Friday's practice saw the Packers work without two of their offensive linemen for the third consecutive day as they prepare to meet the Detroit Lions Sunday afternoon.
Center Grey Ruegamer, who was forced out in the second quarter of last Sunday's encounter with the Philadelphia Eagles with a sprained ankle, was sidelined for the entire week of practice with rookie Scott Wells taking his place as he did in last week's game.
Tackle Kevin Barry, the Packers' noted sixth man on the offensive line who is a contributor in their 'U-71' package which sees the 335-pounder enter the game as an extra blocking tight end, was also kept from practicing this week after suffering a quadriceps strain at Philadelphia.
GM/Head Coach Mike Sherman said in his Friday press conference that both players will continue to be evaluated at Saturday morning's walkthrough practice and listed each as probable to play on Sunday.
Sherman said that he's confident in Wells' ability to step in if the rookie is called on to make his first start.
"I'm very confident in Wells," Sherman said. "He's a very bright football player. He's started a ton of football games in his career, obviously at the collegiate level, but still blocking a nose guard, blocking a linebacker - it's not a whole lot different that way. Obviously they're bigger, faster, stronger at this level, but he has great strength. He's a good athlete. If he has to play, he'll do an excellent job for us."
When asked if he's inclined to start Wells based on the promise he's shown this week, Sherman said that he's liked what he's seen on the training ground.
"I'm leaning that way a little bit, but I'm going to see how "Rugie" is tomorrow, said the coach. "Because of the fact that he has been playing a lot, has been in every situation possible, he does have a wealth of experience. But I don't have a hesitation playing with Wells.
"If I wasn't as pleased with what Wells did this week, maybe I'd be pushing (Ruegamer to start) a little bit harder but I think Wells did a nice job. I don't think he made a mental mistake, physically was fine, and I was pleased with his progress. I am optimistic about Ruegamer so that hasn't really changed."
If he does get his first start, Wells admitted that he might be a little nervous, but well-prepared at the same time.
"I'll have some jitters, but I think everybody does," Wells said. "I think I had jitters every game I started in college also. I know this is a much bigger scale and it's something I've dreamed about for a long time, to get my first start - if that's the case. If not, I've got the practice this week, the preparation that will help me out for when they do need me.
"I think I've come a long way since training camp as far as the mental errors. I had a lot of mental errors in training camp. I wasn't picking things up as fast as I would like to. This is a different type of offense than what I was used to and just having this extra eight, nine weeks running the look squad and watching the offense and sitting in meetings, I've picked things up. Getting the reps this week at practice and running both the offense and the look squad offense has helped out a lot."
Another thing that Wells has taken from this week has been his up-close interaction with Brett Favre, an exciting experience even for fellow professional football players.
"There's a little more of a comfort level, but he'll always be somebody I respect," said the rookie. "I'll still feel a little different around him just because of what he's done. A Hall of Fame quarterback - you still get a little nervous talking to somebody like that. I'd say we're a little more comfortable with each other."
News & Notes:
Sherman confirmed that linebacker Na'il Diggs will be out for Sunday's game with his bruised kidney. Sherman said that he's pretty confident that Diggs will be ready to return next week... Wide receiver Donald Driver missed practice Friday as he was dealing with a death in his family.