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With impact defenders back, Pack hopes to put heat on Favre

After not sacking Brett Favre once in two losses to the Minnesota Vikings last year, the Green Bay defense feels it will have enough manpower to pressure the former Packers quarterback Sunday night.

"It will be a different year this year," defensive end Ryan Pickett said Friday. "We're planning on getting to him more than we got to him last year."

As reported earlier this week by's Steve Wyche, the Packers are preparing to welcome back NFL sacks leader Clay Matthews after the linebacker missed last week's loss to Miami with a hamstring injury.

"Barring any setback, I think he'll be ready to go," coach Mike McCarthy said Friday.

Matthews wants to contribute on a full-time basis, though he may be limited to keep him healthy for later in the season.

"I think the plan is it's either all or nothing," said Matthews, who has 8.5 sacks. "I'm sure they'll spell me a few times to catch me a break, but at the same time, I look to continue my play which I've put together to begin the season."

Packers defensive backs Al Harris and Atari Bigby, placed on the physically unable to perform list to start the season, both returned to practice this week. But Wyche reports, via a league source, that only Harris would be activated this week. Harris will only play in nickel and dime sub packages as the team eases him back, according to the source. When Harris comes into the game, Charles Woodson would move inside to nickelback.

Woodson is expected to start Sunday, even though he has been excused from the past two practices for undisclosed personal reasons, a team spokesman said.

As for Harris, Wyche reports he might not get a chance to re-claim his starting job because of the play of CB Tramon Williams. The coaching staff loves Williams' development and thinks he is playing at a near Pro Bowl level, according to a league source.

Pickett (ankle) and linebacker Brandon Chillar (shoulder) are questionable for the game, but both expect to play Sunday.

"I feel the urgency," Pickett said. "I need to be out there for this game. This is a big game. We need all of the people we can, go out there and try to make some plays and stop (running back) Adrian Peterson."

Just as important to the Packers is putting some heat on Favre, who returns to Lambeau Field as the enemy in Vikings purple for the second time after his 16-year run in Green Bay ended with a controversial trade before the 2008 season.

Favre threw for 515 yards and seven touchdowns with no interceptions in the Vikings' two-game sweep of the Packers in 2009.

"He sat back there and picked us apart," said Matthews, who started both games as a rookie. "We don't have to lie about that. We have to get some pressure on him. Knowing he's not as mobile as he once was when he was younger, if we can get some hits on him, get him off his game, I think it'll pay dividends for us."

Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers said the inability to sack Favre wasn't for lack of trying.

"There were a few times where we had guys flat free right up inside, and he got rid of the ball," Capers said. "Brett's not dumb, you know. ... He got the ball out of his hands. When that's the case, you've just got to be able to cover them well enough."

Favre is 8-0 in his career against teams for which Capers was a head coach or defensive coordinator. The first came in Favre's first of 275 straight starts for the Packers on Sept. 27, 1992, when Capers was Pittsburgh's defensive coordinator.

"I don't ever look at that," Capers said. "It's not about Dom Capers. I've been on good teams, and I've been on teams that haven't been so good. But, Brett's a good quarterback, and he's been on a lot of good teams. I'm sure I'm not exclusive in that crowd."

Notes: WR Donald Driver (quadricep) returned to practice on a limited basis Friday and is probable for Sunday's game. Driver expects to play. He has missed only one game because of injury since 2002. ... CB Charles Woodson (toe) is probable, though he missed practice Thursday and Friday for what his coach described as a personal matter "of a positive nature" without disclosing details.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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