The Education of B.J. Raji continued on Monday with the first-round pick's first foray at nose tackle.
Raji, who missed the first half of training camp because of a contract dispute, had been taking reps only at left defensive end in the base defense and as a defensive tackle in the nickel package.
Regardless of whether he starts in the base, Raji is expected to be the primary — and only — backup at nose tackle to Ryan Pickett. While the Packers figure to keep six defensive linemen, Raji said he has been told the Packers will travel with only five.
"It's football, so my confidence level is always going to be pretty high," he said of playing nose tackle. "Luckily, the position isn't too different between end. Obviously, I need to get those plays down, but it's nothing I can't handle."
Raji played 40 snaps against Arizona on Friday. He finished with four tackles, including one for a loss.
"I thought he started a little slow (Saturday), and I thought he got better as the game went on," coach Mike McCarthy said. "He needs to play. He's getting all the work that he needs and what he missed. He's a talented young man, but he's still raw. He has some rust we need to knock off the edges."
Raji agreed with that assessment.
"The next step is playing better, playing with better technique, being more aggressive," he said.
Thursday's plan includes Barnett
McCarthy hasn't solidified any plans for Thursday's preseason finale at Tennessee, but he did say inside linebacker Nick Barnett will play for the first time since tearing an ACL last season at Minnesota.
Barnett, who practiced all of last week but was held out of the Arizona game, is chomping at the bit to play in a game.
"I've never tempered my excitement in the past and I'm not going to temper it now," Barnett said. "I'm going to be excited, that's the bottom line. There is nothing wrong with that. Nervousness and excitement are two different things.
"Will I be nervous? Not at all. I think I'll be exited more than anything, just to be out there playing football. I'll have butterflies, but those are not nervous butterflies. Those are excitement butterflies."
Meanwhile, McCarthy said quarterback Aaron Rodgers "will probably play the first series or so." Up next will be Brian Brohm. Judging by backup quarterback Matt Flynn's inactivity on Monday as he continues to mend from his injured throwing shoulder, he will not face the Titans.
The Packers and the Titans handle this game differently. While McCarthy prefers to give his key players only a cameo appearance, Titans coach Jeff Fisher plays his starters at least a half.
"It's good for us, because you find out about (the players fighting for jobs)," McCarthy said. "If you look at last year's game, I thought our younger players on defense played well in that game, better than we did on the offensive side. It's a great experience anytime you get to play against top-notch competition."
Along with Flynn, also out of practice were safeties Charlie Peprah (knee) and Aaron Rouse (hamstring), cornerback Will Blackmon (thigh), running back Brandon Jackson (ankle), guard/tackle T.J. Lang (foot), receiver Greg Jennings (head) and defensive end Justin Harrell (back). Desmond Bishop (toe) didn't take part in 11-on-11 drills.
Meanwhile, defensive end Michael Montgomery debuted a club-like cast on his broken left hand. Montgomery — who had to have Dean Muhtadi tie his shoes at the beginning of practice — hopes he'll only have to wear it for a couple of weeks.
"I talked to Nick Barnett. He had it on a couple years ago and he was telling me a couple things I can do out there," he said.
— During a two-minute drill against the No. 1 defense, Rodgers and the No. 1 offense failed to get so much as a first down. Brohm and the No. 2 offense had better success, reaching the defense's 13-yard line before the clock ran out on a final incomplete pass. He completed 5-of-10 passes — including two spikes to kill the clock — and was almost intercepted by Brandon Underwood.
— Mason Crosby hit 8-of-8 field goals from the hold of Flynn, including a 50-yarder.
— Starting right tackle Allen Barbre got into a couple of scuffles, including one when he was beaten on a field-goal protection drill. That drew the ire of offensive line coach James Campen. Adding insult, Barbre was dropped on his butt by a powerful bull rush by outside linebacker Jeremy Thompson and got routed on a speed rush by Brad Jones during one-on-one drills.
— Chad Clifton was knocked backward by Clay Matthews during the one-on-one drill, Josh Sitton was run backward by Ryan Pickett and Daryn Colledge was smoked by the one-handed Montgomery. Only center Jason Spitz won all of his reps in the one-on-one period. Afterward, Campen had his troops running.
— Training camp ends on Tuesday with a 10:15 a.m. practice. Players will be in shells (helmets and shorts).
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.