Casey Hayward doing drills at practice as part of rehab

Posted by Mike Spofford on October 3, 2013 – 4:06 pm

In perhaps the first legitimate sign that he’s getting ready to return to action, CB Casey Hayward was fully dressed and going through some drills in the Packers’ full-pads practice on Thursday.

CB Casey Hayward

CB Casey Hayward

Hayward already has been ruled out for this week, but the second-year corner and the team’s leading interceptor from last season might finally have a light at the end of the tunnel with his hamstring injury, which he originally hurt prior to training camp.

Hayward returned for three practices during the third week of the preseason but then re-aggravated it in that week’s game. He has been out the past six weeks, since the third preseason game.

“Casey Hayward worked some of the individual drills,” Head Coach Mike McCarthy said. “It’s really, frankly, part of his rehab training. He’s making progress.”

For the feature story on LB Clay Matthews’ recovery from his hamstring injury, click here.

 


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Matthews back at practice but limited; Hayward ruled out again

Posted by Mike Spofford on October 2, 2013 – 5:04 pm

Packers LB Clay Matthews, who missed the second half of the Week 3 game in Cincinnati due to a hamstring injury, returned to practice on Wednesday but only on a limited basis. His availability for Sunday’s home game against Detroit remains in question.

LB Clay Matthews

LB Clay Matthews

“I think Clay is getting better,” Head Coach Mike McCarthy said. “He’s made a lot of progress since coming off the field in Cincinnati. I’m hopeful he’ll be able to do more tomorrow. That’s the plan.”

Elsewhere on the injury report, CB Casey Hayward (hamstring) has been ruled out for the fourth straight game. Since re-aggravating his hamstring injury in the third preseason game, Hayward has now been out for six weeks.

RB James Starks (knee) is also out and will be sidelined “a couple weeks,” McCarthy said. Also, backup offensive lineman Greg Van Roten sprained a foot in Monday’s practice and will be out multiple weeks.

The other six players on the injury report were full participants in Wednesday’s practice. They included S Morgan Burnett (hamstring), CB Jarrett Bush (hamstring), TE Jermichael Finley (concussion), RBs Eddie Lacy (concussion) and Johnathan Franklin (foot) and FB John Kuhn (hamstring).

In speaking to reporters for the first time since his concussion, which occurred on the first offensive series in Cincinnati, Finley called it a “long process” to get medical clearance, but he said he understands the reasons for the protocol and the protection of players’ health. He said it took a couple of days before he felt mostly normal again.

“Jermichael looks good. The bye week has helped him,” McCarthy said. “He looked like Jermichael. He’s in a good place. He practices very hard. It was good to have him back.”

To see Wednesday’s feature story on the Packers running game, click here.

 


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CB Casey Hayward still out; more on injuries

Posted by Mike Spofford on September 18, 2013 – 4:44 pm

CB Casey Hayward

CB Casey Hayward

Packers CB Casey Hayward has been ruled out for the third straight week to start the 2013 season with a hamstring injury, so the earliest Hayward could see the field this season will come after next week’s bye.

“He just tells me he’s making progress,” Head Coach Mike McCarthy said. “He had a similar injury. This one wasn’t supposed to be as bad as when he hurt it the first time, the day before he came back for training camp, so he’s making progress.”

Hayward missed the first three full weeks of training camp before returning to practice, but then he aggravated the hamstring when he tried to play in the third preseason game vs. Seattle, on Aug. 23. He has not practiced since.

Also missing practice on Wednesday were CB Jarrett Bush (hamstring), FB John Kuhn (hamstring), RB Eddie Lacy (concussion) and TE Jermichael Finley (toe). Finley was on the report last week and rested the toe at times and then still played in the game on Sunday.

S Morgan Burnett (hamstring) practiced on a limited basis, but in the portion of the workout open to reporters, he was doing jog-thru work on the scout team, so he may be held out until after the bye week as well.

