GREEN BAY — Four Packers players were awarded game balls by the coaching staff for their performances in Green Bay’s 38-17 victory over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.
On offense, the game balls went to offensive tackles Bryan Bulaga and David Bakhtiari. Their blocking on the edges contributed to RBs Eddie Lacy and James Starks averaging better than five yards per carry each, while QB Aaron Rodgers posted a lofty 154.5 passer rating.
On defense, a game ball went to CB Casey Hayward, who intercepted a pass for the second straight game. Hayward now has eight interceptions in his career.
On special teams, a game ball went to veteran Jarrett Bush, who played 26 snaps on special teams alone and posted a season-high three coverage tackles.
Tags: bryan bulaga, carolina, casey hayward, david bakhtiari, game balls, jarrett bush
Posted in Packers.com Blog
Mike McCarthy confirmed after Wednesday’s practice that offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga will have season-ending knee surgery, probably next week.
Bulaga injured the knee in the Family Night scrimmage but continued to play. He sought a second medical opinion on the injury to see if there was any chance he play this season without surgery, but he has opted to have the reconstructive operation.
“It’s definitely the right decision,” McCarthy said. “If you look at the history of the way we’ve treated players, we’ve never advised a player to take the harder road. At the end of the day, it is the player’s decision.”
What made Bulaga’s case so unusual is that the day after his injury, he was doing one-legged squats and moving around as though there was nothing wrong.
On Tuesday, fellow linemate Josh Sitton complimented Bulaga on his toughness during the scrimmage but said he would be “stupid” to try to play this season with the injury, because he has a career to protect. Bulaga, a first-round draft pick in 2010 who is still just 24 years old, has decided to take the prudent path.
“You see him walking down the hall, he doesn’t look like a man that’s getting ready to have knee surgery,” McCarthy said. “I think there was just some hope that it wasn’t as bad as the initial opinion, and you never ultimately know until you go in there, but all indications look that he needs to have the surgery.”
The Packers continued to have rookie David Bakhtiari work in Bulaga’s place at left tackle with the No. 1 offensive line on Wednesday.
In other injury news, RB Eddie Lacy missed practice with a hamstring injury. McCarthy said he had been given no information to make him concerned long-term. Meanwhile, WR Randall Cobb (bicep) was suited up for practice but was very limited in his activities. He mostly did sprints along the sideline.
RB Alex Green (knee), DE Datone Jones (illness) and DE Johnny Jolly (cramps) all returned to practice.
DE Mike Neal (abdominal) practiced for the first time in camp on a very limited basis, doing mostly individual and one-on-one drills.
Tags: bryan bulaga, eddie lacy, injuries, knee surgery, mike neal
Posted in Packers.com Blog, Training Camp
For an update on the kicking competition and some sloppy moments during Thursday’s practice, check out today’s feature story. As for other news & notes:
–Bigger presence: Head Coach Mike McCarthy couldn’t be happier with the start to camp of veteran S Morgan Burnett. It’s a big year for Burnett, who signed a contract extension just before camp began as he became the elder statesmen at the safety position with the departure of Charles Woodson.
Burnett had an interception in Wednesday’s practice, and then on Thursday, he chased down a deep ball intended for Jarrett Boykin and knocked it out of Boykin’s hands just as it appeared the receiver was going to have a TD catch.
“It’s not just the upgrade in his play, it’s the upgrade in his exertion of leadership and command in the back end, which is critical in our defense,” McCarthy said. “This is the Morgan Burnett that we know, and I think it’s now just being expressed a little more openly to everybody else. He’s doing exactly what he needs to do.”
Woodson’s departure in some senses forced Burnett into a bigger leadership role, and he also said he feels more comfortable being vocal and forceful with his calls now that he’s in his fourth season.
“As a safety, I have to be loud and decisive with my checks and calls, be the quarterback of the back end, and make sure we get lined up and ready to play,” he said.
