2006 season recap
Something to build on
The youngest team in the NFL last season nearly made the playoffs. After a rough start, the Packers finished 8-8, closing out the season with four consecutive wins. Still not ready to retire after the team showed such improvement in head coach Mike McCarthy's first year, Brett Favre decided to return to Green Bay for what likely will be his final season in 2007.
Key camp questions
CWill the receiving corps be productive enough to get Favre to the postseason?
Favre let Packers management and everyone else know he wasn't happy his team didn't buy a ticket in the Randy Moss lottery in the offseason. And why not? The Packers' receiving corps led the league in drops last season and lacked the kind of red-zone target this offence craves. The team did draft James Jones in the third round, a receiver with great hands who could have an immediate impact and take some pressure off of Donald Driver and Greg Jennings. Robert Ferguson, who finished last season on injured reserve, also returns, but he has had trouble staying healthy in recent seasons.
Can the defense continue its growth and become a dominant force?
The Packers ranked 12th in the NFL in yards allowed last season and will continue to rely on solid guys up front, including DE Aaron Kampman (15 1/2 sacks), DE Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila (six) and the versatile Cullen Jenkins (6 1/2), who can shift from end to tackle based on the situation. The Packers also have a solid linebacking corp, led by second-year breakout A.J. Hawk and five-year veteran Nick Barnett. The Packers picked up CB Frank Walker in the offseason to help aging cornerbacks Al Harris (three interceptions) and Charles Woodson (eight), a combination that proved to be a pleasant surprise last season.
Will the young offensive line develop into a cohesive, championship-caliber unit?
The Packers started young, younger and youngest on the offensive line last year in rookies Daryn Colledge, Jason Spitz and Tony Moll. The trio had plenty of time to get stronger in the offseason, and combined with veterans Chad Clifton, Mark Tauscher and center Scott Wells should be much better prepared to keep Favre on his feet.
Key position battle
Vernand Morency vs. Brandon Jackson
There's no question the Packers will miss Ahman Green's contributions on the ground. His healthy return last season (1,059 yards) solidified a shaky running game. With Green now in Houston, though, the position is wide open. Morency, who averaged 4.6 yards on 91 carries last season, shows speed in the open field but can't make Green-like cuts to get there. Rookie Jackson has the footwork to get the open field, but lacks speed to go the distance. Coach McCarthy might have them share the workload.
DT Justin Harrell
First-rounder Harrell could compete with Corey Williams for the starting spot on a solid line. The Tennessee product is tough, having played against Florida last season a week after tearing his left biceps tendon. But surgery for that injury ended his season, so he hasn't played in nearly a year, and his consistency could be an issue.
Player on the spot
QB Brett Favre
No one wants to win more than the future Hall of Famer, who turns 38 in October. He's chasing one last Super Bowl, but he also could capture a few individual NFL records in what likely will be his final season: Most career touchdown passes (420), most career wins as a starter (148), most career passing yards (61,361), and most career interceptions (277).
A talented wideout who might have had a better rookie season if it weren't for an injured ankle, Jennings will have a chance to produce nice numbers in 2007. An attractive sleeper candidate, the Western Michigan product is worth a middle- to late-round choice as a No. 4 fantasy receiver.