Favre's conditioning pays off

Off-season workout program has helped quarterback elude more defensive linemen

Freshly turned 36-year-old Brett Favre has begun reaping the benefits of the intensive conditioning workouts he undertook during the spring and early summer at his off-season home in Mississippi.

As hoped, the quarterback is more nimble and evasive at the first sight of danger in the pocket than he's been since he was in his late 20s. Going hand in hand with Favre's enhanced scrambling ability is a rekindled knack for pulling the football down and picking up yards on his own.

"I feel quicker," Favre said before heading back home last week, with the Packers having the week off.

In the first five games, Favre ran seven times for 46 yards. He gained all of 51 yards combined, in 34 rushing attempts, the previous two seasons.

The renewed emphasis on making something happen with his own two feet, which Favre frequently and proficiently did from 1992 to '99, has been a boon for an injury-depleted offense. Yet his big contributions also have magnified how otherwise soft the Packers' once-unstoppable running game has become.

Favre's per-carry average of 6.6 yards is two times that of the team's average for the season. What's more, Favre has accounted for 12 percent of the Packers' total rushing yards and 40 percent of their "explosive" runs, which the coaches classify as gains of at least 12 yards.

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