Packers-Bills: Things to watch

Final chance for Packers offensive linemen to earn starting position

The Green Bay Packers travel to play the Buffalo Bills Saturday in the second exhibition game of the preseason for both teams.

With the Packers halfway through training camp, the coaching staff indicated this week that it would like to settle on starters at a number of positions, and top reserves at other positions.

Here are a few things to watch when the Packers take on the Bills at 5 p.m. (CT) at Ralph Wilson Stadium:

1. The offensive line. Three of the five positions are set with tackles Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher, and center Mike Flanagan. Both guard positions remain up for grabs, but the door is closing.

Rookie Will Whitticker and veteran Matt O'Dwyer have been rotating with the first-team offense this week in practice. Whitticker got the starting nod last Thursday against the San Diego Chargers, so O'Dwyer presumably will get the start against the Bills. Thus far in camp, Whitticker has a slight edge over O'Dwyer, but he will have to play well against Buffalo in order to win the job.

Adrian Klemm has the inside track for the starting spot at left guard, but he is being pushed by veteran Grey Ruegamer, rookie Junius Coston and center Scott Wells. Wells, one of the strongest players on the team, is a sleeper to win the starting job, otherwise, Klemm has the inside track.

2. Aaron Rodgers. Coach Mike Sherman said this week that he would like to see Rodgers make "good decisions" during his playing time against the Bills.

Rodgers ran into a number of problems that were out of his control against the Chargers, including a faulty earpiece in his helmet.

3. Keep an eye on running back Walter Williams. He suffered a sprained ankle early in camp, but has returned and has played well in practices. He gives the backfield an extra gear and will be pushing Tony Fisher and Najeh Davenport for a roster spot.

1. Injuries. It is very possible that six of Green Bay's starters on defense will not participate in the exhibition due to injuries. They include cornerbacks Al Harris (quad) and Joey Thomas (hip flexor), defensive tackles Cletidus Hunt (knee) and Grady Jackson (knee), safety Mark Roman (hamstring), and linebacker Na'il Diggs (knee). In addition, defensive tackle Corey Williams (ribs, back) hasn't practiced all week and is unlikely to play.

2. Defensive line. With Hunt, Jackson and Williams out, James Lee, Donnell Washington and Colin Cole will get all kinds of playing time to show that they belong on the roster.

3. Nick Collins. The rookie appears to have sealed the deal on the starting free safety spot. Ron Wolf this week gave Green Bay's second-round pick in this year's NFL draft a big vote of confidence, and Collins has backed it up with his play in practice. Collins has shown the ability to tackle well combined with some hard hits.

Special teams
1. B.J. Sander. The second-year pro did well in his first outing of the preseason against San Diego, averaging 46.0 yards on seven punts. While Sander hasn't been all that consistent in practice, it's the games that count. The coaching staff will no doubt sleep better if Sander follows up his performance against the Chargers with another solid showing against the Bills.

Todd Korth

Note: Todd Korth is managing editor of and Packer Report. E-mail your comments to him at

Packer Report Top Stories