Jackson, Hunt will start

The Packers' men in the middle are putting themselves in the middle of the spotlight.

Grady Jackson is stirring things up with Vikings Pro Bowl center Matt Birk while Cletidus Hunt apparently has won back his spot in the starting lineup.

Hunt, who was on the bench when the starting defense took to the field last week at Chicago and then missed the point for his benching, says he's getting the starting nod for Sunday's home playoff game against Minnesota.

"I'm positive. I'm 100 percent sure," Hunt said after practice. "I lined up with (the starting group) and got back into it today."

Sherman benched Hunt to start the Chicago game because of Hunt's lackluster play the week before at Minnesota. After the game, though, Hunt said the change was meant to rest his legs. That annoyed Sherman, who on Monday said Hunt was not a shoo-in to start the Vikings game even though he was a disruptive force against the Bears.

Jackson, meanwhile, had laid out a verbal challenge for Birk.

"I know Matt Birk can't block me 1-on-1, so I look at it like I'm going to have a double-team block every time," the 340-plus-pound Jackson said earlier in the week.

Jackson was sick Wednesday and didn't practice. He hasn't practiced at all during the second half of the season as he tries to rest the left knee he injured in the season opener at Carolina. Despite his illness and the bad knee, Jackson said four-time Pro Bowler Birk can't handle him.

"He tried, but he got that (10)-yard penalty," Jackson said, alluding to a holding penalty that stopped a potential game-winning drive in the waning minutes of the Dec. 24 game in Minneapolis.

Birk, a Harvard grad, wouldn't join the verbal fray, saying only, "Freedom of the press. You can say whatever you want."

As for his knee, Jackson admits to being far from 100 percent healthy. Packers coach Mike Sherman has said Jackson perhaps rushed back to action after dislocating his left kneecap in the opener.

"It's just not healing. It's strong but not like I want it to be. It could get better. Just out there playing on one leg, almost," said Jackson, who returned to action in Week 7 against Dallas and started the rest of the season until getting rested in last week's finale at Chicago.

Resting isn't an option this week, says Jackson, who has fallen in love with Green Bay after signing here when released by the Saints during the 2003 season.

"If I have to play more, I'll play more," Jackson said. "I'm going to do whatever it takes."

The only other player to not practice Thursday was wide receiver Robert Ferguson, who is recovering from the Dec. 19 clothesline hit against Jacksonville.

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