DE Johnny Jolly is also listed on the injury report with a neck injury, but he was a full participant in practice.


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No setbacks so far for Morgan Burnett

Posted by Mike Spofford on September 12, 2013 – 4:52 pm

Packers S Morgan Burnett practiced for the second straight day on Thursday in a limited fashion without any setbacks to his hamstring injury, which kept him out of last week’s opener in San Francisco.

Also, G Josh Sitton (back) and TE Jermichael Finley (toe) returned to practice on a limited basis after sitting out Wednesday’s workout. Thursday’s practice was in pads.

Head Coach Mike McCarthy said Burnett was able to do more in practice on Thursday than initially expected, but after Burnett suddenly was held out of practice last Friday and had to miss the game, caution is certainly being exercised.

“It’s better than last week,” Burnett said. “It’s improving, it’s getting there. We’re going to see how I feel tomorrow.

“I want to be out there so bad. I’m anxious to get out there and get the season started. But the trainers and guys there, they’re doing their job, so that’s why we have to play it by ear.”

McCarthy said the situations for Sitton and Finley are similar. If their medical exams go well Friday morning and they can practice again, their chances of playing will look even better.

CB Casey Hayward (hamstring) has been ruled out for the second straight week, and CB Jarrett Bush pulled up in practice on Thursday with a hamstring injury and was added to the injury report. Bush was on the report last week with an ankle injury but still played.

LB Nick Perry (neck) was downgraded to a limited participant in practice after going full on Wednesday, when practice was not in pads. McCarthy said Perry’s stinger “flared up” after Wednesday’s practice and his evaluation was ongoing.


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Casey Hayward out, Micah Hyde ready if needed

Posted by Mike Spofford on September 4, 2013 – 4:49 pm

Packers CB Casey Hayward has been declared out for this week’s game against the 49ers with a hamstring injury, which he re-aggravated in his lone preseason appearance against Seattle on Aug. 23. Mike McCarthy said he has no timeline for Hayward’s injury.

CB Micah Hyde

CB Micah Hyde

That leaves the Packers essentially two options when they go to their nickel defense (three CBs) in San Francisco. Either Davon House comes in to play on the outside, with starter Tramon Williams moving over to play the slot, or rookie Micah Hyde takes the slot position, with Williams and Sam Shields remaining outside.

Hyde, a fifth-round draft pick out of Iowa, was a training camp sensation who will almost surely be tested by the 49ers if he takes the field. It’s common for offenses to attack rookie defensive backs from the get-go.

“I’m going to play the defense as well as I can, and if that’s the case, that’s the case,” Hyde said. “I’ve got to go out there and make some plays. If not, I’ve got to prepare like they’re going to do so.”

Hyde added that he’s never really gotten nervous before, other than the normal early jitters that come with any first game. He certainly never appeared nervous during the preseason, making aggressive plays all over the field. Time will tell if the regular season is any different.

“Micah will do whatever is asked,” McCarthy said. “I have a lot of confidence with him.”

So do his teammates.

“He’s a guy that’s very poised and it seems like no stage is too big for him,” S Morgan Burnett said. “When you see him out there, you forget at times he’s still a rookie, because he picked up and he understands the defense very well.”

Additional features – Sept. 4
Packers offense in no mood to be patient
Kaepernick stands by confusion comments


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News & notes: WRs Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb on their way back

Posted by Mike Spofford on August 25, 2013 – 5:39 pm

On Sunday, Head Coach Mike McCarthy explained the team’s decision to release QB Graham Harrell, which can be found here. A third kicker was also added to the competition, and you can read about his strong first impression here.

Other news & notes from the day…

–Nelson, Cobb back to work: WRs Jordy Nelson (knee) and Randall Cobb (bicep) were back on the practice field on Sunday, a good sign that the Packers WR corps could be at full strength for the season opener in San Francisco. Both players ran routes during a lengthy jog-thru period and did some conditioning work after.

