Thanksgiving fete: Favre to be honored during Bears-Packers
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — A prime-time game between the longtime NFC North rivals Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers is usually enough to make for must-watch viewing on Thanksgiving.
It will have to compete on Thursday with Brett Favre returning to Lambeau Field.
At halftime, Favre’s No. 4 will be unveiled on the north facade of the stadium next to Favre’s name alongside the Packers’ five other retired numbers.
It’s the culmination of a season-long reconciliation process between the team and their former franchise quarterback following their messy split in 2008.
It’s a Thanksgiving to remember in Green Bay.
“I think the healing process is great to really honor him for what he accomplished here and move forward together,” said Aaron Rodgers, who replaced Favre at quarterback.
Favre’s number actually has already been retired by the Packers. That happened in July in a ceremony held in conjunction with his induction into the team’s Hall of Fame.
Judging by the overwhelmingly favorable reaction that Favre received then from a crowd of 70,000, Lambeau should be rocking on Thursday.
Too bad Rodgers and the rest of the Packers will be in the locker room at halftime while Favre is feted on the field.
Hall of Fame quarterback Bart Starr, who is recovering from two strokes and a heart attack, was also scheduled to attend the game.
“We’ve got to stay focused on the game, and our players will,” coach Mike McCarthy said.
“But this is obviously a very special, special time in the Green Bay Packers history ... The fact that you’ll have Bart Starr, Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers together for a moment I think will obviously be special and unique.”
There’s a game to play, too. Some things to watch and other notes ahead of the 192nd meeting in the NFL’s longest rivalry:
THEY’RE BACK: The Packers offense. It’s not nearly back to the high-octane level that mystified defenses last season, though the 30-13 victory on Sunday over Minnesota broke the Packers out of their slumber.
A key for Green Bay is to get continued production out of running back Eddie Lacy. He broke out of a season-long slump after gaining 100 yards on 22 yards against the Vikings.
FORTE-FIED?: Bears running back Matt Forte appears set to return after missing three games with a knee injury. Forte this week said he was able to cut and run at full speed at practice.
Forte had 141 yards rushing with a touchdown on 24 carries in the teams’ first meeting in the season opener in September.
“I think the offense has evolved a lot since that first week,” quarterback Jay Cutler said. “So hopefully we can do much of the same, control the clock, get the run game get going.”
JAY’S DAY: Cutler has been awful against the Packers on the road. He is 0-4 at Lambeau Field with a quarterback rating of 41.1, three touchdowns and 12 interceptions. But the Packers remain wary, especially since Cutler is 10 games into his first season with coach John Fox and offensive coordinator Adam Gase.
“He’s shown a lot of toughness to all of his teammates and the coaching staff. He’s working extremely hard,” Fox said about Cutler. “I’ve got nothing but praise for him at this point.”
NO REST: A quick turnaround will not help two teams that had a combined 27 players on the injury report, including 16 for Green Bay. Coaches faced the prospect of juggling as much work as possible at practice with the desire to get players rest. It put a premium this week on paying attention in meetings and mastering the playbook.
IN THE HOODIE: Packers receiver James Jones had 109 yards and a score on six catches against Minnesota. He drew just as much attention for wearing a hoodie under his jersey during the game.
The look became a viral hit on social media, even though Jones said that he only wore the hoodie to stay warm.
“Man, we’ve all been wearing them hoodies in practice now forever. I wear it one game . I definitely did not want it to get the attention that it has gotten,” Jones said.
“I might break one out,” joked fellow receiver Randall Cobb after he joined Jones and wore a hoodie during one practice this week.
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