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Training Camp Report: Team Not Distracted By Favre News

The Packers certainly weren’t oblivious to the news on Tuesday that former quarterback Brett Favre had signed with NFC North Division rival Minnesota. But as for discussing the ins and outs of playing against a former teammate and friend, and a future Hall of Famer, twice in the upcoming season on Oct. 5 and Nov. 1, it’s going to have to wait. - More Aug. 18 Press Conference Transcripts: Mike McCarthy | Ted Thompson


The Green Bay Packers certainly weren't oblivious to the news on Tuesday that former quarterback Brett Favre had signed a contract to play for NFC North Division rival Minnesota this season.

But as for discussing the ins and outs of playing against a former teammate and friend, and a future Hall of Famer, twice in the upcoming season on Oct. 5 and Nov. 1, it's going to have to wait.

The Packers are in the middle of not only their most physical training camp in years, but arguably one of their most important with three starting positions on offense (center, right tackle, fullback) undecided and the transition to the 3-4 defensive scheme ongoing. So forgive them if they're going to keep their energies directed toward the work immediately in front of them, which includes two more weeks of training camp following this Saturday's home preseason contest against the Bills.

"Right now my focus is on Buffalo, and until we play the Vikings, then we'll focus on the Vikings," veteran cornerback Al Harris said. "But Buffalo is the focus right now, then Arizona, then Chicago (in the season opener)."

Harris may have forgotten about the preseason finale against Tennessee on Sept. 3, but since many veterans like him may play only very little or not at all in that game anyway, that's OK. His point is well taken.

While many of Favre's former teammates expressed that they're happy to see him continue his career, they didn't even want to speculate on what it will feel like to see him on the other side in a purple jersey. The quick answer, though, was that they won't treat him any differently than any other opponent.

"I have a lot of respect for Brett, I played a lot of years here for him and he's a great guy," linebacker Nick Barnett said. "But when it comes to be him being on a different team, that's exactly what it is, he's on a different team, and all that comes with that, that's what he's going to get."

With Favre signing in Minnesota, along with Chicago Bears trading for a new quarterback in Jay Cutler and the Detroit Lions changing coaches and bringing in No. 1 overall draft pick Matthew Stafford as their new signal caller, suddenly the Packers' change of defensive schemes looks like the smallest offseason headline in the NFC North.

But it doesn't change the magnitude of the task to those here, knowing how much work is still to be done between now and the season opener in 26 days.

"I'm happy for him, wish him the best of luck," Harris said. "But we're here, we're grinding, doing what we need to do, no matter who they have for quarterback, no matter who the Bears have for quarterback, Detroit, or whoever. We're concentrating on the Packers and what we need to do."

Players also weren't willing to concede that the Favre signing changes the complexion of the division race heavily in favor of Minnesota, the defending NFC North champ. The Packers have expressed a quiet confidence all throughout training camp that they can reclaim the division crown they won in 2007, and that stance hasn't changed.

"I don't think so at all," receiver Donald Driver said. "He's a good quarterback, we all know that, he's a Hall of Famer. But I don't think it's going to change who's going to be on top of the division. That's our goal, to be on top of the North, and we're not going backwards for anyone, regardless of what teams get who."

Raji with the 1's

First-round draft pick B.J. Raji participated in his second practice on Tuesday evening and was already rotating in with the No. 1 defense. Primarily rotating with veteran Michael Montgomery, Raji took a share of the snaps as the starting left defensive end and also as a down lineman with the No. 1 nickel defense. Raji held those spots with the first units throughout OTAs and mini-camp in June, but he worked with the No. 2 defense in his first practice on Monday.

Raji's schedule for Thursday is expected to be the same as Tuesday, when he sits out the morning practice and then goes to work in the evening. It remains a possibility he could play in Saturday's preseason game against Buffalo.

"Just like everybody else, I want to see more of him," Head Coach Mike McCarthy said. "We'll see how he feels in the morning and probably get some more work out of him Thursday and Friday."

Starters' playing time

The plan last Saturday was to play quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the No. 1 offense around 10 to 12 snaps, but when the Packers put together two straight touchdown drives, that number ended up at 18 plays, plus one defensive penalty.

McCarthy said Tuesday that for Saturday's game against Buffalo, the first unit can probably expect to go 20 or 25 snaps, but that will in part depend on the health of key players.

"It's going to be probably three or four series, which would mean the middle of the second quarter I would guess," Rodgers said. "But nothing is set in stone yet. We're kind of dependent on how 'Cliffy' (left tackle Chad Clifton) is feeling probably and how the line is doing, and we'll go from there."

The Packers had the same plan for last year's second preseason game at San Francisco, but with the offense struggling mightily, McCarthy left Rodgers and the No. 1 group in for the entire first half, a total of six series. The offense produced just 46 total yards and four first downs and never got anything going.

It may be difficult to repeat the two-scores-in-two-possessions opener this week, but hopefully an entire first half isn't needed this week to produce any results. The third preseason game, at Arizona on Aug. 28, will likely see the starters play the entire first half, and perhaps into the third quarter. Rodgers and the No. 1 offense played one series into the third quarter in the third preseason game at Denver last year.

{sportsad300}"You want to get in a rhythm, and if that takes two series, three series, four series, whatever it takes," Rodgers said. "The two more important things are to get into a rhythm and staying healthy. If you can get both of those achieved and score on each possession, that's exactly what you want."

Injury/participation update

New to the injury list on Tuesday were running back Kregg Lumpkin, who sat out the evening practice with a shoulder sprain that McCarthy said he sustained in last Saturday's game. Also, receiver JaRon Harris sat out both practices with a groin injury.

The players on the one-a-day health schedule took the morning off but returned to practice in the evening. In addition to Raji, they were tackle Chad Clifton, center Scott Wells, safety Atari Bigby, linebacker Brad Jones and defensive end Cullen Jenkins. Veteran nose tackle Ryan Pickett took the morning off as well but was back at night.

Linebacker Nick Barnett participated in the opening jog-through portion and also did individual work in the morning. In the evening workout, he stuck to the same routine, also taking snaps in 7-on-7 work.

Remaining out of both practices were cornerback Pat Lee (back), receiver James Jones (hamstring), linebackers Clay Matthews (hamstring) and Jeremy Thompson (stinger), and defensive ends Justin Harrell (back) and Johnny Jolly (ankle).

General Manager Ted Thompson disputed the notion that Harrell's football career may be over with this latest recurrence of his back troubles. Harrell told some reporters on Monday he was concerned about that, but Thompson said the team's medical staff is not speaking in those terms and will try to proceed with another course of treatment for Harrell's back.

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