Packers Mid-Week Wrap

Practice notes and team news heading into week three of the 2003 NFL season.

 --Not one linebacker had been selected in the draft in April when the Packers took Nick Barnett of Oregon State with the 29th choice.
   The Lions had been discussing the merits of both Barnett and the other top-rated linebacker on their board, Georgia's Boss Bailey, when the Packers made their decision. Thus, it was easy for the Lions to take Bailey with the 34th pick.
   Barnett and Bailey were on the same field together for the first time Sunday in the Packers' 31-6 victory over the Lions. Coach Mike Sherman looked good when Barnett made much more impact on the game than Bailey, but only time will tell the wisdom of his decision.
   The players themselves hit it off at the combine and other events and have become fast friends. One of the Lions coaches described Bailey as a "great kid," and the Packers have been saying the same thing about Barnett since they got him.
   "We call each other a lot," Barnett said. "He's a great player, and I hope to be one one day. We'll just have fun and hopefully meet one day at the Pro Bowl."
   In a way, it became a non-decision for Sherman because he concurred with the team's medical staff that Bailey's knees weren't worth the risk. He had reconstructive surgery on each of his knees and was eliminated from consideration by the Packers as well as some other clubs.
   Thus far, Bailey hasn't had any knee problems in Detroit, and the coaches haven't had to adjust his practice schedule in any way.
   "Everybody has their own opinion about that," Bailey said. "That situation is in the past. I'm trying to do the best for the Lions and he's trying to do the best for the Packers."
   Barnett had 12 solo tackles and two assists compared to three solos and three assists for Bailey. Barnett also recorded his first interception on a tipped ball and broke up another pass.
   "It was my best game so far but there will be a lot more," Barnett said. "I'm getting better but I've still got a long way to go. I'm still a little hesitant sometimes."
   Barnett's tackling totals were up nine more than last week because this was the first game in which he served as the only linebacker in the 4-1 dime defense. Defensive coordinator Ed Donatell said Na'il Diggs was removed from the dime because of shoulder problems. He indicated they would share that duty in the weeks ahead.
   Bailey, 6-3 and 230, has been starting on the strong side. He actually prefers the strong side even though it involves more wrestling with tight ends and fewer play-making opportunities than the weak side, where Barrett Green is in his third season as starter.
   Sheldon White, the Lions' director of pro personnel, said the organization eventually wants Bailey on the weak side to take full advantage of his wide-receiver (4.41 in the 40) type speed.
   "Right now Boss has played like a rookie - hot and cold," White said. "He does some things others can't do as far as running and chasing and making some plays in the passing game. He's also done a few things you'd expect a rookie to do, especially in pre-season, as far as alignment and assignment.
   "He's making mistakes he won't make a few years from now. He's missed some tackles, but it hasn't been a major problem for us. That was another thing we were aware of."
   Barnett, 6-1 1/2 and 235, has started at middle linebacker since Day One but the general feeling among the Packers is that his eventual position also will be weak side.
   "Barnett is not a havoc-maker because of size but he's pretty good," Arizona Cardinals pro scout Rodd Newhouse said. "He's smart, he can move and he's there at the right time."
   White basically agreed with that assessment.
   "We loved the kid," White said. "He was a great kid to interview. Barnett's real raw right now. He's got a lot of energy. He's very athletic. Right now at the point of attack he's still learning to take on and bring his hips.
   "In-line, you're not going to see what you want to see from a middle linebacker, but as long as you're able to protect him with Gilbert Brown and Cletidus Hunt inside, he's able to run around and make some plays."
   --Safety Marques Anderson has fallen so far out of favor that he wasn't even in the 4-1 dime defense Sunday against Detroit. He was replaced by Erwin Swiney, a free-agent cornerback from Nebraska.
   Anderson lost out to Antuan Edwards in their battle for the starting strong safety job this summer. He has played considerably at safety because Darren Sharper has been battling a groin pull the last two weeks.
   During the opener against Minnesota former Packers all-pro safety LeRoy Butler was in the bench area helping the coaches and players.
   "If anything, everybody knows now how difficult that position is to play," Butler said. "A lot of responsibility comes with playing that position. Marques' biggest thing is he has got to be in the right position to make plays. Once  you get in the right position, then you can make the plays."
   --WR Donald Driver practiced in pads Wednesday and seems as if he will play Sunday, a week earlier than expected. Driver suffered a neck strain in a collision Sept. 7 and sat out the Detroit game.
   --WR Robert Ferguson (knee) is listed as probable but didn't practice Wednesday.
   --TE Wesley Walls (hamstring) is questionable and did not practice.
   --FB Nick Luchey (calf) is questionable and didn't practice.
   --DE Aaron Kampman (ankle) is probable but didn't practice.
   --LB Na'il Diggs (knee) is probable but didn't practice.
   --S Darren Sharper (groin) is probable and did practice.

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