Will The Real Guards Please Stand Up?
Going into Friday's game versus the Patriots, the Packers coaching staff had yet to decide who would be the starting guards on the offensive line.
Free agent pickup Adrian Klemm and rookie William Whitticker have been seeing the most action with the starting lineup, but Scott Wells, Grey Ruegamer and Matt O'Dwyer are also in the mix.
With only one preseason game left, the Packers know that a decision must be made soon because of chemistry issues along the line. Once they settle on the starters, the unit can then get used to working together and gelling together. Which way the Packers are leaning isn't certain yet, but once again, Klemm and Whitticker were given the most reps Friday night.
According to Head Coach Mike Sherman, "the protection wasn't all that bad with the first group," but he knows that the game tape will tell the true story.
"I have to look at the tape tonight and get a better sense from watching it and playing it back," Sherman explained. "I hope we're getting closer."
Whitticker, a seventh round selection out of Michigan State, played the majority of snaps at right guard and O'Dwyer failed to take a single snap on the night.
"I wanted to take a look at Whitticker and I told O'Dwyer that I wasn't going to put him in the fourth quarter," Sherman said. "By the time I took the ones out it was the 4th quarter."
Klemm is confident with the strides he's made so far, but knows he has some work to do before the regular season begins.
"It seems like in the run blocking, I am starting to catch some of the reads," Klemm explained. "I feel more comfortable, but it's all for naught if we don't do well and we didn't do too hot out there tonight. I don't want to make it seem like I played some fantastic game or something like that because there is a lot I can improve on."
The 6-4, 318 pound guard admits that the offensive line rotation is somewhat difficult to adjust to, but he's doing the best he can to win the job.
"It's kind of frustrating at times because I want to be in with the first group all the time so we can gel," Klemm said. "They can get a feel for me and I can get a feel for them.
"But I don't make the decisions. We just have to see how it goes. I don't make the decisions and I respect whatever they decide they want to do. The only thing I can do is go out there each day and play as hard as I can, and hope for the best."
Klemm No Stranger To Patriots
One could make the argument that Adrian Klemm should have had the upper hand when he faced the New England Patriots Friday night. After all, Klemm spent the past five seasons of his career there and won three Super Bowls along the way before signing with the Packers in the offseason.
So did Klemm want to stick it to his old teammates?
"Earlier in the week I was real pumped up and excited about it and everything, but as the week progressed I figured I better treat it as a regular game," Klemm said.
"I didn't want to go in there and try to do too much and get caught up in it. I just took it as a regular game and wanted to work as hard as I do for every game.
Klemm did admit it was nice seeing a few familiar faces though.
"In this business guys come and go, and sometimes you think that you maybe become insignificant once you leave," Klemm reasoned. "But guys came up and asked me how I was doing, asked how my kids and my wife were, and how I liked it here."
Klemm listed wide receiver Deion Branch, quarterback Tom Brady, and the offensive line among those that he spoke with the most. He said he enjoyed his time around his old teammates, but added "I just wish it would have been under better circumstances."
Peterson Makes Inside Move
The offensive front isn't the only unsettled unit according to Head Coach Mike Sherman. In fact, with injuries holding out Grady Jackson, Cletidus Hunt and Corey Williams, Sherman was forced to play third-year pro Kenny Peterson at defensive tackle.
"When you look at our defensive ends, I feel pretty confident with the guys we've got," Sherman said. "I wanted to see what he could do at defensive tackle. We've seen him at defensive end and I wanted to see what he could do inside."
Without viewing the film, Sherman acknowledged that it was difficult to make a proper evaluation, but did see some encouraging things from his defense.
"They hit us on a couple runs, I'll give you that, but I thought our guys did some good things on run defense," Sherman explained. "As I watched, guys got off the blocks and were physical at times.
Were we perfect? No. I'm not saying we were perfect-we were far from that-but I did see some good things on defense at times."
The decision to play Peterson inside wasn't exactly a difficult one, either, according to Sherman.
"With our lack of numbers inside, we certainly need some help in there," Sherman said. "So, the opportunity was afforded to give him some time in there."
While he didn't discuss when he expected William's back, Sherman expressed some positive news regarding Jackson and Hunt.
"I'm operating under the assumption that they will practice this week and play in the Tennessee game," Sherman said.
KGB Comes Alive
At the beginning of the game, Kabeer-Gbaja Biamila may have focused too much on understanding the defensive scheme.
"From the first drive he was thinking a little bit too much," defensive end R-Kal Truluck said. "Good things will happen if you play fast."
And very quickly KGB began playing like the disruptive force that racked up 13.5 sacks last year. On back-to-back plays, he stifled the Patriots' offense.
He and defensive tackle Colin Cole busted a Corey Dillon run behind left tackle for a three-yard loss. On third down, KGB then sacked Tom Brady for an eight-yard loss and forced a fumble, causing the Patriots to settle for a field goal.
"Later in the game he was coming off and putting pressure on the quarterback," defensive tackles coach Robert Nunn said. "He was getting off the spot and giving the offensive tackle a lot of problems."
In the second half, the only thing that slowed Gbaja-Biamila down was a neck stinger that forced him to leave the game.
The pass rush only racked up one sack and still has a ways to go but showed some positive signs.
"It has gotten better," Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila said.
Contributing: Jeff Fedotin