When the pads go on, practices change

Posted by Mike Spofford on July 28, 2016 – 8:19 am

160728-mccarthy-950GREEN BAY — The pads are going on for the first time in training camp on Thursday morning, and Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy said things are definitely going to change.

“You see it each and every year,” McCarthy said prior to Thursday’s practice, the third of camp but the first one in pads. “You see players that stand out and make plays, or vice versa, a player may struggle.”

McCarthy recalled how he felt about former NFL linebacker (and current assistant coach) Greg Manusky when the two were in Kansas City together. During OTAs, wearing only helmets and shorts, Manusky “didn’t look like much,” but that changed when the pads went on.

“He was one of the better players on the field,” McCarthy said of Manusky, who played 12 years in the league. “It’s different, everybody understands that. From an evaluation standpoint, everybody’s in tune with that.

“This is the closest you can get to a game situation. We can really break down the fundamentals and let our guys get to work. This is really the first step in getting a team ready to play a game.”

Among many players eager to put the pads on is defensive lineman Mike Daniels, who has already re-established himself as a vocal leader on the field and in the locker room. Daniels’ personality is all his own, but McCarthy appreciates that.

“Mike’s always had that natural leadership ability,” McCarthy said. “It grows for people. In Mike’s case, performance is a big part of it. It gives you a platform to grow and pull others with you. He’s always been an excellent teammate.

“How loud you are or how much you don’t talk … it’s what you do on the field that resonates the loudest. He’s about winning, that’s what I’ve always appreciated about Mike Daniels.”

Packers.com will have more following practice and locker room interviews.

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Packers’ first practice loaded with production, lacked discipline

Posted by Mike Spofford on July 27, 2016 – 8:23 am

160727-mccarthy-950GREEN BAY — Lots of big plays but too many penalties.

That was Head Coach Mike McCarthy’s view of the Packers’ first training camp practice when he reviewed it with reporters on Wednesday morning. The offense had an impressive day with 19 big plays, but there were too many flags on the field for the coach’s liking.

“A lot of production, but the penalties were way too high,” McCarthy said prior to Wednesday’s practice. “Thirteen pre-snap penalties, that’s outrageous. That tells you how training camp starts, getting back to discipline and basic mechanics. That’s why you have training camp.”

One of the receivers making those big plays was rookie Trevor Davis, the fifth-round draft pick from Cal, but his challenge now is to carry that over and refine other parts of his game.

“It’s the details, the fundamentals, the little things,” McCarthy said. “You want to see him build off of that. He has shown he can make big plays, but you want to see him do the details, the little things, to be a first-, second- and third-down player. He’s off to a good start.”

McCarthy also touched on the move of Datone Jones to the “elephant” or combination stand-up rusher/hand-down lineman, which could help reduce snaps for veteran Julius Peppers, both during training camp and potentially the season, if Jones continues to progress in his new role.

“I hope we’ll be in that position,” McCarthy said.

Packers.com will have more following practice and locker room interviews.

Other stories:

Spofford: Tough love? Kenny Clark can take it

Hodkiewicz: Davis paying attention to the details

Posted in Packers.com Blog

Deanna Favre will present Brett at Hall of Fame induction

Posted by Wes Hodkiewicz on July 26, 2016 – 11:14 am

160726-deanna-favre-950GREEN BAY – Brett and Deanna Favre are going into the Pro Football Hall of Fame together.

It was announced on Tuesday that Deanna will present her husband and former Packers quarterback during his induction ceremony on Aug. 6 in Canton, Ohio.

It’s only the second time a wife will present her husband. The only other instance came in 1998 when former Chicago Bears linebacker Mike Singletary was inducted by his wife, Kim.

“Deanna is the best teammate I’ve ever had,” said Favre in a statement. “She has been by my side throughout this journey and I’m so excited that she gets to play such an important role for me.”

Added Deanna: “Serving as Brett’s presenter is a great honor. I am thrilled to be able share this special moment in time with him.”

