Morency Out With Knee Injury, Favre on Leave

Green Bay Packers running back Vernand Morency will miss "a couple of weeks" of training camp with a knee injury, coach Mike McCarthy said this afternoon.

McCarthy declined to elaborate on the injury that Morency suffered in the Packers' first practice Saturday. Yesterday, it was described as a bruised knee.

"It's a little more serious than we thought," McCarthy said today.

Morency opened camp as the de facto starter at running back, with rookie Brandon Jackson, practice squad pickup P.J. Pope and veteran Noah Herron behind him.

Last season, Morency gained 421 yards in 96 carries (4.6-yard average) backing up Ahman Green, who signed in the off-season with Houston. He missed two games with a lower back injury.

The Packers will also be minus starting Quarterback Brett Favre for the next few days...

On Saturday, Favre and his wife, Deanna, were informed of the death of Deanna's stepfather, Rocky Byrd, who died at the age of 56, in Gulfport, Miss. According to a source close to the family, Byrd died of a heart attack Saturday.

Favre was close to his wife Deanna's stepfather. The two were known to throw the football around when Byrd wasn't helping Favre with the acres of yard work on their property in Hattiesburg, Miss. When Favre asked his family a few years ago to vote on whether he should continue to play or retire, Byrd was among the inner circle that voted unanimously for Favre to play.

In the wake of the news, Favre missed the morning practice Sunday, the second day of Packers training camp.

He returned to take part in the lengthy evening practice and is scheduled to leave early today to attend the wake, Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. He is scheduled to return Wednesday night and take part in practice on Thursday.

The death of Byrd seemed to weigh on Favre, who threw four interceptions during team drills in the evening.

"It clearly wasn't his best practice," McCarthy said, "but he has a lot on his mind. He spoke about it throughout the night, throughout the day. It's heavy on his heart. Family first, and that's where his focus is."

Favre has received enough phone calls bearing bad news in the past four years: the heart attack that killed his father, Irv, in 2003; Deanna's breast cancer diagnosis, as well as the death of her brother from an ATV accident in 2004; and Hurricane Katrina in 2005, which destroyed Favre's hometown of Kiln, Miss., where many of Favre's family and friends still live.

When Favre found out about Rocky on Saturday, he talked it over with teammate Donald Driver.

"He's fine. I mean, he's going through a lot," said Driver. "It's something he's been through for awhile, the last five years. He's been going through a lot. He knows that he has love and support from the guys in the locker room. But it's hard, and no one understands what you're going through. We talked last night, had a great conversation. We talked about family. That's what me and him talk about."

Driver said there was little he could do for his friend other than try to offer condolences and support.

"His mother treats me like I'm her own son, my mom does the same for him, our wives are best friends, me and him are best friends, and he knows that he can depend on me for anything," Driver said. "I will just be there for him for support, that's all I can do. I can't change it. I told him last night, the book has already been written, and God wrote that book a long time ago. Every page is turned day by day."

Favre has been working through off-season shoulder soreness and it was unclear how much he would be able to practice at the beginning of camp. On Saturday, he took his normal amount of throws and McCarthy said that if he had not been excused for personal reasons, he would have practiced Sunday morning under normal circumstances. Heading into his 17th season, Favre told McCarthy his surgically repaired ankle and once-sore shoulder were doing well after opening camp Saturday.

It remains to be seen how Favre's practice schedule will pan out throughout this training camp. Some players are on a once-a-day practice plan either because they are veterans or because they are coming off injury, but that may not apply to Favre.

With Favre gone, backup Aaron Rodgers got more work than usual in the morning and hoped to take full advantage of it. Entering his third season behind Favre and coming off a broken foot, Rodgers put everything he had into his off-season, trimming down from 228 pounds when he first became a Packer to 217 this season.

Rodgers hopes that work will translate on to the field.

"Aaron made some very good decisions and throws, particularly in the blitz drill," said McCarthy. "He had two big plays. He had total command of the huddle. His arm has gotten stronger. His maturity - physically and mentally - has progressed a lot since he's been here. He just needs the opportunity to play."

Because of the reliability and continued success of Favre, Rodgers' playing and practice minutes are few. He would like to make the most of this third summer as a pro, whether he is auditioning for the Packers or some other team.

"I want to look as attractive as possible this pre-season," said Rodgers. "Every year that passes gets closer to me having an opportunity to start, be it here or somewhere else. The heat's turned up: third-year guy, second year in the offense, it's time to show what I'm all about."