Packers FB John Kuhn and DL B.J. Raji are two of 26 players who have been named to the USA Football All-Fundamentals Team for 2013.
The fifth annual USA Football All-Fundamentals Team recognizes NFL players who employ proper technique, particularly when blocking and tackling, which fosters better on-field performance and inherent safety benefits.
A total of 11 players on offense, 11 on defense and four on special teams were chosen. Each player will receive a $1,500 equipment grant from USA Football to donate to the youth or high school football program of his choice. USA Football, the sport’s national governing body in the United States, is the official youth football development partner of the Packers, the NFL and each of the league’s other 31 teams.
A fan vote will determine the All-Fundamentals Team captains, one each for offense, defense and special teams. Voting is open until Jan. 29 and can be done by clicking here. USA Football will award each of the three captains a $3,000 equipment grant to donate and an All-Fundamentals Team helmet trophy.
2013 USA Football All-Fundamentals Team
QB: Peyton Manning, Broncos
RB: Frank Gore, 49ers
FB: John Kuhn, Packers
WR: Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals; A.J. Green, Bengals
TE: Jason Witten, Cowboys
T: Jermon Bushrod, Bears; Tyron Smith, Cowboys
G: Jahri Evans, Saints; Andy Levitre, Titans
C: Nick Hardwick, Chargers
DE: Chris Long, Rams; Muhammad Wilkerson, Jets
DT: B.J. Raji, Packers; Kyle Williams, Bills
LB: D’Qwell Jackson, Browns; Luke Kuechly, Panthers; Robert Mathis, Colts
CB: Brent Grimes, Dolphins; Richard Sherman, Seahawks
S: Eric Berry, Chiefs; Earl Thomas, Seahawks
Ret: Cordarrelle Patterson, Vikings
K: Stephen Gostkowski, Patriots
P: Dustin Colquitt, Chiefs
LS: Jon Dorenbos, Eagles
Tags: b.j. raji, john kuhn
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Mike McCarthy said on Monday that the ankle injury that forced NT B.J. Raji to limp off the field late during Sunday’s victory is not as bad as the one that led to Raji missing two games last month.
Raji apparently has re-injured the same ankle that he hurt in the Indianapolis game in Week 5. He sat out the victories in Houston and St. Louis the next two weeks before returning to the field.
McCarthy didn’t say whether Raji would play this week against the Giants, but he didn’t sound concerned about the injury long-term.
No update was provided on WR Greg Jennings and LB Clay Matthews. McCarthy said more information would be known on Wednesday.
Tags: b.j. raji, clay matthews, greg jennings, injury
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After missing the last two games with an ankle injury, NT B.J. Raji didn’t practice on Friday but is listed as probable on the final injury report for Sunday’s game. Raji practiced in full pads on Thursday and appears on track to play.
“The plan coming off of Monday was to practice him on Thursday in pads and give him Friday to recover,” Mike McCarthy said. “Everything looks good. If nothing changes here in the next 48 hours, I feel very confident with B.J.”
Meanwhile, WR Jordy Nelson is scheduled to test his hamstring injury on Sunday morning and he’ll be a game-time decision. He’s listed as questionable. FB John Kuhn has been ruled out with his hamstring injury.
All the other players on the injury report who practiced this week are listed as probable. That includes RB James Starks, who missed Thursday’s practice with an illness but returned on a limited basis Friday. LB Nick Perry and CB Sam Shields did not practice all week and have been ruled out.
If Nelson is unable to play, it could open the door for WR Jarrett Boykin to get some significant snaps. Boykin has played only a handful of snaps so far this season after being inactive on gameday for the first five weeks.
Ironically, Boykin’s first major action could come against Jacksonville, a team that cut him in the spring, which led to him getting a tryout with the Packers.
“I would say there’s a little extra grind, but that’s not my main focus, going out there trying to prove (anything) to them,” Boykin said. “I’m just focusing on going out there and helping this team win.”
Other news & notes from McCarthy’s final press conference of the week:
–LS Brett Goode has signed a long-term contract extension, which puts all three of the Packers’ specialists (K Mason Crosby, P Tim Masthay and Goode) under contract for the foreseeable future. Goode joined the team in 2008, one year after Crosby and two years before Masthay.