“There’s no pressure (with the new contract). It’s really an honor and a blessing to know your organization is standing behind you. It motivates you not to let them down.”
–Officials on campus: A crew of NFL officials was working Thursday’s practice, and they will be at practice both Friday night and for Saturday night’s scrimmage inside Lambeau Field.
The officials will also take part in some of the players’ meetings to go over rules, rule changes and answer questions. The players will also be given a full presentation of rule changes and points of emphasis on Friday (a presentation also will be made to the media on Friday, and packers.com will put the highlights of that here in the blog).
McCarthy welcomes the interaction the players and coaches have with the officials at this time of year, because it only adds to a regular daily meeting the players have during camp that focuses on a specific rule or rule change.
“At the end of the day, everybody wants the same thing,” McCarthy said. “They want to make the right calls, and we want to make sure we’re coaching our guys the right way, because you don’t want to be talking about this on Sundays.”
–Spirited play: CB Loyce Means, formerly of the CFL, got a chance on Thursday to work with the No. 1 nickel defense and appeared pretty fired up about it. Early in practice, he took WR Myles White to the ground in a mini-scuffle on a screen pass and then hopped up and got in on the tackle. Later, in a one-on-one drill, he knocked away a pass on a post route to White.
Means was then beaten for a TD on an inside-out move in the end zone by WR James Jones, but Means looked agitated after the play, suggesting he thought Jones got separation with an illegal shove.
–Tough customer: Evan Dietrich-Smith is a starter in training camp for the first time in his career, and he’s showing no interest in letting anyone challenge him. After one play on Thursday, Dietrich-Smith was moving very slowly and trying to stretch out his arm and/or shoulder as he walked back to the huddle, but as Don Barclay jogged in to replace him and give him a breather, Dietrich-Smith waved him off and took the next snap anyway.
–Great matchup: Two of the early stars of camp, DL Mike Daniels and OT David Bakhtiari — both fourth-round draft picks the last two years — squared off in the one-on-one pass rush/pass blocking drill, and by subjective measure it was probably a draw.
Daniels used his brute strength to push Bakhtiari well into the backfield, but Bakhtiari managed to keep himself between Daniels and the QB the whole time. Daniels then showed off his strength again in blasting undrafted rookie lineman Lane Taylor off the line before Daniels finally met his strength match in veteran G Josh Sitton, who successfully held his own.
The best block of the day may have been turned in by LT Bryan Bulaga. In the set-the-edge drill against the outside linebackers, Bulaga locked up rookie Andy Mulumba, who has made a good early impression, and then lifted and planted the undrafted free agent on his backside, almost like a wrestler.
–Not his best day: WR Randall Cobb was not at the top of his game with two glaring drops during the workout. On the first, in a one-on-one drill against CB Micah Hyde, Cobb cleanly beat Hyde with an inside-out move but then had the pass bounce right off his hands. Later, in team work, he was open on a go route but had the ball glance off his hands as S Jerron McMillian was closing fast.
“We need to catch the football better,” McCarthy said. “I’ve never been part of a perimeter group that accepts anything less than 100 percent. That’s what we’re striving for.”
–Injury update: S David Fulton (foot) returned to practice after sitting out on Wednesday, and DL Johnny Jolly (ankle) also returned after dropping out early the previous day.
“Johnny has always been a tough guy, always practiced hurt,” McCarthy said. “That was no surprise to anybody. That’s a part of what makes him a unique football player, and obviously with the opportunity he has, I’m sure he’s going to take full advantage of it.”
S Sean Richardson, who had neck surgery last year, still doesn’t have a determination on his future, but it could be coming soon. Richardson has remained as optimistic as possible, all things considered, but there is a chance he won’t get medical clearance to return to the field.
“All the opinions from the doctors now have to weigh in and a final decision needs to be made,” McCarthy said.
