Packers notebook

McCarthy confident in Morency; injury update; Hawk the QB

Head coach Mike McCarthy professed confidence at the NFL owners meeting in Phoenix last week that Vernand Morency is the top candidate to replace Ahman Green as the featured back in the Packers' offense. McCarthy believes Morency, a third-year player the team acquired in an early-season trade with Houston last year, is capable of piling up 1,000 yards next season despite having only three career starts. "I'm an optimist," said McCarthy. "I like what Mo brings to the table. He's another guy, he went down to Stillwater his whole time off and was getting ready for the off-season program. I look at him as an individual who's preparing himself to take full advantage of his opportunity. Do I think Mo could be a 1,000-yard rusher in this league? Absolutely. The thing he's going to have to prove to all of us is the durability of doing it for 16 games. They can all say they can do it and want to do it, but to do that week-in and week-out, that's tough duty. I like Mo. Mo's been a very POSITIVE addition to our football team."

Morency was acquired by the Packers in a trade with the Houston Texans for Samkon Gado after the season opener last year. Morency has proven to be a perfect fit for the Packers' zone-blocking scheme and was a complement to Green.

Morency started for the injured Green on Oct. 2 at Philadelphia and rushed for 99 yards. He also gained 101 yards against Arizona Oct. 29, rushed for 69 yards on just 7 carries (9.9-yard avg.) against San Francisco Dec. 10, and scored two touchdowns at home against Detroit on Dec. 17. Morency finished with 434 yards on 96 carries for an impressive 4.5-yard per carry avg.

"Decision making, just the discipline in his course, in his decisions, running the football," McCarthy said. "I think he did a nice job, I think he really picked up our pass-protection stuff. I think the guy has a chance to obviously improve in all areas, but I think the guy could be an every-down back for us."

Medical watch: Quarterback Brett Favre is progressing with his rehab from the Feb. 26 surgery to clean out calcium deposits in his left ankle. However, McCarthy indicated that Favre might not be ready for the full-squad minicamp, May 18-20, thus keeping him out of on-field work until the organized team activities in June. Backup QB Aaron Rodgers was held out of on-field workouts the first couple weeks of the team's off-season program as a precautionary measure. Rodgers is coming back from a broken left foot sustained in November. He's expected to be ready for the May minicamp.

"He's not doing any of the movement drills," McCarthy said. "He's doing more of the fundamental ball drills. But anything that stresses his foot out we're just being smart."

The team is aiming to have safety Marviel Underwood, who could challenge for a starting job, available for the start of training camp. Underwood suffered a torn ACL in the first preseason game against San Diego last year.

"I tell ya, he's ahead of schedule, but we're just being smart with him," McCarthy said. "Rock (Gullickson) and Pepper (Burruss) are real excited about his rehab. I'll say this, almost every time I walked through the weight room during the season, he was always in there. He's doing very well."

Hawk the QB: Ryan Hawk, older brother of Packers linebacker A.J. Hawk, opened the season Saturday as the starting quarterback for the Green Bay Blizzard of arenafootball2.

Ryan Hawk starred in af2 last year with 34 touchdown passes in 13 games for Birmingham.

High ranking: After ranking seventh in the 32-team league for revenue last year, the Packers will be contributors for the second straight year to the revenue-sharing plan, which was formally adopted at the NFL owners meeting.

Green Bay is in the smallest market of the major professional sports.

"In our view, if you're paying for a system that preserves the integrity of the league, that's very important to the Green Bay Packers," team president John Jones said at the owners meeting.

Quote to note: "There's no scoreboard in March, is there? We are (working on it). It's not like we're going home at noon, you know? If you saw me play golf the other day, you'd know I've been working."
-- Head coach Mike McCarthy, speaking at the NFL owners meeting March 28 in Phoenix, on the Packers' lack of activity during free agency thus far.

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