Matthew Postins: OK, the requisite Brett Favre question. What really was the fallout from the hijinks in July? How did this team — and I mean the players — handle the situation and did that provide some benefits down the line during this 2-1 start?
Bill Huber : Fallout among the fans — especially the ones in the area, who are closer to the situation — was not as much as you might think. There were pro-Favre protests outside of practice, but they never spread beyond a dozen or so people. The players did a good job of not being distracted by it, even though the media horde bombarded them with questions every day. The key has been Aaron Rodgers' strong play. If he would have flopped right off the bat, then things might be different now.
Matthew Postins: It appears as if Aaron Rodgers' apprenticeship under Favre paid off. While he certainly wasn't his best against Dallas, he has performed steadily for the first three weeks of the season. Talk about the different qualities he brings to the offense, things that Favre might not have?
Bill Huber : The one thing Rodgers brings is mobility, so the offense has changed a bit in that there are more designed rollouts. Otherwise, they really are the same quarterback. Both can throw the ball through a wall, both can throw it a mile. Obviously, Favre has the experience, but Rodgers hasn't been intercepted through three games — hasn't been close to being picked off, really — so he's making sound decisions.
Matthew Postins: What can we expect out of the running backs on Sunday? I think it's clear that Ryan Grant is not himself. How much will we see of Brandon Jackson? And what about this third-stringer with the goofy name?
Bill Huber : Grant looked pretty strong against Dallas, so I think he's close to being the back he was last season. He's been limited to one practice a week, but that should change this week. Jackson has been productive, so it will be more of a one-two punch instead of all Grant, all the time, like last year. Rookie Kregg Lumpkin has been a big-time surprise, though his hamstring tightened up on him last week, so he might not play on Sunday.
Matthew Postins: The Bucs know all about ruptured spleens, thanks to Chris Simms in 2006. How will CB Al Harris' ruptured spleen, which will cause him to miss the rest of the season, impact the Packers defense? Who steps up to take his place?
Bill Huber : Tramon Williams takes over for Harris, with Will Blackmon taking the nickel job. Williams is 5-foot-11 so he doesn't have Harris' height, and of course he doesn't have the experience. He's a talented kid, though. He did well when he was matched up with Terrell Owens last week, though he got beat for a key touchdown by Austin Miles in the fourth quarter.
Matthew Postins: Looking at Green Bay's defense overall, what's the biggest thing they can do to throw a wrench in the Bucs' game plan, which is to run the football effectively and allow QB Brian Griese to manage the game without throwing too often?
Bill Huber : That's the million-dollar question after watching the Cowboys run it at will last week. I think the linebackers — the clear strength of the defense with Nick Barnett and A.J. Hawk — have to get more involved. Look for more run blitzes, especially on first down, to set up second-and-long. Getting hard-hitting Atari Bigby back from a hamstring injury would help, too.
Bill Huber covers the Packers for Packerreport.com
Matthew Postins covers the Buccaneers for Bucsblitz.com