One more week of opportunities for young players

Posted by Mike Spofford on August 28, 2016 – 2:21 pm

160828-blog-photo-950GREEN BAY — With the starters basically done with their preseason work, the focus of the final week of training camp shifts to the young players fighting to make the roster.

They have two more open practices and one more game, at Kansas City on Thursday night, to make a final impression and state their case for a roster spot, or for a spot on the practice squad should they get cut and clear waivers.

“It’s important to get particularly the younger part of our football team ready for Kansas City,” McCarthy said. “It’s a quick week, fast turnaround. We want to give these guys a chance to maximize their opportunity here.”

McCarthy emphasized it’s not just about the snaps on offense and defense, but also those on special teams, that can make or break the final decisions. There are some roster decisions currently being made, as the Packers have to reduce to 75 players by Tuesday afternoon. The final roster reduction, from 75 to 53, must be made by Saturday afternoon.

“It’s been exciting watching these young guys play,” McCarthy said. “We have a lot of young guys making impactful plays in games. That’s why Kansas City is important. We need to continue to let these guys do that.”

Does McCarthy expect a lot of the players the Packers release to get claimed by other teams?

“There’s no exact science to it. How it shakes out, I can’t predict it,” he said. “In conversations with Ted (Thompson), sometimes one or two guys get claimed you don’t think are going to get claimed.”

On a veteran note, starting safety Morgan Burnett hasn’t played at all in the preseason due to a back injury, but McCarthy said he doesn’t have any long-term concern.

Other stories:

Hodkiewicz: Nelson expects to be back to ‘normal’

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Pregame warmup: Big night for youth in defensive front seven

Posted by Mike Spofford on August 26, 2016 – 8:08 pm

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — It could be a big night for the young players in the Packers’ defensive front seven as they continue to battle for roster spots.

Two defensive linemen in Kenny Clark and Letroy Guion and two inside linebackers in Joe Thomas and Jake Ryan are not playing on Friday night at Levi’s Stadium against the 49ers, which could mean more reps for the players at those spots fighting to make the roster.

On the defensive line, practice-squad holdover Christian Ringo and undrafted rookie Brian Price could get their share of work after Mike Daniels exits the game, while at inside linebacker, Carl Bradford and Beniquez Brown could get extra work once Sam Barrington and Blake Martinez are done.

Rookie Dean Lowry could also see a larger number of snaps on the defensive line as the Packers work on getting him ready for Week 1, though as a fourth-round draft pick his roster spot isn’t really in question. Derrick Mathews, who has had a quiet training camp so far, is another inside linebacker to keep an eye on to see if he makes a move.

Weather update: It’s a beautiful evening in northern California. At kickoff, temperatures are expected to be in the low 70s, dropping into the 60s during the game. There is no chance of rain and winds are expected to be minimal, 10 mph or less.

ICYMI: In case you missed anything, here’s a recap of the headlines from earlier in the week.

Fresh and focused, Letroy Guion eyes big year

John Crockett looking to become complete back

Jared Cook feeling at home in Packers’ offense

Aaron Rodgers fine with minimal preseason action

New title, same focus for JC Tretter

Jordy Nelson still on track for Week 1


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Aaron Rodgers appears set to start, Jordy Nelson inactive

Posted by Duke Bobber on August 26, 2016 – 7:33 pm

Aaron RodgersThe following players will not play in Friday night’s preseason game between the Green Bay Packers and the San Francisco 49ers:

Green Bay Packers Green Bay Packers
7 QB Brett Hundley
22 FB Aaron Ripkowski
42 S Morgan Burnett
47 LB Jake Ryan
48 LB Joe Thomas
57 C Jacob Flores
63 C Corey Linsley
79 G Josh Walker
83 WR Jeff Janis
85 TE Mitchell Henry
87 WR Jordy Nelson
97 DT Kenny Clark
98 DT Letroy Guion

San Francisco 49ers
1 WR Bryce Treggs
15 WR DeAndre Smelter
50 LB Nick Bellore
90 DL Glenn Dorsey
91 DL Arik Armstead

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Packers name captains for San Francisco game

Posted by Duke Bobber on August 26, 2016 – 5:00 pm


As per team tradition, the Packers select game captains each week. Tonight’s captains will be G T.J. Lang (offense), DB Micah Hyde (defense) and S Chris Banjo (special teams).

