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Rodgers says he's ready for the heat; Grant waits for contract; first look

Aaron Rodgers says those who think he's injury-prone don't know him or the game of pro football.

The new Green Bay quarterback says it's all part of replacing a legend like Brett Favre and he insists he's ready to handle the criticism that will undoubtedly come his way, especially if the Packers don't win right out of the box.

Rodgers and Favre never talked much when they were teammates.

Rodgers says a 14-year age difference was part of it, but he says the two have traded voice-mails since Favre retired.

Rodgers says part of his preparation will be to find out what it's like to replace a legend. So he plans to talk with quarterbacks who've done it, like Jay Fielder and Steve Young.

And unlike Favre, Rodgers is reaching out to his teammates, hosting parties at his house and getting involved with them personally.

"He is popular in the locker room and everybody has confidence in his ability," said Mike McCarthy, Packers' head coach.

"This is his time, this is his opportunity, and I fully anticipate the full team being behind him," McCarthy added.

Rodgers also vows to do what he can to help rookie quarterbacks Brian Brohm and Matt Flynn. They could end up being his competition, but Rodgers says the support he's received from the Packers' top brass gives him the confidence he needs.

Grant not practicing

Packers' running back Ryan Grant sat out Wednesday's practice because he has still not signed his one-year exclusive rights contract.

Grant hopes to get a long-term deal, and he expects it to get done by the time training camp starts in late July.

He says there's good communication on both sides and in the meantime, he's working out and attending team meetings.

Grant was the Packers' featured running back in their final 10 games last year, rushing for 956 yards.

Meanwhile, defensive tackle Justin Harrell and corner Will Blackmon now say they've had off-season surgery.

"Justin Harrell had minor back surgery. Something that flared up early in the off-season, and we're just taking it slow," McCarthy said.

The second-year Harrell injured a disc in his back while lifting weights, and he had outpatient surgery last month.

Despite the surgery McCarthy says he'll be ready for camp.

"Oh, absolutely. It was one of those situations where you're going back and forth, and we just felt it was best to do surgery now so he'd be ready," McCarthy said.

Blackmon had an operation in February on a lingering foot injury.

First look

Green Bay Packer fans got their first look Wednesday at most of the 2008 team.

The first public practice was held across from Lambeau Field at Clark Hinkle Field, as the Packers' organized team activities continue.

Five players who ended last season on injured reserve are okay to work out now; running backs DeShawn Wynn and Noah Herron, offensive lineman Junius Coston, fullback Ryan Powdrell, and safety Tyrone Culver.

Seven players sat out the first OTA practices with injuries, but they're expected to return before the extended mini-camp ends in mid-June.

They are defensive tackles Colin Cole and Daniel Muir, defensive end Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, linebacker Abdul Hodge, tight end Tory Humphrey, fullback John Kuhn, and offensive lineman Cameron Stephenson.

Three other Packers are expected to be out until training camp; defensive linemen Justin Harrell and Johnny Jolly, and corner Will Blackmon.