Trade talk centers on Spitz
By: By Tom Silverstein and Greg A. Bedard, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Superior Telegram
KANSAS CITY -- The Green Bay Packers have received one or more calls asking if offensive lineman Jason Spitz is available in a trade, while other teams are waiting to see whether he or teammate Evan Dietrich-Smith will be released on Saturday, NFL sources said this week.
There are a number of teams around the NFL who are in the market for a center, which appears to be Spitz's best position and may be Dietrich-Smith's as well. Spitz has started 45 games, but only eight have been at center. The others were at left guard (eight) and right guard (29).
Among the teams that may be looking for centers are Oakland, Philadelphia, Kansas City, Denver and Houston, while a host of others might be looking for a guard. One of the sources said he knew for sure the Packers had been contacted about Spitz, but he declined to name the inquiring team.
Another source from a different team said he was interested to see whether the Packers released either Spitz or Dietrich-Smith. A number of other teams undoubtedly are keeping a close eye on what the Packers do when rosters are cut to 53 on Saturday.
The Packers will probably keep nine offensive linemen. Beyond the starting five, the other locks to make it are first-round pick Bryan Bulaga and tackle/guard T.J. Lang. That effectively leaves two spots for these five players: Spitz, Dietrich-Smith, tackle Breno Giacomini, rookie guard/center Nick McDonald and rookie tackle/ guard Marshall Newhouse.
Spitz, Dietrich-Smith and McDonald are probably competing for one interior line position.
Spitz, who missed 11 games last year because of a back injury and a week of training camp because of a calf strain, was supposed to be in the competition at left guard, but the coaches chose to rotate him at all three inside positions rather than let him focus at one spot as they did with Daryn Colledge.
The game against Kansas City very well could have been a showcase for Spitz, a fourth-round pick in 2006. The 27-year-old veteran said this week he didn't feel any pressure going into the game.
"Honestly, I'll be more nervous going into this weekend than I have been in the past," Spitz said. "We'll see what happens. I've stated my case. I want to be here."
Dietrich-Smith and Spitz were in the lineup together with the No. 2 offense against the Chiefs and rotated positions throughout the game.
Safety first: Taking absolutely no chances with his quarterback in a meaningless game, coach Mike McCarthy did not dress starter Aaron Rodgers.
It marked the first time Rodgers has not played in an exhibition game since he came into the league in 2005.
Others who were held out were: cornerback Charles Woodson, running back Ryan Grant, safety Will Blackmon (knee), cornerback Brandon Underwood (shoulder), linebacker Clay Matthews (hamstring), linebacker Desmond Bishop (hamstring), linebacker Brad Jones (shoulder), tackle Chad Clifton (knee), end Cullen Jenkins (calf), tackle Allen Barbre (back) and Bulaga (hip).
With 12 players out, the Packers had only 63 players available. About 18 others played just one series.
Goode knocked from game: A wrinkle was thrown in the punting competition when long-snapper Brett Goode was knocked out of the game with a blow to the head in the first quarter.
On the opening punt with 13:34 remaining, Goode took a hard hit from Chiefs linebacker Corey Greenwood. It took a moment for Goode to get off the turf and to a knee. When he tried to jog off, he was obviously wobbly and was immediately met by the Packers' medical staff.
Goode was allowed to snap on two more punts -- he wasn't touched on either -- before he was removed with what was announced to the press box as "a blow to the head."
According to the concussion guidelines put out by the NFL, it is suggested that players who appear disoriented not be allowed back into the game. It's a suggestion, not a rule.
"It's a doctor's evaluation," McCarthy said. "I know they got to him right away and then he was able to go, I think it was two more plays after that. And the doctors felt it was time for him to go. It's a cut-and-dry system. If it's a medical decision, they don't play. There's never any buts or whats."
Tim Masthay averaged 40.3 yards (long of 51) and a hang time of 3.97 seconds on three punts. Chris Bryan averaged 36.0 yards (long of 37) and 3.71 seconds of hang time on two.
Bryan's second punt was rushed when backup Dietrich-Smith sailed the snap high.
Blackmon suffers 'setback': The punt return decision was thrown into further disarray when McCarthy said Will Blackmon suffered a setback in the last week.
"He's had a setback and so we'll have more information when we get back," McCarthy said. "Hopefully he's had productive rehab the last couple days.
"He's coming off a major surgery and if you sat in on the doctor's meetings, this all falls in the normal protocol of particularly a perimeter player that had a significant injury to his knee. So he's going through a tough spot right now."
Special teams coordinator Shawn Slocum said that, according to the information he's been given, Blackmon is on track with his rehab.
Who's watching? At each exhibition game, there are a host of scouts from other NFL teams. Some are scouting for a regular-season meeting with one of the teams; others are getting a live look at players who may be available via trade or the waiver wire.
A total of 17 teams were at the Packers' four exhibition games. Not surprisingly, the Philadelphia Eagles, against whom the Packers open the regular season, led all teams with three appearances.
-- Copyright (c) 2010, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel/Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.