Graham Harrell locked up the backup QB job with a stellar outing on Thursday against Kansas City (13 of 15, 223 yards, 2 TDs, 158.3 rating), and GM Ted Thompson said on Saturday what stood out about his performance was the plays he made with his feet.
“You could see his ability to ad-lib a little bit, which is a huge thing playing quarterback in the NFL,” Thompson said. “Obviously some guys made some plays for him down the field, and I thought we protected pretty decent. It was a good showing.
“He never lost his confidence during this whole time. I know he’s been sort of the focal point, but Graham has a sometimes quiet, sometimes not-so-quiet confidence in himself to play the position, and our coaches have been behind him the whole way.”
One of the close calls in the roster cutdown that Thompson mentioned was the sixth and final spot on the defensive line. It went to Phillip Merling, a 6-5, 315-pound end who was a former second-round draft pick of the Dolphins, over Daniel Muir, a 6-2, 322-pound nose tackle who had made the Packers’ roster as an undrafted rookie back in 2007 before playing four seasons in Indianapolis.
“In the case of Daniel Muir, very difficult. Very passionate young man,” Thompson said. “But the NFL is like a wheel, it goes round and round, you never know when someone might be back.
“In the case of Phillip, we thought he played very well. We thought especially he gave us a little inside push in that last game, (plus the) body type, a little bit longer and taller.”
That decision was one of many difficult ones, Thompson said. Without naming the player, he told the story of one player who was released on Friday who told Thompson what a thrill it was to simply play a preseason game in front of the Lambeau Field crowd.
“I patted him on the back and said, ‘How did it go last night?’, talking about the game, and he said it was the greatest time, it was the most fun he’s ever had in his entire life to be able to play at Lambeau Field. I think sometimes we’re so conscious about trying to win and compete on such a major level as the NFL, we forget it’s guys playing the game, and I thought that was pretty cool.”
There’s been nothing fun about these last couple of days for Thompson, though, who has often said that roster cutdown days are the worst days of his job.
“We had a fairly strong 90-man roster I felt,” he said. “These guys competed and played hard, and eventually you have to cut down. It’s just awful, the experience of going through that.
“You say a little prayer and hope you have the wisdom to make the right decision. Tough times.”
For the main story from Thompson’s Saturday press conference, click here.
Tags: graham harrell, roster, ted thompson
Posted in Packers.com Blog, Training Camp | 9 Comments »
With the Packers’ announcement of roster moves on Friday night, three of the survivors were undrafted rookies: offensive lineman Don Barclay, wide receiver Jarrett Boykin and safety Sean Richardson. Including outside linebacker Dezman Moses, who had a line on a roster spot almost from the start of training camp, that makes four undrafted rookies who made it.
In a related surprise, cornerback Brandian Ross, an undrafted rookie a year ago who spent time on the Packers’ practice squad, also made the 53-man roster.
Keep in mind, however, that the roster moves may not be complete. Teams have until Saturday to put in waiver claims on released players, and a player awarded to a team off waivers must be placed on that team’s 53-man roster, so some roster shuffling could ensue on Saturday.
Barclay came on strong in the second half of training camp with the No. 2 offensive line and was no doubt helped by his ability to play both guard and tackle. Boykin beat out practice-squad holdovers Tori Gurley and Diondre Borel for a sixth WR spot, and Richardson joins his former college teammate at Vanderbilt — second-round draft pick Casey Hayward — on the roster.
The inclusion of Ross on the roster gives the Packers seven cornerbacks, counting hybrid CB/S Charles Woodson.
The Packers’ roster currently sits at 55 players, but LB Erik Walden is suspended for Week 1, and DE Mike Neal is suspended for the first four weeks. While suspended, they do not count against the 53-man limit.
For a look at the updated roster, click here.
Packers.com will have further analysis of the roster after GM Ted Thompson addresses the media at 2 p.m. Saturday. The press conference will be streamed live, with a story to follow.
Tags: roster, undrafted rookie
Posted in Packers.com Blog, Training Camp | 41 Comments »
The NFL and the NFL Players’ Association have agreed to a new injured reserve exemption that had just been rejected by the players’ union last week. The two sides also agreed to move back the annual trading deadline two weeks.
The new IR rule will allow one player placed on IR to be eligible to return to the active roster during the season, following a minimum of eight weeks. The player must be designated as a possible returnee when he is placed on IR, and each team gets only one such exemption.
