-on-11) drills until training camp.
The Packers added a new twist to the regular ball-security drill in which skill players catch a simulated punt and then run through a gauntlet of players trying to strip the ball.
On Thursday, they already had one ball in their hands and had to catch the punt one-handed, then protect both footballs from the reaches and grabs.
Safety Nick Collins and receiver Carlyle Holiday both caught the second ball flawlessly. Receiver Shaun Bodiford did so as well, beginning the drill by lying on his back and then getting up and running to catch the second ball, while receiver Ruvell Martin and cornerback Jarrett Bush both bobbled and dropped the second ball.
Plenty of looks
Who ultimately lands the kick return job for the Packers this season may depend on how the workload for other offensive roles is handled. But at this point, running back Vernand Morency was taking the first reps during Thursday's kick return work, with Bodiford getting the second look.
Draft picks Brandon Jackson, David Clowney, James Jones and DeShawn Wynn all took turns as well, as did second-year back P.J. Pope.
Plays of the day
With Collins in position for a possible deflection, Jones neatly snagged a 12-yard curl from Aaron Rodgers. Collins appeared to get a hand on the ball, but Jones snatched it away, spun and took off upfield.
On defense, Bush ran stride-for-stride with Calvin Russell on a sideline route and leaped at the right moment to deflect, then intercept, a pass from Ingle Martin.