News & notes: Jordy Nelson still hoping for opener

Posted by Mike Spofford on August 19, 2013 – 5:49 pm

For a rundown on Head Coach Mike McCarthy’s post-game press conference, during which he discussed the team’s health and the need for more high-impact plays, check out today’s feature story. Here are some additional news & notes from Monday:

–Nelson aims for San Francisco: WR Jordy Nelson, who is out for the preseason after having surgery on his knee, wouldn’t go so far as to guarantee he’d be ready for Week 1, but he said that remains the goal and thus far “we’re progressing right on schedule.”

The knee issue is something that first cropped up for Nelson during his college days at Kansas State, and he has dealt with it in his pro career, but he said it’s never been a constant thing. That’s why he never had the surgery until now, when it cropped up after one week of training camp but five weeks before the first game.

“You want to avoid surgery as much as possible,” Nelson said. “That’s what we tried to do. We thought we had it taken care of, and then we realized we didn’t.

“Something happened in practice and it flared back up. Right away I knew it. There was enough time left before opening week that we were felt hopefully we could get in and get out and get ready to go. That was our plan, and that’s what we’re still hoping for.”

Nelson added that had the flare-up occurred during the regular season, he would have been able to play through it, but with the timing it made sense to go this route.

“Our main goal was San Fran, and that’s a goal,” he said. “You never know what will happen. We’ll continue to take it day by day.”

–Extra attention: No one has distinguished himself as the clear No. 2 QB, but Mike McCarthy feels no matter who wins the job, the Packers will be better off for having brought in Vince Young.

“I look at the quarterback room, it’s a better room since the day Vince Young came in here,” McCarthy said. “The minute he walked through the door, Graham Harrell and B.J. Coleman have picked it up. That has been very evident from my viewpoint.”

Coleman has been the fourth QB in the rotation in the first two preseason games, but McCarthy complimented him for making “a hell of a play” on his TD pass in St. Louis, the Packers’ only TD of the preseason thus far.

On the play, Coleman scrambled to his right to buy time and then fired a strike at the front pylon of the end zone to undrafted rookie TE Jake Stoneburner, who was coming back hard for the ball. The score capped a 13-play, 75-yard drive.

“We’ve been working more scout stuff than our own stuff,” Coleman said of the third-string offensive unit he directs. “To be able to go out there, sustain a drive … those guys deserve it. They worked hard.”

–No interest in spectating: Rookie DE Datone Jones said he “hates” watching practice, even if it was just for one week with a bum ankle, in part because it reminds him of when he missed an entire college season due to a broken foot.

DE Datone Jones

DE Datone Jones

“It ate at me,” he said of then, and now, after Jones returned to practice on Monday.

He said he knew right away this injury wasn’t as bad as the college one, though, so he wasn’t overly anxious about it. It came on his very first snap in the first preseason game, when he was tripped by an opposing Arizona offensive lineman on his way to the QB.

“All I can remember is I made a great inside move, great pass rush move,” he said. “All of a sudden, Carson Palmer is in front of me, my eyes got bright and after that I was on the ground. That’s all I can really remember. I feel like I made a great play, it just turns out I hurt my ankle.”

–New duties: Rookie CB Micah Hyde returned his first punt of the preseason on Saturday in St. Louis, darting and dodging his way for 13 yards up the middle of the field. McCarthy said he’s going to give Hyde more punt-return opportunities this week, and Hyde says he’s ready.

“I feel comfortable,” Hyde said. “I did it in the past, and the coaches trust me enough to put me back there. I’m going to try to make the best of it.”

Hyde returned punts his final two seasons in college at Iowa. He recorded 13 returns for 68 yards, with a long of 27, in 2012, and he had 13 returns for 108 yards, with a long of 30, in 2011.


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News & notes: Datone Jones’ one snap was impressive

Posted by Mike Spofford on August 12, 2013 – 5:26 pm

For the rundown on RB DuJuan Harris’ return to the practice field and some increased reps for rookie WR Tyrone Walker and rookie CB Micah Hyde, check out today’s feature story. Here are some additional news & notes from Monday:

–One snap but good: Rookie DE Datone Jones lasted only one snap in Friday’s preseason opener before leaving with an ankle injury, but when his teammates viewed that snap on film, they were impressed.

