Favre, Offense Have a Fun Night

Brett Favre is dangerous. Put him in a red jersey and he's even tougher to stop.

Favre, who looked sharp through the first week of practice, picked apart the Packers second-string defense, tossing a couple of touchdown passes to Antonio Freeman to highlight the Packers annual Family Fun Night Saturday at Lambeau Field. A crowd of 48,898 paid $6 a ticket to see some offensive fireworks in a glorified practice, then real fireworks afterward.

Favre and the offense have been clicking from the start of training camp. Favre's revamped offseason workout program has helped. He entered camp having thrown the ball a little more between the June minicamp and the start of training camp, and he has been on the mark with many of his passes. Most of all, his arm is feeling strong with no signs of the tendinitis that sidelined him at this time last year flaring up.

"So two weeks of throwing five or 10 minutes a day made a difference," said Favre. "Next year I will throw three weeks.

Of course, it's been a little easier for Favre, who has often been going against a defense that has been depleted with injuries in the line and at cornerback. Despite throwing two interceptions into the hands of free agent cornerback Kevin Kaesviharn, who ran them back for touchdowns, Favre easily moved the offense in the scrimmage, throwing for 210 yards, completing 13 of 21 attempts.

But he also was wearing a red jersey, as all quarterbacks do during practice, meaning he cannot be hit.

"I don't think we can go too high on one side or the other until we get a full compliment of people out there working head to head," said Packers coach and general manager Mike Sherman. "I think our defense is right where it needs to be, other than the fact that I'd like to have our starting corners on the field, which we haven't had. But I do feel that our offense is in a rhythm for the most part. You just have a feel for that when you're watching practice and completing balls. Our percentage of completion in practice is fairly high as opposed to last year. I feel that we have good rhythm in our offense, but I don't detract from our defense because I know who's out there. We have young kids out there trying to make our team as opposed to the guys who are going to be playing on Sunday."

The annual intrasquad scrimmage provided a few highs and lows. Here's a look at a few of them:

Thumbs up
Freeman caught three passes for 98 yards and two touchdowns. He beat Kaesviharn along the right sideline to haul in a 29-yard pass from Favre during the first-team offense's first drive of the evening.

During a two-minute drill, Freeman caught a pass on a crossing route, juked around defensive back Chris Akins and linebacker K.D. Williams and raced untouched for a 60-yard touchdown.

"He had a good night," said Sherman. "It's good to see that."

Josh Bidwell clearly has a leg up in the battle for top punter against Kevin Stemke. Bidwell booted two punts for a 50.5-yard avg, including a long punt of 53 yards.

"We put some pressure on him. He performed," Sherman said.

Stemke, who has been struggling in practice had one punt for 47 yards in the scrimmage.

Kaesviharn picked off two of Favre's passes. One came during a red zone drill and ran it back 97 yards for a touchdown. He also intercepted one during a two-minute drill, stepping in front of wide receiver Bill Schroeder and returning it 54 yards for a touchdown.

Both of the drills where non-tackling drills.

Running back Rondell Mealey is getting back to the form he displayed a year ago before he suffered torn knee ligaments. Mealey scored on a 1-yard touchdown run and had six carries for 18 yards. He played a little bit with the first team offense. Mealey is battling De'Mond Parker and Herbert Goodman for the third running back spot behind Ahman Green and Dorsey Levens.

Thumbs down
Ryan Longwell missed four out of five field goals between 47 and 49 yards. The normally reliable kicker has had to adjust to a new holder this season after the Packers dealt Matt Hasselbeck to the Seattle Seahawks. Pederson held for Longwell in 1997 and '98 before leaving for Philadelphia. But the Packers, unsure if Pederson will make the team, have had Bidwell and quarterback Billy Joe Tolliver in practice in case Pederson does not make the team.

"We're going to go through a tough preseason," said Longwell.

Rookie Bhawoh Jue hyper-extended both knees while defending against rookie Robert Ferguson, but is only expected to miss a couple of days of practice.

"Our doctors don't think there's going to be a problem there," Sherman said.

Neither Tolliver nor Pederson did much to distinguish themselves in the race for the backup spot behind Favre. Pederson was 8 of 13 for 50 yards and no touchdowns Tolliver was 8 of 10 for 85 yards and two touchdowns.

"Very tough to evaluate those guys because we're throwing guys in and out," said Sherman.

Sherman said he will get a much better evaluation of the two when they begin performing in exhibition games.

Because most of the playing time was given to Tolliver and Pederson, Henry Burris did not get to play.

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