EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — The signs of progress are small but noticeable for Brett Favre and his injured left ankle.

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — The signs of progress are small but noticeable for Brett Favre and his injured left ankle.

Favre missed his second straight day of practice for the Minnesota Vikings on Thursday, but walked around the facility without the oversized boot which had been protecting an injury that is putting his league-record 291-straight starts streak in jeopardy.

The 41-year-old quarterback limped through the locker room with a heavy wrap on his ankle, which was injured in the loss to Green Bay on Sunday night.

Asked if he thought he could play against New England, Favre said, "I wouldn't put anything past me, to be honest with you."

Favre has a stress fracture in the ankle as well as an avulsion fracture in the heel bone, where a fragment has been torn away by a tendon or ligament. He consulted with the doctors who performed surgery on his ankle this summer to get him ready for a 20th NFL season, and was told that the injury would not get any worse by playing on it.

"He's been a little better every day," coach Brad Childress said Thursday. "Whether it's good enough to play in an NFL football game remains to be seen. Just have to take it a day at a time."

He was still in pain as he hobbled around Thursday, which is nothing new for the NFL's version of Iron Man. Favre has played in 315 straight games including the playoffs, by far the longest streak in league history.

"That's legendary, honestly," Vikings tight end Visanthe Shiancoe said. "Let's be real: 291 games straight. First thing that comes to my mind is, of course, I'm a little jealous. That's something that wows me as well.

"I'm pretty sure it's important to him. But I know that the team's welfare is more important to him. I'm pretty sure he'll make the best decision for the team."

Today would appear to be a big day for Favre's chances to play against the Patriots on Sunday. He said Wednesday he hoped to get out on the practice field at least on a limited basis by today. The team will issue the final injury report of the week for him this afternoon, declaring him out, doubtful or probable to play.

"It's going to take the sky to fall for him not to go out there," tight end Visanthe Shiancoe said.

If he cannot play, Tarvaris Jackson would step in for his first start since a divisional playoff loss to Philadelphia at the end of the 2008 season.

It's been a trying season for Favre in more ways than one. He has already thrown more interceptions (10) than he did all of last season (7) and has a 68.0 quarterback rating that ranks 30th in the league — above only Derek Anderson, Matt Moore and Jimmy Clausen.

Off the field, he is the subject of an NFL investigation into allegations he sent inappropriate messages to a game-day hostess when both worked for the New York Jets in 2008. Favre has spoken to league officials about the matter, but the woman who allegedly received the messages has not.

Jenn Sterger's manager, Phil Reese, said Thursday that Sterger has not met with league investigators. He did not say if any meetings with the league are planned but that "she is strongly considering it and is leaning towards it."

Giants

Defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka's season is over, and there is a chance his career with the New York Giants could be at an end.

The Giants have placed the five-year veteran on injured reserve on Thursday with a herniated cervical disk after waiting more than a month to see if rest would fix his neck.

With his contract up after this season, it's unknown whether the Giants are willing to re-sign a player with a neck problem.

"It's painful for us to go this route with Kiwi, but we've exhausted all of our options," general manager Jerry Reese said. "What's most important is for him to get healthy. We're praying and hopeful that by next fall he will be back at 100 percent and playing for the New York Giants."

Kiwanuka was having an outstanding season, with four sacks in the first three games. He was diagnosed with a cervical disk problem before the Giants played the Chicago Bears early this month and missed the last four games.

"We held out hope as long as we could," coach Tom Coughlin said. "Finally, by consensus, the doctors came to this decision. You have to make the right choice and the decision was made that he could not play again this season. My concern is for Mathias. He loves the game, he loves to play, he's proven his versatility this year beyond any question."

This is the second major injury for Kiwanuka, the Giants' first-round draft pick in 2006. He broke his left leg in November 2007, the season the Giants beat New England to win the Super Bowl.

Rams

Steven Jackson had surgery for a broken ring finger on his left hand on Monday. No big deal — the St. Louis Rams' running back usually carries the ball in his right hand anyway.

Jackson said Thursday that he will play Sunday when the Carolina Panthers (1-5) visit the Rams (3-4).

"Absolutely, I will definitely be out there Sunday," said Jackson, who had two pins inserted into the finger. "The surgery went fine. Everything went well. It's unfortunate it had to happen. It's on the left hand so it's not a big deal as if it was my right hand."

The pins will be in his hand for six to eight weeks. Jackson did not practice Wednesday or Thursday. He said he may work out today.

"I don't see why not," Jackson said about practicing today. "First thing, we want to make sure infection doesn't happen. Pain is going to occur. That's something we're not trying to avoid. That's not something going we're thinking won't happen. Pain will be part of the game Sunday."

Playing with pain or an injury is nothing new for Jackson.

Earlier this season, Jackson sustained a groin injury against Washington in Week 3 and wore extra padding in the next two games before healing. Last season, he played with a sore back.

Bills

Buffalo Bills coach Chan Gailey is uncertain whether safety Jairus Byrd and cornerback Terrence McGee will be healthy enough to play at Kansas City (4-2) on Sunday.

Gailey regards both as game-time decisions for the winless Bills (0-6).

Byrd has a thigh injury and worked out on a limited basis Thursday, a day after missing practice. He's yet to miss a game this season despite having minor hip surgery in August.

McGee was also limited in practice, and has missed three games after having surgery to repair a nerve problem.

Starting left tackle Demetrius Bell returned to practice Thursday. Gailey says Bell is expected to play, and was given Wednesday off to rest his surgically repaired knee.