Packers notebook
Nick Barnett
Nick Barnett

Posted Dec 11, 2007


Barnett ticked off at Raiders center; Blackmon has firm grip on punt return job; injury updates

Middle linebacker Nick Barnett won't be sending Oakland center Jeremy Newberry a holiday card anytime soon.

The 11-2 Packers' coronation as NFC North champions by virtue of their 38-7 thrashing of the Raiders on Sunday at Lambeau Field was tempered by Barnett's disposition.

He was irate after the game and complained of having double vision in his left eye from what he called a "dirty" shot delivered by Newberry.

Barnett claimed that Newberry intentionally poked him in the eye as the first half was winding down.

The incident occurred away from a downfield pass completion by the Raiders that had ended.

"We were talking, he lines his (index) finger up, and he poked me in my eye, and he's got nothing to say," said Barnett, who suffered a scratched cornea. "I'm figuring he's just pointing at me, talking to me, but I'm like, 'Uh, oh, he really pointed at me because he struck me in my eye.'"

Barnett walked off the field and had to go to the locker room before halftime for evaluation. He was cleared to resume playing at the start of the second half, wearing a protective visor on his facemask.

The confrontation between Newberry and Barnett didn't result in a penalty.

Packers coach Mike McCarthy said he wasn't privy to any visual evidence of the poke in the eye, so taking the incident up with the league might not happen.

Barnett was to see an eye doctor for further examination Monday, but the team doctors don't consider the injury to be serious.

Barnett, who had a game-high 10 tackles, didn't go out of his way to retaliate against Newberry or any other Raider in the second half. Nor did Barnett hunt down Newberry on the field when the game ended.

"I'm not talking to that guy," Barnett said. "I'm not accepting no apology for that right now. Not at this moment because it's just dirty. That's just one of those NFL codes where you don't poke somebody in the eye and you don't spit in someone's face."

Blackmon makes most of opportunity
Will Blackmon, once in danger of landing on injured reserve for the second time in as many pro seasons, has earned his keep on punt returns.

Coach Mike McCarthy said Monday that Blackmon would remain in the role after a noteworthy season debut handling those duties Sunday. Blackmon scored on a 57-yard punt return in the second quarter that helped fuel a 38-7 rout of Oakland.

Blackmon had a second special teams touchdown when he recovered a fumble in the end zone on a Raiders punt return.

Blackmon, a backup cornerback, replaced Pro Bowl cornerback Charles Woodson as the punt returner. Woodson was limited to playing defense because of a sore toe that kept him out of the last game.

Woodson vowed after Sunday's contest, "I'm taking those (punt return) duties back over next week."

McCarthy, though, indicated that Woodson would be involved on a situational basis.

The speedy Blackmon won the return job in the preseason but suffered a broken thumb that required him to wear a cast and kept him off returns for the start of the season. Blackmon aggravated a broken right foot -- an injury he originally sustained in a May 2006 minicamp -- in practice Oct. 3. The team considered putting him on IR but was optimistic he could get back before the end of the season. He returned for the Nov. 29 game at Dallas.

"I'm back to normal," Blackmon said. "I never got hurt in college, ever. I never had a serious injury. I think I missed one game in college and high school. For me to be back to normal, it's good."

Injury updates
-- LT Chad Clifton suffered a sprained right shoulder Sunday and will miss most of the practice week ahead.

McCarthy said Clifton would probably be out until Friday.

The injury, though, isn't considered serious enough to keep Clifton from making the start at St. Louis on Sunday.

Daryn Colledge, who lost his job at left guard for the last game, will fill in for Clifton until the veteran returns.

-- QB Brett Favre checked out OK on Monday after playing the full game Sunday with a bruised right (throwing) elbow and a separated left shoulder. Favre suffered the injuries in the previous game.

-- CB Jarrett Bush suffered a strained calf Sunday and won't practice until at least Friday. Bush has been the nickel back since the beginning of the season, making one start in place of an injured Charles Woodson on Nov. 29. Frank Walker, Tramon Williams and Will Blackmon are the candidates to replace Bush if he's not ready for Sunday's game at St. Louis.

-- TE Bubba Franks might return to game action Sunday. He's been sidelined since suffering a sprained knee Oct. 14.

Extra points
-- OL Junius Coston graded out well for his return to the starting lineup at right guard Sunday. Coston is expected to remain a starter, with Jason Spitz staying at left guard ahead of Daryn Colledge.

-- FB Korey Hall was judged to have his best performance of the season. The rookie was credited with six knockdowns as a run blocker and had five tackles on special teams.



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