Packers' offensive outlook

Team focuses on more productivity while in the 'red zone'

QUARTERBACK: Starter - Brett Favre. Backups - Aaron Rodgers, Ingle Martin, Paul Thompson.

The eyes of most NFL observers will be on Favre early in the season as he takes aim on a handful of attainable league records, including seven touchdown passes to eclipse Dan Marino's 420, two wins to surpass John Elway's 148 and the dubious distinction of five interceptions to overtake George Blanda's 277.

Coach Mike McCarthy, though, is determined to get Favre in position for a career-best season, if that's remotely possible at his age of 37. While progress was made in cutting Favre's interception total from a league-worst 29 in 2005 to 18, his completion percentage was at an all-time personal low (56.0) and he had only 18 TD throws, despite putting the ball up an unprecedented 613 times. McCarthy wants to get Favre on the move and operating outside the pocket, where he thrived earlier in his career, and he should have the mobility to do so after undergoing arthroscopic ankle surgery in February.

Heir apparent Rodgers also is back to full strength after recovering from a broken foot that prematurely ended his 2006 season in November. The setback came during one of the few opportunities Rodgers has had to play in place of Favre the last two years, and the results in those haven't been encouraging. That makes it a pivotal preseason for the former first-round draft pick, who must engender confidence among his teammates and team officials, as well as the fans, that he'll be ready to take over for Favre once retirement beckons.

Martin should remain the No. 3 QB, though accuracy was an issue when he ran the No. 1 offense in offseason workouts when Favre and Rodgers were on the mend.

RUNNING BACKS: Starters - HB Vernand Morency, FB Brandon Miree. Backups - HB Brandon Jackson, Noah Herron, DeShawn Wynn, P.J. Pope; FB Korey Hall, Ryan Powdrell, Corey White.

The free-agent loss of Ahman Green, the No. 2 rushing producer in team annals, wasn't addressed with a notable acquisition in the off-season. The young halfbacks on the roster have a combined three starts, 891 rushing yards and seven rushing touchdowns in the NFL.

Morency and second-round draft pick Jackson are being given first crack at assuming the featured role, which they'll probably share as the season gets started. Both fit the zone-blocking scheme with initial burst and elusiveness but are sorely lacking experience of being a full-time guy for an extended period.

Wynn, a seventh-round choice this year, is a sleeper candidate to be in the mix but has to shed the character and work-ethic issues that plagued him in college. Should Wynn falter in camp, Herron figures to return as a third-down back.

Miree is an ideal fullback for the zone-blocking scheme but has to stay healthy. Hall, a sixth-round selection, has converted from linebacker but will be in good position to make the team because of his dirty work on special teams.

TIGHT END: Starter - Bubba Franks. Backups - Donald Lee, Tory Humphrey, Zac Alcorn, Clark Harris.

Franks, a three-time Pro Bowler once upon a time, is the de facto starter entering camp, but that could quickly change based on how the offseason workouts played out. Lee and Humphrey, who bring more athleticism and can stretch the field, frequently were in with the No. 1 unit ahead of Franks. The onus is on Franks in the preseason to make amends for his nearly invisible 2006 season of zero touchdown catches and a career-low-tying 25 receptions. Otherwise, management might be inclined to cut ties with the former standout, although he still brings value as a quality blocker.

The coaches are high on Alcorn, signed as an undrafted free agent last year, because of his sure hands. Harris, a seventh-round draftee, has a lot of work ahead of him to snare a roster spot.

WIDE RECEIVERS: Starters - Donald Driver, Greg Jennings. Backups - Robert Ferguson, Ruvell Martin, Carlyle Holiday, James Jones, Shaun Bodiford, Carlton Brewster, David Clowney, Chris Francies, Calvin Russell, Koren Robinson (suspended).

The sure thing among the group is Driver. He's established himself as a No. 1 receiver, with at least 80 receptions and 1,200 yards each of the last three years. Since Favre didn't get his wish of landing Randy Moss, he'll have to continue to make do with a fleet of young receivers until Robinson is possibly reinstated to the team after Week 2 after serving a league-imposed, one-year suspension.

Jennings must bounce back from a rookie season that sizzled early but fizzled late because of an ankle injury. A hip injury curtailed his involvement in practices this offseason.

Ferguson's injury history won't do him any favors of hanging on with the club for another season.

Martin and Holiday proved at times last season to be capable situational receivers.

If the offense is to reverse its self-inflicted woes of last season, when it ranked last in the NFC for red-zone efficiency (32.7 percent), Jones stands to be a difference-maker as a rookie. The third-round pick caught Favre's eye in off-season work for being physical with his big body (6-1, 207) and grabbing just about every ball thrown to him.

OFFENSIVE LINE: Starters - LT Chad Clifton, LG Daryn Colledge, C Scott Wells, RG Jason Spitz, RT Mark Tauscher. Backups - T Tony Moll, T Junius Coston, T Orrin Thompson, G Allen Barbre, G Tony Palmer, G Tyson Walter, G Travis Leffew, G Adam Stenavich, G Pat Murray.

Whereas experimentation was on display early and often in the preseason last year, the starting five is essentially settled as camp opens this year.

Colledge and Spitz started coming into their own by the end of their rookie year, which started inauspiciously for both because of mental and/or physical issues. The heady Wells graded out as the top lineman in 2006, giving up only a half sack. Mainstay bookends Clifton and Tauscher remain skillfully sound, but injuries dogged them last season. Moll, who started 10 games as a rookie on the right side, will back up Tauscher. The athletic Barbre, a fourth-round pick, is being trained at left guard in case Colledge would have to move outside to replace Clifton.

Note: Analysis of each position on Green Bay's defense will be posted Tuesday on PackerReport.com.


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