“You look at the battery, punter, kicker and snapper, that’s a very important group,” McCarthy said. “They spend most of their time together. The personality of the three guys is very important. They lean on one another, they help correct one another. I think they’re very honest as far as their time together professionally and personally. They’re a good group.
“The nice part about it is you look at their age group and they still have time to grow and improve.”
–McCarthy said neither LB Frank Zombo nor TE Andrew Quarless would be activated from PUP for Sunday’s game. Both players have been practicing for the last two weeks, and they have one week left before a decision has to be made to either activate them, release them, or place them on injured reserve for the season.
McCarthy made it sound as though Zombo is the closest to being game-ready. He said Quarless is still experiencing some “soreness” in his surgically repaired knee, which is normal in the recovery process.
The other player on PUP, T Derek Sherrod, is still not ready to practice and could be headed to IR for the season.
“I know he’s frustrated, but we all saw the injury,” McCarthy said of Sherrod, who broke multiple bones in his leg in Week 15 last season in Kansas City. “It was a serious injury, and definitely something we’re not going to rush back. But he’s not just ready yet.”
Tags: b.j. raji, john kuhn, jordy nelson
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NT B.J. Raji (ankle) was practicing on Thursday during the portion of the workout open to the media. The practice was in full pads. Raji has missed the last two games due to injury.
WR Jordy Nelson (hamstring) and RB James Starks, however, were not. Mike McCarthy said on Wednesday that Nelson’s hamstring tightened up on him during practice. Starks is not listed on the injury report, so there won’t be any information until McCarthy’s post-practice update.
Also, WR Donald Driver (neck) returned to practice after sitting out on Wednesday.
Update: After practice, McCarthy said Starks missed the workout due to an illness. Nelson will not practice on Friday, either, and he will test his hamstring either Saturday or Sunday to0 see if he can play. Raji “looked good,” and “looked like his old self,” according to McCarthy, who listed Raji as a limited participant in practice.
Driver was a full participant in practice, while FB John Kuhn (hamstring) sat out for the second straight day.
Tags: b.j. raji, donald driver, james starks, jordy nelson
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QB Aaron Rodgers took all the snaps in Thursday’s practice after getting very limited work on Wednesday due to a calf injury. With Thursday’s practice in pads, Rodgers’ making it all the way through is a strong indication he’ll be fine come Sunday in St. Louis.
“Just talking to Aaron this morning, he wanted to go today,” Mike McCarthy said. “He thought it was important to get on it (the calf) and see where he was. Then once we started practicing, he felt like he needed to take all the reps, and he did.”
NT B.J. Raji also returned to practice for the first time in two weeks, but on a limited basis. Raji missed last week’s game with an ankle injury, but McCarthy was encouraged by what he saw from Raji on Thursday.
“B.J. definitely took a step today,” McCarthy said. “As always, when a player does come back for the first day, the examination tomorrow will obviously be very important. But it was good to have him out there.”
The only other change to the injury report from Wednesday was that TE D.J. Williams (hamstring) was a full participant in practice. He missed last Sunday’s Houston game but appears well on the comeback trail.
Meanwhile, fellow TE Andrew Quarless practiced for just the second time this season, having come off the PUP list on Wednesday. Quarless said the medical staff is easing him back into practice with a limited number of reps, but he’s felt no discomfort or setbacks after his first two days.
“Every day if I could just get a little better, just kind of get my step back — I don’t want to say ‘swag,’ but to be out there moving around and feeling good about it,” Quarless saisd. “It’s coming. I feel it. I felt great today in practice. I just have to get it back.”
Quarless had been out since tearing the ACL in his knee in Week 13 last season against the Giants. He said the long, arduous process of rehab gave him an appreciation for all the players he’s seen previously who missed long stretches due to injuries.
“A lot of guys come off this injury better than they were,” he said. “I don’t feel like (number) 81 yet, but I feel good. Right there. I’m happy about it. Real excited.”
