Notebook: Wells Returns To Starting Lineup

For the first time this season, the Packers’ starting offensive line Sunday at Tampa Bay will look the way it did on the season-opening depth chart with center Scott Wells returning and Jason Spitz moving back to right guard. - More Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Sept. 24


For the first time this season, the Packers' starting offensive line Sunday at Tampa Bay will look the way it did on the season-opening depth chart with center Scott Wells returning and Jason Spitz moving back to right guard.

Wells, who has yet to play this season because of a pinched nerve in his back, took the snaps with the No. 1 line in the open portion of Wednesday's practice and is scheduled to make his '08 debut Sunday against the Buccaneers. He was not listed on Wednesday's injury report for the first time this season.

"He will start at center and Jason Spitz will go at right guard," Head Coach Mike McCarthy said. "That's the lineup we'll go with.

"He had a full week of practice last week and had a good day today. He looks good."

Wells was active for the first time this season Sunday vs. Dallas but did not play as Spitz started at center with Tony Moll at right guard for the third straight game.

"I think Jason and Tony did a great job, but it will be good to have Scott back," quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. "Communication-wise, he's very intelligent. He's great with being on the same page as I am as far as protection stuff and run game stuff, so it's going to be good to get back with him."

Wells started 29 games at center in 2006-07, and Spitz started 12 games in '07, with seven of those starts coming at the right guard spot.

The Packers have the No. 15 rushing offense in the NFL, averaging 115.3 yards per game. Rodgers has been sacked six times, but five of those came on Sunday vs. the Cowboys.

"We're not happy with one quarterback sack," Spitz said. "Sometimes a sack is inevitable and it's going to happen, but our job is to keep him clean. That is not one single touch, whether it is a pressure or anything.

"Obviously we didn't get it done. We need to correct the mistakes, execute better and move on and hopefully get a victory this weekend."

Harris out for Sunday

Cornerback Al Harris, who sustained an injury to his spleen in the second quarter against the Cowboys, will not play Sunday against Tampa Bay.

"It's a serious injury," McCarthy said. "I think that's obvious to everybody, and really as we move forward, it's a different type of injury. We will take a cautious approach. Everything we'll do is in his best interests.

"We're talking about an internal injury. It's not a hamstring or something that's different based on the individual."

This will be the first game that Harris has missed in his 11-year NFL career. He has played in 175 straight contests (163 regular season, 12 playoff games), including all 88 games since coming to Green Bay in 2003.

Good practice

With temperatures currently forecast to be in the upper 80s on Sunday afternoon in Tampa, the Packers got a head start in their warm-weather preparation at practice.

Temperatures Wednesday approached 80 degrees in Green Bay, and are expected to be in that range Thursday and Friday as well.

{sportsad300}"We addressed it Monday, just being conscientious about the fluids and those types of things," McCarthy said. "We're aware of it. We have a very positive experience that we went through Miami two years ago, caught a very hot day down there. So we'll be ready."

The Packers have played just one game under McCarthy where the temperature was 80 degrees or higher, which was the 34-24 win at Miami on Oct. 22, 2006. It was 88 degrees at kickoff at Dolphin Stadium.

In that game, the Packers' defense was on the field for 83 plays, and Dolphins quarterback Joey Harrington threw the ball 62 times.

Prior to that game, the last experience with 80 degree or higher temperatures for the Packers was also the last time they played the Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium, a 20-13 Green Bay win on Nov. 16, 2003.

Heading home

Defensive tackle Ryan Pickett, who was born and raised in nearby Zephyrhills, Fla., will play in Tampa Bay for just the second time in his eight-year career. Pickett played there in 2002 when he was with the St. Louis Rams.

"It's just great to go back home," Pickett said. "It feels good to go back and play in front of your hometown and people I knew who watched me play from little league to pee-wee league to now. That's the exciting part."

Injury/participation update

In addition to Wells, running back Ryan Grant and wide receiver Ruvell Martin were not listed on the injury report for the first time this season.

McCarthy said Grant "needs a full week of work," but that the team will be smart with him and take it day-to-day as far as what he can do in practice.

Martin said he will wear a small splint on his finger, which he also wore during the preseason, and said he didn't think it would have much of an effect on him Sunday.

Safety Atari Bigby (hamstring), fullback Korey Hall (knee), running back Kregg Lumpkin (hamstring) and cornerback Charles Woodson (toe) did not participate in Wednesday's practice.

Limited participants were tackle Chad Clifton (knees), safeties Nick Collins (back) and Aaron Rouse (knee), wide receiver James Jones (knee) and guard Josh Sitton (knee).

For the Buccaneers, wide receiver Joey Galloway (foot), who was inactive Sunday at Chicago, did not participate Wednesday. Quarterback Brian Griese and running back Warren Dunn were limited, but both were not injury-related.

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