Ruegamer Earns Start At Right Guard

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After performing well against the Philadelphia Eagles, Grey Ruegamer will start in place of William Whitticker on Sunday.

"I'm definitely excited," Ruegamer said. "It's an opportunity to get out there and have some fun."

Ruegamer received 20 snaps at right guard and four at left guard against the Eagles. The Packers' offensive line allowed only one sack and paved the way for 128 rushing yards on 30 carries (a 4.3 average).

"He played pretty good the other day," Whitticker said. "I kind of knew it was going to come along. You've just got to encourage him when he's out there."

Whitticker, a rookie seventh-round draft choice, has started every game at right guard. After improving throughout the season, he struggled to finish his blocks during the last two weeks. But he has taken the recent demotion in stride.

"That's coach's decision," he said. "What are you going to do about it? You've just got to continue to work hard every day."

Ruegamer also has learned to become flexible with coaching decisions. The offensive line's utility man, Ruegamer has moved from left guard to right guard, to center and now back to right guard since training camp began.

"I'm happy to get out there whether it's at left guard, right guard or center," Ruegamer said. "It's a chance to be on the field. So that's all I could ask."

While Head Coach Mike Sherman declared Ruegamer the starter, it has not been determined if Ruegamer will play the entire game of if the team will rotate the players as they did against the Eagles.

"I don't know," Whitticker said. "It's up to coach (Larry) Beightol."

The coaching staff does know that Whitticker remains in their future plans.

"We still have high hopes for Whitticker," Sherman said. "He's still going to play this season. ... This isn't an indictment against Whitticker. It's more to change it up."

Whitticker should prove resilient. He has dealt with this kind of setback before. He started eight games during his sophomore season at Michigan State. The school made a coaching change the next year, and Whitticker found himself on the bench behind a sixth-year senior, Paul Harker. John L. Smith replaced Bobby Williams as head coach and favored playing seniors. Whitticker responded with 83 pancake blocks during an impressive senior year performance.

"I rebounded from that," he said. "You've got to use it as motivation."

For Ruegamer the ascension into the starting lineup fulfills an offseason objective. He started 11 games at center last year, replacing injured Mike Flanagan. When Mike Wahle and Marco Rivera departed as free agents after the 2004 season, Ruegamer had hoped to earn a spot at guard. Adrian Klemm and Whitticker earned the starting spots instead heading into the season, but Ruegamer has earned a starter's role as he enters Week 13.

"It was definitely a goal," he said. "It takes a lot of patience, but that's what I get paid to do."

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