Notebook: Top Two QBs Back To Full Duty


At the mandatory minicamp two weeks ago, neither of the Packers' top two quarterbacks - Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers - were medically cleared to fully participate.

But they're both full-speed-ahead now.

Favre, who was recovering from offseason ankle surgery, and Rodgers, who was battling back from a broken foot, both were limited in the May minicamp but took snaps in team (11-on-11) drills during Thursday's OTA workout, the first of four open to the media and public.

Both quarterbacks showed physically they were in shape during the minicamp, and now both are successfully getting their timing down with the live (though non-padded) snaps.

"I'm doing as much as I can and I've had no pain, so it's good to get back out there," Rodgers said. "I've been working on a lot of things, arm strength especially, and I feel like I've made some good strides there."

Rodgers took all the first-team snaps in the first OTA on Wednesday before Favre arrived, and he said he's close to 100 percent mentally, as far as trusting his foot when he needs to take off and run.

Favre will participate in nine of the 12 OTAs and is showing no ill-effects from the ankle surgery. Head Coach Mike McCarthy said he can see the difference Favre's presence makes for the younger receivers, who have to get used to a fastball being right on their hands as soon as they come out of their break.

"I thought he threw the ball well," McCarthy said. "I mean he just anticipates so well, and those are valuable reps for the younger players. Those are the little things that you can't get enough of."

Second-year receiver Ruvell Martin also noted how Favre, even in an OTA practice, will check to different plays at the line of scrimmage just to test the veterans on parts of the scheme haven't been reviewed in practice.

"It's stuff that's in, but we may not have gotten to it yet," Martin said. "When Brett comes in you're right up to speed and you're right where you left off (last season)."

One other element to Favre's participation in the OTAs will be discussing with McCarthy any parts of the offensive scheme that won't be needed and can be eliminated from the 2007 playbook. The entire offense will be installed by the end of OTAs, but McCarthy said he always works with the starting quarterback to "clean up and tighten up" the offense heading into training camp.

"You go through this time of year, and if there's anything you absolutely don't feel you need, it's time to throw it out," McCarthy said. "As I've walked through this business, reducing is a constant. The more you can reduce I think it gives your players the opportunity of doing less and being more comfortable."

Filling in

With starting cornerbacks Al Harris and Charles Woodson absent, Will Blackmon and Patrick Dendy were the cornerbacks with the No. 1 defense during team drills. When the nickel package was called for, Frank Walker took the third cornerback spot.

On the defensive line, with defensive tackles Ryan Pickett and Corey Williams not in attendance and first-round draft pick Justin Harrell still not cleared for team drills, Johnny Jolly and Colin Cole took the two interior spots. Also, as during minicamp two weeks ago, Michael Montgomery worked with the No. 1 defense at end in place of Aaron Kampman, who likely won't practice full-time until training camp while recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery.

Spirited battles

It may be a reflection of the intense competition for roster spots, or of the players' desire to get the pads back on, or both.

{sportsad300}But some harmless pushing and shoving broke out after a few snaps on Thursday between offensive lineman Allen Barbre and defensive lineman Daniel Muir, both rookies. The extra-curricular activity is more often seen during training camp, but no one was particularly alarmed by it.

"It's the nature of the beast," said linebacker Brady Poppinga, one of the more intense players on the team. "We're here because we like contact, we're here because we like to hit each other. And when they tell you you can't, that takes a whole element of the game ...

"So when they say, 'OK, you can't really hit, but we want you to go hard,' there's going to be stuff that come sup like that. It's the nature of the game, it's the nature of the guys playing the game. It's expected and it's good."

Also, tight end Zac Alcorn briefly took exception to the way Jason Hunter tried to strip the ball out of his arms after a short reception, something that's likely going to annoy a lot of the offensive skill players because the defense is being instructed to dig for the ball at every opportunity.

Plays of the day

During team drills, Donald Driver made the catch of the day, falling down as he made his cut on a curl route but still managing to haul in a Favre bullet with just his left arm while lying on his back.

Moments later, the defense made an impressive play. Rodgers tried to go deep down the sideline to Carlyle Holiday, but Walker was running stride-for-stride with Holiday and broke up the long pass at the last moment.

In a seven-on-seven sequence, linebacker A.J. Hawk stepped in front on one of Driver's hook routes and intercepted a Favre pass.

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