Tags: bryan bulaga, david bakhtiari, evan dietrich-smith, johnny jolly, loyce means, mike daniels, mike mccarthy, morgan burnett, randall cobb
Posted in Packers.com Blog, Training Camp
RT Bryan Bulaga, who has been one of the Packers’ best pass blockers over the last couple of seasons, attributed his rough first half on Monday night in Seattle to a lapse in fundamentals that took him out of his game.
Bulaga surrendered two early sacks to Seahawks rookie rusher Bruce Irvin, a first-round draft pick, and allowed other pressures of QB Aaron Rodgers throughout the first half. Rodgers was sacked eight times in all and the Packers were shut out at intermission.
“I didn’t use any fundamentals for most of the first half,” said Bulaga, who was beaten both by Irvin’s power and speed initially. “I was just out there … I don’t know what I was out there doing. I just wasn’t playing my game, and that’s what happens, and I know that’s not going to happen again.”
Bulaga is listed on the injury report this week with a knee injury and has been a limited participant in practice, but he said that had no bearing on his performance. Mike McCarthy said he expects Bulaga to “play through” the injury this week.
Bulaga added that he didn’t get a fire-and-brimstone speech from position coach James Campen at halftime. The score was only 7-0, and a tirade probably would have caused everyone to lose focus on a winnable game. Plus, the performance was so out-of-character for Bulaga and his linemates that the problems were as much mental as anything.
“It was more settle down and play your game,” Bulaga said. “I think that was the message he was trying to get out there. That’s what I had going on in my mind, just chill out here and do what I do. There was no screaming or yelling. I don’t think anyone in college or high school or even this level had that kind of first half as a group. It was a matter of we had to settle down and get it together here.”
The Packers did that, putting together three straight scoring drives in the second half, helped by a commitment to running the ball, which they did successfully.
“The first half was certainly not the way we want to play,” LG T.J. Lang said. “We got beat up pretty good there in the first half, but watching film of the second half, it’s inspiring to watch the way we responded out of that. It could have been very easy to put our heads down and go in the tank a little bit. But we responded in a positive way and had a pretty solid second half.”
The quick rebound has the linemen eagerly awaiting a return to the field Sunday against the Saints, both to continue that recovery and further erase the abysmal first half.
“There’s no excuse for your quarterback getting hit that many times,” Lang said. “It’s obviously embarrassing as a group, when your quarterback is getting hit like that, sacked eight times in one half. It’s something we take a lot of pride in, and we certainly need to have a better game this week keeping Aaron upright.”
Added Bulaga: “Yeah, it will get a little bit of bad taste out of our mouths I think.”
Tags: bryan bulaga, offensive line, sacks
Posted in Packers.com Blog
Packers tackle Bryan Bulaga chatted live with fans on packers.com on Wednesday. Click here to read the transcript.
Tags: bryan bulaga, live chat, packtalkback
Posted in Packers.com Blog
Green Bay Packers
12 QB Aaron Rodgers
18 WR Randall Cobb
21 CB Charles Woodson
44 RB James Starks
52 LB Clay Matthews
75 T Bryan Bulaga
85 WR Greg Jennings
Starting lineup changes: On offense, #10 Matt Flynn will start at quarterback in place of #12 Aaron Rodgers. #74 Marshall Newhouse will start at right tackle in place of #75 Bryan Bulaga. #87 Jordy Nelson will start at wide receiver in place of #85 Greg Jennings. On defense, #37 Sam Shields will start at cornerback in place of #21 Charles Woodson. #59 Brad Jones will start at left outside linebacker in place of #52 Clay Matthews. #58 Frank Zombo will start at right outside linebacker in place of #93 Erik Walden.
5 QB Drew Stanton
26 S Louis Delmas
32 CB Aaron Berry
35 RB Joique Bell
39 S Ricardo Silva
75 G Leonard Davis
99 DT Corey Williams
Tags: aaron rodgers, brad jones, bryan bulaga, charles woodson, clay matthews, frank zombo, greg jennings, inactives, james starks, jordy nelson, lions, marshall newhouse, matt flynn, packers, randall cobb, sam shields
Posted in Packers.com Blog