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By CHRIS HAVEL
Green Bay prepares for Colts as Favre braces for Canton
This is about as exciting as it gets: An exhilarating Packers season to look forward to, and Brett Favre’s terrific career to look back upon.
The Packers’ season is officially underway with Family Night practice in the books. Now head coach Mike McCarthy’s team prepares for the Indianapolis Colts and the Hall of Fame Game in the preseason opener at Canton, Ohio, Sunday night.
Meantime, Favre also will be busy in Canton. The first-ballot Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback, who is going to be presented by wife Deanna, is sure to be the focal point of the NFL’s Class of 2016.
Favre has forever been a lightning rod. It’s the questions that have changed through the years.
Once upon a time, back when Favre was early along in his NFL career, there were some that asked, “Will he ever settle down? Or is he destined to self-destruct?”
Favre answered in resounding fashion. He beat long odds to reach the NFL. Then, he beat even longer odds to beat a painkiller addiction that could’ve ended his career.
It’s interesting that Favre’s induction coincides with the Packers’ appearance in the Hall of Fame Game.
Favre, the old greybeard, is remembered for his prowess, toughness and desire to fight to the final gun. He won a lot of games in sub-freezing temperatures and the final minute. He is one of the top five quarterbacks of all-time, in my opinion, because he almost never missed a snap and almost always gave his team its best chance to win.
If there is any knock I hear most about Favre, it’s that he only won one Super Bowl. As it turns out, it’s the same knock I hear occasionally aimed at Aaron Rodgers.
Naturally, it’s on Packers’ fans minds what with the melding of past and present this weekend.
There exists a pervasive feeling that “this is the year” in Green Bay. The reasons are fairly obvious. There is Jordy Nelson’s return from injury, Eddie Lacy’s return from alleged obesity, and the offensive line’s expected return to form.
Defensively, the Packers appear to have drafted well. Blake Martinez never comes off the field at inside linebacker, while Kyler Fackrell has flashed, and defensive tackle Kenny Clark has looked like a grown man from Day One.
If Clark, Martinez and the rest continue on their current path, there’s no reason to think the Packers’ defense can’t take a big leap. Furthermore, the offense looks to have added another challenger to playing time at receiver – Trevor Davis – while third-year tight end Richard Rodgers has picked up his game.
All the while, Aaron Rodgers goes about his business. When asked at a recent celebrity golf event to describe his expectations for the team, Rodgers said, “Great things.”
That was it. Just two words: “Great things.” Through the early training camp practices and Family Night, several things have become clear.
Trevor Davis is more than just a return man. He can play receiver.
Jason Spriggs, the second-round pick from Indiana, appears to be able to hang with the big boys. He’s been excellent in the one-on-one pass rush drills. He has a left tackle’s feet and might’ve been a really shrewd pick.
The young defenders, including second-year pros Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins, also have excelled. Randall, Rollins and a handful of others have been strong.
The special teams also looks improved. Jeff Janis is a year older, Micah Hyde is a proven return man, and the newcomer Davis sure looks the part.
Also, special teams’ coordinator Ron Zook has had a full offseason to get his young players prepared. They look sharper already in practice.
Come Sunday night, Packers’ fans will have celebrated Favre’s induction to the fullest.
Then they will turn their attention to the current team.
Regardless who sits and who plays against the Colts, I will be shocked if the Packers don’t make a great accounting of themselves. They have to look no further than Favre to be reminded how fortunate they are to have a future Hall of Fame quarterback right in their huddle.
It’s about as exciting as it gets.
Chris Havel is a national best-selling author and his latest book is Lombardi: An Illustrated Life. Havel can be heard Monday through Friday from 4-6 p.m. CDT on WDUZ FM 107.5 The Fan, or on AM-1400, as well as Fan Internet Radio (www.thefan1075.com).
Havel also hosts Event USA’s MVP Parties the evening before home games. Also check out our new Podcast: Between the Lines for more Packers insights. New episodes every Wednesday.