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Hawk back in Packers’ defensive rotation

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Associated Press
September 20, 2010
— After spending most of last Sunday on the sideline, linebacker A.J. Hawk was once again a big part of the Green Bay Packers’ defense.

Hawk played the majority of the Buffalo Bills’ 54 offensive snaps in the Packers’ 34-7 win Sunday. The former first-round draft pick didn’t play a single snap of defense in the season opener at Philadelphia, leading to speculation that he might be traded.


“I’m glad I got to play some, yeah,” Hawk said with a smile. “I wasn’t out for revenge or anything to make up for anything that happened (last week). I was glad to play and be part of the plan.”


Hawk’s reduced role—he played only on special teams against the Eagles as Green Bay went exclusively with its situational packages on defense—was a hot topic in Green Bay in the past week.


His agent, Mike McCartney, told the Green Bay Press-Gazette that Hawk would be open to playing elsewhere if it would mean being able to playing on every down.


Hawk came out of the game from time to time Sunday in passing situations, replaced by Brandon Chillar, but he made significant contributions on defense.


“He’s a fantastic linebacker,” said fellow linebacker Clay Matthews, who led the Packers with three sacks for the second straight game. “I think he showed up and made great plays. It shows why he’s a number five overall pick.”


Hawk tied fellow linebacker Nick Barnett with a game-high nine tackles.


Sharing the load


The Packers’ first game without top running back Ryan Grant, who is out for the season, turned out to be a back-by-committee approach.


Brandon Jackson was in the starting lineup for the first time since he started the first three games of his rookie season in 2007 before injuring his shin.


Jackson, though, had only 11 carries for 29 yards Sunday, including a 1-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.


Jackson split time with versatile fullback John Kuhn, who had career highs of nine carries and 36 yards.


“It’s a little difficult when you uses running back by committee,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. “It’s a little harder for those guys to get into the flow, and I understand that.”


The Packers lost Grant, who had 1,200-yard rushing seasons in 2008 and ’09, to an ankle injury in the first half of the season-opening win.


Left tackle switch


McCarthy made a notable change with his offensive line in the first half.


Bryan Bulaga, the team’s first-round draft pick this year, replaced Chad Clifton at left tackle after the Packers’ fourth offensive series and stayed there the rest of the game.


McCarthy said afterward that he pulled Clifton because he was concerned about his health after the 11-year veteran was held out of practice most of last week with recurring knee soreness.


“I felt that he just didn’t look like he was fully recovered,”


McCarthy said. “So I thought it was important to get Bryan in there.”


Bulaga was contending for a starting job early in training camp with left guard Daryn Colledge but suffered a hip injury that kept him out for an extended time.


“You’re always a little bit nervous, but once you get the first couple of plays out of the way, then you’re going and you get in a groove of things and you’re just playing,” Bulaga said.



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