Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy said it hasn’t been announced, but then announced what had been a foregone conclusion since Thursday night.
“We haven’t announced it or anything, but I think it is accurate that Daryn Colledge will be the starting left guard in Philadelphia,” McCarthy said after Sunday’s steamy practice. “I like the production of the first line. I thought Bryan (Bulaga) was improving with his opportunities there, but when you are injured, you are not part of the equation anymore. Daryn Colledge will be our left guard in Philadelphia.”
Colledge took the news in stride.
“Awesome. I didn’t know I wasn’t the starter originally,” Colledge said. “I think I played well last season, I played well during the preseason, so I’m excited to have another opportunity to start for the Packers.”
Bulaga was disappointed but certainly had to know this would be the decision. Bulaga exited Monday’s practice with a strained hip flexor, returned to practice on Tuesday but was encouraged by the team trainers to sit out Thursday’s preseason game against Indianapolis. Considering the starters will barely play on Thursday at Kansas City, the injury effectively ended the competition.
“I didn’t get to play the last game,” Bulaga said. “Every game you’ve got to get evaluated, so not playing that game I’m sure hurt me, yeah.”
One game to go for punters
McCarthy has an unusual hope for the offense.
“I think we need to punt more,” McCarthy said with a touch of seriousness. “I don’t feel comfortable saying that. I wouldn’t be opposed if we punted a little bit more in this fourth game to get some more information on these two guys.”
Just like Thursday’s preseason game, Tim Masthay outkicked Chris Bryan at practice. With the ball at the offense’s 1, Masthay uncorked a 70-yarder, and on back-to-back kicks from the 35, he boomed both into the end zone. In their only pooch-punting chance, Masthay’s landed at about the 5 and was downed about there, while Bryan’s went into the end zone.
Unofficially, excluding the pooch punts, Masthay averaged 59.6 yards on six punts compared to Bryan’s average of 46.3 on seven. Both punters had a strong wind at their backs.
“We feel that we have exhausted both Chris and Tim as much as we can in the practice structure,” McCarthy said. “We have used Family Night and punted extensively there. About the only thing left is live game action, so we would just like to have as much information as possible on both punters. I think they are both talented and I think they are both ascending punters. We’re going to pick the right one and the one that doesn’t stick here, I’m pretty confident will be punting in the NFL somewhere else. I think that much of both men.”
Out on Sunday: safety Atari Bigby (ankle), safety Will Blackmon (knee), cornerback Al Harris (knee), cornerback Brandon Underwood (shoulder), running back Quinn Porter (knee), running back James Starks (hamstring), linebacker Clay Matthews (hamstring), linebacker Desmond Bishop (hamstring), linebacker Brad Jones (shoulder), Bulaga (hip flexor), left tackle Chad Clifton (knee swelling), defensive end Cullen Jenkins (calf), guard/tackle Allen Barbre (back) and defensive end Jarius Wynn (concussion).
Underwood’s injured shoulder is the same one he had surgery on following his redshirt freshman season at Ohio State, so the training staff is having trouble with a prognosis. Blackmon’s knee didn’t recover as well as hoped after returning punts and playing safety against the Colts.
McCarthy called Jenkins a longer shot for Thursday’s game at Kansas City than Jones or Matthews.
“It’s a little sore,” Jenkins said. “Tried to do little stuff on it today, it’s a little sore. So we’re just trying to be smart with it. We don’t want to have any setbacks right now that could put Philly in jeopardy.”
Bishop had an MRI on his hamstring. McCarthy hadn’t seen the results but was confident he’d be ready for Philadelphia.
Returning was Greg Jennings, who missed the Indy game with back spasms.
Porter’s bid to make the roster as an undrafted rookie has hit a snag, first with a sprained ankle and then with a knee sprain sustained Thursday that McCarthy called “pretty significant.” Porter rushed three times for 12 yards while Kregg Lumpkin, who hadn’t even practiced since injuring his hamstring in the preseason opener against Cleveland, rushed nine times for 26 yards and a touchdown with a 22-yard catch on a screen.
“I thought I did good but there’s always room for improvement. Just got to try to get healthy,” Lumpkin said.
With Porter out and with sixth-rounder James Starks having not practiced at all in training camp, Lumpkin is making a late bid to make the team as a third running back.
“I kind of felt like I could go and I’m still competing for a job,” he said. “That was my No. 1 thought. I’m still fighting for a job and I’ve got to go out there and do the best I can.”
— With most of the emphasis this week going to the young players who will take most of the snaps on Thursday, Aaron Rodgers and most of the No. 1 offense took some snaps with the scout team.
“Well, he’s not going to play a whole lot in the game on Thursday,” McCarthy said. “We want to make sure we’re keeping everybody fresh. Practice needs to look a certain way, on both sides, the opponent squads that are giving the card looks and obviously from the offense and defense, and it takes everybody. I don’t think it makes a lot of sense to come down and just work one group of guys on both sides of the ball. A lot of our starters took a lot of the opponent reps today.”
— Without Bulaga and Clifton, T.J. Lang took the starters reps at left tackle. Without Underwood, the top three cornerbacks were Charles Woodson, Tramon Williams and Sam Shields.
— The defense got some early work on Philadelphia, with cornerback D.J. Clark wearing a No. 7 jersey meant to represent Michael Vick.
— Masthay did the kicking off to keep Mason Crosby’s leg fresh. With the wind at his back, Masthay regularly kicked the ball 5 yards out of the end zone.
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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.