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Packers' rookie report: Week Eight

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Dan Arkush
Executive editor

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By Dan Arkush

Here's a look at how the Packers' first-year players are faring through eight games:

OT Bryan Bulaga (first round): In his fourth straight start at right tackle in place of Mark Tauscher, Bulaga regressed last Sunday against the Jets. He struggled more often than not, matched up against Jets DE Shaun Ellis, and looked a step slow. With Tauscher's shoulder getting better, it will be interesting to see if the Packers continue to stick with Bulaga as the starter.

DE Mike Neal (second round): Neal was placed on injured reserve last week with a season-ending shoulder injury He showed good potential in the two games in which he was able to play, but he had big problems staying healthy.

SS Morgan Burnett (third round): Burnett was placed on injured reserve after suffering a season-ending knee injury in Week Four. He began the season as the starting strong safety after an excellent offseason and training camp.
TE Andrew Quarless (fifth round): Quarless had a very quiet game against the Jets. He was targeted twice and had zero catches. He dropped one pass on a third-down seam route and might have a shoulder injury worth monitoring.

OG Marshall Newhouse (fifth round): Newhouse was once again on the inactive list and remains an emergency insurance policy for the offensive line.

RB James Starks (sixth round): After missing all of training camp with a hamstring injury, Starks came off the physically-unable-to-perform last week. Daily team observers expect him to be very gradually worked into the mix after a prolonged layoff from football.

DE C.J. Wilson (seventh round): Wilson continues to be a very pleasant surprise on the Packers' depleted D-line, which has lost Mike Neal and Justin Harrell (both on injured reserve) and was without regular starting DLE Ryan Pickett (ankle). Operating mostly at right end in the team's 3-4 base defense against the Jets, he had three tackles and was a key cog in a run defense that did a very good job holding the Jets' second-ranked ground game in check.

Undrafted rookies:

OLB Frank Zombo — After being much less of a factor in recent games after a very promising start, Zombo certainly made his presence felt in a big way against the Jets with five tackles, one QB hurry and a huge forced fumble. Zombo forced one of the Packers' three turnovers with his hit of Brad Smith out of the "Wildcat" formation, and he did a very commendable job setting the edge in place of Brad Jones, who went on injured reserve last week.

CB Sam Shields —Shields did another decent job as the third corner against the Jets, but his role could be changing soon with Al Harris expected to be activated at any time. Shields had one tackle as a corner and another as a special-teamer against the Jets.
TE Tom Crabtree — Crabtree's impact was once again limited to mostly special teams against the Jets, but he could get back into the mix at tight end if Quarless' shoulder is acting up.

RB Dimitri Nance — Nance suffered a sprained ankle in a kickoff drill in the Friday practice before the Jets game and was put on the inactive list after getting several snaps in the previous game against the Vikings.

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