With Favre's Return, Building On Momentum Becomes Focus

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Had quarterback Brett Favre decided to retire, the momentum the Packers built with their four-game winning streak to conclude the 2006 season would have been a somewhat fleeting concept and more difficult to sustain.

But with Favre's return, that momentum is very real, and Head Coach Mike McCarthy expects his players to focus on building on that strong finish between now and the start of the 2007 season.

"Obviously I'm very excited, and I'm glad he's coming back," McCarthy said on Monday upon returning to Lambeau Field from a week's vacation in Texas. "I think he gives us excellent leadership, and he's still a very good quarterback.

"We have a lot of momentum, and Brett's obviously a big part of that momentum because he's the leader of our football team. It's something we're carrying into our offseason program and into the mini-camps and the OTAs, and everybody is excited."

McCarthy got the news of Favre's return last Friday from General Manager Ted Thompson, who called him on his cell phone while McCarthy was taking his daughter to school.

One of McCarthy's first moves after that was to contact backup quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who is vigorously rehabilitating his broken foot back home in California.

McCarthy said Rodgers took the news as well as could be expected for a player who has waited patiently since being drafted in the first round in 2005 for his opportunity to play. He's still focused on getting fully healthy for quarterback school beginning March 19, and McCarthy sees bringing back the same stable of quarterbacks in Favre, Rodgers and Ingle Martin as a big positive for 2007.

"I think the continuity as a quarterback group is important," McCarthy said. "Anytime you have the ability to improve as an offense, your quarterback room needs to have the continuity you're looking for. Those guys need to be on the same page, and when you have a starter with Brett's experience and ability, with another year into this version of the offense, he will be better, the players around him will be better, but also Aaron Rodgers will be better and Ingle Martin will now improve.

"Just the ability to keep improving your quarterback room is a vital part of our success as an offense and as a football team."

{sportsad300}McCarthy said he hasn't spoken to Favre since he made his intentions official on Friday, only traded voice messages. But through what McCarthy described as a "long, ongoing conversation" during various meetings and phone calls dating back to the last week of the regular season, which concluded about a week before Favre's announcement, his gut feeling was that Favre was coming back.

McCarthy noted that he and Favre did not discuss potential personnel changes on offense, as has been reported by some media outlets, but they did discuss some of the instances the offense struggled this season, which had frustrated Favre at times.

McCarthy added that it's good for both Favre and the team that he made his decision much earlier this year than last, when it was late April before Favre said he was going to keep playing. It allows everyone, Favre included, to enjoy the offseason and use it to focus on building on what was accomplished in 2006.

"I think everybody is excited the decision was made in the time frame we discussed initially," McCarthy said. "I think both he and the organization feel very good about that."

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