Because teams have already trimmed their rosters to 75, teams could still designate a player already placed on IR as their one exemption, but they’ll have to follow a special procedure to do it. That player will have to be removed from IR and placed on the 53-man active roster at the cutdown deadline, by 8 p.m. CT Friday night. Then, after 3 p.m. CT on Tuesday, Sept. 4, that player can be placed back on IR with the exemption, and another player can be signed to take his place on the 53-man roster.
There had been speculation that Packers LB Desmond Bishop could be a candidate for the new IR rule. He was placed on IR earlier this week as the Green Bay roster was reduced to 75, and GM Ted Thompson indicated that Bishop’s situation wasn’t affected by the potential rule change. Now that the rule has been approved, if the Packers do indeed want to give Bishop a chance to return this season, he’ll have to be one of the 53 players on the active roster at the cutdown deadline Friday night.
As for the trading deadline, it has been moved back to the Tuesday following the Week 8 games. It had previously been the Tuesday following the Week 6 games.
Tags: desmond bishop, ir rule, trade deadline
Posted in Packers.com Blog, Training Camp | 6 Comments »
The annual Sports Illustrated NFL Preview issue has picked the Packers to defeat the Broncos in Super Bowl XLVII.
SI senior writer Peter King made the prediction for the magazine. King correctly predicted two years ago that the Packers and Steelers would meet in the Super Bowl, but he had the Steelers winning.
King has the Packers taking a similar path to the title this year. He has Green Bay finishing 11-5 and earning an NFC wild-card playoff berth and No. 5 seed, with the Bears winning the NFC North title on a tiebreaker. Then he has the Packers defeating the Cowboys and Bears on the road in the first two rounds of the playoffs before hosting the No. 6 seed Saints in the NFC title game, with Green Bay prevailing.
The predictions also include Packers QB Aaron Rodgers winning Offensive Player of the Year, and Broncos QB Peyton Manning winning league MVP.
SI’s NFL Preview issue hits newsstands this week.
Tags: prediction, sports illustrated, super bowl
Posted in Packers.com Blog, Training Camp | 26 Comments »
The Packers’ preseason finale against the Kansas City Chiefs at Lambeau Field on Thursday will be televised live on NFL Network, beginning at 6 p.m. CT.
The broadcast crew will be the Packers’ preseason broadcast team of Kevin Harlan and Rich Gannon.
The game will also be re-broadcast late Friday night/early Saturday morning, at 2 a.m. CT.
Tags: nfl network, preseason
Posted in Packers.com Blog, Training Camp | 3 Comments »
One day after having his weekly briefing with reporters in front of his locker cut short by a shaving-cream-pie-in-the-face from FB John Kuhn, QB Aaron Rodgers issued a warning that he’ll get his revenge at some point.
“I respect the prank, but you have to understand when they do it to me, it’s going to come back twice as hard,” Rodgers said.
Rodgers, of course, is as much a prankster as anyone in the locker room, but for the most part his antics don’t become media and public fodder because he specifically chooses spots that help keep things in-house. His teammates, of course, specifically chose to get him when all the cameras were on him around his locker.
“I can appreciate a practical joke,” Rodgers said. “In order to be someone who enjoys doing those things, you have to know at some point it’s going to come back to you. I didn’t expect my old partner (at card games, as well as his training-camp roommate), Brett Goode, to be a part of that. He was kind of distracting me in the back, and took my attention over there, while John snuck around … and got me in the face.”
On the field, Rodgers finished up another day involving scout team snaps. He and the starters will play probably one series on Thursday night before giving way to the rest of the players pushing for roster spots. Mentally, Rodgers sounds as though he has already moved on to the season opener against San Francisco on Sept. 9.
“It will be exciting Thursday night to watch those guys fighting for jobs with an opportunity,” he said. “The older guys are ready for this thing to start up. We’ve got a tough matchup coming up.”
Other notes from the last practice of training camp on Tuesday:
–Returning to practice from injury were TE Ryan Taylor and DE Ryan Pickett. New to the injury list and sitting out was LB Jamari Lattimore.
–With Lattimore and Robert Francois out, the defense was a little thin at inside LB, prompting outside LB Brad Jones to work there. Jones had worked at inside LB throughout the spring during OTAs and the minicamp but had gone back to his more familiar outside position at the start of training camp.
