Senior writer jclombardi highlights Packers headlines.
Beaten and bruised, there’s still some zing left in Vikings QB Favre: So how much magic does a beat up, 41-year-old Brett Favre have left? Enough that in the second half of a bitterly disappointing, going-nowhere season, he can lead the Minnesota Vikings to a win over the ascending Green Bay Packers? At 3-6, Minnesota might be on the brink of a total freefall, but the Packers know not to count out a quarterback who’s an all-time competitor and holds a major grudge against their front office. “It would probably mean everything to him,” said defensive end Ryan Pickett of Favre’s desire to beat his former team. This, in fact, is looking more and more like the last time Favre will face the franchise that he personified from 1992 to 2007. When it comes to Favre and retirement, never say never, but with how poorly the Vikings’ season is going and how badly beat up Favre is, it’s a relatively safe bet that 2010 actually will be his last season. Ryan Longwell, the former Packers kicker who’s been Favre’s teammate in Minnesota the last two years, said Favre “without a doubt” will retire after this season. Longwell was one of three Vikings players who visited Favre at his home in Hattiesburg, Miss., during training camp to convince him to play another year. “When we went down to Mississippi, the three of us, to talk to him, that was pretty much adamant even before he agreed to come back,” Longwell said. “I have no doubt this is his last year.”
Packers receivers adjust pattern: There’s been no passing of the torch, officially or otherwise, because Donald Driver is confident he has a lot of good football left in him. But with Driver slowed by a thigh injury that has been at least partially responsible for him not catching a pass since Oct. 17, Greg Jennings has become the go-to receiver in the Green Bay Packers’ offense. The combination of Driver’s injury and the season-ending knee injury suffered by playmaking tight end Jermichael Finley in Week 5 has left Jennings as quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ most reliable target, and the Packers’ most dangerous weapon going into their game Sunday at Minnesota. That’s not necessarily by default, because Jennings led the Packers in receiving yards in each of the last two seasons. But he doesn’t have Driver in the slot to take some of the pressure off him. Jennings has responded well, catching 25 passes for 368 yards and three touchdowns over the last four games. With Driver ineffective and eventually inactive vs. Dallas, Jennings has played out of the slot more than he had in the past. Jennings has caught at least six passes in each of the last four games, a streak that includes an 86-yard touchdown against Miami and receptions of 30 yards against the Jets and 33 against the Cowboys. But as good as Jennings has been over the last month, the Packers’ offense would be that much better with the 35-year-old Driver back in the lineup and at full speed. Driver practiced on a limited basis Wednesday, participating in the jog-through outside and then going into the Don Hutson Center to run.