First up: Linemen taking advantage of reps

Playing as a backup to one of the Green Bay Packers five starting linemen is about the equivalent of backing up Brett Favre. You might make the team, but you might never get to play. With Mike Flanagan and Mike Wahle nursing injuries during the first week of training camp, Steve Morley and Grey Ruegamer are soaking up the reps with the first-team offense.<p>

Flanagan is sidelined with knee tendinitis and Wahle has a bruised knee. Both veterans are expected to sit out of practices the rest of this week. In the meantime, Morley is stepping in for Wahle at left guard and Ruegamer is playing center for Flanagan.

Ruegamer, 28, is entering his sixth NFL season. He signed with the Packers as an unrestricted free agent in April of 2003 and played mainly on special teams last season. He has just three starts, all with the New England Patriots, in 48 career regular-season games, so he welcomes his role early in camp.

"It helps to get reps," Ruegamer said. "It's hard when you sit behind a great offensive line that plays well together. They're tough. They're a strong group and they hardly ever get injured. It's great to be a part of it, but at the same time, you want to get some playing time and get better yourself. That's what I'm trying to do out here."

Morley signed a free agent contract with the Packers in January. The Packers gave him a $150,000 signing bonus, which indicates that the team feels he has a lot of potential.

Morley appeared in 11 games for the Canadian Football League's Calgary Stampeders last year, making nine starts at left tackle. He was the first overall selection in the 2003 CFL Canadian College Draft out of St. Mary's University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, with a pick acquired in a trade with Edmonton. While at St. Mary's, Morley was part of the school's four Atlantic Conference titles and three national championship game appearances. Morley was named the conference's lineman of the year in 2002.

Morley, who turns 23 on Aug. 18, has played a few games at guard in his football career, but mainly at tackle, including Green Bay's off-season mini-camps and "opportunity sessions." The Packers moved him to left guard two days into the current training camp.

"I thought he did a nice job overall (first day of camp)," said Packers coach Mike Sherman. "He certainly has a ways to go, but it seemed like a pretty natural position for him, the times that I saw him practice today (Monday)."

Until further notice, Morley will continue to play left guard. The Packers likely will want him to practice at left tackle when Wahle returns.

"You get first unit reps, you're not going to complain," said Morley.

Ruegamer isn't complaining, either.

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