Tags: aaron rodgers, prank
Posted in Packers.com Blog, Training Camp | 4 Comments »
On Sunday, Head Coach Mike McCarthy said the team would announce those roster moves on Monday. With practice slated for 11:15 a.m. and likely to go at least two hours, it’s a good bet the roster moves will be made prior to practice.
The roster must then be reduced from 75 to 53 players by 8 p.m. CT on Friday. The Packers play their final preseason game on Thursday night against Kansas City.
Normally, the final roster cuts aren’t due until the Saturday following the conclusion of the last preseason games, but the deadline was moved up a day this year because the NFL Kickoff Opener is being played next Wednesday, Sept. 5, rather than on the traditional Thursday.
Tags: preseason, roster cuts
Posted in Packers.com Blog, Training Camp | 28 Comments »
Both players have flashed in practice, but there has yet to be much to shout about during the preseason games. They’re hoping to change that Thursday in Cincinnati, obviously, and veteran D-lineman B.J. Raji believes it should only be a matter of time, because both youngsters entered the NFL with the right approach.
“The thing I like about them, I see a lot of myself in them,” Raji said. “Jerel was a high pick, but he was willing to learn. He didn’t come in with the idea that he knew everything. He came in asking questions. Mike’s the same way.
“Anytime a guy comes in asking questions, you really don’t hesitate to help them, because they see the need, that they need to improve. They need to do certain things to be successful. Both of those guys are competitive, they want to win, and they want to do everything they can to help this defense.”
Raji added that there will be some tough decisions at cutdown time for the roster within his position group.
“This is probably the youngest and deepest D-line I’ve been a part of since I’ve been here,” he said. “This is the game where you want to come out and show you can play within this defense.”
Tags: b.j. raji, defense, jerel worthy, mike daniels
Posted in Packers.com Blog, Training Camp | 18 Comments »
In his weekly training camp briefing with reporters on Tuesday, Packers GM Ted Thompson was asked what he’d like to see from Graham Harrell in the third preseason game, and Thompson acknowledged that a backup QB doesn’t have it easy in the preseason.
“Just continued improvement,” Thompson said. “There’s been a lot of criticism. I think Mike mentioned he graded out much better than you might expect. It’s not always easy during the second half of a preseason game and the chaos is coming at you pretty good.
“He’s a very hard worker. He really likes playing the game of football. He knows the nuances of playing that position. We have faith in a lot of our guys.”
Thompson and the Packers must make the first mandated roster reduction of the preseason by Monday, trimming the roster from 90 to 75 players. The final roster cut, to 53 players, is after the fourth preseason game.
Thompson has spoken often in the past about how much he dislikes releasing players, particularly because he entered the league as an undrafted free agent and was always on edge at cutdown time. Thompson managed to survive and put together a 10-year career in the league, but he knows that’s the exception, particularly for undrafted players.
“Any sort of mandated cuts are always difficult, because you have people that are trying hard to make an impression, and sometimes it just doesn’t work out,” he said. “It’s a hard time.”
That said, Thompson added that he liked the offseason roster expansion from 80 to 90 players this year, even if it means more hard decisions down the road.
“I think it’s good to be able to put your hands on 10 more players in terms of developing,” he said. “You don’t get to have them a whole lot, but you can have them from draft time going forward. I think it’s helpful.”
Tags: graham harrell, roster cuts, ted thompson
Posted in Packers.com Blog, Training Camp | 55 Comments »
Coming off of reconstructive knee surgery, Green has been on a snap count throughout training camp but has managed it well with no setbacks to speak of. He got three carries in the preseason opener in San Diego and then four in last week’s game vs. Cleveland, averaging 4 yards per tote in the second game. He had one 5-yard run that nearly ruptured into a longer gain, but Green was tripped up.
With the status of James Starks (turf toe) uncertain at this point for the start of the regular season, the starting job for Sept. 9 could come down to Green or Benson. Green is getting closer to being able to handle a larger load, according to his position coach, Alex Van Pelt, and he looks to continue making progress.
“I think he’s getting stronger every day,” Van Pelt said. “As he feels more confident in his knee and the work he’s getting out there, I think you can see the explosiveness and the pad level and what he brings as a runner. You can see it in practice, and hopefully it will translate over this week to the game.”
Tags: alex green, alex van pelt, cedric benson
Posted in Packers.com Blog, Training Camp | 19 Comments »