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Nick Collins to be inducted into Bethune-Cookman Hall of Fame

Posted by Mike Spofford on August 26, 2016 – 10:35 am

160826-nick-collins-950Former Packers safety Nick Collins has been chosen as one of the inductees into the Bethune-Cookman University Hall of Fame for 2016. The induction ceremony will take place on Sept. 16.

A second-round draft pick by the Packers in 2005 out of Bethune-Cookman, Collins went on to earn three Pro Bowl selections, and he’s best remembered for returning an interception for a touchdown in Super Bowl XLV. Collins, whose career ended two games into the 2011 season due to a serious neck injury, was inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame this past summer.

At Bethune-Cookman, Collins was a three-year starter at free safety and a team captain who earned All-Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference honors and Division I-AA (now FCS) All-America recognition. His father, Willie Collins, played quarterback at Bethune-Cookman. He is pictured here with Alvin Wyatt, Bethune-Cookman’s head coach during Collins’ playing career.


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Three Packers make ESPN’s Top 100

Posted by Wes Hodkiewicz on August 25, 2016 – 12:16 pm

160825-espn-top-100-950GREEN BAY — The Packers had three players crack ESPN’s top 100 list of NFL players heading into the 2016 season.

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers was voted second for the second consecutive year, while linebacker Clay Matthews came in at No. 48 and receiver Jordy Nelson ranked 76th.

The rankings, which is based on how good players are, were determined by a survey of more than 50 voters, whose experience levels ranged from former players and NFL executives to analysts, reporters and statisticians.

Rodgers finished second to Houston defensive end J.J. Watt for the second consecutive year in the rankings after completing 347 of a career-high 572 passes for 3,821 yards with 31 TDs and eight INTs.

Earlier this year, he and tight end Richard Rodgers won the ESPY for play of the year after their 61-yard game-winning Hail Mary to beat the Lions 27-23 on Dec. 3.

Matthews, who ranked 40th in 2015, recorded a career-high 84 tackles with 6½ sacks while playing a majority of his snaps inside in 2015. He added another 11 tackles and 1½ sacks in two playoff games.

Nelson was 26th in ESPN’s rankings in 2015 before tearing his anterior cruciate ligament in the Packers’ second preseason game in Pittsburgh last August.

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All the preseason games count the same

Posted by Mike Spofford on August 24, 2016 – 2:27 pm

160824-crockett-950GREEN BAY — With the Packers’ third preseason game coming up on Friday, and the first roster reduction (to 75 players) looming by next Tuesday, GM Ted Thompson was asked if the later preseason games carry more weight than the ones earlier on the schedule in the final roster decisions.

“I don’t know if it’s more than others, more than the first two,” Thompson said on Wednesday. “When you get an opportunity to play with a 90-man roster, you want to try to step up and be seen.

“No more or no less than all the rest. It’s a culmination of all these things.”

As for how much a player’s current ability compared to another’s versus the future potential of the two players factors into a roster decision, Thompson reiterated it’s a cumulative assessment.

“You certainly weigh potential,” he said. “We understand these guys are not finished products, but we’re also able to see all the growth and development in these players, whether it’s three months since the draft or three years since an earlier draft.”

Is there a way to know how much time might be needed for a player’s potential to start to surface? Drafted in the fourth round in 2014, LB Carl Bradford is making his strongest bid yet for a roster spot, but the reality of the league is not everyone can be given that much time.

“I don’t think there’s a template that says you give them x amount of time and you’ll see what you need to see and that’s it,” he said. “It’s not a one size fits all kind of thing.”

Thompson also declined comment on the reports that Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers were scheduled to meet with NFL investigators over PED allegations in the media on Wednesday.

