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Packers Notebook - Favre Looks Fine


By taking the majority of the reps in practice Friday, Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre erased almost all questions in regard to his availability for Sunday night's showdown with the Minnesota Vikings.

Although a few lingering concerns remain, GM/Head Coach Mike Sherman said that Favre looked as good as usual Friday, despite practicing with a small splint protecting his cracked right thumb.

"There's nothing he couldn't do out there today," Sherman said. "You wouldn't have known any difference whatsoever."

Practices this week have been closed to the media, but none of the Packers reported noticing any decrease in velocity or accuracy from Favre.

"I had to go up and ask him how it was feeling," tight end Bubba Franks said, "because the ball was still coming the same. Nothing really seems different."

Favre injured the thumb on the third play of the Packers' Week 7 loss to the St. Louis Rams, but stayed in the game to complete 23 passes for 268 yards and two touchdowns, with a 104.7 passer rating.

Favre didn't know until after the game that the thumb was broken, but will wear a splint this week or play with his thumb heavily wrapped in athletic tape.

Including playoffs, Sunday's game would be the 200th in a row for Favre, who has started in 197 consecutive games, which is an NFL record for quarterbacks.

Spreading The Wealth

Donald Driver was a 2002 Pro Bowler, Javon Walker was a 2002 first-round draft pick, Robert Ferguson was a 2001 second-round pick and Antonio Freeman is the all-time leading touchdown target of three-time NFL MVP Favre.

And yet it's Pro Bowl running back Ahman Green who leads the team in receptions with 30.

If you think that's cause for concern in Green Bay, think again.

Although the Packers might not have established a "go-to" guy in the receiving corps this season, Sherman has no problem with the unit's production.

"I'm feeling pretty good about what (the receivers are) doing," Sherman said this week. "They've made some nice catches. They don't drop the football. They block better than any group we've had here since I've been here. So I'm very pleased with our receivers."

According to Sherman, Packers receivers have only two drops in seven games, one of the best marks in the NFL.

And although the lack of a dominant player in the receiving game might be alarming at first glance, it's hardly indicative of a struggling offense.

Nearly halfway through the season, the Packers rank fifth in the NFL in yards per game (353.6) and fourth in points per game (27.7).

And for as long as the offense continues to cash in, the receivers insist that they have no problem letting Favre spread the wealth.

"Our receiving corps isn't like that," Driver said. "No one cares about who's getting the ball and who's not getting the ball. That's not something we look at ... Everything is working for us right now, so let's keep it going."

The way the receivers figure it, having go-to guys is better than having just a go-to guy.

"I think we've got four of the best receivers in the league," Walker said. "Most teams have one or two, but we have four ... When your number is called, make a play."

Bennett Boost?

Minnesota Vikings running back Michael Bennett could make his 2003 season debut this weekend against the Packers, but whether the former University of Wisconsin star makes two carries or 20, the Packers will have to be equally concerned with stopping the run.

While Bennett has been recovering from offseason surgery to repair a broken left foot, running backs Moe Williams and Onterrio Smith have led the Vikings to a 137-yards per game average on the ground which is seventh-best in the NFL.

"We have to tackle the running back, whoever it is," Sherman said Friday. "Obviously Michael is a great runner in his own right ... but were not going to change anything up if he's in the game or not in the game.

"We need to wrap up their ball carriers. Their offensive line is a big physical group and we need to get off the blocks and make the tackle on whoever they put back there."

Vikings head coach Mike Tice suggested this week that Bennett would see only a handful of reps this weekend.

That can't be horrible news to the Packers, who watched Bennett rack up 250 yards rushing combined against them in two games last season, en route to 1,296 yards for the year.

"If it was my choice, I wouldn't want to see him," Sherman said. "But the other running backs are running well in their scheme and doing a good job ... I think what they've done in the absence of Bennett has been phenomenal."

Additional Notes

Nose guard Rod Walker didn't practice Friday due to his injured knee and might be reduced from questionable to doubtful for Sunday ... Running back Tony Fisher, on the other hand, continued to practice as he returns from his strained groin ... Sherman said that backup running backs Fisher and Najeh Davenport each had strong practice weeks.

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