MINNEAPOLIS — On Brett Favre’s last of eight plays in his preseason debut with Minnesota, the blitz came hard.
He looked downfield for Percy Harvin, expecting the rookie to make an inside move on the Kansas City safety, but as Favre felt the rush he flinged the ball into no-man’s land. It landed on the turf, and the Vikings turned to punt.
“He actually kind of stuck the guy and went over the top, which is what he had been coached to do,” Favre said. “I didn’t know that. So that’s where I need to catch up. As far as the terminology and things like that, I’m pretty much up to speed on that. I felt pretty confident about that.”
As for the plays he had a little more than two days to practice?
“I didn’t miss a beat calling them in the huddle,” Favre said, after the 17-13 exhibition victory over the Chiefs at the Metrodome on Friday night.
Favre knows this version of the West Coast offense well, one of the reasons he wrestled so much with the decision to end another retirement and join his former rivals. Having mastered the same system during 16 prolific seasons in Green Bay, Favre long ago learned the concepts of this ball-control, spread-the-passes scheme.
Finding a rhythm with his receivers, however, will take time. There are tendencies and preferences, plus strengths and weaknesses, to pick up. There are three weeks left before the games begin to count.
“I think that will be an adjustment all year. It really will be,” Favre said. “We’ve just got to get reps. There are plays we know, but do you break in? Do you break out? It’s plays that I’ve run in the past, but every guy runs the play different.”
Even the cadence and tone of his voice calling the snap count must become familiar to his offensive teammates, as it is in the detail-obsessed, hyper-competitive environment of the NFL.
Coach Brad Childress, who was so eager to give Favre the starting job he called him to make another pitch less than three weeks after Favre first told him he was staying put, didn’t sound concerned about the soon-to-be-40-year-old being too far behind in command of the offense.
“I would say he’s grasping most all of it,” Childress said. “There’s not anything we’re going to say to him that he is really going to be confused about. It’s just a matter of taking some of those turns, learning protection calls, and learning receivers a little bit differently.”
Of course, had Favre been willing to commit in the spring, there would have been dozens more practices to get accustomed to his new teammates. He had arthroscopic surgery on his throwing shoulder in late May.
The Vikings, though, haven’t made much noise — publicly, at least — about the potentially awkward timing of a late arrival by such an important player.
“We’re going to work with him and improve,” wide receiver Sidney Rice said, reflecting on the two series Favre played with the first team on Friday. “He didn’t get a whole lot of snaps ... but he knew what he was doing. As far as reading coverages, he’s been in this offense for 18-plus years, so we don’t have to worry about that. We’ve got the next couple of preseason games and a few weeks of practice to work with him and get better.”
Favre, of course, has work to do physically as well.
As for the arm, well, it appears to have plenty of zip. It’s the legs, though, that he’s still working into shape as he takes his drops in the pocket and moves around to avoid the rush. At this stage of his career, he will probably never appear agile, but all the workouts in the world can’t get a guy in true game shape.