SEATTLE — There’s a good chance the Green Bay Packers will go through the entire preseason without their starting linebacking corps getting any work together.
Three of the four likely opening-day starters didn’t play in Saturday’s preseason game at Seattle.
Clay Matthews, Nick Barnett and A.J. Hawk missed the game.
Also, Brad Jones, who opened camp as a starting outside linebacker, was a late scratch.
That meant the group that took to Qwest Field to start Saturday’s game was, from left to right, Brady Poppinga, Desmond Bishop, Robert Francois and Brandon Chillar.
Of that group, only Chillar is expected to be a regular starter, but even that isn’t a given considering the former inside linebacker just made the move outside two weeks ago. Poppinga and Bishop are expected to be contributors as backups, but Francois is a long shot to make the team.
Jones was the newest addition to the injured list. The second-year pro sustained a shoulder injury late in Thursday night’s practice. Hawk turned an ankle in Thursday’s morning practice and missed the night practice. He made the trip to Seattle but also was scratched.
Barnett, who is coming off knee surgery this offseason, was held out for precautionary reasons, likely because Seattle’s Qwest Field has an artificial surface (FieldTurf) and because the Packers have a quick turnaround with another preseason game on Thursday at home against Indianapolis.
At least Barnett, Hawk and Jones got some game work in. They played in the preseason opener against the Cleveland Browns.
Matthews, the starting left outside linebacker, has been out since he pulled a hamstring in the Family Night scrimmage on Aug. 7. He has missed both preseason games. If he plays at all before the Sept. 12 regular-season opener at Philadelphia, it would be only in the Sept. 1 preseason finale at Kansas City.
In all, the Packers were down five linebackers because Alex Joseph (quadriceps) remains out.
The Packers had only four backup linebackers dressed on Saturday: Spencer Havner, Cyril Obiozor, Maurice Simpkins and Frank Zombo.
Defensive coordinator Dom Capers was missing five starters — six if you count cornerback Al Harris, who remains on the physically unable to perform list while rehabbing last year’s knee injury. Starting cornerback Charles Woodson was held out of for rest purposes. That was not a surprise, considering Woodson got only limited reps in practice on Thursday.
Others who missed Saturday’s game were: safety Atari Bigby (ankle), running back Kregg Lumpkin (hamstring), running back James Starks (hamstring) and receiver Donald Driver (rest).
The Seahawks scratched only four players: cornerback Josh Pinkard, linebacker Leroy Hill, guard Chester Pitts and tackle Ray Willis.
Ryan still going
The Packers have been looking for a punter since they cut Jon Ryan the week of the 2008 season opener.
They will be on their third punter in the search. Chris Bryan and Tim Masthay are battling for the right to succeed Jeremy Kapinos, who followed Derrick Frost — the guy the Packers went with over Ryan. Neither Frost nor Kapinos is on an NFL roster.
Meanwhile, Ryan is in his third season with the Seahawks, who think so highly of Ryan that they don’t even have another punter on their roster.
Ryan’s first two punts went for 65 and 42 yards and hang times of 4.69 and 5.13 seconds.
Former Packers personnel analyst John Schneider, the De Pere native who is in his first season as general manager of the Seattle Seahawks, was on the field before the game chatting with several members of the Packers’ staff, including General Manager Ted Thompson.
The Seahawks have five former Packers on their 80-man preseason roster: quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, receiver Kole Heckendorf, receiver Ruvell Martin, defensive tackle Colin Cole and Ryan.
Defensive end Justin Harrell was cleared to play after missing time last week because his troublesome back tightened up and because his wife had a baby.
Coach Mike McCarthy said Harrell would have been able to return to practice on Thursday if he hadn’t been excused for personal reasons.
Odds and ends
Thompson watched the game from the sideline as he often does during the preseason. … The Packers used Will Blackmon as their first punt returner, but Brandon Jackson took the first kickoff return. … Safety Derrick Martin was ejected in the second quarter for a personal foul penalty while blocking on a punt return. A replay showed he punched Seahawks cornerback Kennard Cox.