As All-Pro running back Ahman Green lay on the field in the second quarter of Green Bay's preseason game at Jacksonville Friday, you can bet there were more than a few concerned people on the Packer sideline. Luckily for the Packers, it appears that Green avoided a serious injury.
After Green was tackled on a five-yard gain, he immediately reached for his left leg and trainers hustled out to the field to work on the Packers' all-purpose back. He eventually got up and walked off the field with assistance from the medical staff.
GM/Head Coach Mike Sherman called the injury a bruised left kneecap.
"His kneecap moved," Sherman said. "I think it scared him more than anything. It scared me as well.
"Many, many thoughts go through your head when that happens to a player of that magnitude, but fortunately he was OK."
Although no injury is considered a good one, the Packers can breathe a little easier knowing that Green could have been hurt much worse.
The Packers also dodged a bullet on a few other injuries as well. Linebacker Na'il Diggs injured his left wrist and Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila banged his right elbow. Both players later returned to the game.
Flags Flying In Packers Preseason
Committing penalties is part of the game, but when teams put up double-digits in that category, it can become an area of concern. Lately, the Packers have been drawing flags at a higher rate than they are accustomed to, but Sherman said he's not going to panic yet.
"We've been one of the least penalized teams in the league and because of that, I am not overly concerned," Sherman said. "Guys on the offensive line were getting tired and when that happens, they reach out and grab to get the penalties."
Last Saturday in their win over the Saints, the Packers committed 14 penalties for 169 yards and against the Jaguars the team was flagged 13 times for 103 yards.
Surely, different lineups and the fact that teams lack continuity in the preseason have a great deal to do with the flags. The Packers just have to hope when the games count that the mistakes will lessen. If Sherman's teams of the past are any indication, the Packers will have this cleaned up in time for the regular season.
Punters Audition For Job
After signing punter Bryan Barker Monday, the Packers opened the competition to him and B.J. Sander. Sander, a third-round pick out of Ohio State, struggled in the previous two preseason games and Barker was brought in to offer consistency to the position.
Both players had an equal amount of punts to impress coaches Friday, and it appears that Sander had his best game yet as a Packer.
Sherman certainly was happier with his punters tonight than in the previous two games.
"The punting improved, but I was disappointed with our gunners who were nonexistent," Sherman said. "I thought our punters did better, they certainly didn't hurt us. I felt encouraged, but they have a long way to go."
Wahle Returns To Lineup
The Packers were happy to have Mike Wahle back on the practice field Tuesday, but were even more relieved that he played Friday night. Wahle was glad to be back, too.
"It feels great to be playing again," Wahle said. "I'm a little tired and I feel a little rusty, but I'm having a lot of fun and I like competing."
After struggling with their running game earlier in the preseason, the Packers got their running game going in the first half. Green had nine carries for 39 yards and a 4.3 average per carry. Wahle thought the team improved in that area.
"We got the running game going," he said. "They stopped us a little, but we did what we could."
Always looking for an advantage, the Packers Friday looked to battle the Florida heat and humidity with new air conditioned shoulder pads.
Kevin Barry, Steve Bush, Tony Donald, Tony Fisher, Ahman Green, Bhawoh Jue, Paris Lenon, Nick Luchey, David Martin and Grey Ruegamer each found comfort as a small pipe inside the pads was attached to the cooling system on the Packers' bench.
In the winter months, the cooling system can also be transformed into a heater to keep the players warm during the notoriously cold winter months in Green Bay.