Notebook: Competition Ongoing At Some Spots

text - More Audio | Video | Packers-Raiders Game Center Playoff Picture Pretty Clear For Packers Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Dec. 4

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Head Coach Mike McCarthy said the competition for playing time would continue at certain positions this week, most notably guard and safety.

Jason Spitz, Daryn Colledge and Junius Coston will be rotated through at the guard spots during practice, and McCarthy said the coaching staff would take the week to evaluate where everyone stands. It appears Spitz is playing the best of the three right now and is going to be one of the starters, but whether he plays left or right guard will depend on the other starter. Colledge plays left guard while Coston is on the right side.

Meanwhile, rookie safety Aaron Rouse is expected to be fully healthy after missing the Dallas game last week with a knee injury, and he could push Nick Collins or Atari Bigby for playing time in the secondary. Rouse had replaced Collins in the starting lineup for three games in November due to Collins' knee injury, and then Collins returned to the field against the Cowboys.

"We just want to keep it competitive," McCarthy said. "I thought Aaron Rouse did a very nice job in his (three) opportunities as a starter, and Atari and Nick knew it was not their best outing at safety, along with a number of people. That was not our best game in Dallas.

"But we had the chance to go through the Dallas tape today, the time down at practice today was a self-scout format for us, going through the corrections and so forth. We'll just practice hard like we always do, and everybody will be ready to go."

On the offensive line, Coston is still battling an ankle injury that knocked him out of the starting lineup back in mid-October. He said he isn't all the way back, but is "pretty close," and he sees this week as a chance to reclaim a starting job he held from Weeks 2 through 5 before getting hurt.

"It's most definitely been frustrating," said Coston, who entered last Thursday's game in the second quarter for Colledge, with Spitz shifting over to left guard. "I feel like I was rolling after a couple of starts, and then something like that happens in practice. But I feel like I'm coming back strong from it, though."

McCarthy was asked if it was too late in the season to be having open competitions for spots, and he disagreed with that characterization. He sees the process as one that can make a potential playoff team more stable down the stretch.

"It isn't like we just all of a sudden started to play somebody new," McCarthy said. "These are competitions that have been going on for some time, and you need all your players down the stretch. And I think it's very healthy. I think it's a very healthy situation to have a competitive situation at every position. Now, we want the continuity, there's no doubt about that. But until we get the performance at the level that we want, then we'll keep it competitive."

Injury update

McCarthy said quarterback Brett Favre, who was absent from Tuesday's workout to attend the Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year award banquet in New York City, wants to practice on Wednesday but the medical staff would like to hold him out until Thursday.

McCarthy said he would decide on Wednesday morning what Favre's schedule will be, but any missed practice time due to the elbow injury sustained in Dallas would be strictly precautionary.

Offensive tackle Mark Tauscher (ankle) is expected to be able to practice on Thursday, while cornerback Charles Woodson (toe) and defensive end Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila (ankle) were being tested and their status will be updated later in the week.

Additional tests are also being done on defensive tackle Johnny Jolly (shoulder), who has missed the last two games.

Welcome back

Quarterback Craig Nall, a fifth-round draft choice in 2002 who spent four seasons in Green Bay, had his first practice with his old team Tuesday after being signed as the third quarterback over the weekend.

{sportsad300}The Packers are Nall's third NFL team this season alone. When he left Green Bay, he was all set to compete for the Buffalo Bills' starting job until he pulled his hamstring on the second day of training camp in 2006. He was released by Buffalo this season, brought back for a few weeks as injury insurance, and then went to Houston as a third quarterback for a couple of weeks, spending some time at home before and after that.

He got the call from the Packers last Friday while driving to Texas from Buffalo, where he and his wife had just sold their house.

"It feels great to be back," Nall said. "This is where I started my NFL career, and to get an opportunity to come back here, especially at such a fun time right now with the way the guys have been playing, I'm just glad to be a part of it."

Nall said he'll be learning the offense on the fly this week. He has familiarity with the West Coast system because of his previous time in Green Bay, but there are still adjustments to make.

"When you hear the term West Coast offense, I think everybody kind of has their own flavor of it," he said. "It's just a matter of getting adjusted to a little different terminology. I think the base rules within the offense in terms of pass protection and things like that are the same wherever you go. But I've got my job ahead of me, and I've got to try to get caught up as quick as I can."

Big audience

The Packers-Cowboys game last Thursday on NFL Network drew an average audience of 10.1 million viewers and a coverage area rating of 14.6, the highest-rated cable show in 14 years. The coverage area rating represents the percent of homes with NFL Network tuning into the telecast.

Back in November of 1993, CNN's Larry King Live program featuring the Al Gore-Ross Perot presidential debate earned an 18.1 rating.

The viewership last Thursday represents the ninth most-watched cable program this year, behind only eight NFL telecasts on ESPN.

Also, fans viewed nearly two million live streams on NFL.com/Live, which featured live "look-ins" at :15 and :45 of each hour, select "red zone" possessions and other key moments, during the game broadcast. In terms of fan usage, the NFL.com coverage ranks among the top live events ever on the Internet.

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