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Monday Practice: Barnett Returns, Poppinga Starts, and the Offensive Line Is Settled

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The practice schedule this week for the Green Bay Packers was one on Monday night, then Tuesday morning, Wednesday morning, closed to the public on Thursday, and the preseason game at Arizona on Friday night. During the Monday night practice, according to Greg Bedard, there were no pads, plenty of jogthroughs, and it looked "like the lamest practice in terms of action this camp." 

The biggest practice news was that LB Nick Barnett has been cleared for contact. Although there wasn't any contact on Monday. Mike McCarthy said Barnett has passed his physical and will take about 50% of the reps in practice this week.

The big news today was from McCarthy's press conference:

A:But that's the five we decided on with Jason Spitz at center and Allen Barbre at the right tackle position...

Q:Was it pretty close? 

A: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...

It was very close. Whether it was Spitz at guard, Wells at center, that was definitely a combination we looked at. But we felt last year Josh had earned a starting position at guard, lost that due to injury. We felt that he has improved. He's a physical player on that right side, and that's probably the reason why we did go with him.

Let's just say C Scott Wells is the 4th best lineman this preseason. My guess is that LT Chad Clifton, LG Daryn Colledge, and C Jason Spitz all graded ahead of him. Therefore it appears that he even graded ahead of RG Josh Sitton. But Wells lost the starting battle to Sitton. This goes with the Packers' goal to improve the strength and size of the offensive line since Sitton has at least 20 lbs. on Wells. But Sitton has made a couple of errors this preseason while I haven't noticed any from Wells. Either way, the offensive line was going to be fine, but Wells had actually outplayed Sitton this preseason.

Again from the press conference:

Q: What was the biggest difference between Barbre and Giacomini?
A: I just think Allen is further ahead than Breno.

While Wells made the decision to bench him hard, RT Breno Giacomini made it easy when he missed a tackle that led to QB Matt Flynn's shoulder injury. From Tom Pelissero:

On the sack he gave up Saturday that left Flynn injured: "Bad footwork, bad punch — just all-around bad technique. It’s a tough play. I felt pretty good in the game (until then). After that, I didn’t feel good at all. Losing performance on my part because of that play. That just can’t happen."

Unfortunately for Giacomini, he had played pretty well up to that point, and RT Allen Barbre did allow a pass deflection and committed a holding penalty. But as Breno said, the sack on Flynn just can't happen.

Luckily his sprained shoulder isn't too bad, according to McCarthy:

Q: What is the prognosis on Matt Flynn?
A: Matt may make it by the end of the week to practice. He's sore, so this is his first time he's gone through this type of injury. We'll see where he is at in two days. If he practices obviously he'll have a chance to play in the game, but I probably won't know that until Wednesday. 

C'mon coach, it's just practice! Why can't LB Clay Matthews have a shot at beating out LB Brady Poppinga?

Q: Do they have their work cut out for them to beat out Poppinga at this point?
A: Oh, absolutely. I don't care who you are if you don't practice. 

If Poppinga can play as well during the regular season as he's done during the first two preseason games, then I've got no problem with naming him the starter. I don't think he'll keep it up based on watching him on game day the last three seasons. At some point, Matthews will beat him out.

And, unfortunately, the injury to the undrafted rookie TE Devin Frischknecht was as bad as it looked:

Q: How about Devin Frischknecht
A: He had season-ending surgery. He had a broken tibia and fibula. He was operated on shortly after the game, and he's doing very well.