Neither receiver has played in a preseason game yet, so Thursday in Kansas City would be the last opportunity, but that isn’t taking paramount importance.

“I don’t think it’s going to matter, because if I do play, it’s not going to be much,” Nelson said. “I think that little bit of work is not going to make a difference if I get it or not, but we’ll see.

“I feel good. If it was a regular-season game, we could definitely be going. But we still have to be smart, see what happens, and take it day by day.”

Cobb is taking the same approach. Wearing a compression sleeve on his injured right bicep, Cobb said he will play “free-minded” and not have any worries about the injury when he’s out there full time.

“I can play. If it’s up to me, I’d be on the field (Thursday), but we’re going to be smart about the situation,” he said. “We know what we’re dealing with and we know what we’ve got going forward, so we’re going to be smart about it.”

–Banjo making roster bid: Rookie S Chris Banjo, who went undrafted out of SMU, is making a bid for the No. 4 safety spot on the roster with his heads-up play on both defense and special teams.

In last Friday’s game in Seattle, Banjo made an impressive tackle of TE Luke Willson just shy of the first-down marker on third-and-5, forcing the Seahawks to punt. Later, he brought down former Packer Will Blackmon on a punt return.

“Chris Banjo has been making plays since he arrived,” Mike McCarthy said. “Very pleased what he has shown so far. This will be a big game for all the young guys, and definitely for Chris.”

There’s no guarantee the Packers will keep four safeties, but starter Morgan Burnett sustained a hamstring injury last Friday, which could force the Packers to go deeper at the position, increasing Banjo’s chances.

Banjo has been working against the odds from the start, arriving four days into camp after being released July 25 by Jacksonville.

“It was definitely tough, I can’t lie, especially on the defensive side of the ball, so much new terminology and all the adjustments,” Banjo said. “Trying to get all that put together and looking like I belong on the field, not looking lost, that was definitely a tough curve. But day by day I’m getting better at it, and I’m trying to put it all together.”

Injury update: Of the players injured in last Friday’s game, McCarthy said Burnett (hamstring) and CB Casey Hayward (hamstring) would not be available this week. LB Brad Jones (hamstring) could be back sooner than the other two.

RB DuJuan Harris (knee) and CB Jarrett Bush (ankle) also missed practice, while TE Matthew Mulligan (elbow) returned.

CB Tramon Williams (knee) would not rule himself out for Week 1 in San Francisco, but he wasn’t guaranteeing he’d be ready, either.

“We’re taking our time with it,” he said. “There was never a timetable set for it, but it wasn’t serious. That’s what was coming from the doctor. We’re still pushing and, like Coach said, making progress.”


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Game notes: Defense makes big plays but gets banged up

Posted by Mike Spofford on August 24, 2013 – 12:39 am

For the broader overviews of Friday night’s game, check out the game recap and the locker room report. Here are some additional game notes:

–Defense makes high-impact plays, but at a cost: Seattle QB Russell Wilson isn’t easy to get to, but the Packers defense made several big plays against him, recording three sacks and two interceptions of Wilson, who played the entire first half and the first series of the second half.

LB Clay Matthews

LB Clay Matthews

Unfortunately, some of those players making the big plays also left the game with injuries.

Wilson started hot, converting a pair of third downs with long pass plays on the opening drive, but LB Clay Matthews sacked him for a 12-yard loss in the red zone, leading to a field goal.

“He’s going to make his plays, but for the most part, we got after him, got our hands on him and got him down,” Matthews said of Wilson.

The defense opened the second drive with another sack, this one by LB Brad Jones, before getting a pair of interceptions on the Seahawks’ last two drives of the first half. The first was by CB Casey Hayward, who was making his preseason debut, off a double deflection by LBs Nick Perry and Robert Francois.

