QB Brett Favre and the No. 1 offense made a quantum leap in the space of a week. After failing to pick up a first down and having a net gain of only 3 yards in four possessions during the preseason opener Aug. 11 at Pittsburgh, the top unit carved out some success in the Packers' 48-13 annihilation of Seattle on Aug. 18 at Lambeau Field. It racked up 112 yards and scored three times in four series before Favre stepped aside for Aaron Rodgers in the second quarter.
"Just rhythm and timing," said head coach Mike McCarthy, touching on the difference for the starting group in its second go-around. "We had the three-and-out (in the first possession), but I thought they finally got into a rhythm. And, just like anything, when you're running the football, it makes your play-action game so much more successful."
WR Shaun Bodiford, a top candidate to return kickoffs this season, was lost after being upended by Seattle's C.J. Wallace on the game-opening kickoff runback. Bodiford later was taken by cart back to the team's Lambeau Field training room. Incidentally, Bodiford suffered a season-ending broken shin while returning the game-opening kickoff at Minnesota last November.
WR Robert Ferguson was cut Aug. 17, ending an injury-marred, underachieving seven-year tenure with the Packers that selected him in the second round of the 2001 draft. Ferguson faced tough odds of remaining with the team this season because of an influx of talented young receivers. Green Bay was unsuccessful in attempts to trade Ferguson, who had two years remaining on a four-year contract extension he received in 2004. The Packers gained $1.8 million (Ferguson's base salary) on the salary cap this year. They will count Ferguson's annual prorated signing-bonus money of $700,000 both this year and next year.
TE Bubba Franks went without the protective shield he's worn on his helmet for a couple weeks and responded with a co-game-high four receptions for 30 yards in the 48-13 preseason win over Seattle on Aug. 18.
Franks suffered a scratched cornea in practice July 31. Three of Franks' catches came in the second Packers series, which culminated with a field goal by Mason Crosby. Franks left the game in the second quarter after taking a shot to the stomach and having the wind knocked out. Franks said after the game that he was fine.
QB Aaron Rodgers had a second solid performance as Favre's replacement in as many outings. Rodgers played about two quarters after taking over for Favre in the second period and compiled a stellar 119.0 passer rating. Rodgers completed 10 of 16 passes for 97 yards and two touchdowns. However, he lost two fumbles, the first of which came on a high shotgun snap by center Scott Wells.
QB Paul Thompson didn't take advantage of his first extended stint of the preseason. Thompson was given the full fourth quarter after Rodgers, but the undrafted rookie had two ill-advised passes picked off in the red zone and finished with an abysmal 24.6 passer rating. Thompson, who was 5-of-10 for 49 yards, came into the game on the heels of throwing five interceptions in two practices Aug. 16. He had been making a move for the No. 3 job held by shaky incumbent Ingle Martin, who didn't play against Seattle.
P Jon Ryan punted only two times in the latest game but bolstered his strong preseason with a gross average of 55 yards and a superb net average of 52. He had a long punt of 63 yards. The incumbent appears to be a lock to have the job a second year.
CB Al Harris started the game Saturday and played for a quarter, registering one pass breakup. Harris was held out of the preseason opener Aug. 11 at Pittsburgh because of back soreness.
CB Charles Woodson was in the starting lineup against the Seahawks and played a quarter after being kept out of the first game because of a sore hamstring.
S Atari Bigby made a greater impact in three plays against Seattle on Aug. 18 than starter Maquand Manuel did all of last season. Bigby's play means Manuel could be on the way out, not only from the starting role at strong safety but from the team altogether.
Bigby is relentless and explosive playing up near the line, which enabled defensive coordinator Bob Sanders to turn him loose as a blitzer against Seahawks QBs Seneca Wallace and David Greene. Bigby, lined up with the linebackers, had a 10-yard running head start to gain liftoff from the ground and fly down on a helpless Wallace in the pocket, forcing a fumble that was returned for a touchdown by linebacker Tracy White. Bigby had two sacks and a quarterback hurry by halftime.
"He definitely stood out," head coach Mike McCarthy said. Bigby started receiving some reps ahead of Manuel with the No. 1 unit earlier in the week, signaling perhaps the beginning of the phasing out of Manuel.
DT Justin Harrell (first round) continues to be listed as a starter on the depth chart, but he's no better than fifth at the position. Harrell continues to run with the second- and third-stringers and had only one tackle with a pass breakup in the Aug. 18 preseason win over Seattle.
RB Brandon Jackson (second round) started for the second straight game and was highly productive with 13 carries for 54 yards, including a 1-yard touchdown, in playing just the first half. Jackson was decisive in making the first cut on most of his runs and accelerated through a few holes.
