Winters back where he started

If there is one position that the Green Bay Packers' offensive line could afford an injury, it's at center. When starter Mike Flanagan went down with a fractured thumb in practice this morning, the Packers confidently inserted their old pro.<p>

Winters, 38, is entering his 16th year in the National Football League. Last year, he was Flanagan's backup and mainly saw time on special teams units. But he will be playing with the first team offense probably for the duration of training camp, or until Flanagan is able to return from his injury.

Through the first week of training camp, coach and general manager Mike Sherman has had a tough time trying to determine who his reserves will be at other positions along the offensive line. Many of the younger players have been nothing to write home about, according to Sherman. But he can sleep easier with Winters snapping the ball.

Winters started at center for the Packers for eight straight seasons before giving way to the younger Flanagan last year. He will be used as an emergency backup at guard as well as the No. 2 center when Flanagan returns. The coaches even have experimented with him lining up at tight end for a few plays in training camp.

"It concerns me whenever anybody gets hurt, but at that position we have experience with Frank Winters, so that helps us," said Sherman. "At another position it would be a little bit more difficult. We'll be fine."

Winters says it was difficult for him to play the backup role last year, but doesn't anticipate any problems centering the ball on a consistent basis.

"It's kind of like riding a bike," Winters said. "Once you've been away from it for a while, you still know how to do it.

"It was good to be out there, but, hey, that's the way this game is played. You got to be ready to play when you're called upon."


Packer Report Top Stories