Packers-Pats: Things to watch

Williams has chance of beating out Davenport for a roster spot

The Green Bay Packers will play their third exhibition game of the preseason tonight against the New England Patriots at Lambeau Field. Packers coaches plan to use this game as a dress rehearsal for the season opener Sept. 11 at Detroit. The first-team offense and defense is expected to play the first half and possibly into the third quarter.

Here are a few things to watch on Green Bay's side of the ball:

Veteran Adrian Klemm and rookie Will Whitticker have the inside track on the starting guard positions along the offensive line. Klemm has been lining up on the left side in the spot vacated by Mike Wahle, and Whitticker on the right side in the departed Marco Rivera's position.

Klemm and Whitticker are being pushed by three other linemen. Grey Ruegamer and Scott Wells are in contention to start at left guard, and veteran Matt O'Dwyer is battling Whitticker for the right guard position.

Packers coaches are expected to name the starting guards early next week, after they evaluate tonight's game.

Special teams The Packers surrendered 14 points to the Buffalo Bills last Saturday due to poor special teams coverage on punts and kickoffs. Green Bay has been working to correct the problems on special teams throughout the week in practice.

Joey Thomas
The second-year cornerback will see his first action of the preseason tonight. Thomas has missed a number of practices in training camp with calf and hip flexor injuries. He was named the starter at cornerback at the beginning of training camp, but has been passed up by Ahmad Carroll.

If Thomas performs well tonight and in the preseason finale against Tennessee, he may have a chance to re-claim the starting spot opposite Al Harris.

Walt Williams
Williams flashed his potential last November against the Houston Texans when stepping in for the injured Ahman Green. Unfortunately, he sustained a season-ending ankle injury in the same game and was placed on injured reserve.

Despite suffering another ankle injury early in training camp, Williams has been impressive. He is much faster than Green Bay's other running backs and is valuable on special teams.

Williams is a sleeper to make the team. If the coaching staff feels he is more durable than Najeh Davenport, they may keep him and release Davenport next week. Williams' minimum salary also plays in his favor of making the team, compared to the $656,000 tender that Davenport signed this off-season.

Aaron Rodgers With woeful performances in Green Bay's first two preseason games, Aaron Rodgers has slipped behind Craig Nall on the depth chart at quarterback. Rodgers has an outside chance of entering the season as Brett Favre's backup, but the window is closing fast. The team probably will want a more experienced backup at least this season. Rodgers still will get plenty of playing time against New England in his quest to learn the offense.

Todd Korth

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

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