DE Datone Jones

DE Datone Jones

Jones came in for the nickel package on the first third down of the game and was matched against Arizona G Jonathan Cooper, who like Jones was a first-round draft draft pick. In the words of fellow defensive lineman B.J. Raji, “He completely whipped the guy and had a chance to get a sack.”

“We all talked about how great of a move he had on the guy,” Raji said. “It was rookie on rookie, first-round pick on first-round pick, and Datone, he won that rep and his leg just got caught. The other guy kind of tripped him and got his ankle. But judging Datone off that one play, his future definitely looks bright.”

Mike McCarthy said Jones would be out of practice for at least a couple of days, and he wasn’t sure if he’d be available to play in St. Louis on Saturday night.

–More on injuries: WR Randall Cobb (bicep) was back at practice on Monday with a wrap on his upper right arm. G T.J. Lang (back) did not practice and was replaced at right guard with the No. 1 offensive line by Don Barclay. McCarthy called the holding out of Lang “precautionary” and suggested it could continue on Tuesday.

RB Eddie Lacy (hamstring) missed practice again and did some testing of his injury, but McCarthy said he didn’t know how the test went.

–New outlook: Two of the Packers’ backup offensive linemen who have received praise lately from the coaches and whose reps are increasing are second-year pro Greg Van Roten and undrafted rookie Lane Taylor.

Van Roten appears to be the top backup at center behind Evan Dietrich-Smith, and he also takes a fair share of snaps at guard. Taylor has worked both guard spots in camp and managed to play well in Friday’s game despite a lack of rest.

The day before the game, Taylor’s wife gave birth to the couple’s first child, a daughter. He missed practice on Thursday but slept at the hospital that night with his wife and newborn, who arrived just after 5 p.m. He returned to Lambeau Field on Friday to prepare for the game and performed rather well.

“I feel like I’m starting to really clean up my technique and get fundamentally sound. It’s starting to pay off,” Taylor said. “You’ll get beat, it’s the NFL, but I keep plugging away and I’m starting to see some results.”

Undrafted out of Oklahoma State, Taylor had a handful of free-agent offers after the draft and chose Green Bay, seeing it as a “good fit.” He has a legitimate shot at a roster spot, but he admitted there’s even more motivation now with a daughter on his hands.

“Most definitely,” he said. “Having a newborn makes you more motivated because you want to go out there and provide and bring the best life for her.”

Getting his kicks: K Giorgio Tavecchio won Monday’s head-to-head kicking competition by going 8-for-8 on field goals to Mason Crosby’s 7-for-8. Crosby’s lone miss was wide left from 46 yards. With neither kicker getting a chance in Friday’s game, they can expect more work in practice as the preseason continues.

“If they ask us for 30 kicks, we’ll give them as many as we can,” said Tavecchio, who continues to preach his one-day-at-a-time approach in his effort to take Crosby’s job.

“It was a warm day today, so the balls were flying,” he said. “I felt like myself, Tim (Masthay) and Brett (Goode) were in a good rhythm with the snap, hold and kick.

“I have to watch the film to really see and dissect everything, because right now I feel good. But I always take a good look at the film and be unbiased about it. Take the lessons, the good, bad and if there’s any ugly, take that too and keep moving forward.”


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News & notes: TE Brandon Bostick coming on strong

Posted by Mike Spofford on August 6, 2013 – 2:54 pm

The latest on Bryan Bulaga’s knee injury can be found here, and more on rookie tackle David Bakhtiari and the introduction of QB Vince Young to Green Bay is right here. Regarding other news & notes …

–Bostick showing up: With injuries at tight end to Andrew Quarless (quad) and now Ryan Taylor (knee), practice-squad holdover Brandon Bostick is starting to show up more on the practice field.

TE Brandon Bostick

TE Brandon Bostick

In the scrimmage on Saturday night, Bostick made a tough catch in traffic over the middle. Then on Tuesday, he caught two TD passes during red-zone work. The first was on a quick flip from QB Aaron Rodgers over the middle that appeared to be an audible at the line. The second was on a crossing route thrown by QB Graham Harrell. Bostick caught it right in front of CB Jarrett Bush and absorbed a hit from S Chris Banjo at the goal line.

