Packers quarterback Brett Favre has started the last 173 games (including playoffs), a record for the position. But his backup, 10-year NFL veteran Doug Pederson, is prepared to get the call at any time.
"I'm excited for Brett that he can have a streak like that because it's not often, especially for quarterbacks, that you can get a streak going," Pederson said. "But you never know when your number is going to be called."
Pederson, who first played for Green Bay from 1996-98, rejoined the team last season after one year with the Eagles and one with the Cleveland Browns. He started 17 games in those two seasons, but returned to the Packers in 2001 and without missing a beat, reassumed his role as backup to one of the NFL's most durable players.
Watching Favre do his thing on Sundays for four seasons, Pederson has seen some close calls where he wasn't sure if number 4 would be able to get up off the turf. "It can be pretty nerve-racking at times seeing Brett out there taking some of the shots he does, but he gets right back up and is ready to go on the next play," Pederson said.
As far as keeping his focus, Pederson has several game day responsibilities that allow him to stay involved in several aspects of the game. "I hold for Ryan Longwell on extra points and field goals so I can keep myself involved that way. On game day, as a backup quarterback, I check out the defenses and see what they're doing against us to help Brett when he comes to the sidelines."
It takes time for players to develop relationships on and off the field, but the starter/backup rapport at quarterback is especially important since the backup can serve as an extra set of eyes for the starter. "I felt like last year was a great stepping stone for Brett and me as a starter-backup combination," Pederson said. "We did a lot of things off the field, like golf and hunting, and getting our families together, because you've got to have that cohesiveness."
Although Pederson and Favre are close, both on and off the field, Pederson has come to realize that if he is called on, he cannot simply step into Favre's shoes and perform at that level. "I've learned that I'm not Brett Favre and I can't do the things that he does," Pederson said. "I understand that there are some limitations that I have so I've got to take my personality and my skill and do those things in a fashion that gets the job done."
If the time comes for Pederson to step in and run the Green Bay offense, he will be ready, especially following an off-season of intense workouts. "I conditioned a lot harder and made it more of challenge to myself to come in ready."