O-Line Battle in Packers Camp
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) -- Jason Spitz spent the offseason working as the Green Bay Packers' No. 1 center, and figured to have a firm grip on the job when training camp opened. But after an injury-plagued 2008, veteran Scott Wells is No. 1 on the depth chart early in the preseason and is being given a legitimate shot to win his old job back.
Of course, early depth charts aren't taken with much seriousness at training camp.
"I haven't seen a depth chart yet. Is there one out?" offensive line coach James Campen said between the team's two practices Thursday.
Still, the battle between Spitz and Wells is real.
"It's a tight battle," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said.
While Spitz and Wells have been splitting the first-team work in camp thus far, Spitz is also listed as the No. 1 right guard, where the versatile lineman primarily started his first three pro seasons.
"You've got to put somebody in there," said Campen, in reference to the depth chart. "Guys are competing. The guys in there are competing for two spots."
The other contender in the three-player, two-job race is Josh Sitton, who has taken most of the practice work at right guard but is no better than second string on the depth chart.
Spitz, who has lined up at right guard when Wells has been at center, said he hadn't seen the depth chart.
"The thing about this whole situation is that's something I can't control," Spitz said. "I've just got to come out here and do my job."
A decision on who will line up where at the start of Green Bay's preseason opener against the Cleveland Browns on Saturday hadn't been made through midday Thursday.
After playing musical chairs with the offensive line his first three years as coach, McCarthy was determined at the start of training camp this year to get the starting five settled early for the sake of cohesion and continuity before the season begins Sept. 13. The apparent logjam at center and right guard could hold up an outcome.
"I really couldn't tell you if and when something's coming to resolution," Spitz said. "It's not my job to guess, speculate. Just show up and play."
The return of a healthy and resolute Wells is making things interesting.
Wells has anchored the middle of the Packers' line since replacing Mike Flanagan in 2006. Wells played most of last season hurt, as he suffered a back injury in the preseason and had a chest injury early in the season. The biggest setback for Wells was a lingering shoulder injury that required surgery after the season ended.
He subsequently missed the entire offseason this year doing rehab work.
"I don't think the shoulder's going to be an issue," Wells said. "I feel like I'm in the best shape I've been coming into a camp."
Wells for the first time in his six-year career reported for camp weighing more than 300 pounds. He has been limited to one practice a day but has been motivated by the battle with Spitz.
"I like my job," Wells said. "As anybody, usually you want to keep that, and you want to excel at that. So, each day is about improving and getting better."
NOTES: The Packers signed LB Stryker Sulak on Thursday. Sulak was a sixth-round draft pick by the Oakland Raiders this year, but the Raiders released him before signing him to a contract. Sulak had a college-high six forced fumbles at Missouri last year. .... To make room for Sulak on the roster, the Packers placed TE Tory Humphrey on injured reserve. Humphrey suffered a broken forearm in practice Aug. 6 and underwent surgery the next day. ... RB DeShawn Wynn and WR Ruvell Martin returned to practice Thursday. .... McCarthy hasn't ruled out any injured players for Saturday, but he indicated that DE Justin Harrell (back) and LBs Clay Matthews (hamstring) and Jeremy Thompson (groin/shoulder) might not be ready to play.
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)