Notebook: Barnett on Track for Bears

Raji, Jackson and Blackmon sit out practice; Flynn does some throwing; plus much more as Bears Week began on Monday.

Nick Barnett lined up as a starting inside linebacker on Monday as the Packers began preparations for the Chicago Bears.

Coach Mike McCarthy, however, is being coy about Barnett's status for the Week 1 showdown.

"I think Nick will definitely play in the game," McCarthy said. "What packages and so forth that he'll play in, we'll find out Sunday night. But I thought he looked good in the Tennessee game (on Thursday). I thought he flew around, he was active like he always is, but we have to be smart with Nick and you've got to put Clay (Matthews) in the same category. They played 25 plays this past week and it's a long year. We factored that into our decision-making as far as our game planning."

Based on the limited access granted to reporters now that the regular season is under way, it appears Barnett and A.J. Hawk are the starting inside linebackers, with Brandon Chillar replacing Hawk in the nickel package.

That's about what was expected after Barnett returned to practice a couple weeks ago after missing time while recovering from a torn ACL suffered last year at Minnesota. Barnett saw his first action of the year during last week's preseason finale against Tennessee, playing into the second quarter while his fellow starters were out after one series.

"We have more than 11 starters, so what does starting mean?" McCarthy said. "Does he play what personnel group? I definitely think Nick Barnett will run out of the tunnel and play like he always has in the past."

Injury update

First-round pick B.J. Raji (ankle), running back Brandon Jackson (ankle) and cornerback/kick returner Will Blackmon (thigh) were in shorts during Monday's practice.

Backup quarterback Matt Flynn did some light passing during the early portions of practice after injuring his throwing shoulder against Buffalo on Aug. 22. Reporters are not allowed to watch 11-on-11 periods.

"I think he'll be ready to go," McCarthy said of Flynn. "I'll just say this about the medical; I don't want it to seem like I am hiding anything. I think Matt will be fine, and we'll give you the medical report on Wednesday. The three players that didn't practice today, they're making progress and we'll give you an update on Wednesday, (when the first injury report of the week must be released)."

Star receiver Greg Jennings was back after missing last week's game with a concussion sustained two weeks ago at Arizona. Aaron Rouse, who injured a hamstring three weeks ago, and cornerback Brandon Underwood, who suffered a stinger on Thursday, practiced, as well.

With Blackmon sidelined, Jordy Nelson was the returner for punts and Nelson and Tramon Williams were back deep for kickoffs.

Carrying over the preseason

The Packers were one of the NFL's best teams in the preseason, with their front-line players dominating their counterparts in Cleveland, Buffalo and Arizona. And while preseason is preseason and the regular season is something totally different, McCarthy said it's "always the intent to play that well."

"You have a number of different objectives that you need to find out about your team," he said. "You have personnel decisions you have to make. There are some plays you probably wouldn't call maybe against that defense that you call in preseason because you're trying to look at certain people. Your game-planning isn't to the extent you do in-season. It really is different. But at the end of the day — it's just like I told the team — football is football. You have to go out and play football. So whether you don't have the best play called versus the best defense, you still have to ... there's been a lot of good plays that have come out of being in a bad play at the line of scrimmage. That's playing football, and our football team played very good football for a big part of the preseason, and that's the reality of where we are."

"Now, we're 0-0, and so is Chicago. It doesn't mean anything as far as your record for the regular season, but hell, that's where we are, and we expect to get better. That's the challenge that we put on one another."

Hillenmeyer sticks with Bears

In 2003, Hunter Hillenmeyer was the second of the Packers' fifth-round draft picks. He never played for Green Bay but has started 56 games over the past five seasons for Chicago.

This year, the Bears signed Pisa Tinoisamoa to take Hillenmeyer's spot on the strong side. He'll enter Sunday's game as a backup on the strong side as well as for middle linebacker Brian Urlacher. Special teams will be his mdeal ticket.

"I'm not the fastest linebacker on our team, but people exchange that word, or substitute it speed for athleticism," he told the Chicago Tribune's David Haugh. "Every time people say I'm not a good athlete, I dont know. There are a lot of linebackers in the league that don't run 4.5(-second 40-yard dashes) who are good players."

Four-point stance

— Aaron Rodgers — sans that goofy mustache — played water boy in keeping left tackle Chad Clifton and left guard Daryn Colledge hydrated.

— The teaching continues, with McCarthy and receivers coach Jimmy Robinson fine-tuning the receivers' route-running technique.

— All three fullbacks are on the No. 1 kickoff return team.

— Struggling quarterback Brian Brohm said he had offers to join other teams' practice squads but called Green Bay the "best place" for him.


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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 packwriter2002@yahoo.com, 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.


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