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Favre passes latest preseason test

HOUSTON -- "Two weeks ago,'' Brett Favre said, walking out of Reliant Stadium late Monday night, "I was weed-eatin.' I mean, to come out here and move around this way and make a few throws, I'm pretty happy with it.''

Favre should be. But he'll be sore in the morning. And that's the crux of this Brett Favre Survival Season for the Minnesota Vikings. Already he has sore ribs, exacerbated by an illegal crackback block he laid on the knee of Houston safety Eugene Wilson in the third quarter of Monday's 17-10 win (BOX SCORE | RECAP) over the Texans. He's playing with a partially torn rotator cuff and chronically sore ankles. He took two sacks against Houston and got rattled around a couple more times.

Right now, 12 days before the Vikings play games that count, Favre's like the rest of us: He doesn't know if he can last an 18th full season.

"That's the question,'' he said. "I don't know.''

For the first time in his life, the odds might be against him lasting 16 games. But if he can, some pretty special things could happen. That was evident in the first quarter against Houston. On the first scrimmage play of the game, Favre turned and handed to the best running back in the league, Adrian Peterson, and Peterson cut right, planted his foot and won a footrace up the right sideline for a 75-yard touchdown. On the ensuing series, the Vikings' stout run defense stopped Steve Slaton twice, and Jared Allen sacked Matt Schaub. Three and out.

Two Wildcat direct snaps to rookie phenom Percy Harvin ... 11 rushes for 117 yards by Peterson ... 2.7 yards per opponents' rush, thanks to Kevin and Pat Williams stuffing anything that ran ... and Favre 's 13-of-18 passing in seven Viking series. That's what Favre needs to be: a good, complementary player who doesn't turn it over and who moves the chains, and who, occasionally, make one of the old Favre-type plays.

Now, America, can you see why Brett Favre wanted to play for this Minnesota team so much?

What the Vikings need Favre to do now is get to know his mates. On one pass play, he gave Harvin the kind of look he used to give Donald Driver in Green Bay, the kind of look that said, "I'm coming to you.'' But Harvin didn't know that look and the ball didn't come his way.

The most rewarding thing for offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, who has been tutoring Favre since his arrival in Minnesota two weeks ago, was a third-down conversion late in the first quarter. The Vikings had the ball third-and-seven at their 26, and Favre set up in the shotgun, with trips left three receivers to the left. Here came the pressure, and Visanthe Shiancoe, who was supposed to run deep downfield, knew to cut off his route just past the first-down marker. Favre knew he'd cut it off. And Shiancoe, button-hooking at 11 yards with linebacker DeMeco Ryans on his back, turned around to find the line drive, low, right in his hands.

"That's what I'm talking about,'' Bevell said, smiling, after the game. "Some of that is dictated by coverage, some by the pass-rush, and some just by feel, and Brett and Visanthe knew when to make that play. My biggest concern is not Brett knowing the offense. My biggest concern is Brett knowing the players.''

"Exactly,'' Favre said. "We run plays I'm very familiar with, but I have to learn these guys. It's not the plays, it's the players.''

Monday night was the five-week anniversary of Favre turning down the Vikings and saying he was staying retired. "I passed up the greatest chance I could have had right now, and it hurts,'' a downcast Favre said that night. Three weeks later he unretired, and two weeks into his second comeback, Favre showed how well he fit with the Vikings, who clearly -- if they stay healthy -- are strong Super Bowl contenders.

Favre twice played wide receiver while rookie Percy Harvin took shotgun Wildcat snaps. On the second, he dove into Houston safety Eugene Wilson's right knee as the play came back to his side; Favre was penalized five yards for a crackback block and appeared to be wincing as he rose from the turf. Favre wasn't hurt, but Wilson might be. He lay on the turf for several moments before being removed with an injured knee. When the replay was shown on the Reliant Stadium video boards, the crowd booed Favre lustily, thinking it was a dirty play. Asked afterward what he'd say to Favre if he could talk to him about it, Wilson said: "What's up with that? Seriously, what's up with that? ... I'm just happy to be walking.''

"I'm sorry if he's injured,'' said Favre. "That was not my intent. Percy was running my way, and I was trying to protect my guy. My intent was not to be cheap.''

So it was a successful dress rehearsal for Minnesota's opener Sept. 13 at Cleveland. The question now is, will Favre be able to make it through another season taking the punishment he'll have to take to survive? Nothing is guaranteed with a quarterback playing at 40. But for one night, he passed Childress' acid test.

"How will I play this year?'' Favre said. "Time will tell. I've got a long way to go. We're only 12, 13 days into it. But I got better tonight. I know I'm up against the clock, but I took another step forward tonight.''

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