WR James Jones (third round) had 58 receiving yards for the second straight game, hauling in four passes. Jones led the scoring barrage against the Seahawks with two touchdown receptions -- a 16-yard catch-and-run on a throw from Brett Favre and a nifty 7-yard grab in the back of the end zone on a low throw from Aaron Rodgers.
G Allen Barbre (fourth round) is entrenched as the No. 2 left guard. He has added value as an athletic special-teams contributor.
FB Korey Hall (sixth round) started for the second straight game in place of an injured Brandon Miree. Hall played more than he was slated for because fellow rookie Ryan Powdrell suffered a knee injury in the second quarter.
LB Desmond Bishop (sixth round) remains ahead of Abdul Hodge as the top backup to middle linebacker Nick Barnett.
K Mason Crosby (sixth round) is statistically ahead of incumbent Dave Rayner in training camp thus far, based on field-goal attempts. Crosby made his only field-goal try, from 37 yards, in the Aug. 18 game.
RB DeShawn Wynn (seventh round) missed his second straight game because of a strained quadriceps. The injury has kept Wynn out since Aug. 7.
DE Michael Montgomery, FB Ryan Powdrell and OT Orrin Thompson will be out at least a couple weeks after sustaining MCL knee injuries in the Aug. 18 preseason win over Seattle.
RB Vernand Morency remains out because of a strained patellar tendon in his right knee. The projected starter isn't expected to play in the Aug. 23 game against Jacksonville and might be iffy for the preseason finale Aug. 30 at Tennessee.
RB P.J. Pope remains out indefinitely after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery Aug. 6.
FS Mike Brown didn't get to play in Super Bowl XLI because of a foot injury that required surgery, and he has no desire to watch a replay of the Bears' 29-17 loss.
"Every time we see a clip of it, we're all groaning," Brown said. "We don't like looking at it. Very rarely will we even turn it on, even when we're watching film for corrections or anything. We've seen maybe 10 plays of it, just to see what we could have done better and things like that. I know I haven't watched the full game over again. Why? Why would you want to see that?"
DE Mark Anderson continues to show that he's more than the impact pass rusher who led the Bears with 12 sacks last season as a rookie. When the offense tried to get slick during one of the final training camp practices with a reverse to Devin Hester, Anderson sniffed it out and was there for what would have been a 10-yard loss in a full-contact situation.
"Devin Hester is a heck of an athlete; Mark Anderson is, too," coach Lovie Smith said. "We expect plays like that from Mark, and of course we know he's capable." Despite common perception, Smith said Anderson, a fifth-round draft pick, has always been an effective player vs. the run. "We gave him a limited number of reps (last season), and he was productive with it, and I think playing more will only get a lot more big plays from him," Smith said. "I think it's a misconception that he can't play the run (just) because he's such a good pass rusher."
OT Aaron Brant was waived-injured by the Bears. Brant has been bothered by a left knee injury.
FB Jon Goldsberry was waived-injured by the Bears. Goldsberry recently returned to the practice field after missing two weeks with a hamstring injury.
WR Bernard Berrian made back-to-back crowd-pleasing grabs in front of another large crowd of sweaty onlookers during one of the Bears' final training camp practices last week.
Berrian displayed his vertical leaping ability to snag a bullet from Rex Grossman that appeared to be way overthrown. On the next snap, the fourth-year wide receiver streaked past cornerback Charles Tillman and ran under a perfectly thrown deep ball from Grossman. A day earlier, Berrian got far enough behind strong safety Adam Archuleta that he was able to slow down and wait at the goalline for another Grossman bomb one play after Devin Hester hauled in a 65-yard TD pass. After scoring, Berrian ran to the goalpost and dunked the ball over the crossbar as another crowd of several thousand applauded. "They love to see us throw the ball deep, and I like seeing the ball thrown deep," coach Lovie Smith said. "On the other side, of course, defensively, we can't give up those type of big plays."
DE Dan Bazuin is still struggling to make up for lost time and overcome a pair of knee injuries that kept him out of OTAs and much of training camp.
LB Michael Okwo is nowhere close to Jamar Williams when it comes to challenging for the top backup job.
RB Garrett Wolfe remains in the plans as a change-of-pace guy, but he hasn't blown anyone away yet, although his quickness is impressive.
CB Trumaine McBride has been one of the surprises of camp, but he spent the final training camp practices in a walking boot, hobbled by an injured toe.
WR Mark Bradley (knee) missed the last three practices of camp.
DT Tommie Harris (hamstring soreness) didn't do much at practice in the final week of camp, although he did dress.
P Joe Deraney was placed on injured reserve with a torn anterior cruciate ligament. His nice onside kick in the exhibition opener made the victory possible, but he was unlikely to make the team head of Nick Harris.
P Micah Knorr was signed by the Lions. FB Keith Belton was signed to replace FB Alan Ricard. He is a longshot to make the team.
