First-round pick Bryan Bulaga, who was given a chance to win the job early in training camp, was held out of Thursday's game against Indianapolis with a hip flexor injured during Monday night's practice. In his absence, returning starter Daryn Colledge got all the first-team reps in the first half – rather than a series-by-series rotation -- and turned in another strong performance during the Packers' 59-24 victory.
"That's a conversation we'll have tomorrow," coach Mike McCarthy said when asked if College had won the job.
The Packers got seven first-half possessions, including touchdown drives of five plays and 70 yards, 10 plays and 76 yards and eight plays and 78 yards. In all, they piled up 236 yards and 19 first downs.
"I think I played well," Colledge said. "I thought it was another winning performance. I'm just doing what I can with the reps that I'm getting. It was an opportunity for me to get more than one series in a row, which is exciting. If I do win this competition, if I am the starter, then it's good for me to get in a rhythm and know that I can play more than one series in a row."
Even though Bulaga participated in the full-pads practice on Tuesday, he was deemed not healthy enough for Thursday and McCarthy isn't sure of Bulaga's status for the preseason finale against Kansas City. Considering the starters will barely play against the Chiefs, even if Bulaga is good to go next week, he'd be lining up with the backups rather than building chemistry with the first unit.
"He's had a good camp, he really has," offensive coordinator Joe Philbin said. "He's performed pretty well and has practiced well and the games that he's played in, he's played pretty well. I'm interested to watch the film but he's done a good job up to this point and we've been pleased with what he's done."
A banged-up team didn't exactly emerge unscathed.
Without Blackmon, undrafted rookie Sam Shields got more time than expected as the third cornerback in the No. 1 nickel package. Without Bishop, Robert Francois lined up with A.J. Hawk in the No. 2 nickel. Without Porter, Kregg Lumpkin – who hadn't participated in a practice or game since the Cleveland game two weeks ago – ran nine times for 26 yards and a touchdown and added a 22-yard reception on a well-blocked screen.
Fumbles a concern
Last year, Ryan Grant didn't turn over the ball on a running play the entire season but gave it way against Cleveland and fumbled again against Indianapolis. Brandon Jackson also had a fumble, a costly turnover moments after Morgan Burnett's interception set up the offense deep in Colts territory.
It's a troubling issue for a team that had the fewest giveaways in the league last year.
"I'm concerned the ball's been on the ground a little too much," Philbin said. "We haven't had a game where we haven't had a giveaway yet. That's a concern."
Jackson said he was mad at himself after his fumble, which came when he was struck on the elbow by a helmet.
"Those guys got a tongue lashing at halftime. It's uncharacteristic for both of those guys," quarterback Aaron Rodgers said.
Rodgers on fire
One player who isn't turning over the ball is Rodgers. After completing 21-of-29 passes for 195 yards and three touchdowns against the Colts, his three-game stat line reads: 41-of-53 passing for 470 yards with six touchdowns and no interceptions. That's a completion percentage of 77.4 and a passer rating of 154.0
"The last two years I felt real good about where we've been at the end of preseason, but I feel better this year because I think we have a little bit more of an identity on offense, where last year we made a lot of big plays but I don't really felt like we ever established kind of what we wanted to do," Rodgers said. "And now it's pretty obvious, we're going to find ways to get the ball to Jermichael and find ways to get the ball to Donald and Greg, Jordy, James. When we get into a rhythm like we have this preseason on offense, we're going to be tough to stop. It's fun."
He's been so good that Rodgers nitpicked himself for his first-half performance, which he didn't feel was good enough until the two-minute drill at the end of the first half resulted in a touchdown for a 28-17 lead.
Third-round safety Burnett made two eye-catching plays from his safety position. The first came on the Colts' second possession, when Peyton Manning aired it out for Pierre Garcon but Burnett raced to the sideline and almost came up with an interception. In the second quarter, he duped Manning by sprinting forward from his center-field position just before the snap and stepping in front of the receiver.
"Even though it doesn't count, but just in my book I can say my first NFL pick came from a Hall of Fame quarterback," Burnett said. "I'm just very thankful, and I thank God every morning for just putting me in this situation. So now when I go home, I can call my mom – I know she probably seen it but I can call my mom and see what her reaction was."
Defensive coordinator Dom Capers like what he saw.
"I like it because we were in zone and he passed a guy and broke into the zone," Capers said. "Peyton pretty much can read all the coverages. I think he's got some savvy to him and I think he's a guy that will be able to come up with some balls for us because he's got good ball skills. I think he's a bright guy."
-- Outside linebacker Clay Matthews, who strained a hamstring during the first week of camp, is pleased with his progress but isn't sure if he'll be cleared to face Kansas City.
-- Score a big victory for Tim Masthay in the punting battle. His only punt went 53.0 yards and was mishandled for a Packers touchdown. Chris Bryan averaged 41.5 yards on his two punts; both were low.
-- When the No. 2 offensive line stepped on the field, Nick McDonald was the right guard and T.J. Lang the right tackle. For all of training camp, it had been Lang at right guard and Breno Giacomini at right tackle.
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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.