Favre suddenly excited about talent level of this Packers team

Published 6:16 pm Thursday, August 3, 2006

Brett Favre hadn’t yet been outside for practice, so you can’t blame the following statement on the heat:

“I really feel like this is, as far as talent is concerned, the most talented team that I’ve been a part of as a whole,” Favre said Monday morning.

Say what?

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Although it might seem like a far-fetched thing to say about a Green Bay Packers team coming off a 4-12 season — particularly coming from a guy who spent the offseason wondering whether his team would be good enough to make putting off retirement worthwhile — Favre is gushing about the wealth of ability he sees on the practice field.

This year’s team is even more talented, Favre insists, than the Packers’ Super Bowl teams of the mid-1990s.

“If we can somehow put it together, there’s a lot of talent out there,” Favre said.

Favre said the Packers’ dominant teams of the 1990s actually weren’t incredibly talented, “but we were very experienced.”

There lies the major caveat to Favre’s suddenly simmering optimism. He says this is also the most inexperienced team he has played on, and potential doesn’t mean much when the pads go on.

But if the Packers’ young players, especially on the offensive line and at wide receiver, can play at a high level right away, Favre said it’s realistic to expect a major turnaround.

“It can be done,” Favre said. “I don’t know what to expect, but if the guys play to their level or higher, anything can happen.”

That’s a different tone than Favre struck for much of the offseason as he waffled about his football future.

Before deciding to return, Favre wondered whether it would be worth risking another possible 4-12 season and questioned the Packers’ lack of activity in the free-agent market.

The Packers’ biggest offseason additions came on defense, but Favre returned anyway.

Now, Favre said the only time he second-guesses his decision to return is when he feels the wear and tear from previous seasons.

“This morning, I’m like, ‘What am I doing?”’ Favre said. “It feels like I’ve got glass in my shoes. But I know from experience, even though every time we practice and every time we play and every season it may get a little worse, once I get on the field, it seems to kind of go away.”

Favre seems far less optimistic about the state of his own body than he is about the state of his team.

“Honestly? My arm feels great. The rest of my body feels like I’ve been playing for 16 years,” Favre said. “I probably walk around and run around like an old man. My ankles and my feet and hips all bother me. I can still play. It may take awhile in the morning to walk normal — if I ever do walk normal — but that’s part of it. I can overcome that.”

Favre already has sat out a practice session because of his sore ankle, and he plans to scale back his participation in practices this year to try to conserve his body.

“I don’t anticipate feeling better,” Favre said. “But by taking maybe mornings off and being careful to a certain extent, it will prolong my playing. I don’t think it’s anything that tomorrow I say, ’I just can’t make it. I can’t do it anymore.’ It’s just something you have to play with.”

Just like playing with a new cast of teammates.

“New guys come in, you really can’t worry about that,” Favre said. “You worry about what you’re doing, and I think that’s one of the reasons that I’m still here.”

Although he acknowledges the interior offensive line, including two rookie guards, is raw, he said the team has plenty of experience and depth at running back and tight end.

“If we had everyone healthy last year, it would have been a different story,” Favre said. “How different? I don’t know. I would think much different. This year, to me, the question mark is offense. If we stay healthy and our young guys play to par, I don’t see any reason why we won’t be much better than we were last year.”

Favre also singled out rookie receiver Greg Jennings for praise.

“Sometimes size and speed play such a big part in decisions of an NFL team and you overlook the most important thing, intangibles,” Favre said. “Can he get open? Can he catch? Can he catch in traffic? And some of those things remain to be seen, but I feel like he’s kind of a natural at what he does.”

Favre knows outsiders aren’t nearly as optimistic about the Packers.

“I really believe that we’re going to be better than people think we will,” Favre said.