By Tom Pelissero greenbaypressgazette
Becoming a core player on special teams wasnt Brandon Chillars primary goal when he signed with the Green Bay Packers in March.
But Packers special-teams coordinator Mike Stock knew if things didnt shake out for Chillar in the competition with Brady Poppinga at strong-side linebacker, he had another potential standout for his coverage units.
First of all, he likes to do it, said Stock, who coached Chillar during his rookie year with the St. Louis Rams in 2004.
Second of all, hes got speed, hes great in the open field, great in space. Hes got athleticism as well as the speed, and he has the sense of getting to the football.
Beginning with a full-throttle takedown of Minnesota kick returner Chester Taylor in the season opener, Chillar has recorded a team-high five special-teams tackles in the Packers first two games. He also is contributing on return units.
Its not the starting job he wanted, but its more than Chillar has played on special teams since his first two NFL seasons, in which he recorded 13 and 11 special-teams tackles, respectively.
I know what Im doing, Chillar said this week.
The Packers coverage units performed well against Minnesota before a so-so performance in Sundays victory at Detroit. Save for Mike Furreys 20-yard return of a free kick in the latter game, the Packers havent allowed a punt return of more than 9 yards or a kick return longer than 28 yards.
In Sundays prime-time showdown with the Dallas Cowboys, the Packers will try to keep up with the Joneses rookie Felix, who returned a kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown in Mondays win over Philadelphia, and Adam, who has four punt-return touchdowns in two-plus NFL seasons.
This clubs got dynamite return people, Stock said, so weve got to take care of business.
The Packers have been playing without one core special teamer, safety Charlie Peprah, who could return from his pulled hamstring on Sunday. Another, fullback Korey Hall, might miss the game because of a knee injury.
Four players Hall, Jarrett Bush, Michael Montgomery and Tramon Williams have three special-teams tackles each. Coverage-unit standout Tracy White is one of three players with two. Jason Hunter, who led the Packers with 25 special-teams tackles last season, has none.
It is Finley's time?
With Hall and backup tight end Tory Humphrey battling knee injuries, rookie tight end Jermichael Finley seems like a good bet to make his NFL debut against Dallas.
I think this is a great opportunity for Jermichael, coach Mike McCarthy said Thursday. He's had an excellent week of practice so far.
Fullbacks and tight ends serve many of the same functions in the Packers offense. For instance, starting tight end Donald Lee and Humphrey regularly line up in, or motion into, the backfield, and Hall has played as a third tight end in the goal-line offense.
So, if Humphrey or Hall cant go Sunday McCarthy said they would test their injuries in practice today after sitting out the past two days Finley could play a role on offense. The Packers lined up with two tight ends 12 times against Minnesota and 10 times against Detroit. They also have a two-fullback set that would require the use of a tight end if Hall is inactive.
Every week, its like a brave new world, offensive coordinator Joe Philbin said of Finley, a third-round draft pick who played only two seasons at Texas. Its educational. Hes making progress, theres no doubt about it.
Whether hell start against Dallas remains unclear, but center Scott Wells was a full participant in practice for the first time since suffering a setback with his problematic lower back in a preseason game on Aug. 16 at San Francisco.
After practice, Wells said what he suffered against the 49ers was similar to a pinched nerve not an aggravation of the muscle tear he sustained during the June minicamp and again in a training camp practice on Aug. 1.
Either way, Wells said, its history.
People do it every day, Wells said. The difference is, a normal person does it, they say stay off your feet for a week or two, go back to work, and they do a normal job. The problem is, we do that and we come back and hit. If its not healed, its going to bother you again.