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Packers Notebook - Hawthorne Prepared; Favre Returns


Starting his first game as a Green Bay Packer, cornerback Michael Hawthorne -- filling in for an injured Mike McKenzie -- showed no signs of nervousness Monday night in Oakland, grabbing two interceptions to go along with four tackles in front of a national television audience.

And if McKenzie is unable to play in the Packers' regular season finale Sunday against the Denver Broncos, the fourth-year veteran will again be thrust into the starting role.

"It's all about coming to work," Hawthorne said about life as a backup. "You come to work and you prepare yourself for, I don't want to say the worst, because it would be the best for me, but you prepare the whole week. I took all the reps last week at the left corner, so it wasn't anything big."

GM/Head Coach Mike Sherman said Friday that McKenzie's case of turf toe continues to improve, but the Packers are in no rush to name a starter for Sunday.

"McKenzie's doing very well," Sherman said. "We're going to work him out tomorrow and go from there. He can run straight ahead fine but it's basically 'How can he change directions?'

"He can play. It's just a matter of if he's going to be in a position where he can help us. Hawthorne did a nice job for us and I want to make sure Mike is ready to roll. When you're a corner and you have a foot injury and you're out on that island it's very difficult to play.

"Mike's more than willing and wanted to play in the worst way last week, and wants to play this week, but we have to be smart about it."

For Hawthorne, who started seven games for the Saints during his three years in New Orleans, the novelty of getting the start may have worn off, but it's certainly a concept he would like to embrace somewhere down the line.

"I'm still preparing myself to be the corner," Hawthorne said, "but starting is only one play. It wasn't my first time starting in this league. It might have been the first time I started as a Green Bay Packer, but I don't think it will be the last."

Ferguson Probable

Like McKenzie, wide receiver Robert Ferguson will be further evaluated Saturday following a strained Achilles suffered on the first play of the game against the Raiders Monday night.

After receiveing treatment in the locker room, Ferguson returned to catch three passes for 85 yards, including a sideline catch good for 47 yards.

"He's coming along," Sherman said. "I feel like he's going to play so I don't want to say he's not. Tomorrow I'll make that evaluation, but I think he's going to play. He's as tough as they come and if he can play, he'll play."

Favre's Back

After missing two days of practice while attending his father's funeral in Mississippi, Brett Favre returned to the practice field Friday, much to the delight of his teammates and coaches.

"It was great to see Brett back out there today and watch him get back to work," said tight end Wesley Walls.

Because the Packers had already adhered to the holiday schedule, Favre returned in time for meetings that normally would be held on Wednesdays.

"The schedule gods were good to us in that sense," Sherman said, "because when I laid the schedule out, because of the Christmas holidays, it worked out in our favor to be able to handle the very tough situation with Brett.

"He did a fine job (today). He obviously had some catching up to do, but he's been doing this for quite some time so he probably had less catching up than most players would have had."

Added tight end Bubba Franks, "He knows the offense better than anybody."

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