Though he was reluctant, McCarthy approved a noticeable personnel switch on the offensive line by moving Junius Coston to left tackle and Will Whitticker to right guard and tackle. Coston, a second-year pro who had been a backup to rookie Jason Spitz at right guard through the first six days of camp, practiced with the first-team offense in place of Chad Clifton during this evening's practice. Whitticker, who had been practicing at left tackle and started 14 games as a rookie last year at right guard will serve as a backup at guard and tackle on the right side, McCarthy said after practice tonight.
McCarthy said he would have preferred to keep Coston at right guard, but the Packers are thin at left tackle with Chad Clifton nursing a sore knee, so Coston got the nod based on his ‘experience.'
Coston, a second-year pro who practiced mainly at left guard last year, played in just two games last year. His only three snaps from scrimmage were from the left tackle position, and that came at the end of Green Bay's 52-3 blowout win over New Orleans on Oct. 9.
McCarthy was hoping to keep Coston at right guard, but rookie Jason Spitz is clearly the front-runner at this point in camp, and Whitticker apparently hasn't done enough to convince the coaching staff that he could start if Clifton is unable to play. Rookie Daryn Colledge played left tackle at Boise State, but the coaching staff wants him to start at left guard.
"Unfortunately, our priority changed on who could stay in the ‘one' position and who had to move," McCarthy said. "You can't have five guys play one position, it's unrealistic, especially with injuries. (Coston) is the one guy that will make it feasible. He has played left tackle. Daryn has played it in college but, obviously, left guard is a good position for him. We just felt it was better, with Junius being there last year, that he was more acclimated."
Ironically, Coston played some at right guard in Thursday night's practice when Spitz had to leave with a sore left thigh. Spitz finished practice with his thigh wrapped in ice, though, the injury does not appear to be serious.
Clifton's ailing right knee is a cause for concern. The left tackle underwent surgery for his ankle on Jan. 16, but his right knee, which was surgically repaired in January of 2003, has been giving him problems since he aggravated it in practice on Sunday. Whitticker began training camp as Clifton's backup, then moved into the starting lineup at left tackle, but will not be practicing behind Spitz and right tackle Mark Tauscher.
"We want to give Junius a chance, like all the young guys, to play one spot," McCarthy said.
The Packers list of walking wounded is beginning to get a little longer with each practice. Those who did not take part in today's two practices include:
Still idle: RB Arliss Beach (concussion), RB Ahman Green (quadriceps), LB Byron Santiago (back), LB Brady Poppinga (knee), CB Patrick Dendy (ankle), OT Chad Clifton (knee), CB Will Blackmon (foot), S Marquand Manuel (calf).