Favre doesn't see point of sitting to avoid injury

Green Bay Packers: Though the Packers regular-season finale is essentially meaningless, Brett Favre will be starting on Sunday at Chicago.

"I would love to play the whole game," Favre told the Green Bay News-Chronicle on Wednesday. "That's what I'm here for -- to play.

"I don't understand that you have to protect players. I've played a long time, and if I get hurt this week, I get hurt."

Packers coach Mike Sherman reiterated his intentions to play Favre and other key starters, but wouldn't specify for how long.

"We're going to play 'em and see how it plays out during the ball game," Sherman told the paper. "It's important that we have some consistency going into the playoffs, some momentum going into the playoffs."

The start would extend Favre's streak to 205 regular-season games, an NFL record for quarterbacks.

Favre, along with nearly 50 Packers teammates, will miss practice Thursday to attend a private funeral for Reggie White. Favre has been asked to serve as a pallbearer for the star defensive end who died last Sunday.

"I don't think that's ever easy, just to be there, but to be asked [to be a pallbearer] -- as popular and as strong a man as he was and as many friends as he's made -- I consider it quite an honor," Favre told the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune.

Baltimore Ravens: Cornerback Chris McAlister told reporters that the Ravens, who are finishing one of the most disappointing seasons in franchise history, are a divided team.

"I can't really put my finger on it, but it's not the same feeling," McAlister was quoted as saying in the Baltimore Sun on Thursday. "Maybe it's because we're losing, coming off last year and not being able to follow up and meet expectations. Maybe that's what has gotten this locker room a little shifted."

The decline of team chemistry, which used to be considered among the Ravens' strengths, started earlier this month when Ray Lewis questioned his teammates' passion after a loss to Cincinnati. Other signs of discontent surfaced after Sunday's loss in Pittsburgh, when running back Jamal Lewis criticized the play-calling and safety Ed Reed admitted "something's wrong" regarding the team.

Coach Brian Billick has repeatedly denied a division among players, and some players believe the change in chemistry is just a result of losing, but McAlister is sure there is more to it.

"It's something I've noticed personally," McAlister told the Sun. "Maybe other people have and won't say nothing about it. It is what it is.

"Even if we were going to the playoffs, it's not a healthy situation. That's the bottom line."

Buffalo Bills: The Bills are asking fans to show they believe in the team's playoff chances by wearing the word on their chest.

T-shirts with the word "Billieve" above the Bills logo went on sale Thursday morning on the team's Web site and at Ralph Wilson Field House in Orchard Park. Hats with the same design also are being sold.

The merchandise highlights the growing excitement among Bills fans as the team prepares for Sunday's important game against the Steelers. Despite losing its first four games of the season, Buffalo still has a chance to make the playoffs. The Bills have to defeat Pittsburgh and the hope that a couple other contenders lose.

Buffalo's late-season win streak has boosted sales for other Bills team merchandise, with the hottest item being replica jerseys of running back Willis McGahee.

Philadelphia Eagles: Eagles rookie running back Thomas Tapeh was told Tuesday that he would not need surgery for his dislocated and fractured hip, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

Trainer Rick Burkholder tried to dispell rumors that Tapeh's injury could have been the same as the one that effectively ended Bo Jackson's career.

"There are some reports that 10 to 50 percent of these cases can turn into that," Burkholder told the paper Wednesday. "We think that he is on the good end of things.

"We had a trauma surgeon look at him here ... and she agreed that he is really not in that group that is in danger of having a Bo Jackson injury."

Burkholder said Tapeh would have to use crutches for about 12 weeks and would not be allowed to put pressure on his right leg.

Carolina Panthers: Wide receiver
Keary Colbert practiced and was upgraded to probable for
Sunday's game against the New Orleans Saints.

"I'm going to play. It ain't no question," said Colbert, who
sprained in ankle on a touchdown catch in Sunday's 37-20 win
against Tampa Bay.

Defensive end Mike Rucker, who missed his second straight day of
practice, remains questionable on the injury report with a
foot injury.

Rucker received treatment and did not speak with
reporters. Teammates said he told them he expects to play Sunday,
when a possible playoff berth for both teams is at stake.

"He better play. If we have to cut off that foot and put
another one on there, he better play," said strong safety Mike
Minter. "Yeah, he will be ready. He'll play."

Al Wallace, a solid veteran backup, would probably start if
Rucker misses the gun. That would leave the team thin at defensive
end since Kemp Rasmussen is also listed as questionable with a neck

Chicago Bears: After his next-to-last practice with
the club, Anthony Thomas trudged slowly off the field, realizing his days with the team that drafted him are
almost over.

Displaced this season by Thomas Jones, Thomas said he won't be
back with the Bears, even though he will leave as the No. 5 rusher
in team history with more than 3,000 yards.

"I'm sad in a way. I've been here since the beginning," said
Thomas, the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2001. "Now it's
time for me to move on and start a new legacy."

With Jones' running style more of the open-field variety better
suited to the Bears' offense, Thomas found himself on the bench
most of the season.

