Notebook: Feeling Jolly at Nose

Johnny Jolly would be the backup nose tackle if B.J. Raji is unable to play; Nick Barnett's role remains a mystery; plus much more from Wednesday, including Charles Woodson talking about him possibly being the emergency third quarterback.

B.J. Raji didn't have time to talk to reporters, but he assured one questioner that his injured ankle is "all right."

Raji, the Packers' first-round pick, was expected to start at left defensive end and be the primary backup at nose tackle. He's missed Monday's and Wednesday's practices this week, meaning there's at least a decent chance he's deactivated for Sunday night's season-opening showdown against the Chicago Bears.

"Raji, he tested (Tuesday) and it did not go as well as we would have hoped," coach Mike McCarthy said. "Just like every player that comes off an injury, they go through a testing procedure with the medical staff. He'll test again tomorrow. That's the first step. As far as the people that will play there, Johnny Jolly has been taking snaps there. He took snaps there Monday and again today at the nose position."

Regardless of whether Raji plays, Jolly figures to be the starter at left defensive end, joining right defensive end Cullen Jenkins and nose tackle Ryan Pickett in the base defense. Jolly and Jenkins would be the top tandem as the linemen when the defense plays nickel, with Michael Montgomery and rookie Jarius Wynn in reserve.

The 325-pound Jolly lined up only at defensive end during training camp and the preseason, but he says playing nose tackle wouldn't be a big deal.

"It's just football. As long as I've got my technique and my assignment down, I'll be all right," Jolly said.

Wednesday injury reports

The first injury reports of the week were released on Wednesday. The traditional terms of "probable," "questionable," etc., will not be announced until Friday.

Packers: Cornerback Will Blackmon, quad, did not participate; quarterback Matt Flynn, shoulder, full participation; running back Brandon Jackson, ankle, did not participate; Raji, ankle, did not participate; safety Aaron Rouse, hamstring, full participation.

Bears: Defensive tackle Israel Idonije, hamstring, limited participation; cornerback Charles Tillman, back, full participation.

Blackmon will be tested on Thursday, with McCarthy calling it a "big day" for his return ace and No. 4 corner. If Blackmon can't play, Tramon Williams is listed as the No. 2 punt returner and Jordy Nelson is listed as the No. 2 kickoff returner. Jarrett Bush likely would be the fourth corner, though Dom Capers is just as apt to go with three safety and three corners in the dime.

Meanwhile, Jackson is making what McCarthy called "slow progress" from the ankle that was injured at Arizona.

Hey, good buddy Quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers and Jay Cutler have formed a friendship dating from their participation in the annual celebrity golf tournament at Lake Tahoe.

"I think the world of him," Cutler said during a conference call with Packers beat writers. "I think he's playing really well right now. We text each other every once in a while. When I got traded here, I just texted him and said I get to see him twice a year. So I wish him the best, except for this game, and I think he feels the same."

Barnett's playing time Nick Barnett continued taking the reps with the No. 1 defense on Wednesday – at least during the period in which reporters were allowed to watch. McCarthy, however, said no decision has been made about Barnett's role or playing time. Those decisions will be dictated on how much Barnett can handle in his first regular-season game since tearing an ACL last year against Minnesota.

"Nick looked good today," McCarthy said. "We've had two padded practices, Monday and today. I think he is definitely on course of having a full recovery. He looks good. His game tape was good. We don't have any questions about that. I've said it before and I said it Monday; I just think you have to be smart with how much you play players coming off a major injury. That's something that will factor into our planning."

Barnett said he was happy with how he performed and how the knee reacted during last week's preseason game against Tennessee.

"It went good. I felt good," Barnett said. "I think I had about 28 plays. I even had a play where I kind of hyperextended it but I was still able to finish the game and play good. As far as them taking it easy with me, we'll see what happens. I don't know. I'm just a player. I'll let them coach. We'll see what happens on Sunday.

Four-point stance

-- With only two quarterbacks on the active roster, what happens if they're both hurt? "I'll have to wait and see to answer that further, but we have a couple of guys that we've talked about," McCarthy said.

Could that third quarterback be Charles Woodson? "Yeah, I could do a little Wildcat. I'm in the bullpen, I'm warming up," he said, noting he has a "tight spiral."

-- After a stellar preseason in which he led the NFL in passer rating, Rodgers is being mentioned as an early MVP candidate: "Absolutely nothing. Absolutely nothing," Rodgers said when asked what that means. "We haven't played a game yet. The preseason went well, obviously, but they don't give out MVPs for the preseason."

-- Cutler and Brett Favre are both represented by agent Bus Cook. "I know him," Cutler said of Favre. "I've talked to him a few times. I'm not going to call him up out of the blue, but if I need something, I could call Brett."

-- Why did Brett Swain beat out Ruvell Martin to be the fifth receiver? One look at the special teams period provided an answer, with Swain on the No. 1 kickoff team and No. 1 punt team.

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at, 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 and Facebook.

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