Different paths to success

The Baltimore Sun

In 1994, Kurt Warner was a warm body on the Green Bay Packers' training camp roster, buried behind quarterbacks Brett Favre, Mark Brunell and Ty Detmer on the depth chart. Fourteen years later, Warner and Favre face off in the New Jersey Meadowlands for what likely will be the final time when the Arizona Cardinals meet the New York Jets.

Cut by the Packers, Warner went on to greatness with the St. Louis Rams, while Favre established NFL records for career touchdowns, interceptions and consecutive games played for Green Bay. They combined to make four Super Bowl appearances and win four Most Valuable Player awards and have since moved on to play for the Cardinals and Jets in the twilight of their careers.

But Warner, 37, and Favre, 38, have more than 1994 in common. Said Warner last week: "When you've been in the league a long time, it's kind of like a badge of courage to say, 'I'm still playing, I'm still fighting. I'm still able to accomplish things even at this age.' We still love to compete. We still think we can still play with the best of them."

Around the league

Favre and Warner aren't the only senior quarterbacks on display today. Four other quarterbacks age 35 or older who didn't start opening week will get the call. In Nashville, the Tennessee Titans' Kerry Collins, 35, battles the Minnesota Vikings and Gus Frerotte, 37, in one of the day's most attractive games. In St. Louis, embattled coach Scott Linehan benched Marc Bulger for Trent Green, 38, for the game against the Buffalo Bills. And in Kansas City, Damon Huard, 35, replaces Tyler Thigpen when the Chiefs face the Denver Broncos.

The Bills are one of the season's early surprise teams. One big reason is their 2006 draft, which has yielded five starters (safeties Donte Whitner and Ko Simpson, defensive tackle Kyle Williams, guard Brad Butler and linebacker Keith Ellison) and two key backups. ... Philadelphia center Jamaal Jackson had a heavy heart last week when the Eagles beat the Pittsburgh Steelers. His older brother, Kamar, was killed the week before in a hit-and-run accident. Jackson missed the whole week of practice and attended the funeral that Saturday, then played Sunday in part because it was a game his brother had wanted to see.

When Vikings left tackle Bryant McKinnie was suspended four weeks for violating the NFL personal-conduct code, his replacement, Artis Hicks, got a grand tour of some of the league's best pass rushers. After facing Green Bay's Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, the Indianapolis Colts' Dwight Freeney and the Carolina Panthers' Julius Peppers, he takes on Tennessee's Kyle Vanden Bosch today. ... The Titans, meanwhile, are trying to go 4-0 for the first time in the franchise's 48-year history, starting in Houston in 1960. ... The Houston Texans play in Jacksonville today, their third straight road game against a 2007 playoff team.

The Chiefs' Tony Gonzalez, who already has the most catches (835) and touchdowns (67) by a tight end in league history, needs 50 receiving yards to eclipse Shannon Sharpe (10,060) for most career yards at the position. ... Since starting the 2006 season 3-0, Cincinnati Bengals coach Marvin Lewis has lost 20 of 32 games, including all three this season. He faces the 0-3 Cleveland Browns today. It's the fourth time since 1999 both teams were winless in their first meeting of the season. ... Running back Julius Jones made a good decision to sign with the Seattle Seahawks as a free agent this season. In four career games at Qwest Field, including two this season, Jones has averaged 144 rushing yards.

Stat of the week

Green Bay is a one-point underdog today at Tampa Bay against the Buccaneers, but in two-plus seasons under coach Mike McCarthy, the Packers are 12-5 on the road. They have won nine of their past 11 road games.

Compiled from Sun news services and other NFL beat writers.

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