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Notebook: Spitz Back At C, Moll At RG

By giving Scott Wells more than two weeks to rest his trunk/lower back injury, the Packers and the veteran center were hoping they’d have the muscle strain licked and prevent it from becoming a nagging, recurring thing. No such luck. - More Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Sept. 2


By giving Scott Wells more than two weeks to rest his trunk/lower back injury, the Packers and the veteran center were hoping they'd have the muscle strain licked and prevent it from becoming a nagging, recurring thing.

No such luck.

Wells suffered a setback in practice on Monday and was sidelined once again on Tuesday, putting him right back where he was after initially re-aggravating the injury in the second preseason game at San Francisco on Aug. 16.

That also reverted the Packers' offensive line to the one that started the preseason finale last week against Tennessee, with Jason Spitz moving over to start at center for Wells and Tony Moll taking Spitz's place at right guard.

"We've trained for this particular situation," Head Coach Mike McCarthy said. "I didn't think we would be experiencing it in Week 1, but that's part of the game. I'm not really concerned about it. I'm just planning and working through it."

McCarthy said Wells is obviously frustrated, but at this point the offense has to move forward without him and get ready to handle Minnesota's vaunted defensive line. The Vikings' interior tackle tandem of Pat Williams and Kevin Williams is one of the toughest in the league and presents a big challenge to the interior group of Spitz, Moll and Daryn Colledge. Minnesota ends Jared Allen and Ray Edwards will be the responsibility of tackles Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher.

"Every offense is built on communication, especially the guys up front and the quarterback," quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. "We're going to this week try and figure things out and get on the same page communication-wise, whoever's playing up front. It's going to be important once we hit the field to be able to adapt and figure out their looks and where they're bringing pressure and react on the fly and make quick decisions."

The Packers have done their share of shuffling on the line as a result of Wells' injury and the knee injury to rookie Josh Sitton, who was the starter at right guard before he went down in the third preseason game at Denver, Aug. 22. Spitz spent all of training camp cross-training at center and guard, while Moll and Colledge did the same at guard and tackle, where Clifton sat out several training camp workouts to rest his knees.

"That's why we have practiced the way we have been practicing with our offensive line," McCarthy said. "They give us flexibility, the ability to go into a game with seven offensive linemen. We're playing accordingly and going to prepare for it."

Familiar territory

Unlike many rookie quarterbacks who make an NFL roster, Packers No. 2 quarterback Matt Flynn knows what it means to be a backup. Flynn backed up both Matt Mauck and JaMarcus Russell at LSU before getting a chance to start as a senior last year.

So Flynn knows all about how he's supposed to prepare for a game, doing what he can should he be needed in relief of starter Aaron Rodgers.

"I understand what it takes to be a backup," Flynn said. "I understand what the mental preparation is like and what it takes to be ready at any moment to get your number called and go into a game.

"I feel completely confident that I will be ready, and I'll get the mental preparation necessary to be able to go in there, run the game plan, and get people in the right situation."

Flynn said during regular-season practices, he can't get as many reps as the starters, but he takes mental reps with every snap. He, fellow rookie Brian Brohm, and quarterbacks coach Tom Clements are getting every play Rodgers is running in practice, and they're discussing all the reads and checks that Rodgers is making at the line of scrimmage.

"It's something I've always done well," Flynn said. "I've kind of acquired a talent at progressing as a quarterback when not getting the reps."

Continuing to rebuild

Defensive end Aaron Kampman's hometown high school, Iowa's Aplington-Parkersburg, which was demolished by a tornado in late May, is back to playing football. The Falcons won their first game last Friday night, 36-27, over Dike-New Hartford.

Aplington-Parkersburg is scheduled to play its first home game this Friday against West Marshall. The game will be played on the rebuilt field adjacent to the high school. The students won't get their new high school until next year and are holding classes in the nearby elementary and middle schools for now, but Kampman said Friday's game on the old field will mean a lot to everyone in the area.

"It will be a pretty exciting night," Kampman said. "When (the tornado) happened, that was one of the first things the community pointed to and said, 'Hey, we'll get back to normal life,' and this will be something that represents that. It's going to be a special night for the community."

{sportsad300}Honoring Upshaw

In addition to having all players wear a uniform patch honoring Gene Upshaw, the late Pro Football Hall of Famer and executive director of the NFL Players Association, all stadiums on kickoff weekend will have the black-and-white "63 GU" patch stenciled onto the field. All stadiums will also show a video tribute to Upshaw, and one NFLPA player representative per team will wear a black armband in honor of Upshaw.

A memorial service for Upshaw was held Tuesday at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. President/CEO Mark Murphy and former NFLPA player rep Rob Davis, now the team's director of player development, represented the Packers at the service.

Injury/participation update

Safety Atari Bigby (ankle) returned to practice on Tuesday.

In addition to Wells, running back Ryan Grant (hamstring) sat out, though McCarthy said that was just a precaution because of some soreness and he expects Grant to return to practice on Thursday. The players have Wednesday off.

Sitton, wide receiver James Jones (knee), linebacker A.J. Hawk (chest), safety Charlie Peprah (hamstring), defensive ends Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila (knee) and Jeremy Thompson (groin), and linebacker Tracy White (ankle) also sat out practice.

The day off was a planned one for 'KGB,' who practiced on Monday and has been monitoring how the knee responds after putting it through a full workout.

Like Monday, Clifton was not in pads but participated in the opening jog-through portion of practice.

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