Training Camp Report: Competition At Right Tackle Heating Up

Allen Barbre has held the starting right tackle spot the entire offseason and to this point in camp, but Head Coach Mike McCarthy said Monday that the Packers will start splitting the practice reps with the first line between Barbre and second-year lineman Breno Giacomini. - More Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Aug. 17

Allen Barbre has held the starting right tackle spot the entire offseason and to this point in camp, but Head Coach Mike McCarthy said Monday that the Packers will start splitting the practice reps with the first line between Barbre and second-year lineman Breno Giacomini.

McCarthy emphasized that the decision wasn't so much a product of Barbre's play thus far, but more the improvement that the coaches have seen from Giacomini in the first two weeks of training camp.

"(Breno) was coming off of the injury list and was in the one-a-day mindset when he started camp, and he's really picked it up," McCarthy said. "I think Allen has been very solid. We feel comfortable with Allen. There's some technical things he needs to work on as far as his game evaluation, but I think he's been pretty consistent and very physical.

"I thought his back-side blocking was something that was well done. He was a big participant in that in this particular game. I think it's going to be a very good competition as we move forward here in the next couple weeks."

McCarthy said Monday that it was too early to say who would get the start Saturday at right tackle against Buffalo.

Barbre, who is entering his third season, was part of No. 1 offensive line that didn't allow a sack and helped put 14 points on the board in two series against Cleveland. He said he didn't feel like he had done anything to take a step back in the competition.

"I think it went well," Barbre said. "There are some things I've got to work on still. It was good to get some film; that way I can evaluate myself and go from there and work on it all week. Hopefully it will show up next Saturday."

Giacomini, a fifth-round pick of the Packers in 2008, was inactive for 14 games as a rookie, but benefited from working against veteran defensive end Aaron Kampman in practice every day. He originally sustained an ankle injury last season in a practice leading up to Green Bay's Week 16 matchup at Chicago, and underwent surgery on Feb. 11. Giacomini missed all of OTAs and mini-camp, with Barbre taking all of the reps with the starters during that time.

"That's the worst thing (missing the offseason)," Giacomini said. "That's when you spend time with the coach and you get better. That's individual, with the team, with the partner you are going to play with. It's not a good feeling when you have to overcome that, but I feel pretty good right now."

With the team not re-signing right tackle Mark Tauscher during the offseason after he tore his ACL in Week 14 vs. Houston, there was clearly an opportunity there for Giacomini, but he said he didn't concern himself too much with his injury putting him behind in the competition.

"I didn't worry about it," Giacomini said. "I've just got to play ball and that's what I love doing. I knew it was going to be there. Barbre is doing a great job and we help each other out. We're just trying to get better."

Pre-snap problems

The Packers' offensive line controlled the line of scrimmage in Saturday night's 17-0 win over Cleveland, evidenced by their 230 yards on the ground, but the five pre-snap penalties called on Green Bay were one of the negatives McCarthy pointed to from the game.

Green Bay was flagged for four false-start penalties, with three of them called in a little more than a 10-minute span in the second quarter.

"If you ever have any kind of penalty, it usually should be combative," center/guard Jason Spitz said. "Pre-snap penalties are absolutely 100 percent avoidable. It takes no talent to stay onsides.

"It's just a matter of paying attention, getting up there and listening to the quarterback and everyone getting off at the same time. At this point in time, we shouldn't be having any."

In 2008, Green Bay was penalized more times (110) than any other team other than Oakland (119), according to STATS, Inc., but the Packers were able to limit their false-start penalties in '08 with 15, which was tied for fifth fewest in the NFL.

"Regardless of what year it is, you never want penalties," Spitz said. "Obviously it kind of truncates production. The fewer penalties we have, the more efficient we will be, and the better off the team will be. It's always an emphasis here."

Plays of the day

Cornerback Joe Porter blocked a Durant Brooks punt during team work and came close to blocking one of Jeremy Kapinos' as well.

Wide receiver Donald Driver outjumped cornerback Al Harris on a deep ball down the left sideline from Rodgers to make an acrobatic catch.

Tight end Jermichael Finley made a leaping one-handed grab with his left hand on a crossing route from Rodgers, and wide receiver Brett Swain made a tough diving catch deep down the right sideline for a big pickup.

{sportsad300}Safety/cornerback Jarrett Bush got a piece of a Matt Flynn pass at the line of scrimmage on the last play of practice, and defensive end Jarius Wynn made the interception off the deflection.

Safety Atari Bigby intercepted a Rodgers pass over the middle intended for tight end Donald Lee near the goal line in two-minute work.

Injury/participation update

Three players who had been out all camp - linebackers Nick Barnett and Brad Jones and nose tackle/defensive end B.J. Raji - were on the field for the first time on Monday.

Raji signed his contract on Friday and passed his physical Monday after being placed on the non-football injury list on Friday. Barnett (knee) and Jones (back) both passed their physicals as well after spending the first two weeks of camp on the physically-unable-to-perform list.

Jones was close to full participation while Barnett was limited to individual work. Raji took a few snaps during team work, but not many. All three players will be on a one-a-day schedule this week.

New to the injury list on Monday was wide receiver James Jones (hamstring), who sat out practice. Remaining out were cornerback Pat Lee (back), linebackers Clay Matthews (hamstring) and Jeremy Thompson (stinger), and defensive ends Justin Harrell (back) and Johnny Jolly (ankle). Jolly played in Saturday night's preseason opener vs. Cleveland but was on the sidelines again on Monday.

McCarthy classified both Matthews and Thompson as questionable for Saturday's preseason game vs. Buffalo.

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