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Notebook: Kicker Could Decide Game With Vikes


Recent history suggests this week's game against the Minnesota Vikings might depend on a kicker.

The last four times the Packers and Vikings have met, the game has been decided by a field goal on the final play. In 2004, Packers kicker Ryan Longwell was the hero in both contests, while last year Minnesota's Paul Edinger did in the Packers twice.

"I think when you play rival football games, I think that's a constant that happens," Head Coach Mike McCarthy said. "I think it's going to be a very physical football game.

"I would not be surprised if it comes down to another field goal."

If so, Longwell will be the kicker Minnesota calls upon. After nine seasons in Green Bay, Longwell signed with the Vikings as a free agent and is off to a good start there. He's made 14 of 17 field goals this season.

Meanwhile the Packers have second-year pro Dave Rayner, who's 12 of 15 in his first season kicking field goals and taking over for Green Bay's all-time scoring leader.

"It's always hard to step into a position where a guy has been so good for so many years," Rayner said. "But I'm not trying to replace Ryan Longwell, I'm just trying to start my own career, and I think I'm doing a pretty good job with it."

Rayner hasn't been put in a game-winning situation yet, but he shrugs off the idea that there would be more pressure on him if he needs to kick a game-winner with the Packers' former kicker looking on from the other sideline.

"I think winning is the biggest thing," he said. "We just need to get a win and if it comes down to a field goal, I just hope I make it."

Ready to settle in

Center Scott Wells said he and his wife will start looking for a house in Green Bay now that he's signed a five-year contract extension to remain a Packer. Wells said he signed the new deal on Monday, and he certainly appreciates how far he's come from being a seventh-round draft choice and practice squad player coming out of his first training camp to a solid NFL starter now with financial security.

"I'm very appreciative for how I've been blessed here," he said.

"I look forward to being here for the next five years. I really like the area so I was happy with the offer, my family is happy and we're excited to be a part of this organization."

Wells said the contract extension solidifies the role he has assumed this year as the anchor of the young interior of the offensive line. Wells has had two rookies amongst the group of Daryn Colledge, Jason Spitz and Tony Moll starting alongside him at the guard spots all season.

"I anticipated staying here for a while, I really wanted to, and I was excited when they came to say we want you for five more years," Wells said. "I would say that would make me the anchor."

{sportsad300}Day off beneficial

Running back Ahman Green, who is probable on this week's injury report with his knee injury, missed practice on Wednesday but should return soon. Sitting out the first full practice of the week is becoming a helpful pattern as Green tries to get his body in top condition for each game.

"I think it keeps the stress off his knee," McCarthy said. "We went to it after he came back from the hamstrings, and I'm pleased with the way he responds because he's fresh on Thursday and Friday and has two excellent days of practice."

McCarthy said that may be the schedule they keep Green on for the rest of the season. It's hard to argue with the results - since returning from the hamstring troubles that forced him to miss two games, Green has surpassed 100 yards in each of his last three contests.

Other injuries

Wide receiver Greg Jennings (ankle) and cornerback Charles Woodson (knee) are both listed as questionable on this week's injury report and missed practice on Wednesday. McCarthy said both would likely continue to rehab on Thursday with the goal of getting back to practice on Friday.

Safety Nick Collins (back bruise) is probable and practiced on Wednesday, while tight end Bubba Franks (wrist) is also probable but missed practice. Nick Barnett also missed practice for personal reasons and is expected back on Thursday.

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