His best performances came when Jones went out with a toe injury
and he started two games and helped the Bears put together a
three-game winning streak -- one of those wins against the Giants,
when he ran for 110 yards.

Cincinnati Bengals: With Carson Palmer still nursing a left knee
injury, Jon Kitna will make his third consecutive start at
quarterback for the Bengals at Philadelphia.

Palmer has been lobbying to return since he left the Dec. 12
game at New England with a sprained left knee ligament, suffered
when he was tackled.

Lewis told reporters after practice that Palmer will be
listed as the No. 2 quarterback in Sunday's season finale and could
play if necessary.

Kitna is 1-1 as the starter since relieving Palmer, playing in a
losing effort against Buffalo before throwing the winning touchdown
in the final minute last Sunday against the New York Giants.

New York Giants: While reports of Giants players' discontent with head coach Tom Coughlin continue to swirl, a fellow disciple of the old-school style of coaching has chimed in with advice.

Cowboys coach Bill Parcells, who has been known to grate on players' nerves, told Coughlin, his long-time friend, not to change a thing.

"I just think if you have a conviction, whatever you believe in, you have to stick with that," Parcells told the New York Daily News. "I know Joe Torre and I have had that conversation many times. You just have to stick with it, whatever it is. It might be something that someone else wouldn't want to do, but if it's what you believe in, then you'd have to kind of try to do it."

Parcells said that there isn't a team in the league without dissenters and that Coughlin shouldn't worry about having some players who don't buy into his system.

"Tom, what he's doing with his team, I'm sure he thinks is in the best interests of his team, so I wouldn't pass judgment on any of that," Parcells told the Daily News. "I think we all have our way of doing things and I don't think you can go around the league and find any coach that 100 percent of the players are completely in line with. I don't think that guy exists."

Minnesota Vikings: Quarterback Daunte Culpepper, tight end Jermaine Wiggins and cornerback Antoine Winfield all participated in practice.

The three ill players were given intravenous fluids and sent
home the day before because of a flu-like, upper respiratory virus
that's been circulating around the team this month. Culpepper came
back briefly, but only to watch Wednesday's practice.

"The sick bay is empty," coach Mike Tice said. "We've got
some guys who are not 100 percent healthy, but they've got plenty
of time to rest."

The Vikings (8-7) can clinch a wild-card spot by beating
Washington on Sunday -- or also if Carolina or St. Louis lose.

Winfield's sprained left ankle was also in much better shape
Thursday, Tice said. Winfield got hurt in the first quarter at
Chicago on Dec. 5 and missed the next two games.

After playing sparingly last week against Green Bay, he should
be able to see significant action on the nickel defense -- if not
start -- against the Redskins.

That's important for a unit that has struggled against the pass,
since Winfield is one of Minnesota's best defensive players.

"Getting him back is going to help our confidence, if nothing
else," Tice said.

St. Louis Cardinals: Safety Aeneas Williams, bothered
by a neck injury much of the season, was placed on injured reserve.

Williams, an eight-time Pro Bowl player, was inactive the last
two games and has been a seldom-used reserve in three other recent
games. He'll be 37 in January, although coach Mike Martz stopped
short of saying whether the injury could end his career.

"That's way too premature," Martz said. "I know that deep
down inside, he really, really wants to play."

The move has been discussed for several weeks. Earlier this
month, Williams met with team doctors about an arthritic condition
in the neck.

Williams leads active players with 55 interceptions, tied for
15th on the career list with Hall of Famer Lem Barney and Pat
Fischer. He has returned nine interceptions for touchdowns, tied
for second on the career list.

San Francisco 49ers: Quarterback Tim Rattay was placed on injured reserve.

Rattay never got healthy during his first season as the 49ers'
first-stringer, starting just nine games. He strained his forearm
in training camp, separated his shoulder in the season opener and
tore muscles in his foot earlier this month.

Rattay passed for 2,169 yards, 10 touchdowns and 10
interceptions while getting sacked 37 times. He underwent surgery
Tuesday to relieve stress in his forearm, but is expected to be
healthy for minicamps.

Ken Dorsey will make his seventh start of the season Sunday at
New England.

Rattay is the 11th player placed on injured reserve by the
49ers, joining five prominent defensive starters: linebackers
Julian Peterson and Jamie Winborn, cornerbacks Ahmed Plummer and
Mike Rumph, and defensive end Andre Carter.

The 49ers signed defensive lineman Josh Cooper from the practice
squad to take Rattay's roster spot. Cooper, an undrafted rookie,
could play Sunday after newly signed lineman Corey Smith tore a
ligament in his knee before practice Wednesday.

Detroit Lions: The club re-signed punter Nick Harris and linebacker Donte Curry to three-year contracts.

Harris, who signed with Detroit last year, has averaged 40.8
yards per punt this season and 30 of his 87 punts have been downed
inside the 20. Curry, a reserve, has made a team-high 23 tackles on
special teams.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.