Packers Wary of Williams Duo

The Green Bay Packers' offensive line has performed surprisingly well lately, and they rewarded center Scott Wells with a new contract. However, the interior of that line knows it will have a daunting task trying to contain Kevin and Pat Williams.

The Packers picked a fine time to reward their most consistent offensive lineman of the first half of the season.

Center Scott Wells agreed to terms on a five-year, $15 million contract extension this week. The midseason move was made to allow the team, which had more than $7 million in salary-cap room, to apply a sizable chunk of the deal to this year's cap.

Wells, a seventh-round draft pick in 2004, was in the final year of his rookie contract and would have been a restricted free agent after the season. He's in his first full season as the starting center in a fledgling career that started inauspiciously when he was cut at the end of his first training camp and then was re-signed to the practice squad.

"It's a nice step up from the seventh round. Being on the practice squad and fighting my way up from that, I'm very, very appreciative for how I've been blessed here," Wells said.

The happy news, though, comes as Wells and the rest of the offensive line are bracing for a tough task Sunday at Minnesota. How the Packers fare against imposing tackles Kevin Williams and Pat Williams could be telling for how the division rivals' first matchup of the season turns out.

The Williams' are the heart and soul of a Vikings defense that has been next to impossible to gash with the run. Minnesota has allowed a league-low average of 69 rushing yards per game.

The Packers come in on a ground tear, averaging 168.3 yards in the last three games to ascend to 11th in the league with a season average of 118.9.

Green Bay head coach Mike McCarthy couldn't understate the importance of eliminating the Williams' from plays in the Packers' zone-blocking scheme if they're going to win both the battle in the trenches and the game.

"They try to get you to single block those guys. (But) as you watch them on film, you can't single block them," McCarthy said. "They do a great job of anchoring and splitting double teams. They're clearly the best tandem of defensive tackles we have played to this point.

"With our emphasis in the lead zone schemes and the cut blocking ... that's a major emphasis for us this week because, frankly, we need to cut them all day. To stand up and go toe to toe with those guys and (use) single blocks doesn't make a whole lot of sense."

As such, Wells and rookie guards Daryn Colledge and Jason Spitz will be on the collective spot to account for and try to subdue the massive Williams'. The Packers are determined to run the football in Ahman Green's return to the Metrodome, where he suffered a season-ending ruptured thigh in the sixth game last year.

"The caliber of players they are, you have to be able to get them on the ground because if you don't, they're very good at shedding blocks," Wells said. "We have to communicate well with the crowd noise and be fundamentally sound."

The previously mistake-proof Wells is coming off his worst game of the season, however. He was responsible for two bungled exchanges with quarterback Brett Favre in the 24-10 loss at Buffalo last Sunday, including a premature shotgun snap that hit an unwitting Favre in the face mask deep in Bills territory.

Crowd noise was a factor in that latter turnover because Wells thought he heard a cadence that Favre had yet to call. Favre's desire to use a silent count in the game was overridden by the linemen.

McCarthy made it clear that a silent count will be employed Sunday inside a raucous venue that has historically troubled the Packers. Wells, in fact, had an errant shotgun snap as an emergency starter at center last year.

"If you can shut that horn up, you're good," veteran receiver Donald Driver said of the signature sound effect blared at the Metrodome. "That's the biggest thing with us — we want to make sure that horn don't go off too many times. You want that horn to be shutting up and the crowd out of the game. That's our goal."

NOTES

  • FB Brandon Miree likely will miss a second straight game because of a hyperextended left elbow. Miree didn't practice Wednesday and is listed as doubtful on the injury report. William Henderson would start again in Miree's absence.

  • FS Nick Collins is expected to be ready for Sunday's game at Minnesota despite having a bruised lower back, which he sustained last Sunday at Buffalo. The team classified the malady as a kidney injury on the injury report, but tests conducted earlier in the week didn't reveal any significant damage to the kidney. Collins practiced Wednesday and is probable for the game.

  • LT Chad Clifton was a recent newcomer to the injury report Wednesday because of knee and elbow soreness. Clifton practiced, though, and is probable for Sunday.

  • TE Bubba Franks popped up on the injury report because of lingering soreness in a wrist. The struggling starter was sidelined Wednesday but is probable for the game.

  • MLB Nick Barnett was excused from practice Wednesday for unspecified personal reasons. Head coach Mike McCarthy said Barnett is expected to rejoin the team Thursday.

  • DT Johnny Jolly, who was deactivated for the last game after suffering an ankle injury, didn't practice but is probable for Sunday.

  • DE Dave Tollefson was placed on the practice squad/injured list Wednesday. Tollefson, the last of the team's league-high 12 draft picks this year, has been on the practice squad since the start of the season.

  • S Alvin Nnabuife was signed to the practice squad to take Dave Tollefson's place. The 6-foot, 210-pound Nnabuife originally signed with Oakland as an undrafted free agent out of Southern Methodist in the spring.

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