“Obviously he’s continuing his playmaking ability from last year,” Matthews said of Hayward, who led all NFL rookies in 2012 with six interceptions. “It was good to have him back out there, good to see what he’s capable of, and we’re going to need it this year.”

Hayward may have come back from his hamstring injury too soon, however. He re-aggravated the hamstring in the game. Jones and S Morgan Burnett also were mentioned by Mike McCarthy after the game as having hamstring injuries.

The second interception came from S Jerron McMillian, who made a diving grab of an overthrown ball at midfield.

The defense got one more sack of Wilson on the opening drive of the second half, as backup DL Jordan Miller brought him down. Another sack by DE C.J. Wilson three plays later was negated by an offensive holding penalty, which the Packers accepted for the additional lost yardage.

Rookie LB Nate Palmer added a sack of backup QB Brady Quinn in the second half, and another sack of Quinn by DL Mike Daniels was nullified by an offsides call on linemate Datone Jones.

“From what I understand, our sack numbers jumped dramatically from 2011 to 2012, so I think we were pretty good last year, and I think we’re improving this year,” Daniels said.

–Harris limps off: Another notable injury was to RB DuJuan Harris, who got his first preseason action and had three carries for two yards, plus one reception for 11 yards. But after the 11-yard catch, Harris was slow to get up and said afterward his knee was bothering him, the same knee that kept him out of the first two weeks of training camp.

“I’m all right,” he said. “I walked off. Everything will be good.

“It felt like it’s been forever since I took a carry. I feel like I could have done a little more on some of those, but we’ll see when we look at the film.”

–Crosby makes it count: K Mason Crosby bounced back from his three-miss practice on Wednesday to convert his only FG try on the night, from 38 yards in the first quarter.

“Whatever happens during the week, I need to have a good game,” Crosby said. “I felt good on that field goal.”

–Finding daylight: In what could be shaping up as a battle for the last RB spot on the roster, third-year pro Alex Green found some daylight on a wide toss play, cutting upfield for 31 yards, more than double the longest rush by a Packers back in this preseason.

“It’s very important to go out and show at least a little bit of what you can do,” Green said. “Hopefully it’s enough for the coaches to like.”

Assuming Harris plus draft picks Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin make the team, a final RB spot could come down to Green or James Starks, who didn’t get any carries Friday night and was unable to make up for a fumble in last week’s game in St. Louis that led to his removal from the contest.


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News & notes: WR Jarrett Boykin continues to battle, kickers perfect

Posted by Mike Spofford on August 13, 2013 – 5:03 pm

WR Randall Cobb was playing through some obvious pain in Tuesday’s practice. For an update on that, check out today’s feature story. Here are some other news & notes:

–Boykin, Jolly stand out: Undrafted rookie WR Tyrone Walker has received a lot of attention lately, but second-year pro Jarrett Boykin isn’t about to give up his roster spot that easily.

WR Jarrett Boykin

WR Jarrett Boykin

Boykin had a strong practice on Tuesday, making several catches working with both the regular offense and scout-team offense.

Boykin made a nice grab on a comeback in traffic, a diving catch of a slant from QB Vince Young and later a spinning catch in the middle of the field. He nearly capped off his day by hauling in a deep ball from QB B.J. Coleman along the sideline, but the throw was just out of reach and bounced off his outstretched hand.

DE Johnny Jolly was another player who looked to be having a strong practice. In the one-on-one pass-rush drill, Jolly slipped by G Greg Van Roten with a quick spin, and then he beat C Patrick Lewis with a swim move.

It should be noted that Van Roten then bounced back with strong reps against DE B.J. Raji and DE Mike Neal.

–Kickers perfect: Both Mason Crosby and Giorgio Tavecchio were a perfect 8-for-8 on field goals in another head-to-head duel. The kickers kicked two series of four kicks, the first from 33, 43, 48 and 50 yards, and the second from 34, 39, 45 and 54 yards.

