Originally created 12/15/01

Packers to face weakened secondary



GREEN BAY, Wis. -- If Brett Favre is excited about facing Tennessee's weakened secondary, he's not letting on.

"I haven't even thought about it," insisted the Green Bay Packers quarterback.

Titans coach Jeff Fisher has.

He's trying to find four healthy defensive backs to play Sunday, and that won't be easy because six were listed on the injury report, including their two Pro Bowl players, safety Blaine Bishop (foot, hand) and cornerback Samari Rolle (foot).

Also ailing are safeties Aric Morris (ankle) and Daryl Porter (knee) and cornerbacks DeRon Jenkins (knee) and Donald Mitchell (knee).

"We'll have 11 on defense, I'll promise you that," Fisher said.

The Titans (5-7) rank last in the league in pass defense. They surrendered 348 yards and four touchdowns in Todd Bouman's first NFL start for the Minnesota Vikings last week.

And now come the Packers (9-3) and Favre, the league's third-rated passer and NFL leader with 25 touchdown throws who is making a strong bid for a fourth MVP.

It looks like quite a mismatch - but not to Favre.

"Yeah, they've had some injuries. But you look at our history against Atlanta, Carolina, teams that you expect to beat or are expected to throw for 400 yards against, it doesn't always work out that way," Favre said. "I'm just anxious to play the game. I don't even care who we're playing.

"I almost want to close my eyes and cover my ears when (coach Mike Sherman) comes in Wednesday morning and talks about, 'OK, we've got Tennessee this week,"' Favre said. "It doesn't matter. What matters is that we execute. Do we block? Do we throw? Do we make the right reads? Do we catch the ball? That's what matters."

Offensive coordinator Tom Rossley is glad to hear that. He said he'd be worried if Favre were talking about how eager he was to face the Titans' decimated defense.

"I mean, we can't look at it that way," Rossley said. "We look at it as 1999 they went 13-3, 2000 they went 13-3. This year, they're 5-7, they've lost some close games. They're a good football team. And it's going to be heck down there in their stadium."

Wide receiver Antonio Freeman, who had seven catches for 186 yards and three touchdowns against Tennessee the last time the teams played, said he still expects to find the going tough at Adelphia Coliseum.

"I look at their situation like ours. We miss LeRoy Butler," Freeman said, referring to the Packers' injured strong safety. "The next guy's got to come in, play well and fill his shoes. That's what I expect from whoever plays for an injured guy on that team."

The Packers' defensive players are taking the same attitude.

They understand Titans quarterback Steve McNair has lost just once in his last 10 games in December or January and that wide receivers Kevin Dyson and Derrick Mason have combined for almost 600 yards in the last three games.

"Trust me, I've played 10 years and there are no easy games," defensive tackle Santana Dotson said.

Favre's point exactly.