Notebook: Surgery For Barnett, Driver

Veteran standouts Nick Barnett and Donald Driver had "cleanup" procedures done on their knees following last season ... plus much more from Wednesday's organized team activity.

Maybe it was a slip of the tongue, but Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy disclosed on Wednesday that standout inside linebacker Nick Barnett had a "cleanup" procedure on his surgically repaired right knee at some point after last season.

During each of the three open-to-reporters organized team activities, Barnett disappeared inside the Don Hutson Center after the opening jog-through segment at the start of practice. The assumption was the team was just being safe with Barnett, who came on strong as last season progressed after his 2008 was doomed by a midseason knee injury.

"Just going through the rehab. Just being smart with him," McCarthy said. "Dr. (Pat) McKenzie is particularly cautious at this time of year with all of our players, and it's going to be challenging, too, once we get to training camp and making sure we have enough guys to go. Because we do have a number of injured players coming off of last season going through the offseason program."

Asked if Barnett had a "new" issue with the knee, McCarthy said, "No, just a cleanup."

Pressed whether Barnett had an undisclosed surgery, McCarthy said he didn't recall, then stared down — perhaps at his notes — for several seconds.

"Yes, he did," McCarthy continued. "He had a knee scope, cleanup."

McCarthy also said veteran receiver Donald Driver had postseason "cleanup in his knees." Driver, like Barnett, hasn't practiced this offseason.

Roll call

Safety Atari Bigby, cornerback Tramon Williams and defensive end Johnny Jolly remain absent. Neither of them have signed their restricted free agent tenders. The deadline to do so, or risk being paid 110 percent of last year's salary, is Tuesday.

Still out with injuries: receiver Brett Swain (knee), safety Will Blackmon (knee), safety Derrick Martin (ankle), cornerback Al Harris (knee), guard/tackle T.J. Lang (wrist), center/guard Jason Spitz (back), tight end Spencer Havner (scapula) and defensive end Ronald Talley (ankle).

New injuries: tight end Jermichael Finley (tendonitis in knee) and defensive lineman Ryan Pickett (pectoral strain). Finley said he's fine and was walking without a limp at Edgar Bennett's charity bowling event on Wednesday night. Pickett said he's fine, too.

Cornerback Charles Woodson hasn't practiced but has been at the facility.

"Charles, he's no spring chicken," McCarthy said. "So, I think it's important to be smart with your older players. He's always done a great job, more of the old-school method of keeping himself in great shape. We know he'll be ready to play."

Back from last week are defensive end Justin Harrell (back) and rookie running back James Starks (hamstring).

Starks debuts

Starks practiced for the first time since the rookie camp.

"It was fun. Got to learn a lot, though," the sixth-round pick said.

When drafted, running backs coach Edgar Bennett said the 6-foot-2 Starks needed to work on running lower. Sure enough, late in practice, Starks ran right into nose tackle Aleric Mullins and dropped like a ton of bricks.

"Welcome to the NFL, I guess. I'll get used to it. It's nothing I can't take," Starks said with a smile.

Four-point stance

— Running back Ahman Green, the leading rusher in Packers history, has decided to play for Omaha of the UFL. Omaha is Green's hometown.

— Proving that anything the starting quarterback says is news, Aaron Rodgers apologized about disparaging comments made about "Monday Night Football" commentator Tony Kornheiser.

"Unfortunately, the message of really in jest talking about that, it was probably inappropriate for that setting and I didn't mean to offend anybody personally," Rodgers said of a recent radio interview with frequent verbal sparring partner Steve "Homer" True. "I have a lot of respect for those guys and what they do, it's something that I know is more difficult than it looks at times. And I meant no personal disrespect to anybody and I apologize if anybody took offense to what I said. Unfortunately, the translation is often lost when it's on radio and not on TV. For that, I apologize."

— It wasn't a good day for the punters. With winds gusting and swirling, Aussie Chris Bryan launched one over the sideline bleachers and into an adjacent parking lot, bobbled one snap and dropped another. Of note, Bryan got the first reps rather than Tim Masthay.

Brady Poppinga was taking the first-team reps at left outside linebacker rather than Brad Jones. And with Pickett out, Harrell got the first-team reps at left end.

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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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