With starting rookie right guard Josh Sitton out indefinitely with a knee sprain and starting center Scott Wells out indefinitely with a strained muscle in his back, the Packers' offensive line is in flux just two weeks before the regular season kicks off with a showdown against rival Minnesota.
Wells has started 29 of the previous 32 regular-season games at center and signed a five-year contract extension in 2006, so while Jason Spitz did a fine job at center on Friday at Denver, the Packers almost certainly consider Wells one of their five best offensive linemen.
"Scott feels very good that he's had a great response to the treatment that he's gone through throughout the weekend, so he feels good," coach Mike McCarthy said, noting a second opinion confirmed the Packers' treatment regimen is correct. "He will not go this week. I'm going to hold him out this week, regardless of how well he feels, and we'll see if he's ready for Minnesota."
McCarthy said Sitton's status is "week-to-week" and he does not need surgery. Sitton will not play in Thursday's preseason finale against Tennessee, either, and McCarthy was unsure if the fourth-round pick from Central Florida would be ready for the Vikings.
"It's our first time going through with Josh," McCarthy said. "Any time you get into these ligament sprains, a lot of it is based on the severity of it, but also the individual. Once again, you talk to the medical part of it, it could be a couple of weeks. You talk to the player, it could be two days."
At Sunday's practice, the No. 1 line was the same as Friday's preseason game at Denver: Chad Clifton at left tackle, Daryn Colledge at left guard, Spitz at center, Tony Moll at right guard and Mark Tauscher at right tackle. That group likely will start together in Thursday's preseason finale against Tennessee, too.
When Wells comes back, though, more shuffling would be needed. McCarthy several times has said Spitz was his best interior lineman last season. However, the coach would not go so far as to say Spitz would move to right guard to replace Sitton (or Moll).
"If I get Wells back? We'll see how it goes this week," McCarthy said. "Scott's situation ... I just want to make sure we're not dealing with a long-term situation, because he was healthy one week and then had an immediate setback. So, we're going to make sure he's 100 percent ready to go when we get him back in there."
Meanwhile, the Packers will move forward for at least this week with Colledge, Spitz and Moll in the middle of the line. All three have been among the frequent movers up front, and Colledge and Moll are happy to be locked into a position at least for another week.
"I'm definitely fired up (and) ready to roll," said Moll, who has played both tackle spots at camp. "Playing three positions all through camp, I think I'm ready to go, willing to and prepared."
At least the Packers have something to build on. Only the steady Tauscher allowed a sack last week, and the running backs carried 27 times for 93 yards (3.4 per rush) against Denver.
"I was very pleased with the way Daryn Colledge played," McCarthy said. "I thought he played with excellent energy. He's played about as good as he is played this year. Allen Barbre had his best contest as far as grading out in his two years being here. I thought Jason Spitz was definitely a lot better. Tony Moll did a nice job."
The one positive of all the injuries is the versatility gained. Outside of Tauscher, Clifton and Sitton and the rookies, all of the offensive linemen can play at least two positions. So, while the injuries are a problem now, the Packers will be able to adapt should bumps and bruises continue during the regular season.
"I think everybody wants to be strong at their position," Colledge said. "We'd love to have five guys, but that's not the reality of our job. We play a physical position. There's a lot of contact, and things happen. We've got guys that are flexible."
McCarthy concurred, citing the ability to adapt without Sitton.
"It's unfortunate Josh got hurt, but the flexibility is what we were looking with this group, and I think we have accomplished that," McCarthy said. "We've just got to get those guys healthy."
Bill Huber is editor of Packer Report and PackerReport.com. E-mail him at email@example.com