The Pro Football Hall of Fame also confirmed former Packers outside linebacker coach Kevin Greene will be presented by current Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers, who coached Greene in Pittsburgh and Carolina.

The other honorees and presenters are Edward J. Debartolo Jr. (Lisa DeBartolo, daughter), Tony Dungy (Donnie Shell, former teammate), Marvin Harrison (Jim Irsay, Indianapolis Colts owner), Orlando Pace (Justin Pace, son), Ken Stabler (John Madden, Hall of Fame coach) and Dick Stanfel (Marv Levy, Hall of Fame coach).


Posted in Packers.com Blog

No long-term concerns with six players on PUP list to start camp

Posted by Mike Spofford on July 26, 2016 – 8:37 am

160726-montgomery-950GREEN BAY — The Packers placed six players on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list as training camp opened on Tuesday morning, including WR Jordy Nelson and TE Jared Cook, but Head Coach Mike McCarthy is not overly concerned with any of their injury situations.

The other players not practicing at the start of camp are WR Ty Montgomery, G T.J. Lang, C Corey Linsley and LB Sam Barrington.

McCarthy said that based on his conversations with team physician Dr. Pat McKenzie, none of the injury issues involving the six players is a long-term concern. He did not give a timeline on any players.

“I’m not concerned,” McCarthy said prior to Tuesday morning’s practice. “I think all six of those guys will come back at some point in training camp.”

Cook is the newest Packers player among the six, and he missed the tail end of the offseason program due to his foot injury, but McCarthy doesn’t believe it will take him long to get back up to speed once he returns to the field.

“He looks good. Everything’s positive,” McCarthy said, regarding an offseason procedure on Cook’s foot. “He’s a pro.”

As for RB Eddie Lacy, “Eddie’s ready,” McCarthy said. “Frankly, I’m done talking about people’s weight … we all have things to work on, and Eddie’s ready to go.”

The Packers are beginning camp a few days earlier than usual because they are playing in the Hall of Fame Game on Aug. 7, a fifth preseason game. McCarthy said that he’ll handle the veteran players appropriately with the longer camp and preseason, but the extended time is good for the young players.

“It helps the evaluation process. I like the extra practice time,” he said. “We’re a young football team, so we can’t have enough time. It’s something we’ll benefit from.”

Other stories:

Spofford: Hot topics get addressed on Packers’ first day of camp

Hodkiewicz: Leaner Rodgers already seeing results

Posted in Packers.com Blog

McCarthy has no concerns about PED investigation

Posted by Mike Spofford on July 25, 2016 – 11:06 am

160725-peppers-mattews-950GREEN BAY — Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy is not concerned about the PED investigation that will include questioning of Green Bay’s Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers on Tuesday, the first day of training camp.

Matthews and Peppers were mentioned in an Al Jazeera report, later retracted, involving PED use late last season. The NFL recently announced the players named in the report would be interviewed at the start of training camps.

“I have not talked to them recently,” McCarthy said in his season-opening press conference on Monday. “I talked to them during the season when it first came out, and frankly I don’t have anything else to really report on it. I have no reason really to be concerned, based on our conversations.”

Players were going through physicals and testing on Monday morning in preparation for Tuesday morning’s first practice. McCarthy said he would not have any medical updates until Monday afternoon, so any injury information will not be public until Tuesday.

“I hope this year there are no surprises,” McCarthy said.

Other stories:

Spofford: Young core a key to Packers’ success in 2016

Hodkiewicz: McCarthy on Rodgers: ‘The is the best shape I’ve seen him in’

Posted in Packers.com Blog

Sneak Peek: Brett Favre at Gruden’s ‘QB Camp’

Posted by Ryan Hartwig on July 20, 2016 – 1:38 pm

160720-gruden-950Legendary Packers QB Brett Favre will appear on a special episode of Jon Gruden’s “QB Camp” on Thursday at 6 p.m. CT on ESPN.

