Training Camp Notebook: All Eyes On Favre

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Favre Watch

Brett Favre showed a bit of rust at times but provided a glimpse of why he is destined for the Hall of Fame.

He threw two passes far from his target, and defensive end Aaron Kampman forced the ball out of his hands on another play.

Favre, however, made one of the plays of the day, throwing a long pass to wide receiver Javon Walker, who beat cornerback Ahmad Carroll. During the last play of practice, he threw a sideline pass to running back Tony Fisher that could have resulted in a touchdown in a live scrimmage.

Rookies who have grown up watching No. 4 play on television are still adjusting to the speed and accuracy of his throws. Once Favre sees the slightest separation between his receiver and the defender, he will not hesitate to rifle the ball in.

"No matter how close I am on [the receiver], he'll still throw it" said fifth-round pick Mike Hawkins, who practiced in pads for the first time on Saturday.

The quarterback some have pegged as Favre's successor, Aaron Rodgers, has not taken any reps. Coach Mike Sherman did not have any news to report regarding the signing of the first-round selection but remained optimistic.

"He's anxious to get it done. We're anxious to get it done," Sherman said. "This is valuable time that we'd like to have him out here working, and we hope to have him soon."

The coaching staff is not worried about Rodgers' ability to master the Packers offense. The 21-year-old has a reputation as a conscientious and intelligent quarterback. Following June's organized team activities, he would sit at his locker and study his playbook.

"He's a bright kid," Sherman said. "We'll get him and work him around the clock and get him ready to go."

Favre took the majority of the snaps during the morning session but did not practice during the afternoon, allowing quarterbacks J.T. O'Sullivan and Craig Nall to receive the reps.

O'Sullivan said he has never taken so many snaps during training camp, and both relish the opportunity.

"I'm loving it," said Nall, penciled in as the No. 2 quarterback. "We're getting some great work. We're getting to run against our number one defense."

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Safeties Expect Big Plays In Bates' Defense

The impact of defensive coordinator Jim Bates' new attacking defense will continue as a major theme through training camp and the season.

The free safety will play farther away from the line of scrimmage, allowing them to make more plays in coverage. As an in-the-box safety last year, Mark Roman was no more than six yards away from the line of scrimmage.

"In essence I was another linebacker," Roman said. "[My role's] changed tremendously. You have a lot more chances to make plays because you can see everything in front of you."

Roman, a six-year veteran, has another role, providing tutelage to rookies Nick Collins and Marviel Underwood.

"You've got to help the young guys as much as you can," he said.

However, he can only help so much. He too is learning on the go and admits that the process has taken a bit longer than the coaches would like.

"We're making progress," he said. "It's a new scheme and everybody would like us to be at a fever pitch right off, right now and know everywhere they've got to go, but this is the first day in the defense."

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Ahmad vs. Joey

The battle for the starting left cornerback position between Ahmad Carroll and Joey Thomas should go down to the wire.

"No one really has the edge there. We're going to go all the way through camp. We don't have to make a decision on that until game week of Detroit (Sept. 11)." Sherman said. "We're going to keep working both guys. They both have talent. They're both going to play."

Making the competition more intense is the fact that both are in the same draft class. The Packers selected Carroll in the first round and Thomas in the third round of last year's draft.

"We have a bond and a relationship," Thomas said. "[Ahmad] would say the same thing."

Both have become better players. Thomas worked at the facility during the entire offseason and has displayed a higher level of confidence and more consistent level of play thus far.

"He's shown a maturity he didn't have last year," Sherman said. "It's night and day."

Thomas agrees.

"Going through the spring drills and learning the system early and just getting familiar and comfortable with it - that's really what the difference is," he said. "I've definitely improved from last year."

The head coach said Carroll has also improved and has the edge in experience. He started 11 games last year, and Thomas did not start a game.

Thomas strained his calf in the afternoon, possibly hindering his quest for the starting job opposite veteran Al Harris. A knee bruise slowed him during last year's training camp, but he vows the calf injury will not keep him out for long.

"I plan on being on the field tomorrow," he said. "We'll just see what the doc says."

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Quick Hits: Sherman explained why Garrett Cross left the team: "He said his heart wasn't in it" ... In a pass-rushing drill, one of the most exciting training camp sequences, skilled blocker, Mark Tauscher and pass rusher extraordinaire, Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila squared off. Tauscher held off KGB twice. ... Sherman said he did not believe running back Walt Williams' injury was a high ankle sprain but cautioned he will not return to action Sunday or Monday. ... Linebacker Brady Poppinga, who strained his hamstring, will not return this weekend either. ..."He did better today," Sherman said of punter B.J. Sander. "He's getting some of the rust off." ... Cornerback Al Harris injured his toe during the afternoon session ... A back injury sidelined wide receiver Javon Walker at the afternoon practice.

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