He nearly turned a good day into a great day, but he couldn’t haul in another potential TD pass from Rodgers on a difficult catch at the goal line with Bush in tight coverage.

“That would have topped off the day,” Bostick said. “It was a tough catch. I should have made that play. It was good coverage and Aaron threw a great ball. I should have made that play.”

Bostick said the key for him is being able to play faster and not think as much, now that he’s had a full year to make the transition from Division II college receiver and learn Green Bay’s offense. He says his position coach, Jerry Fontenot, is always reminding him to “play fast.”

Bostick also continues to work on his blocking, and on one play he handled Nick Perry’s outside rush OK, though he wasn’t totally satisfied.

“I held my own, but you always want to get that push,” he said. “You always want to be on the other side of the line of scrimmage.”

That’s a tough task for anyone against Perry, but Bostick is quietly improving this camp. Now he has to keep showing growth when the preseason games start on Friday.

–Injury update: Head Coach Mike McCarthy said Taylor would be “week to week” but he didn’t think he’d be out long. WR Jordy Nelson had a procedure done on his knee and is out for the remainder of the preseason, at least.

RB Alex Green (knee) and DE Datone Jones (illness) also missed practice, while WR Randall Cobb (bicep) and DL Johnny Jolly (cramps) left the workout early.

LB Dezman Moses and S David Fulton both returned to practice after missing Saturday’s scrimmage.

–Harrell follows up: After a solid showing in the scrimmage, backup QB Graham Harrell was productive again on Tuesday. In the red-zone work, in addition to the TD to Bostick, he also hit WR Myles White on both a slant and a quick out for TDs with pinpoint throws. Later, he connected with WR Alex Gillett in the back of the end zone for another score.

QB B.J. Coleman hasn’t been able to close the gap on Harrell, and Coleman didn’t help himself by overthrowing a wide open TE Jake Stoneburner at the goal line off a play-action bootleg. Young’s arrival as a fourth QB is only going to put more pressure on Coleman, but McCarthy said he’s “not giving up on B.J. Coleman.”

–Boykin steady: At the start of camp, WR Jarrett Boykin was considered the front-runner for the No. 4 receiver spot, and he’s done nothing to lose his hold on it. On Tuesday, he made an impressive sliding catch on a deep ball in a one-on-one drill against CB Brandon Smith, and then in the no-huddle period to close practice, he made two nice catches on throws from Rodgers, the first a back-shoulder ball along the sideline, and the second a slant on which Boykin took a big hit from S Jerron McMillian but secured the catch.


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News & notes from Day 2

Posted by Mike Spofford on July 27, 2013 – 3:38 pm

For the main news of Saturday, check out the full story on Clay Matthews on the main packers.com site. For some additional tidbits, here are a few news items and notes from the second practice of training camp:

Three WRs already down: Just two days into camp, and the Packers have lost three receivers to injuries. On Friday, undrafted rookie Sederrik Cunningham injured his wrist when he battled cornerback Micah Hyde for a deep ball that was knocked away incomplete. Cunningham was in the locker room on Saturday wearing a sling.

WR Charles Johnson

WR Charles Johnson

Then on Saturday, seventh-round picks Charles Johnson and Kevin Dorsey both dropped out of practice. Johnson fell awkwardly as his left leg got caught underneath him while he tried to stop a slant route and catch a pass that was slightly behind him. He walked off under his own power and later said he was scheduled to have an MRI taken.

“My foot got stuck in the ground as I stopped to catch the ball,” Johnson said. “I felt a little bit of pain, but I could still walk when I rolled over. Personally, I don’t feel like it’s something major.”

Not long after Johnson’s injury, Dorsey came up limping after a running a relatively innocent-looking route.

After practice, Head Coach Mike McCarthy did not have an update on either Johnson’s or Dorsey’s status.

Glance at the depth chart: Jerron McMillian took the majority of the snaps at safety with the No. 1 defense, after M.D. Jennings had done so on Day 1. It appears those two will continue rotating in with the first unit probably throughout much of camp until the competition is decided. McMillian did have what would have been a sack on a blitz late in practice when he got around the attempted block of RB Alex Green.

Also, first-round pick Datone Jones isn’t with the No. 1 defense in base (B.J. Raji, Ryan Pickett and C.J. Wilson are the down linemen), but he’s being paired with Raji in the No. 1 nickel package, which features only two down linemen.

