Senior writer jclombardi highlights Packers headlines.
Fans prepare for Favre’s last game: This concerns something far more important in the hearts and minds of those who populate our dairy kingdom: Brett Favre. It has been nearly three years since Favre last took a snap for the Green and Gold, and Packer Nation is still divided on their feelings for No. 4. “I am a fan of Brett Favre, but I’m a Packer fan first,” said fan Chris. Much time has elapsed since Favre’s famous “un-retirement,” an act that left Packer supporters reeling, many of whom find absolution hard to fathom with Favre wearing a purple uniform. “If he had simply stayed with the Jets and left it at that, a lot more people would have forgiven him,” said Travis. “But the fact that he purposely went to a rival, a lot of people are still going to be upset about that.” “I think the reaction is similar to James leaving Cleveland,” said Sarah. “Everyone gets hurt, everyone gets kind of stung. Deep down, everyone still appreciates him but I think they’re still a little bitter.” As we look into the future on the eve of what is likely Favre’s last game against the team that made him famous, after he dons the dreaded purple jersey to knock heads with opponents in the golden “G” helmets for a final time, will Packer fans ultimately forgive Brett for defecting to the other side? “I don’t think it will be for two or three years yet,” said Curt. “But five or 10 years down the road, I think they will.” “I think over time, people will forgive him,” said Travis. “They’ll retire his number at some point and people will be cheering him on again.” Maybe that will happen someday. But it won’t happen Sunday. .
Vikings scouting report–Halfback Adrian Peterson remains a serious threat: Run offense: As long as halfback Adrian Peterson is healthy, which he appears to be, he’s one of the most dangerous runners in the NFL. Peterson (6-feet-1, 217 pounds) has a complete package of speed and power, and he is the NFL’s No. 2 rusher. The Vikings’ offensive line is in decline. Pass offense: The Vikings, who rank No. 27 in the NFL in scoring, are in even worse shape at receiver. They waived Randy Moss. Receiver Percy Harvin has been Favre’s favorite target, but he injured his ankle against Chicago and was unable to return. Depending on the health of Harvin, Berrian and Rice, the Vikings might have to lean heavily on Lewis and Camarillo who are pedestrian possession receivers. Favre also is playing behind an offensive line that’s had trouble protecting. Run defense: What was the NFL’s premier run defense the past four years ranks No. 10 in the league in rushing yards allowed and No. 7 in yards allowed per carry–good but hardly great numbers. Teams always have been able to run at defensive end Allen, but now the Williams Wall at the defensive tackles isn’t making up for it. The Vikings have one of the best 4-3 linebacker corps in the league. Pass defense: Neither Allen nor defensive tackle Kevin Williams is rushing the passer as well as in past years, which has exposed the Vikings’ suspect secondary. The Vikings rank a respectable No. 9 in passing yards allowed, but their No. 18 ranking in yards allowed per catch is more indicative of their play. Cornerback Winfield remains a top player at age 33, but aside from him….“Winfield is really good,” a scout said. “Everyone else is not.” Special teams: P Kluwe gets great hang time and placement on his punts, and he ranks No. 3 in the NFL in net average and No. 11 in gross average. K Longwell is as accurate as ever. Harvin is one of the Vikings’ best weapons as a kickoff returner. Camarillo (9.3-yard average) is a no-nonsense punt returner who will get what’s there.
Packers backup RBs in a battle–Starks, Nance fight for chances: Running back Jackson is challenging himself to have a strong second half of the season for the Green Bay Packers. The question is whether he’ll get any support, beyond backup John Kuhn, from two complete unknowns in the running for the third-string job. Rookie James Starks practiced Monday. Packers coach McCarthy said Starks looked “dang good” in practice. “He’s a big, physical, athletic runner. He’s got a lot to learn,” McCarthy said. “He’s competing to play.” That means Starks is competing with Dimitri Nance, rookie out of Arizona State who was picked up off Atlanta’s practice squad after starter Grant was lost. While Starks took his snaps with the scout team Monday during the portion of practice open to the media, Nance ran a lot of plays with the regular offense. He wasn’t on the scout team at all. The sentiment among a few players is that the Packers are in fact still looking at Starks. Basically, the Packers don’t know what they have in Starks or Nance until they get some playing time. For now, Jackson has emerged as nothing short of a reliable, effort back. He has 460 yards on 108 carries (4.3 average). He managed to survive the first nine games without getting hurt, an accomplishment for any player given the Packers’ luck with injuries this season.