Resilient Whitticker Shakes Off Bad Game

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William Whitticker had trouble swallowing the Packers' 27-3 loss to the New England Patriots.

He also had trouble swallowing food. Whitticker lost a couple of pounds on Friday night.

He couldn't eat. He couldn't sleep, and he didn't want to talk to anyone.

"It was a long night on Friday," he said.

Whitticker had problems with his footwork, pass blocking and run blocking against the Patriots. He called his performance one of the worst of his career.

"He struggled a little bit," offensive line coach Larry Beightol said, "He'll learn from that."

Whitticker's struggles contributed to the offensive line's woes. They allowed three sacks and created few creases for a running game that averaged 3.3 yards.

However, the 6-5, 338 rookie guard has reasons to keep his head up. His poor performance occurred during a preseason game that has no bearing on the regular season record. Plus he started at right guard during Sunday's practice.

The Packers also released 11-year-veteran Matt O'Dwyer, Whitticker's main competition at right guard, a sign of the coaching staff's confidence in him.

"We felt comfortable with the guys we have," head coach Mike Sherman said.

Like Whitticker, Adrian Klemm started at guard during Friday night's game and Sunday's practice, but the coaching staff has not announced the starters.

"We're still working toward that Sunday (Sept. 11) over at Detroit," Beightol said "We're still not there yet."

Whitticker worked toward his goal of becoming the starter by bouncing back from the Patriots game with a strong showing during Sunday's practice. But he yearns for even better production.

"I felt like I stepped it up a little bit," he said. "Now I've got to step it for tomorrow to be ready for Thursday night."

On Friday Whitticker faced a daunting challenge against the Patriots and their stout defensive line. The Super Bowl champions finished sixth against the run last year and feature one of the game's best defensive lineman in Pro Bowler Richard Seymour.

Whitticker matched up against Seymour on several occasions. Seymour has good strength, a powerful initial punch and a long reach.

"I've got to step up my game to go against him," he said. "Whenever [I blocked him], he got the best of me a lot of the time."

Whitticker may have been too hard on himself. Most rookies would struggle against the Seymour and the Patriots, and he played very hard.

"Every mistake he made was correctable," Sherman said. "The mistakes he made were aggressive ones. You can certainly fix those."

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