Other stories:

Spofford: Crockett looking to become complete back

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Lots of deep balls in practice

Posted by Mike Spofford on August 23, 2016 – 10:33 am

160823-rodgers-950GREEN BAY — It was noticeable in Monday’s practice at Ray Nitschke Field — the Packers’ offense, and it didn’t matter which quarterback was throwing the ball, was taking deep shots down the field.

It’s simply another phase of the passing game that needs work this time of year, according to Head Coach Mike McCarthy, who breaks things up in different ways. As far as the style of pass play, there’s dropback and play-action. In terms of distance, there’s the quick game, the intermediate game and the downfield game.

“You have to have all cylinders working for you,” McCarthy said prior to Tuesday’s practice. “You want to be able to produce in all areas, because that’s how you want to attack the defense.

“In practice, you see the shot plays, but how we play will be determined by how we line up each week and how we think our opponent is going to play us.”

McCarthy said QB Aaron Rodgers would get his first preseason action on Friday night in San Francisco, but how much he’ll play has not yet been determined.

“The goal is to play Aaron and to play our guys,” he said. “We’ll evaluate practice today and have our meeting tomorrow.”

Other stories:

Spofford: Rodgers fine with minimal preseason action

Hodkiewicz: Cook feeling at home in Packers’ offense


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Key comments from Packers’ assistant coaches

Posted by Mike Spofford on August 22, 2016 – 6:38 pm

160822-sirmans-950GREEN BAY — The Packers’ three coordinators, along with all the offensive position coaches, spoke with the media in the Lambeau Field auditorium late Monday afternoon. Here are some highlights from their comments:

Special teams coordinator Ron Zook
(on why Masthay took all the punting reps on Monday)

“We’re going to give them each a day, let them settle into what they’re doing. Then they don’t have to punt two days in a row.”

(on the punting competition overall)

“I just go day-by-day. Tomorrow will be very similar to today. We need that work anyway with the punt (team). I haven’t paid much attention to who’s ahead, but I’m not going to be the guy to make the decision.”

Defensive coordinator Dom Capers
(on the defense overall against Oakland)

“We’ve played a lot of guys. Whether to start the game or finish the game, I think our play style was an improvement over the first game.”

(on Guion being better at nose vs. end)

“I think that’s a fair statement. He’s played in there more. We like him inside at nose tackle. When we play our nickel defense, we like him in there over one of the guards or over the center.”

(on Randall’s confidence, talkativeness)

“When you have to cover one-on-one against the type of athletes they go against, confidence is a great quality, because you aren’t going to win every one of them, and if it doesn’t go your way, you have to bounce back and make your plays the next time.”

Offensive coordinator Edgar Bennett
(on seeing Jordy Nelson back on the practice field)

“It’s early in the process. We’ll take it day by day and make sure he’s getting necessary work in the offense so we’re all in sync. He’s going to do everything possible to be ready to go Week 1.”

(on choosing Tretter to start at center)

“He’s been consistent. That’s probably what stands out more than anything else. He’s done an outstanding job communicating, and he’s been extremely consistent.”

Associate head coach/offense Tom Clements
(on Rodgers playing in Friday’s preseason game and what he gets out of it)

“Aaron has been very sharp in practice. We haven’t discussed what the exact play time will be, but I expect he’ll play, and he’ll be sharp. You have to be moving around quicker than you do in practice. It tests your stamina a little more, and get re-acclimated to the speed of the game. But at this point, it’s like riding a bike. You’ve been there, done it, but you just have to practice it and get ready.”

(on rebuilding the chemistry between Rodgers and Nelson)

“They’ve always had good chemistry, but Jordy hasn’t been practicing, so it’ll take a little bit of time, but it shouldn’t be insurmountable.”

(on Brett Hundley’s development)

“He works hard in practice, but he seems to turn it on in the games. You’d like to see him get as many reps as he can get.”

Offensive line coach James Campen
(on Spriggs’ outing vs. Khalil Mack)

“Very valuable for him. You have to stay with your own fundamentals, and not try to press and do things that aren’t in your fundamental wheelhouse. It was very good for him. It was a good experience, and he’ll move on from there.”