With CBs Casey Hayward (hamstring) and Davon House (illness) out, veteran Jarrett Bush is working as the nickel CB, and he had a nice pass break-up on Saturday on a deep pass down the seam intended for WR Jeremy Ross.

WR Randall Cobb took the first rep as the kickoff returner, followed by Ross and rookie RB Johnathan Franklin. All three worked on the punt return as well. McCarthy noted that he likes what he sees early on from Franklin.

Play of the day: The defensive play of the day was probably turned in by CB Tramon Williams, who leaped in the end zone to bat away a deep pass from QB Aaron Rodgers intended for WR Jordy Nelson. Rodgers scrambled to his right on the play, which Williams said forced the defenders to come out of zone coverage and find a receiver. He found Nelson in time to break up the play.

Harris still on the mend: RB DuJuan Harris, who had a cyst removed from his lung in the spring, hasn’t practiced in camp yet due to a knee injury, but he claims it’s nothing serious and he won’t be out much longer.

“It’s a little frustrating, but just taking it slow,” Harris said. “I should be out there real soon. Just being patient and not trying to rush back too soon.”

With the Packers drafting Eddie Lacy and Franklin, and with veterans James Starks and Green off to solid starts in camp, Harris acknowledged he needs to be on the field soon, but he remains confident he’ll be able to pick up where he left off late last season, when he was the team’s primary ballcarrier.

The procedure to remove the cyst should only help, too.

“I should be better than ever, as good as new,” he said. “My lung capacity should be where it’s supposed to be now, and my breathing should be better. It should be a little faster. I should last longer, be able to take more carries. I’m just excited to get back out there and see what I can do.”


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News & notes from Day 1 of camp

Posted by Mike Spofford on July 26, 2013 – 3:40 pm

Here are a few news items and notes from Day 1 of training camp:

Runnin’ with the ones: No real surprises as far as the depth chart goes. In the battle for the starting safety spot alongside Morgan Burnett, M.D. Jennings took the majority of the snaps with the first unit, but Jerron McMillian was rotated in as well. Same arrangement at right tackle, starting with Marshall Newhouse and followed by Don Barclay.

Johnathan Franklin

RB Johnathan Franklin

Sam Shields was the starter at cornerback opposite Tramon Williams, and he could hold down that spot for awhile with Casey Hayward (hamstring) and Davon House (illness) missing practice. At running back, there was a steady rotation of work amongst Alex Green, James Starks, Eddie Lacy, Johnathan Franklin and Angelo Pease.

No first-day jitters: The Packers’ three highest-profile draft picks said they didn’t have any first-day nerves to deal with on the practice field. Neither Datone Jones, Lacy nor Franklin did anything particularly eye-catching, but their enthusiasm for their first pro training camp was evident.

“It was exciting,” Franklin said. “We went through OTAs, so the nervousness got out then, and in rookie minicamp. Today was just learning and understanding the scheme of things, putting things together.”

Jones brushed off even the idea of being nervous.

“I prepare very hard, so I’m very confident in myself,”  he said. “I believe in myself that I can get the job done. I’m able to play fast because I know my assignments. I study a lot.”

Friday’s practice was in shells, and Saturday’s will be, too. The first day in full pads will be Sunday.

“Practice without pads is always tough,” Lacy said. “You can’t really run through them, they’re just tagging off. When we get the pads on, it’ll be different. I think I’ll do pretty good with the pads on.”

Sherrod hopeful: Former first-round pick Derek Sherrod says he feels “a heck of a lot better than at this point last year” in his recovery from a surgically repaired broken leg that cost him all of last season. He reiterated Head Coach Mike McCarthy’s hope that he can return to the field soon, but he’s not putting a timetable on it.

“Just taking it a day at a time,” said Sherrod, who is thought to be a contender in the battle for the right tackle job should he return soon. “It could be tomorrow, it could be whenever, but I’m working very hard and making sure that I am doing everything I can to get out there as soon as possible with my teammates.”

Neal lighter, but waiting: Defensive end Mike Neal has been dogged by injuries throughout his career, but he called this latest abdomen injury that is keeping him out of training camp a “minor setback.”

