In GM/Head Coach Mike Sherman's press conference Sunday afternoon, the Leader of the Pack addressed injuries, roster battles and the overall status of his team.
Sherman indicated that center Mike Flanagan, who has been on the physically unable to perform list (PUP) since the beginning of training camp with knee tendinitis, will return to practice Monday morning. Sherman also expects Flanagan to play in the team's final exhibition game Friday night at Tennessee.
When asked if Flanagan could play without any restrictions, Sherman indicated his center doesn't have any worries.
"He seemed to think so for the last week, so from his standpoint, yes, he'll be able to play without restrictions," Sherman said. "But I will keep an eye on him just like I did last week with Mike Wahle. I will probably restrict him a little bit."
Either way, Sherman is excited for Flanagan's return.
"It's the first time we will have our entire offensive line intact for quite some time," Sherman said. "Even in the mini-camps, we had Wahle and Flanagan out. In particular, Mike Flanagan has been absent so it will be good to get him back out there."
Flanagan isn't the only injured player that Sherman addressed.
Tight end David Martin and defensive lineman Larry Smith will be out for a couple weeks. Smith has a strained quad and Martin had fluid drained from his knee.
Ahman Green is also day to day with a bruised kneecap suffered in Friday's game.
Sherman released a bit of good news when he said that he expects running back Najeh Davenport, offensive lineman Atlas Harrion and linebacker Torrance Marshall to return to practice Monday.
Corner Battle Brewing?
Sherman said he was very happy with Mark Roman's play at the safety spot opposite of Darren Sharper and that Roman had played well enough to earn the starting role.
"Roman's done a nice job," Sherman said. "He had a nice hit in the game and made some plays for us. He's good on the sideline and he is very into the game. He also is a good communicator which is helpful, so he's done a nice job and helped himself in the preseason."
Sherman said he didn't know who would land the other cornerback spot along with Al Harris. Michael Hawthorne has started throughout training camp, but that is subject to change as well.
"I think Mike has done a nice job," Sherman said. "There's things he can improve on, but I think he's done some good things."
First-round draft pick Ahmad Carroll is also in the cornerback hunt and may just pressure Hawthorne for the right to start.
"I think Carroll has improved," Sherman said. "He wasn't challenged a lot in the game the other day, but he challenged them as far as his alignment and how he played his position.
"The fact that Ahmad wasn't challenged might suggest that he did a good job covering. He did have a play on the ball which was nice to see. I would have liked to see his eyes get around on it a little bit and make a play with his hands, but I thought he did a nice job in the game. We have another week of evaluation and we'll see how this thing plays out."
Who Will Backup Brett?
Much of the training camp talk has been about the off-season signing of Tim Couch. He was expected to be the backup with Craig Nall, Scott McBrien and Doug Pederson also battling for a roster spot. However, going into the last week of preseason, the team still has plenty of questions regarding the position.
Couch has had a limited amount of time to pick up the playbook and he missed Friday's game with an arm injury. Sherman said there's nothing structurally wrong with Couch's arm other than it is sore.
That injury has somewhat opened the door for Pederson and McBrien and Sherman likes what he has seen so far.
"Doug has a valuable place on the team more than just holding for the kicker," Sherman said. "I thought he did a nice job in the game the other day. He had a 17-play drive and unfortunately, we didn't get any points out of it. We kept shooting ourselves in the foot but that wasn't Doug's fault. I thought he did some nice things and helped himself in that game."
Not to be lost in the shuffle is the rookie southpaw from Maryland.
"He's done a couple things that are interesting," Sherman said of McBrien. "We put him in a difficult situation at the end of the game. Again, we continued to push ourselves backwards which was tough, but he made one throw that I thought was special. It was unfortunate on the interception but you have no time left and you try to make something happen. So I don't criticize him too much for that, although we will try to get him to make a better decision next time."
The Packers knew what they were getting with McBrien when they signed him as an undrafted free agent, and he hasn't disappointed.
"He's done some nice things," Sherman said. "He's pretty athletic. He's the exact same way he was coming out of Maryland. He was a rhythm, tempo type of passer and has exhibited that to us here."
Fourth And Fifth Receiver Spots Still Up For Grabs
The battle for the fourth and fifth receiver spots has been open all training camp and it appears that way heading into this week as well. After Donald Driver, Robert Ferguson and Javon Walker, the Packers aren't sure who will emerge for the last two openings.
Sherman said that Antonio Chatman has caught his attention as a receiver.
"I think he's really improved in that area," Sherman said. "I certainly don't want that to detract from his return skill. He had one catch from Doug that was called back, but he's had some nice catches. He's not afraid to catch the ball over the middle or on the outside, it really doesn't matter. I think he's progressed as a receiver."
Sherman did acknowledge that Chatman could improve in the return game and that he will as the regular season progresses.
"Chatman has been a reliable guy back there. He was very secure with his decisions last year. He made some good decisions Friday night with the exception of one.
"He's been a good decision maker. He hasn't been great in the preseason but I think he will get better in the season with more repetitions."
Still, if Chatman wanted to make the team, Sherman let him know he can't be just a returner anymore.
"Last mini-camp I told him he had to improve in that area because he wasn't really a factor for us at that position last year," Sherman explained. "I couldn't depend on him going into a game and helping us. This year I have much more confidence in him."
Also battling for a receiver spot are Scottie Vines and Carl Ford. Sherman said Vines impressed him with his play Friday night.
"Scottie made a nice play after he screwed one up," Sherman said. "I always look to see how a guy responds after making a mistake. He had a bad play but came out and made a nice catch. He's certainly physical enough and should be a good special teams player."
Sherman made it known that all his receivers must compete not only this week, but everyday in order to play in the NFL.
"As I tell the guys, the competition isn't just in-house, it's around the league," Sherman said. "Other teams and other players, they are competing against them as well. I will still say that I am not handing Chapman the fourth position and I am not handing anyone the fifth position yet, we still have to secure that going into the last week (of the preseason)."
Sherman Excited About His Squad
No one knows the team better than Sherman and he said Sunday that his team has been impressive with their attitude and energy level. He is excited for what this season may bring.
"I really like the team," Sherman said. "We have a great group of men. There's a lot of energy. We talked this year about the energy level we need to play and practice with. I really wanted them to come to work on practice days and preseason game days with an emotional level.
"I think they've done that and played that way. Have things always worked out on our behalf in games? No, but I think there is a fair amount of emotion that you have to play with in order to be successful at this game. I like our team; I like the fact that they are emotional and care about their jobs."
Sherman recalled a story that illustrated his team's intensity for football.
"We had a practice last Wednesday and there was a lot of talking going on and you can always tell where your team is when you stand in the back or on the edges and you hear them talking about football," Sherman explained.
"Maybe that is because I'm over there and the conversation changes when I get there, but overall when I talked to the other coaches they felt the same way. They're just a team that really likes football and likes being there. So I am excited about this team."