Rodgers? Luck? Try Favre as the QB focal point Sunday
CANTON, OHIO >> Two of the NFL's top quarterbacks, Aaron Rodgers and Andrew Luck, will be on hand for Sunday's Hall of Fame game.
The QB who will get the most attention won't take a snap.
That, of course, will be Brett Favre, who was to be inducted into the pro football shrine on Saturday night. As the featured name in a class of eight, center stage has belonged to the record-setting Favre all weekend.
No one begrudges that. Not the other living inductees: Tony Dungy, Marvin Harrison, Kevin Greene, Orlando Pace and Ed DeBartolo Jr. And certainly not the families of the late Ken Stabler and Dick Stanfel, both of whom were nominated by the seniors committee.
So when Rodgers' Green Bay Packers — yes, the franchise Favre helped revitalize in the 1990s — and Luck's Indianapolis Colts, who won the 2007 Super Bowl with Dungy as coach and Harrison as the leading receiver, face off to open the NFL's preseason, Favre figures to still be in the spotlight.
"I mean, the excitement for me is being a part of the environment to watch Brett and Kevin go in," said Rodgers, a two-time MVP, one fewer than Favre won. "I don't know if anybody's real, real excited about a fifth preseason game, except for the people making the money on that, but it'll be exciting to be there because there's so much history and tradition surrounding Canton and the Pro Football Hall of Fame."
It's quite possible neither quarterback will play Sunday, particularly Luck. He missed nine games last season with a variety of injuries, including a lacerated kidney. Coach Chuck Pagano said he would wait until game day on Luck.
"I may wake up Sunday morning and decide he may not play," Pagano said.
There are benefits to benching Luck — it would ensure keeping him healthy. And there are benefits to letting him get on the field, even briefly.
"Yeah, there are certain things in games that are just hard to replicate in practice," Luck said. "Whether it's the crowd noise, an official spotting the ball a certain way, certain types of weather, going against a different defense, having some type of a 'game plan.' We don't game plan for our defense at training camp.
"Bringing the new guys into the fold and seeing what everybody's game-day demeanor/attitude/body language is, I think is important when you are sort of forging your team."
Some other things to watch for as the exhibition season begins:
WHO'S THAT? With so many players on the rosters, rookies, particularly the undrafted kind, and newcomers will seek to get noticed. It's an excellent opportunity for them to impress not only their own coaching staffs, but to get something on video for the other clubs to see.
So if you've never heard of some of the guys blocking or tackling, running or catching, well, there are people throughout the league who barely know them right now, too.
WHY THEM? After the Hall of Fame class is announced the day before the Super Bowl, the NFL figures out which teams will be the most attractive for the game that accompanies the inductions. This year was easy with Favre, Dungy and Harrison headed into the hall. A year ago, Jerome Bettis and Mick Tingelhoff went in, and the Steelers played the Vikings. In 2014, it was Giants-Bills as Michael Strahan and Andre Reed were inducted.
FIFTH GAME: With most suggestions to cure some ills of the preseason centering on reducing the number of exhibition contests, two "lucky" teams get to play five of them instead of four.
"I think the correct answer for us would be, 'We love it, we'd like to play in it every year,' " Packers defensive back Micah Hyde said. "But, me personally, I can't speak for anybody else in the locker room, five preseason games is tough. Four is tough already, and now we have five."
But maybe it's not such a bad thing all around.
"It is worth it for us to play an extra game," Colts linebacker Robert Mathis said, "to see those guys go into football immortality, so it's worth it."
Pro Football Hall of Fame http://www.profootballhof.com/heroes-of-the-game/class-of-2016/
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