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TE Williams tweaked his hamstring; Starks ready, Jennings not sure

Posted by Mike Spofford on October 11, 2012 – 4:33 pm

TE D.J. Williams missed practice on Thursday due to a hamstring injury he sustained at the end of practice on Wednesday, Mike McCarthy said. His status for Sunday’s game at this point is up in the air. The same goes for TE Jermichael Finley (shoulder), and if both players can’t play, the Packers would be down to just two active tight ends in Tom Crabtree and Ryan Taylor.

“He’s never had a hamstring injury before, so this is new territory for him,” McCarthy said of Williams. “We’ll see where he is tomorrow.”

Williams termed the injury a “little tweak” that’s low in his hamstring, not deep and high in the thigh. He caught two passes for 20 yards in last week’s game after Finley went down, and McCarthy said he was potentially a big part of the offensive plan.

“I felt like I was starting to move along,” Williams said. “It was the same thing in the preseason and I had that little foot nagging injury. But you have to stay positive with a good attitude, so that’s what I’m doing and it’ll all work out.”

McCarthy reiterated on Thursday that he could take decisions on veterans Finley, WR Greg Jennings (groin) and DL B.J. Raji (ankle) up to game time, even if none of them practice this week.

Jennings spoke with reporters and said he gives himself “a chance” to play, but he didn’t sound overly optimistic. He said he doesn’t expect to do any real testing of the injury this week, so it could come down to whether the Packers test him on Sunday in Houston or just let him continue to rest.

“Physically I feel good, (but) physically I felt good before,” said Jennings, who has injured his groin twice this season already. “Only time will tell.”

Meanwhile, RB James Starks has yet to play this season, primarily due to a turf toe injury from the preseason opener, but he’s now off the injury report and expecting to be active on gameday for the first time with RB Cedric Benson on injured reserve.

RB Alex Green has been named the starter by McCarthy, who also said the offense will go with the “hot hand.” That could mean an opening for Starks, who says he’s ready and healthy.

“I’m good. I’ve been running, cutting,” he said. “I’ve done everything on (the toe), pushed off of it. The only thing is I haven’t been tackled by a different team. That’s about it.”

Starks, of course, was a playoff hero in 2010 in helping the Packers string together four straight wins, including the Super Bowl.

“That’s in the past to me,” he said. “That’s how I feel. I haven’t done anything yet. I’m planning on trying to do something this year.

“I’ve got to make the most out of every opportunity I receive, and I’m sure I will.”


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TE Williams not at practice on Thursday

Posted by Mike Spofford on October 11, 2012 – 12:18 pm

TE  D.J. Williams was not at practice on Thursday in the portion open to reporters. Williams is not listed on the injury report, so an update from Mike McCarthy will be coming after practice.

If Williams’ availability for Sunday’s game is in question at all, that could leave the Packers rather thin at TE because it isn’t certain Jermichael Finley will play, though he has vowed to. McCarthy’s post-practice update will indicate whether anything is going on with Williams other than perhaps an excused absence.

Otherwise, practice participation was essentially the same as Wednesday. Finley, WR Greg Jennings and DL B.J. Raji all missed practice again.


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Hayward right in the mix

Posted by Mike Spofford on August 1, 2012 – 2:05 pm

Rookie CB Casey Hayward’s strong practice on Wednesday came mostly while defending the biggest receiver on the roster, 6-4 Tori Gurley.

Matching up against big targets is nothing new to Hayward, who played at Vanderbilt in the SEC, but doing so at the NFL level does present its challenges.

“No doubt, because he’s a big guy,” Hayward said of Gurley. “He kind of reminds me of a tight end, but he moves very well to be that big. You can’t let him get his hands on you.”

Hayward admitted he’s still making some rookie mistakes out there, but he’s trying to use any mistake as a chance to learn. He’s certainly right in the mix for playing time at cornerback with a competitive group that also includes Jarrett Bush, Davon House, Sam Shields and Brandian Ross.

“Certain calls I’m playing full speed,” Hayward said. “Sometimes I question myself, but I shouldn’t, because I know the plays.”

Other notes from Wednesday’s practice:

–K Mason Crosby went 2-for-2 again in a FG period, hitting a pair from 45-plus. Crosby has yet to miss a FG in camp through six practices.

–TE D.J. Williams has been getting plenty of attention thus far in camp, and rightly so, but fellow second-year TE Ryan Taylor is starting to show up, too. Taylor made a couple of big catches during team drills, including one where he dove toward the sideline as he finished a crossing route and hauled in the pass with a linebacker trailing in coverage.

–The “old” guys continue to make plays on a daily basis. CB Charles Woodson had a diving interception over the middle on a fourth-down throw by QB Aaron Rodgers, and WR Donald Driver got open deep behind S M.D. Jennings and caught a perfectly thrown deep ball from Rodgers.

–WR Greg Jennings turned in what was probably the play of the day in his first day back after missing a few practices with an elbow bruise. Jennings caught a ball right in stride that deflected off TE Jermichael Finley and may have been deflected by CB Tramon Williams as well.

–LB Desmond Bishop and FB John Kuhn both must practice two times in shells before they can put full pads on, and they got their first day in on Wednesday. If they practice in shells again Thursday night, that would make them eligible to put pads on for Friday’s Family Night scrimmage, but it seems unlikely they’ll do so.

“You know I would if they let me, but I’m not sure how that would work,” Bishop said. “I don’t foresee them letting me the first day in pads go in the scrimmage. So I’m guessing Sunday.”

–In addition to Commissioner Roger Goodell, other big names in attendance at Wednesday’s practice included former Packers GM Ron Wolf and Hall of Fame head coach and former broadcaster John Madden.


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Posted in Packers.com Blog, Training Camp

Harrell leads successful 2-minute drill

Posted by Mike Spofford on July 31, 2012 – 4:20 pm

Tuesday’s practice marked the second straight day QB Aaron Rodgers led the first-team offense down the field for a score during the two-minute drill.

A day earlier, backup QB Graham Harrell didn’t get an opportunity with the second unit. On Tuesday, he did, and he succeeded as well.

Needing a touchdown with 1:54 on the clock and two timeouts, Harrell drove the offense 60 yards to paydirt. The big play was a 24-yard completion to TE D.J. Williams on a middle seam route that put the ball in the red zone. Three plays later, Harrell fired a back-shoulder throw to WR Tori Gurley, who was covered tightly by CB Sam Shields. Gurley made the adjustment on the ball, juggled it, and hauled it in as he was falling to the ground for a 10-yard TD with 34 seconds left.

Harrell first showed his cool in those pressure situations last summer in the third preseason game in Indianapolis. As the No. 3 QB, Harrell drove the Packers 73 yards for a TD and 2-point conversion that tied the game with 35 seconds left. He completed seven of nine throws on the drive and threw for the 2-pointer. Following a successful onside kick, he completed two more passes for 20 yards to set up the game-winning FG.

Other camp notes:

–The team practiced 2-point conversion plays for the first time in camp on Tuesday. Last season, the Packers attempted just one two-point play on offense, but had to defend six tries on defense. The Packers went 0-for-1 while their opponents went 4-for-6 in 2011.

–Wednesday will mark the final of six straight 8:15 a.m. practices. Beginning on Thursday, practices will be held either at 7 p.m. (with Friday’s Family Night scrimmage at 6:30 p.m.) or 3:30 p.m. for the next two weeks. Following the second preseason game, practices shift to late morning, beginning at either 11:15 a.m. or 11 a.m.


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Posted in Packers.com Blog, Training Camp