(on Tretter’s perseverance)

“He’s handled himself as a true pro. There’s no one really in that room that doesn’t extend help to the person who isn’t playing. That’s a credit to the whole room. I think JC exemplifies the meaning of a true professional.”

(on Murphy’s debut)

“I was very pleased, first and foremost. The kid had one day of practice, really. He did very well. He played against a good player in Bruce Irvin, did a nice job against him. Had Mack a couple of times. You could see as his reps got up, his pad level came up. He’s got to get in football shape. There’s no question about that.”

Quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt
(on Hundley vs. Oakland)

“That was a very talented defense, and he took the first unit down the field for a 14-play touchdown drive. That’s what you want to see. He had great command in the huddle. It’s unfortunate he got rolled up on there.”

(on the injury hindering his development)

“It’s not ideal, but it’s nothing he can avoid. When he gets back out there, I expect him just like last time to not miss a beat.”

Receivers coach Luke Getsy
(on Nelson’s return)

“I think we’re on the right path. We’re excited he’s going to get to do more each and every day. He’s in great shape. As long as we keep progressing, we’re very happy with where we’re at right now.”

(on Montgomery since his return)

“We want to take another step every single day and he’s been doing that. I think he’s excited about how much better he feels now than when he first got back on the field two weeks ago.”

Tight ends coach Brian Angelichio
(on Cook working seamlessly into the offense)

“The big thing with Jared is just operationally, understanding the scheme and what we’re trying to get done, but there’s a lot of little nuances and details that you may not see. It’s a process and he’s continuing to grow.”

(on the competition with the younger TEs)

“These next two weeks are big. Our players know that. They’re big to see how they’re going to fit. At the end of the day, it’s about helping the Green Bay Packers win, and keeping the best 53 to do that.”

Running backs coach Ben Sirmans
(on Lacy)

“He had nine carries on that 14-play drive, and he was surprised he didn’t feel like he had to come out. That bodes well for his fitness level and what we want him to do.”

(on Ripkowski)

“He’s been more solid on his collision blocks, I say, when that target is right in front of him. We’re still working on the different blocks where he has to navigate his way through there to get to his target.”

Other stories:

Hodkiewicz: McCarthy: Tretter in position to earn starting job at center

Hodkiewicz: New title, same focus for JC Tretter

Spofford: Nelson still on track for Week 1

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McCarthy: Tretter in position to earn starting job at center

Posted by Wes Hodkiewicz on August 22, 2016 – 11:13 am

160822-tretter-950GREEN BAY — JC Tretter has earned a lot of praise working at center with the starting offensive line this summer.

Now, the fourth-year veteran is in position to possibly stay there.

With Corey Linsley (hamstring) still on the physically unable to perform list, Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy said during his Monday morning news conference that Tretter has played well enough in his absence to “earn” the starting spot.

Tretter stepped in at center at the start of organized team activities in May and has stayed there ever since, starting each of the Packers’ two preseason games.

“I think it’s important to recognize what’s going on each and every day, and JC Tretter has had an excellent camp,” McCarthy said. “JC, in my view, has earned the starting position at center. Availability is a big part of what you look for in your players. It’s unfortunate what Corey’s going through and continue to battle to get back out there.

“There’s been a lot of time that’s gone by since he’s been out there. I think JC has done an excellent job.”

Tretter was slated to be the starting center in 2014 before injuring his knee during training camp. He returned midseason, but Linsley already had cemented himself at the position.

Tretter started three games at center during the 2015 regular season when Linsley missed time with an ankle injury and then stepped in for a spot start at left tackle against Washington in the NFC Wild Card Game.

McCarthy also added that receiver Jordy Nelson is still on track to participate in individual drills during Monday’s practice, which begins at 12:15 p.m. CT at Ray Nitschke Field.

Other stories:

Spofford: Key comments from Packers’ assistant coaches

Hodkiewicz: New title, same focus for JC Tretter

Spofford: Nelson still on track for Week 1

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