Training Camp Notebook: Versatile Ruegamer Could Start

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Jack Of All Trades

The Packers coaching staff continued to rotate players at the starting guard positions even after Sunday's release of Matt O'Dwyer seemed to pave the way for rookie William Whitticker.

Monday's practice began with Adrian Klemm starting at left guard and Grey Ruegamer starting at right guard. Whitticker played on the first team during team drills later in the day.

Ruegamer played guard during the outset of camp but returned to center while the team used center/guard Scott Wells at left guard before the Buffalo Bills game on Aug. 20.

Ruegamer played center against the Patriots but took repetitions at guard with the second team on Sunday.

"It's been a yo-yo type of camp -- in and out and in and out," he said. "It's kind of frustrating being moved from position to position, but it's kind of the cards you're dealt. You've got to play your hand."

Ruegamer can play left guard, right guard or center. He replaced injured center Mike Flanagan and started 75 percent of the 2004 season at that position last year.

"Grey's a jack of all trades," Sherman said.

While the center obviously must snap the ball and call out blocking commands, the Packers' offense requires mobile guards to trap and pull on many running plays.

Ruegamer has mastered both roles but would prefer a specific one rather than that of the offensive line's utility man.

"I'd like to stick with a position," he said. "I don't have that luxury."

Is there a way Ruegamer could improve his chances of starting?

"If I could back Brett (Favre) up or kick the ball," he said.

**

Hunt And Jackson Bolster Defensive Line

For the first time since last season, defensive tackles Grady Jackson and Cletidus Hunt practiced together.

"I felt pretty good out there," said Jackson, who wore a knee brace over a bandage-like leg sleeve. "I had a good practice."

Beginning with the first team drill, both players received a lot of action. They, however, sat out the final segment of practice -- a two-minute drill featuring crowd noise pumped in from speakers.

The coaching staff has not yet determined if they will see action against the Tennessee Titans on Thursday.

The offensive players noticed a difference with the projected starters back in the mix. Ruegamer matched up against them on a few series.

"It's a total pain in the butt when you have guys like that, that are quick and big and strong," he said. "It's really going to help our defense to have those guys back."

Head coach Mike Sherman seemed pleased with their efforts and singled out Jackson's play during 9-on-7 drills.

"He did okay," Sherman said. "He's got a little rust on him. We tried to chip off some of that today."

If both had played against the New England Patriots, the Packers may have allowed less rushing yardage. Instead the Patriots ran for 155.

Obviously, Sherman would have liked to have his interior guys for the entire preseason. Instead he must ease them back into the lineup.

"I did not have a whole lot of choices. The doctors have held them back," he said. "So what do we do from here? We get them in. We continue to condition them."

In the absence of Hunt and Jackson, the coaching staff has shuffled a variety of player at defensive tackle. Corey Williams, Donnell Washington, Cullen Jenkins, James Lee and Colin Cole have all taken turns with the first unit. Cole and Jenkins started against the Patriots.

Jenkins and Kenny Peterson took advantage of the extra playing time on Friday night. Sherman called Jenkins' performance "excellent." After backing up Hunt his previous two years, Peterson slimmed down to 285 pounds this year and spent the majority of camp at defensive end. However, the coaching staff moved him back to defensive tackle against the Patriots, and Peterson responded.

"He was very active," Sherman said.

Sherman also praised the performance of Williams before a variety of injuries sidelined him but said Washington needed to step up.

But a healthy Hunt and Jackson remain the key to improving a defensive line that surrendered 4.6 yards-a-carry last year.

"I wish they were with us the entire preseason," Sherman said. "But hopefully we'll have them for the extent of the regular season."

**

Quick Hits: The Packers practiced inside the Don Hutson Center on Monday. They pumped in crowd noise and practiced in high humidity to simulate the domed conditions of Sept. 11's game in Ford Field. "It will be much like it is in Detroit," Sherman said. "I thought they handled it well." ... The Packers devoted the first 30 minutes of practice -- a noticeably intense session -- to special teams. They ended the special teams portion with a full-speed drill in which two defenders chased down one returner. ... Rookie Roy Manning started at outside linebacker for the majority of Monday's practice. ... Running back Ahman Green missed Monday's session for personal reasons. ... Sherman said penalties have crippled the second team offense: "I think that's what has kept us from having success as much as anything." ... Brett Favre, displaying his newly-conditioned body, participated on the kickoff team and helped chase down returners. Walker had a suggestion on ways to further utilize the fit quarterback: " We should put him in at corner one play when we're up by a lot," he said. "Let him play cover-2 and see how he does."

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