LB Cole Haley was signed to fill out the linebacking corps.
WR Eddie Drummond still isn't getting work at receiver, but he continues to be the main return man.
TE Daniel Wilcox (ankle) missed the second preseason game and is out indefinitely.
QB Jon Kitna played the entire first half of the second exhibition, and his passer rating was 121.1. He went 12-for-16 for 137 yards and a touchdown. "He was very, very good with the ball, extremely good with the ball, putting it on target well," Marinelli said. "I thought our offense really had a nice tempo and a nice pace to it."
WR Calvin Johnson continues to impress and likely will be a starter soon.
DE Ikaika Alama-Francis got a start on the right side with Kalimba Edwards injured, but will mostly play on the left side.
S Gerald Alexander showed up with an interception in the second exhibition.
LB Johnny Baldwin is showing the raw athleticism the Lions liked when they drafted him, but he needs to learn the defense better.
CB A.J. Davis seems to be struggling.
CB Ramzee Robinson has progressed but has a long way to go.
RB Adrian Peterson rushed for a game-high 70 yards on eight plays and also scored a touchdown in the Vikings' preseason victory over the New York Jets. Peterson had a 43-yard run in the second quarter that was a result of a beautiful spin move he put on the Jets defender. Second-round receiver Sidney Rice tied for the team lead with two receptions against the Jets but they only went for 14 yards. From the looks of things in practice, Rice could be an end zone threat in the red-zone offense.
RB Chester Taylor, entering his second season with the Vikings and coming off a year in which he established a franchise record with 303 rushing attempts, will be used sparingly in the preseason. That's not a surprise considering the Vikings know exactly what they have in Taylor. "It's the coaches' choice how much I get to play, so I just do what they tell me," said Taylor, who spent his first four seasons serving as Jamal Lewis' backup with Baltimore. "They rested me a lot more this year."
S Darren Sharper was among the players happy with coach Brad Childress' decision to lighten the training camp workload this year. Among the adjustments Childress made after several players voiced concerns last year was to cut out two days of two-a-day practices, add a day off and limit the amount done in the afternoon. "It was a little lighter than last year," Sharper said. "I know Coach Childress made it a little less physical."
RB Wendell Mathis was waived/injured after missing the majority of camp because of a back injury.
DE Erasmus James was activated from the physically unable to perform list but did not play against the New York Jets last Friday. James tore his left anterior cruciate ligament in the second regular-season game last year.
CB Chad Johnson missed the final three days of practices in Mankato so he could be with his mother, who was in a Louisiana hospital.
RT Ryan Cook got some work at center during a recent practice and in the Vikings' second preseason game. Cook played the latter position at New Mexico and likely will be the No. 1 backup at the spot should something happen to veteran Matt Birk.
LB George Hall, who played college football at Purdue and spent time with the Vikings this spring before being released, was signed after LB Jason Glenn retired and LB Rufus Alexander was lost for the season because of a knee injury.
LB Cameron Siskowic also signed with the Vikings. An undrafted free agent, Siskowic signed with Cincinnati but was waived on Aug. 2.
QB Tarvaris Jackson continues to get most of the work with the first team. Brooks Bollinger did get reps with the top unit in the second preseason game against the Jets, but between them Jackson and Bollinger attempted only eight passes. Bollinger and Jackson both played two series; it wouldn't be surprising if Jackson is in for the entire first half against Seattle on Saturday.
DE Brian Robison had a big game in the Vikings' 37-20 preseason victory over the New York Jets. The rookie got a sack and forced a fumble on a third-quarter play and then later in that series he recovered an errant shot-gun snap at the New York 3-yard line and scored a touchdown. Robison, who will get reps at right end this season, also tied for second on the team with four tackles in the game.
CB Marcus McCauley started against the Jets as the Vikings opened in the nickel package. A virus that cost him a day of practice the week before appears to have slowed McCauley of late.
WR Aundrae Allison played against the Jets last Friday after missing the first preseason game because of a hamstring injury. He also was used on kick returns versus New York, taking three back for 60 yards.
LB Rufus Alexander suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in the first preseason game and is out for the season.
QB Tyler Thigpen threw only one pass and scrambled once in playing the fourth quarter against the Jets. He had completed three of six passes for 29 yards and ran twice for 18 yards the week before.
WR Chandler Williams remains a work in progress and could end as a practice squad candidate.
OL Adam O'Connor suffered a partially dislocated kneecap in practice and will miss two to three weeks. O'Connor planned to get a second opinion on his injured left knee. He suffered a partial dislocation of his kneecap during practice and is expected to miss two to three weeks.
LB John Kerr has been out because of a back injury.
CB Mike Hawkins suffered bruised ribs against the New York Jets and tight end Richard Owens had an ankle and knee sprain. Both were expected to be all right.