Updating top offseason stories

What's going on at right tackle? Who will start at defensive line and linebacker? How about the rookies? We have what you need to know in what will be an ongoing series.

Editor's note: This will be an ongoing series in which we follow the Packers' story lines through organized team activities and the mandatory minicamp.

1. Who will replace Tauscher at right tackle?

There are four candidates: Breno Giacomini, Allen Barbre, Tony Moll and T.J. Lang. At this point, it's anyone's guess to who will emerge, and injuries to Giacomini and Chad Clifton aren't of any help in handicapping the battle.

Giacomini enters the offseason as the slight favorite to be the starter, but he's out after offseason ankle surgery. On Thursday, Barbre took all of the first-team reps, with Moll taking the first-team reps at left tackle in place of Clifton. Barbre definitely held his own against first-round pick B.J. Raji, but the work in the trenches was anything but live.

Lang worked with the second team at right guard and right tackle.

Whoever emerges as the starter is going to be as green as grass. The hope is, the hotly contested battle will be a counter to the inexperience factor.

For the record, the rest of the starting line had Daryn Colledge at left guard, Jason Spitz at center and Josh Sitton at right guard. Spitz is challenging Wells at center; Wells did not practice as he recovers from a shoulder injury.

2. How's the defensive line stacking up?

Raji was selected in the first round to play nose tackle. And at some point, he'll replace Ryan Pickett at that position. But barring the unexpected, expect Raji to be the starter at left defensive end, Pickett at nose tackle and Cullen Jenkins at right defensive end.

That's a big defensive line, with Raji at 337 pounds, Pickett at 330 and Jenkins at 305. With Jenkins out as he mends from surgery, 320-pound Justin Harrell was the starting right end. Harrell says he wants to get down to 310.

Some interesting roster decisions will have to be made. The Packers will keep six defensive linemen, and Harrell (if healthy), Johnny Jolly, Michael Montgomery and rookies Jarius Wynn and Ronald Talley have talent. This might not be a position of strength, but at least there are options.

3. Who will be the four linebackers?

On Thursday, the quartet was Aaron Kampman at left outside linebacker, A.J. Hawk and Brandon Chillar at the inside positions and Jeremy Thompson at right outside linebacker.

The surprise was Thompson. First-round pick Clay Matthews III was out with a mild hamstring strain but Thompson, not Brady Poppinga, was in his place. Outside linebackers coach Kevin Greene had plenty of good things to say about Thompson.

Greene explained that Thompson was put at right outside linebacker because he's left-handed. "Generally, you'll be more productive rushing from the defensive right side using your dominant left hand."

Kampman doesn't look natural at linebacker when asked to drop into coverage, but what would you expect? There are still more than four months until the regular season kicks off. Don't bet against him.

Of note was Chillar starting in place of Nick Barnett (knee) rather than Desmond Bishop.

4. Rookie watch

Draft picks: Raji, starting left defensive end; Matthews, out with hamstring; Lang, second-string guard and tackle; Quinn Johnson, third-string fullback; Jamon Meredith, second-string left tackle; Wynn, third-string defensive end; Underwood, finishing classes at Cincinnati; linebacker Brad Jones, out with groin.

Noteworthy undrafted rookies: Cyril Obiozor, second-string left outside linebacker; Talley, third-string defensive end; running back Tyrell Sutton, finishing classes at Northwestern; Carson Butler (tight end), Kole Heckendorf (receiver) and Jamarko Simmons (receiver) are fighting for reps at strong positions.

Linebacker is arguably the Packers' deepest position; maybe even deeper than receiver. With that said, Obiozor has a real chance. At 267 pounds, he's plenty big enough to hold up against the run, and Greene liked his pass drops.


Agree or disagree?: Discuss hot Packers topics in our, free forums. Leave Bill a question in the subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum


Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Bill also is giving Facebook and Twitter a try. Find him on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook.


Packer Report Top Stories