Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Black and Blue all over: Lineups crystallize in GB
By Kevin Seifert
Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert Green Bay's evening practice Monday turned out to be a newsy one. When it was over, coach Mike McCarthy confirmed the likely arrangement of his opening week offensive line and gave some strong indications about the makeup of his linebacker corps. As for the line, McCarthy said that Jason Spitz will start at center, Josh Sitton at right guard and Allen Barbre at right tackle. (Left tackle Chad Clifton and left guard Daryn Colledge were already locked in.) The toughest decision was replacing four-year starter Scott Wells at center, and McCarthy had a long one-one-one conversation with him earlier in the day. McCarthy: "Very tough decision. Scott Wells has graded out at a very high level. Scott is probably one of our top three or four linemen as far as grading out so far in the preseason, so that was a very difficult situation as far as determining what starter to go with. Scott has been a starting center for us, has played a lot of football here, but this is the group that we feel we are going to start with this week. ..." Barbre had been competing with Breno Giacomini at right tackle, but McCarthy said: "I just think Allen is further ahead than Breno." Meanwhile, as Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel points out, linebacker Nick Barnett (knee) returned to full practice and immediately took Brandon Chillar's place in the starting lineup. And veteran Brady Poppinga continued working with the first team at right outside linebacker despite the return of Jeremy Thompson. Rookie Clay Matthews (hamstring) remained sidelined, suggesting that Poppinga has the inside track to remain the starter. Continuing around the NFC North: Chillar and Desmond Bishop could see time in the Packers' nickel package, writes Rob Demovsky of the Green Bay Press-Gazette. Detroit placekicker Jason Hanson, who had surgery on his right knee earlier this month, remains hopeful he'll be ready to kick when the regular season begins. Carlos Monarrez of the Detroit Free Press has details. The Lions' top three receivers -- Calvin Johnson, Bryant Johnson and Dennis Northcutt -- have missed the first two preseason games. But all practiced Monday, writes Nicholas J. Cotsonika of the Free Press. Lions coach Jim Schwartz on watching the film of last Saturday's preseason loss at Cleveland: "A lot of times they say, it's not as bad as you think and it's not as good as you think when you watch the film. I think it's one of those cases where it was every bit of bad as I thought." John Niyo of the Detroit News takes a closer look. Chicago is still getting used to what quarterback Jay Cutler can do, writes Bob LeGere of the Daily Herald. Safety Danieal Manning and cornerback Zack Bowman, who both have sore hamstrings, participated in part of practice Monday, writes Jeff Dickerson of ESPN Chicago. Sean Jensen of the St. Paul Pioneer Press looks at how the Vikings' offense might expand with quarterback Brett Favre. Vikings backup Sage Rosenfels will return to Houston when the Vikings play their third preseason game there next Monday, notes Chip Scoggins and Judd Zulgad of the Star Tribune.