ESPN released a clip from the show in which Favre, Gruden and former Packers WR Antonio Freeman run plays from their time in Green Bay.

VIDEO PREVIEW: Hall of Famer Brett Favre goes to Gruden’s QB Camp

The show will be replayed several times from Aug. 4-8, coinciding with Favre’s induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, at that time.

Gruden’s “QB Camp”  has become a staple of ESPN’s pre-draft coverage, with all the top QB prospects visiting Gruden for an extensive breakdown of their games. Favre visited Gruden’s office in late June to tape the segment. Favre and Gruden go back to the beginning of Favre’s career in Green Bay, as Favre’s first year with the Packers in 1992 was Gruden’s first as an offensive assistant coach under Mike Holmgren. Gruden also coached the Packers’ wide receivers in 1993-94.

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Three Packers make NFL Fantasy Live’s Top 50

Posted by Wes Hodkiewicz on July 15, 2016 – 12:38 pm

Jordy Nelson and Aaron RodgersGREEN BAY – Three members of the Packers’ offense cracked NFL Fantasy Live’s Top 50 Players of 2016.

Receiver Jordy Nelson (No. 18), running back Eddie Lacy (No. 24) and quarterback Aaron Rodgers (No. 31) represented the Packers in the countdown, which NFL Network revealed this past week.

Nelson missed all of last season with a knee injury, but was coming off a Pro Bowl season in 2014 in which he set career highs in both receptions (98) and receiving yards (1,519) with 13 touchdowns.

Rodgers completed 347-of-572 passes for 3,821 yards, 31 touchdowns and eight interceptions last season. He also added 344 rushing yards (fifth most among quarterbacks) and a touchdown.

Lacy has gained nearly 4,000 yards from scrimmage in his first three NFL seasons with 29 touchdowns. He ranks third among running backs in rushing yards (3,075) and fourth in rushing touchdowns (23) since 2013.

Posted in Packers.com Blog

Kevin Greene sees himself in Clay Matthews

Posted by Wes Hodkiewicz on July 14, 2016 – 3:50 pm

Kevin GreeneGREEN BAY – A laundry list of accomplishments paved the way for Kevin Greene’s upcoming induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame next month.

A 15-year NFL veteran, Greene punched his ticket to Canton through production and durability. He was selected to the Pro Bowl five times and named first-team all-pro on three occasions. His 160 career sacks rank third on the all-time list.

While it was his play on the field that fashioned Greene’s Hall of Fame bust, he also takes a great deal of pride in working with Packers linebacker Clay Matthews.

Ten years after his final NFL snap, Greene was brought to Green Bay in 2009 as an outside linebackers coach on the incoming staff of new defensive coordinator Dom Capers.

When asked during his Hall of Fame conference call on Thursday which current NFL player reminds him most of himself, Greene pointed to his protégé.

“I would say when I look at Clay, obviously I see a lot of the things that I taught him or at least before he made that transition to be an inside linebacker,” said Greene, who coached for five seasons before stepping down following the 2013 season to spend more time with his family.

After taking B.J. Raji with the ninth overall pick in 2009, the Packers traded back into the first round to take Matthews with the 26th overall pick.

While he had an obvious NFL pedigree, there were a lot of unknowns about Matthews at first. A former walk-on, Matthews was new to playing outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme after playing elephant end for the Trojans.

It turned out to be the perfect marriage. With Greene’s guidance, Matthews recorded 111 tackles and 23½ sacks in their first two seasons together. He’s since developed into a six-time Pro Bowl linebacker.

“I think I really instilled in him really how to play this position,” Greene said. “He had some stuff to him but he just listened, he applied, he implemented it and things when I showed him. He ended up doing it the right way and it shows in his play.”

Soon after Greene was selected for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, he reached out to Capers and asked his mentor to present him during the Aug. 6 ceremony.

Greene said it was his initial conversation with Pittsburgh coach Bill Cowher and Capers, the Steelers’ defensive coordinator at the time, that led to him signing there as a free agent in 1993.

