A bad omen?

Rodgers' hamstring injury raises questions about durability

Only when Brett Favre decides to walk away from football some day will Green Bay Packers know how valuable he has been to the team over the years. For years, we have taken Favre for granted - his strong arm, his love for the game, his durability.

So many starting quarterbacks on other teams have come and gone with other teams during Favre's amazing starting streak, which will be extended on Sunday against Oakland. Yet Favre keeps on ticking, using his natural strength, determination and ability to deal with pain to start week after week after week. It's truly remarkable.

Meanwhile, there's Aaron Rodgers. He has given the Packers every indication that he is ready to start and lead the team when Favre eventually moves on. But one big concern surfaced again on Tuesday on the final play of practice inside the Don Hutson Center. Just five days after leading the Packers to a near comeback victory over the Dallas Cowboys, Rodgers injured his hamstring and probably won't be available Sunday, and possibly the week after. That means that if Favre re-injuries his tender right arm, or separated left shoulder, Craig Nall, picked up as a free agent on Monday, will be leading the Packers against the Raiders.

Favre has proved over and over that when he starts a game, he usually finishes, but can Packers fans say that about Rodgers at this point? It's more of a down the road concern than anything for the Packers, but it's got to be a concern. In Rodgers' only extended playing time last year against New England, he sustained a broken bone in his foot. To his credit, he gutted it out and finished the last quarter-and-a-half despite the pain, but also finished the season on injured reserve.

Maybe it's a coincidence that Rodgers hurt his hamstring after playing last Thursday. Let's hope so. In any case, the Packers should seek another quarterback to groom, either through the NFL draft next spring, or an up-and-comer that has been in the league a year or two and will benefit from McCarthy's off-season quarterback school.

Rodgers has had all the training and potential to be a great quarterback. He has proved that he's ready to go. But if he's in the training room more than on the field, that presents problems. With Favre, the Packers haven't had to deal with those kind of problems at the quarterback position since 1992, but not every quarterback is Brett Favre-durable.

Hopefully, Rodgers can avoid any major injuries when he's playing more regularly, but in the meantime, the Packers need to re-inforce the position with an up-and-coming backup.

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