Green Bay - The Green Bay Packers will open the season with Adrian Klemm and Will Whitticker as their starting guard positions.
The two have been starting since early in training camp, but Klemm had to withstand furious competition from ScottWells, and Whitticker had to bounce back from a poor performance in the New England game to earn their spots.
Coach Mike Sherman wouldn't reveal who the starters would be in a brief meeting with reporters Monday, but a source close to the team said all the affected players were informed of the decision to start Klemm and Whitticker. The starters are both new to the Packers and have huge shoes to fill for the departed Mike Wahle and Marco Rivera, but at least they know their assignments now.
"I've been starting the last few weeks and that's the way it is right now," Klemm said. "We'll see how it goes."
Klemm, who received an $800,000 signing bonus as part of a two-year, $2.6 million free agent contract he signed after the Packers lost Wahle to Carolina, felt it was difficult for him to get fully integrated into the system because he was rotating much of the last few weeks with Wells. Klemm has struggled to master the timing necessary to execute the Packers' pulling game and is looking forward to getting more time practicing with the starters.
Before coming to Green Bay, he played mostly right guard for the New England Patriots and tackle at the University of Hawaii.
"The main thing has been learning the system," Klemm said. "After a couple quarters or a game or so we'll get a feel for one another. The main thing is coming in and learning the footwork because I was changing positions. That was the most important thing for me at this time."
Whitticker, a seventh-round draft choice, gave up some of his time to veteran Grey Ruegamer during the last week of camp, but he has been the No. 1 candidate at right guard since the first exhibition game. He will be the first rookie offensive lineman to start a game for the Packers since Ken Ruettgers in 1985 and the first to win the opening-day job based on performance since Mark Koncar in 1976.
Practice makes perfect: The Packers signed six players to their practice squad, and all but one of them was with the team during training camp.
The newcomer is cornerback Therrian Fontenot, a 5-11, 187-pound rookie from Fresno State who was in training camp with the Buffalo Bills. Fontenot played running back until his junior season in college and was not drafted.
In addition, the Packers signed receiver Craig Bragg, fullback Vonta Leach, cornerback Patrick Dendy, receiver Chad Lucas and linebacker Zac Woodfin to the eight-man practice squad.
Bragg was claimed on waivers by the New York Jets on Sunday, but because they had a priority claim on another receiver, the acquisition was rescinded. Had the Jets not been granted rights to the other receiver, Bragg would have been added to their active roster.
The Packers attempted to re-sign receiver Andrae Thurman to their practice squad, but Thurman took a similar deal with the Tennessee Titans because the Titans promised to consider activating him this week to be one of their returners.
Meanwhile, quarterback J.T. O'Sullivan, who was released Saturday, was signed to Chicago's practice squad. Another former Packer, guard Atlas Herrion, was added to Cleveland's practice squad. Green Bay native Chris Samp, who was with the Packers' this off-season, was signed to Pittsburgh's practice squad.
Practice squad players do not count against the 53-man roster and are technically free agents. They may not be signed to another team's practice squad but they can be signed to any team's 53-man roster at any time during the season.
Auditions: The Packers brought in outside linebacker Akbar Gbaja-Biamila, the younger brother of end KabeerGbaja-Biamila, for a workout Monday.
The Packers did not sign the younger Gbaja-Biamila, who was released by the Oakland Raiders Saturday.
Meanwhile, defensive tackle Cletidus Hunt, who was released by the Packers Saturday, had an official visit with the Cincinnati Bengals. They did not put him through a workout.
No tell policy: Cornerbacks Joey Thomas and Ahmad Carroll were careful not to divulge which of them had won the starting left corner position.
Carroll said that he, Thomas and Jason Horton shared snaps, but Thomas made it seem as if a decision has been made.
"I'm not allowed to say," Thomas said.
Short yardage: Wide receiver Terrence Murphy returned to practice. . . . Two players changed numbers. Murphy now wears 85 and cornerback Micheal Hawkins wears 37. Newly acquired linebacker Robert Thomas wore 55.
1. I'm betting Carroll starts but he's gonna have a quick hook.
2. Glad Hawkins changed #s. Everytime I saw #27 I had bad flashbacks of the other #27, Haw...Haw....I can't say it.
3. No workout for Hunt. Hmmmm.....
4. I'd love to see AGB make the roster. That would be cool.