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Pederson helps Packers recover from Rhodes' blitzing

8/20/2001

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) -- Doug Pederson doesn't know if he wrapped
up the backup quarterback job behind Brett Favre on Monday night.

"I hate to speculate, but I don't think tonight hurt,"
Pederson said after leading the Green Bay Packers on four scoring
drives in their 22-7 preseason victory over the Denver Broncos.

"But we've still got a lot of preseason to go," said Pederson,
who also was the holder for Ryan Longwell's five field goals.

Pederson was Favre's caddie in 1998 but said he said he's much
improved after starting stints in Cleveland and Philadelphia since
then.

"As a starter things happen so fast and as a backup you can
feed off of that and use those experiences to improve," Pederson
said.

Favre and the Packers were held out of the end zone in the first
half thanks to a heavy blitz package by Broncos defensive
coordinator Ray Rhodes, who made his first trip to Lambeau Field
since his firing 20 months ago after just one season as head coach
of the Packers.

"They played the coverages we were expecting but not the
fronts," receiver Billy Schroeder said. "That kind of threw us
for a loop a little bit, but I think our line did a real good job
of picking it up."

Favre, however, was struck in the facemask by a linebacker once.

"I think he's OK," coach Mike Sherman said. "He certainly was
shaken up, though."

The injury-depleted Packers were without their top two tailbacks
-- Ahman Green (groin) and Dorsey Levens (hand) -- who were among a
dozen players who were held out.

And their top receiver, Antonio Freeman, got a concussion just
before halftime when he was hit by cornerback Eric Brown. Broncos
defensive tackle Chester McGlockton sprained his left knee and will
undergo an MRI on Tuesday.

The Packers trailed 7-3 at halftime but quickly took the lead in
the third quarter behind Pederson, who led Green Bay to scores on
all four of its third-quarter possessions, including field goals of
31, 39 and 49 yards by Longwell.

Pederson finished 8-of-12 for 112 yards and one touchdown.

A nine-year journeyman, Pederson is winning the battle with
Billy Joe Tolliver for the No. 2 job.

They will return to practice Wednesday facing a fresh challenge
from Michael Bishop, who was waived by New England.

Bishop, a third-year pro who was runner-up for the Heisman
Trophy while at Kansas State in 1999, was 3-for-9 for 80 yards,
with one touchdown and one interception in two seasons with New
England.

"He's mobile. He's got a strong arm. He's not very accurate,
which isn't good for a quarterback," Sherman said. "So, hopefully
we can't correct some things. We just want to take a look at him."

Favre means to make the issue moot -- he's started 155
consecutive games, including 14 in the playoffs, the most ever for
an NFL quarterback.

On the first play from scrimmage after Longwell's 31-yard field
goal made it 7-6, Broncos running back Mike Anderson was stripped
by Donny Spragan and linebacker Donte Curry recovered for Green
Bay.

Pederson promptly hit Donald Driver for a 19-yard TD and a 13-7
lead. Pederson hit Driver for 34 yards on Green Bay's next
possession, setting up Longwell's 39-yarder.

The Broncos took a 7-3 lead in the opening minutes of the second
quarter when Brian Griese faked to Anderson and hit fullback
Patrick Hape for a 1-yard fingertip TD catch on fourth down.

"I was pleased that we kept our concentration and our poise and
were able to get that 80-yard drive," Broncos coach Mike Shanahan
said. "After that, it was pretty embarrassing."

And not just for the Broncos.

Green Bay's Corey Bradford dropped three passes and Rob Davis
snapped the ball over his holder's head on a 48-yard field goal
attempt with Bill Romanowski recovering for Denver at the Packers'
44.

Freeman was running full speed over the middle and had just
caught Favre's pass when Brown's helmet-to-jaw hit sent him
plunging to the grass head first.

"I was surprised because I thought it was a good hit," said
Brown, who was high-fiving Ian Gold as Freeman lay still and the
flag came down.

"It was a hit that obviously is not encouraged by the NFL,"
Sherman said. "But they happen and you move on. But hopefully
Freeman will be OK."

But it's unlikely Freeman will play Saturday against Miami.

"His head was still pounding him in the locker room a few
minutes ago," Sherman said.