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Tough Flanagan Tried To Play Through Pain


During pregame warmups, center Mike Flanagan experienced pain from his surgically repaired sports hernia, but the veteran insisted on playing.

"He was a little suspect but played pretty well," head coach Mike Sherman said. "He just got to a point where his movement was limited, and we had to make a change."

With the injury hurting his play, the Packers had no choice but to rest Flanagan in the second quarter. Sherman talked to him after the game, and the 10-year veteran was upset he could not play all four quarters.

"He thought he could have made a difference in protection," Sherman said.

Flanagan's yearning to help the team should not come as a surprise. He returned to game action two weeks after undergoing hernia surgery and has played through pain for most of the season.

"I don't know many players who would have done what he did," Sherman said. "That's a credit to him and his commitment to this team."

Sherman has not yet determined if Flanagan will play this week or if he will shut him down for the season. The Packers will examine him medically on Monday and Tuesday.

"There's a lot of soreness that is causing him an inability to function," Sherman said. "If he feels healthy enough to play, then he'll play. If he doesn't feel healthy enough to play, we certainly won't put him out there."

When Flanagan left the game on Sunday, the Packers moved Grey Ruegamer from right guard to center. Scott Wells moved from left guard to right guard, and Adrian Klemm entered the lineup at left guard. Further complicating matters, starting right guard William Whitticker missed the game with a concussion.

"It seemed like a lot of moving parts," Sherman said.

Inserting three players at different spots, however, represented the most logical strategy. During the week Wells had practiced at both guard spots while Ruegamer practiced at center. Klemm had the experience of starting the first eight games of the season at left guard. Ruegamer served as the best center candidate because he replaced Flanagan at that position for 10 games last season.

"That was our best choice," Sherman said. "He was very much aware of the calls we needed to make in pass protection."

Despite facing an active Chicago Bears front four that stunts and loops, the re-shuffled offensive line held up well until they allowed two sacks to Tank Johnson and Alex Brown during the final drive.

"The pressure wasn't bad until the very end of the game," offensive coordinator Tom Rossley said. "And they're a very active group. We have a lot of respect for Tommie Harris and some of those pass rushers they've got."

Flanagan could help mitigate that pressure if he comes back. However, with another week of practice to work players at new positions, the Packers' offensive line should be more cohesive even if Flanagan cannot go.

"If in fact Flanagan is healthy or not," Rossley said, "we'll have a better chance to address that now in advance."

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