Flanagan back in the middle

Mike Flanagan's honeymoon will have to wait, and that's fine with the Green Bay Packers veteran center. Flanagan was recently married, but is happy to be up and running in the team's June minicamp this week.

Last year at this time, all Flanagan could do was watch as his teammates practiced in the June minicamp. Flanagan began practicing with the team during the camp, but recurring tendinitis in his left knee forced him to sit out after a few practices.

Flanagan continued to watch as his teammates practiced in training camp last year, then finally began practicing late in the preseason. Unfortunately, his knee continued to swell up to the point where the pain in his patellar tendon was too much to handle. The pain persisted into the early part of the regular season and Flanagan eventually raised the white flag and underwent corrective surgery on Oct. 7, ending his season.

No stranger to rehabilitation, Flanagan went through six months of intense rehab under the guidance of a personal trainer in his off-season home of Las Vegas. Flanagan, entering his 10th season, was forced to sit out his first two years in the league after suffering a broken leg as a rookie. That injury led to other injuries and complications in his leg that nearly ended his career.

So far, this week's minicamp has been a different story for Flanagan. The center is practicing with the first-team offense, sweating up a storm and adjusting to guards Adrian Klemm, Matt O'Dwyer and Grey Ruegamer. Flanagan says his knee is feeling much better than a year ago at this time.

"The hardest part of my day is just getting warmed up," Flanagan said with a smile.

Asked if there is any lingering pain in his knee, he quipped, "Pain is my friend. I wake up with it every day."

So, all may not be completely rosy with Flanagan, but it is obvious he is feeling much better than he was a year ago at this time.

The biggest challenge for him right now is to get acclimated with the new guards, whoever they will be, and possibly his wife, Jennifer, who he married on May 21 in Las Vegas. Guards Marco Rivera and Mike Wahle signed mega-contracts with other teams this off-season. The minicamp has been beneficial for the line to determine who works best together.

Klemm, O'Dwyer and Ruegamer are the front-runners for the starting spots at guard. But free agent Atlas Herrion also has taken some snaps with the first-team offense in practices this week.

"(Offensive line coach Larry Beightol) is trying to give everybody a fair shot, get everybody working with a different group," Flanagan said. "If someone works with the third team all the time, he may not have the benefit of playing between me and ‘Tausch' (Mark Tauscher) or me and ‘Cliff' (Chad Clifton). I would say those three jobs are pretty well locked up, but the other two ... there's an open competition."

Beightol probably will have a better feel for which guards will work best between Flanagan, Tauscher and Clifton when training camp gets under way.

"It varies from person to person," Flanagan said. "Sometimes it takes a year. Sometimes it takes three days. Until you play with live bullets, put the pads on and play against somebody new, you really can't tell. It seems like we're jelling. Everyone gets along real well."

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