Neal worked extensively at outside linebacker during OTAs and has slimmed down to help make the transition. He said he now weighs 275 pounds, down nearly 20 from his playing weight of a year ago.

“It’s more natural for me to be at this weight,” said Neal, a stalwart in the weight room throughout his football life. “I feel better at this weight.”

Neal said the coaches didn’t ask him to lose any weight but left the issue up to him. When he gets on the field, which McCarthy said could be a couple of weeks, it will be interesting to see if the Packers employ him more as an inside or outside pass rusher. Neal had 4 1/2 sacks last season as an inside rusher.


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Packers NFL Draft 2013: Meet the draft class

Posted by Duke Bobber on April 27, 2013 – 11:15 pm

This draft class gives the Packers a tough look

This draft class gives Packers a tough look

Running backs join emphasis on defenseRead More

DRAFT RECAP VIDEOS

Meet the players

1. Datone Jones, DE, UCLA
2. Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama
4a. David Bakhtiari, T, Colorado
4b. J.C. Tretter, T, Cornell
4c. Johnathan Franklin, RB, UCLA
5a. Micah Hyde, CB, Iowa
5b. Josh Boyd, DE, Mississippi State
6. Nate Palmer, LB, Illinois State
7a. Charles Johnson, WR, Grand Valley State
7b. Kevin Dorsey, WR, Maryland
7c. Sam Barrington, LB, South Florida

Datone Jones

#95 DATONE JONESDE – UCLA – HT: 6-4 – WT: 285 – Drafted 1st Round, #26 Overall

AUDIO/VIDEO

additional coverage

Green Bay Packers RB Eddie Lacy

#27 EDDIE LACYRB – ALABAMA – HT: 5-11 – WT: 230 – Drafted 2nd Round, #61 Overall

AUDIO/VIDEO

additional coverage

T David Bakhtiari

#69 DAVID BAKHTIARIT – COLORADO – HT: 6-4 – WT: 300 – Drafted 4th Round, #109 Overall

AUDIO/VIDEO

ADDITIONAL COVERAGE

T J.C. Tretter

J.C. TRETTERT – CORNELL – HT: 6-4 – WT: 307 – Drafted 4th Round, #122 Overall

AUDIO/VIDEO

additional coverage

RB Johnathan Franklin

JOHNATHAN FRANKLINRB – UCLA – HT: 5-10 – WT: 205 – Drafted 4th Round, #125 Overall

AUDIO/VIDEO

additional coverage

CB Micah Hyde

MICAH HYDECB – IOWA – HT: 6-0 – WT: 197 – Drafted 5th Round, #159 Overall

AUDIO/VIDEO

additional coverage

DE Josh Boyd

JOSH BOYDDE – MISSISSIPPI STATE – HT: 6-3 – WT: 310 – Drafted 5th Round, #167 Overall

AUDIO/VIDEO

additional coverage

LB Nate Palmer

NATE PALMERLB – ILLINOIS STATE – HT: 6-2 – WT: 248 – Drafted 6th Round, #193 Overall

AUDIO

WR Charles Johnson

CHARLES JOHNSONWR – GRAND VALLEY STATE – HT: 6-2 – WT: 215 – Drafted 7th Round, #216 Overall

AUDIO

WR Kevin Dorsey

KEVIN DORSEYWR – MARYLAND – HT: 6-1 – WT: 207 – Drafted 7th Round, #224 Overall

AUDIO

LB Sam Barrington

SAM BARRINGTONLB – SOUTH FLORIDA – HT: 6-1 – WT: 235 – Drafted 7th Round, #232 Overall

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Posted in Packers.com Blog

Packers pick Datone Jones in first round

Posted by Vic Ketchman, packers.com editor on April 25, 2013 – 10:13 pm

GREEN BAY–The Packers selected UCLA defensive end Datone Jones with the 26th pick of tonight’s NFL draft. Jones, 6-4, 280, registered 6.5 sacks and 19 tackles for loss last season. He is considered versatile enough to play in several schemes.

Jones was one of the standout players at the Senior Bowl and at the scouting combine this past winter. He immediately addresses the Packers’ need for young talent on an aging defensive line.

“His size, balance, explosiveness and pass-rush ability make him scheme and position-versatile,” one draft publication said of Jones.


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Posted in Packers.com Blog, Vic Ketchman Blog