Greene spent four seasons with Capers between Pittsburgh (1993-94) and Carolina (1996, 98), tallying 56 sacks and five forced fumbles. That production in the second half of his career helped establish his Hall of Fame resume.

“I think a presenter really should be somebody who had a remarkable impact on your life, really affected your life the most,” Greene said.

“Dom he brought me to Pittsburgh and put me in a position to have an impact in games. When he was a head coach at Carolina Panthers, he brought me to the new Panthers and put me in a position to impact games.

“Dom has had a tremendous impact on my football career and my family, helping provide for my family very well over the years.”

A long wait to get the call to the Hall of Fame gave Greene time for reflection. While he says he wasn’t the most athletic or gifted, Greene made his mark on the game with his work ethic and a relentless motor.

In Green Bay, he enjoyed handing down the pass-rushing lessons he learned to Matthews and the rest of the Packers’ outside linebackers.

“I really figured out how to pass rush,” Greene said. “I figured out how to put an offensive tackle that was three or four inches taller than me, outweighed me 80-100 pounds, and I figured out how to put him in a position of failure and I did that.

“Can’t really share with you what that is how I figured it out, but obviously I shared it with Clay up in Green Bay and so forth. And it works. That’s how I was able to be productive until the end of my career.”

Posted in Packers.com Blog

Record number of Hall of Famers returning to Canton

Posted by Mike Spofford on July 14, 2016 – 11:43 am

A record 130 Pro Football Hall of Famers will be returning to Canton, Ohio, for this year’s induction festivities from Aug. 4-7, when former Packers QB Brett Favre will join them in donning a gold jacket.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame posted the entire list of returning Hall members here. Several former Packers inductees are planning to be in attendance, including Willie Davis (inducted in 1981), Forrest Gregg (1977), Paul Hornung (1986), James Lofton (2003), Dave Robinson (2013), Jim Taylor (1976) and Ron Wolf (pictured, 2015).

Favre is the 24th individual from the Green Bay Packers to be selected for induction into the Hall of Fame, a total second only to the Chicago Bears (27).

Two other players who briefly played in Green Bay, Ted Hendricks and Jan Stenerud, are also scheduled to attend.

Following Favre’s induction on Aug. 6, the Packers will play the Colts in the Hall of Fame Game in Aug. 7 to open the preseason.

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Rodgers-to-Rodgers Hail Mary wins ESPY’s ‘Best Play’

Posted by Wes Hodkiewicz on July 13, 2016 – 9:30 pm

160713-Rodgers-950GREEN BAY – The awards keep piling up for Aaron Rodgers’ breathtaking Hail Mary pass to Richard Rodgers that sealed the Packers’ 27-23 comeback win over the Lions last December.

The 61-yard game-winning touchdown took home Best Play honors at Wednesday night’s ESPY awards. The play, which came on an untimed down due to penalty, previously won the Play of the Year award at February’s NFL Honors ceremony.

Other finalists for Best Play were LeBron James’ Game 7 block in the NBA Finals and Villanova junior Kris Jenkins’ buzzer-beating shot against North Carolina in the NCAA Division 1 men’s basketball championship game.

Both Rodgers were on-hand to accept the award and thank fans for voting.

“I’d like to thank God because if it weren’t for God, there wouldn’t be any Hail Marys,” quipped Richard Rodgers during his acceptance speech.

“Other than that, this wouldn’t be possible without this guy right here (Aaron Rodgers) and all of our teammates doing their jobs.”

After the game, Richard Rodgers told reporters he wasn’t even supposed to catch the ball. His responsibility actually was supposed to box out for receiver Davante Adams, but he ended up pulling down the biggest catch of his career instead.

It ended a career day for Rodgers, who caught eight passes for 145 yards. It was the most receiving yards by a Green Bay tight end since Jermichael Finley caught six passes for 159 yards in the wild-card playoffs against Arizona on Jan. 10, 2011.

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