Tags: aaron rodgers, andrew quarless, b.j. raji
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B.J. Raji put his pads on for Thursday’s practice inside the Don Hutson Center. During the portion of the workout open to reporters, Raji was doing some drill work and also some rehab work off to the side.
This marks Raji’s first participation in practice since injuring his ankle in Indianapolis in Week 5. He missed last Sunday’s game in Houston. He will most likely be listed as a limited participant in practice on the injury report.
Mike McCarthy will be providing a post-practice update.
Tags: b.j. raji
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In addition to the fake punt and the Darren Sproles non-fumble (recapped here), Sunday’s game against the Saints featured a lot of unusual activity on special teams.
Three holding penalties were called on place-kicks, two on extra points and a huge one on the Saints’ final field goal try. Special Teams Coordinator Shawn Slocum said he had never seen that before. The Packers had one of those holds, plus two other penalties on an earlier field goal – too many men on the field and a personal foul on B.J. Raji.
Slocum said the 12-men penalty was due to a lack of communication when the Saints first appeared they might go for it and then sent out their kicker late. The personal foul on Raji, who threw a punch at a Saints blocker he thought was going for his knees, gave the Saints a fresh set of downs but could have been worse.
“He’s fortunate he didn’t get thrown out of the game,” Head Coach Mike McCarthy said. “It’s competitive, they’re in there fighting, and sometimes it gets to you, and it’s your responsibility, and it’s also the responsibility of your teammates. But you have to watch that stuff, because to lose B.J. Raji at that point in the game would have compromised our defense.”
Tags: b.j. raji, fake punt, Shawn Slocum, special teams
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Wednesday’s practice was not in pads, but based on the players who participated in the portion of the workout open to the media, it appears the Packers are getting healthier on the injury front.
Defensive linemen B.J. Raji and Ryan Pickett were both practicing, as was inside linebacker Robert Francois. All three of them have been battling injuries stemming from the last two preseason contests.
Also, CB Davon House and LB Jamari Lattimore were doing some drills, but they weren’t as active in practice as the others. That could mean they’re close to returning but not enough to be active for a game yet. S Sean Richardson and RB James Starks continued to sit out.
The first injury report of the week will be released after practice, when Mike McCarthy addresses the media around 1:40 p.m. CT.
Tags: b.j. raji, davon house, injuries, ryan pickett
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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
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Packers second-round draft pick Jerel Worthy attracted attention and criticism for a comment he made at Michigan State about needing to take plays off once in a while. Worthy took no plays off in Friday morning’s practice. The defensive lineman was the high-energy player of practice, which was forced indoors by rain.
Worthy chased after receivers following completions. His voice could be heard celebrating defensive stops and his motor never stopped. Worthy was all over the field and finished a couple of plays on the turf in a tangle of players he created.
Most notably, it appears Defensive Coordinator Dom Capers might have had his two-down lineman nickel defense in mind when Worthy was selected with the 51st overall pick of the 2012 draft. Worthy and B.J. Raji are the two down linemen in the Packers’ nickel defense, and it’s a role Worthy appears to relish. He was a chase tackle at Michigan State and he appears to be reveling in the space he has to operate in Capers’ nickel, which is clearly in Capers’ plans for this season.
Also in Friday’s practice:
…It’s becoming obvious the Packers have a creative role in mind for second-year wide receiver Randall Cobb.
…Backup quarterback Graham Harrell threw arguably the most impressive completion of the morning, a deep out to Cobb, who caught the ball and turned up field to pull away from rookie safety Jerron McMillian, whose coverage on the play was tight.
…Safety M.D. Jennings made an interception off a deflection.
…Quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ signature pass might be the back-shoulder throw, and he tossed a beauty of one to Jordy Nelson along the right sideline. Unfortunately, Nelson dropped the pass.
…Undrafted free agent linebacker Dezman Moses appears to be competing for more than a roster spot. He appears to be competing for playing time.
…First-year safety Anthony Levine broke impressively on a pass along the sideline and nearly made an interception.
Tags: aaron rodgers, anthony levine, b.j. raji, dezman moses, dom capers, graham harrell, jerel worthy, Jerron McMillian, jordy nelson, m.d. jennings, randall cobb
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