As has usually been the case, Crosby’s kicks have carried a longer distance, and it’s especially noticeable on the longer field goals.

“Right now I’m hitting the ball really well,” Crosby said. “I’m striking it solid, and I’ve put a few good days together here, and that’s positive. But definitely Giorgio is hitting great balls and it’s motivating for me. I’m focused in and making sure that I’m taking care of my business.”

The day prior, Crosby was 7-for-8 and Tavecchio was 8-for-8, meaning the two kickers have combined to go 31-for-32 over the last two practices.

“These last two days were good,” Crosby said. ” It was good to test our bodies and test our minds a little bit and get out there and hit two long sets in a sense. I think hitting that many balls really pushed me and got me into a rhythm and into a good spot.”

–Hayward still out: Mike McCarthy made it sound as though the return of CB Casey Hayward, who has not practiced all training camp due to a hamstring injury, was not imminent, though his medical reports have improved.

“Casey Hayward’s injury is going to take time,” McCarthy said. “He’s made a lot of progress in the last 5-6 days. As far as the timeline, we’ll have a better understanding next week how close he is.”

A defensive rookie of the year candidate last year, Hayward led all rookies in 2012 with six interceptions.

–Pickett misses practice: DE Ryan Pickett missed practice due to a personal matter. He indicated on his Twitter account that he had to take one of his children to the hospital, but everything is fine.

G T.J. Lang (back) continued to sit out, as did fellow lineman Andrew Datko (concussion). McCarthy said Datko is “getting close” to passing the tests that are part of the concussion protocol.


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Casey Hayward graduates from Vanderbilt

Posted by Mike Spofford on May 13, 2013 – 3:54 pm

Casey HaywardPackers CB Casey Hayward hasn’t slowed down much since his rookie season ended.

Shortly after the Packers were eliminated from the playoffs last January, Hayward returned to Vanderbilt University for his final semester of college, and Hayward graduated last week with his degree in sociology.

Needing just 13 hours, including one more class in his major, to finish his degree, Hayward decided not to wait to go back to school. Having skipped the last semester he needed to graduate in order to go through the pre-draft process last year, Hayward didn’t want to put it off any longer.

“I wasn’t sure when I was going to go back, but if I waited another year, (the chances) were going to be slimmer than me just going back this first year,” Hayward said.

“I had definitely promised myself. I was too close not to finish my degree. I was only 13 hours away. I promised a lot of people I’d come back, but it was mainly a commitment to myself.”

Through independent study arrangements with his professors, Hayward was able to return to Green Bay for the start of offseason workouts last month while continuing to complete his coursework.

The Packers’ leader in interceptions last season with six, a total that was best among all NFL rookies, Hayward finished third in defensive rookie of the year voting in 2012. A second-round draft pick, he has laid a foundation for a potentially long and lucrative career in the league, but he didn’t let that get in the way of finishing something he had started.

“Because at the end of the day, you never know what’s going to happen,” he said. “Hopefully I do play a long time, but I’ll always have something to fall back on. I’ll still have to work a little bit when football is over.”


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Casey Hayward takes 3rd in Defensive Rookie of Year voting

Posted by Mike Spofford on February 2, 2013 – 7:39 pm

Packers CB Casey Hayward finished third in the Associated Press voting for Defensive Rookie of the Year.

Panthers LB Luke Kuechly won the award by getting 28 of the 50 votes. Seahawks LB Bobby Wagner was second with 11 votes, followed by Hayward with six. Rounding out the voting were Rams CB Janoris Jenkins (3) and Buccaneers LB Lavonte David (2).

Hayward led the Packers and all NFL rookies with six interceptions in 2012. Hayward was trying to become the first Packers player to win AP’s Defensive Rookie of the Year award since CB Willie Buchanon in 1972.

Packers QB Aaron Rodgers earned two votes for Offensive Player of the Year. That award went to Minnesota RB Adrian Peterson.


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