Versatility key with Whitticker

As the final selection of the Green Bay Packers in the 2005 NFL Draft, offensive lineman Will Whitticker's chances of making the 53-man roster are slim. But the Kevin Barry clone has a good chance to make the team if he can show that he can play tackle as well as guard during the upcoming training camp.

Whitticker played almost exclusively at right tackle during the recent June minicamp. He played guard and tackle during the post-draft minicamp.

The Packers are trying to determine if Whitticker, who is one inch taller and a couple of pounds heavier than the 6-foot-4, 335-pound Barry is versatile enough to play guard and tackle. If so, the Packers are bound to keep him because of his size, above average foot speed, and lack of depth at guard.

Whitticker, who played mainy right guard for Michigan State, could eventually take over for Barry. The Packers often used Barry in the team's U-71 formation, which calls for him to line up outside the right tackle as an extra end. If Barry, who becomes an unrestricted free agent after the 2005 season, moves on to another team next off-season, Whitticker will be in place to pick up where Barry left off.

"I'm adapting pretty well to both of those positions," Whitticker said during the June minicamp. "You're not used to kicking out all the time at tackle. At guard, you're always at the line. I'm trying to learn the position."

Whitticker, who signed a contract with the Packers earlier this month, likely will be used more at guard during training camp. He had a team-high 83 knockdown blocks as a senior for the Spartans. The Packers are expected to start either veteran guard Matt O'Dwyer or Grey Ruegamer at right guard this season in place of the departed Marco Rivera (Dallas). Mark Tauscher is the team's starting right tackle, and Barry is the main man in U-71 formations, which the offense utilizes frequently.

Like Rivera, Whitticker is a durable player. He missed only one game due to injuries during his collegiate career.

But if he can show that he can play more than one position, his stock will rise dramatically along the offensive line. In the meantime, Whitticker has remained in Green Bay to learn all there is to know about playing right tackle in the NFL. He said he plans to take a few weeks off in July, then return in time for the start of training camp.

Whitticker, who turns 23 on Aug. 2, says the biggest adjustment he has had to make in the NFL thus far is the terminology and speedwork. "I mean at right tackle, you're going to get 250 to 260 D-ends that are fast and you've got to get back there and block them. If you are the slight bit lazy, then you won't get back there."

Whitticker's main competition for a backup spot at right guard and right tackle will be free agent Atlas Herrion, who practiced with the first and second-team offenses during the June minicamp.


Todd Korth

Editor's note: Todd Korth is managing editor of Packer Report and PackerReport.com. E-mail him at packrepted@aol.com.


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