The signs of progress are small but noticeable for Brett Favre.
Favre missed his second consecutive day of practice Thursday for the Minnesota Vikings, but he walked around the facility without the oversized boot that had been protecting an injury that is putting his NFL-record 291 consecutive-starts streak in jeopardy.
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The 41-year-old quarterback limped through the locker room with a heavy wrap on his ankle, which was injured during Sunday night's loss to the Green Bay Packers.
Asked if he thought he could play this weekend against the New England Patriots, Favre said: "I wouldn't put anything past me, to be honest with you."
Still, the decision might not be Favre's to make. According to a report in Friday's Minneapolis Star Tribune, Vikings coach Brad Childress is leaning toward starting Tarvaris Jackson on Sunday. The report, which cites an NFL source, goes on to say that Favre has confided in people close to him that he's not convinced Childress will let him play.
Favre has a stress fracture in his left ankle as well as an avulsion fracture -- in which a bone fragment is torn away from the bone at the tendon or ligament -- in his left heel. He consulted with the doctors who performed surgery on his ankle this summer, to get him ready for a 20th NFL season, and was told that the injury wouldn't worsen by playing on it.
"He's been a little better every day," Childress said Thursday. "Whether it's good enough to play in an NFL football game remains to be seen. Just have to take it a day at a time."
"Surprising would probably be a good word," Bevell said during his weekly news conference. "He's never not been out there, so it would probably be a surprise.
"I was there (in Green Bay), and he broke the thumb. Immediately, the doctor said, 'Hey, we've got to pin it, and you're going to be out six to eight weeks.' In his mind, he said, 'Well, wait a minute, I just played really well.' We didn't know it was broken. He said, 'I'm going to give it a shot.' He played with that as well. It would surprise me if he wasn't able to be out there."
Favre's current injury presents a different set of problems, specifically with his mobility in the pocket.
"The thing that's kept (Favre) playing for so long is his ability, similar to Tom Brady, being able to have that innate feel in the pocket," Bevell said. "He feels the pressure, he can slide, he can step up. It doesn't have to be huge movements of escaping the pocket, it's just being able to have that feel and still be able to stick your foot in the ground and to step up and step to the side and have that type of mobility."
Favre was still in pain as he hobbled around Thursday -- he was looking for a size 15 shoe for his left foot; he normally wears a 14 -- but that's nothing new for the NFL's version of Iron Man. Favre has played in 315 consecutive games, including playoffs, by far the longest streak in league history.
"That's legendary, honestly," Vikings tight end Visanthe Shiancoe said. "Let's be real: 291 games straight. First thing that comes to my mind is, of course, I'm a little jealous. That's something that wows me as well.
"I'm pretty sure it's important to him. But I know that the team's welfare is more important to him. I'm pretty sure he'll make the best decision for the team."
Friday appears to be a big day for Favre's chances to play Sunday against the Patriots. He said Wednesday he hoped to get out on the practice field at least on a limited basis by Friday. The team will issue the final injury report of the week for him Friday afternoon, declaring him out, doubtful or probable to play.
"It's going to take the sky to fall for him not to go out there," Shiancoe said.
If Favre cannot play, Jackson would step in for his first start since a divisional playoff loss to the Philadelphia Eagles at the end of the 2008 season.
Off the field, Favre is the subject of an NFL investigation into allegations that he sent inappropriate messages to a New York Jets employee when both worked for the team in 2008. Favre has spoken to league officials about the matter, but the woman who allegedly received the messages has not.
Jenn Sterger's manager, Phil Reese, said Thursday that she hasn't met with league investigators. Reese didn't say if any meetings with the league are planned but that "she is strongly considering it and is leaning towards it."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.