RB DuJuan Harris heading to Vikings

Posted by Duke Bobber on March 19, 2015 – 4:46 pm

DuJuan HarrisThe Minnesota Vikings announced the signing of former Packers RB DuJuan Harris on Thursday.

Originally signed to Green Bay’s practice squad in 2012, Harris appeared in 19 regular season games for the Packers from 2012-14, rushing for 221 yards and 2 TDs. Harris spent the 2013 season on injured reserve after injuring his knee in a preseason game vs. Seattle on Aug. 23.

For the Packers’ updated roster, click here.


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News & notes: McCarthy takes exception to Manning penalty

Posted by Mike Spofford on August 26, 2013 – 5:40 pm

On Monday, Head Coach Mike McCarthy talked about the decision to release K Giorgio Tavecchio and what that might mean going forward, while QB Aaron Rodgers recapped the Packers’ preseason thus far.

Other news & notes …

–Highly questionable call: McCarthy isn’t going to tell LB Terrell Manning to do anything different next time.

LB Terrell Manning

LB Terrell Manning

In the fourth quarter of last Friday’s preseason game vs. Seattle, Manning blitzed Seahawks QB Brady Quinn and drilled him, shoulder to chest, as he released the pass and the two crashed to the turf. Manning was then flagged for roughing the passer, with the official explaining that Manning brought his weight down on Quinn at the completion of the play.

McCarthy doesn’t agree, at all.

“I thought Manning’s hit on the quarterback was textbook,” McCarthy said on Monday. “Frankly, when the quarterback jumps in the air and the linebacker is blitzing, and he hits him with the shoulder and so forth, I don’t know how you don’t have a weight-bearing issue. I think (the problem is) the way the rule is defined and written as opposed to the intent of it.

“I think there needs to be a second action by the defender in a pinning, weight-bearing mode, and that clearly wasn’t the case with Terrell. He hit Brady Quinn, who was in the air, both his feet were off the ground, and when they did hit the ground, he continued in one fluid motion and rolled off. So I didn’t agree with the call at all.”

Manning was visibly upset with the call at the time, but to his credit, he kept his composure for the most part. The penalty came on third-and-8 and gave Seattle a first down, but three plays later the Seahawks punted anyway.

“At the end of the day, I had to move on quickly because when I’m out there, I’m the signal caller, so I have to get my defense lined up and ready for the next play,” said Manning, who said he hasn’t heard from the league about any possible fine. “Of course I was a little shocked and displeased, but I have to have short-term memory out there to make sure the team is ready to go.

“The coaching staff definitely had my back. They said it was a good, clean hit, keep going. Anytime you have the head coach and everybody else telling you that, you feel pretty confident in what you did.”

McCarthy often has expressed confidence in the league’s efforts toward player safety, but the application in this instance didn’t take all the circumstances into consideration.

“We can’t control the fact the quarterback’s feet are off (the ground),” he said. “In fairness to the referees, those plays happen fast, and I get all that, but I don’t think that’s what we’re looking for.”

–Williams back to work: CB Tramon Williams practiced on Monday for the first time since the first padded practice of camp, which was back on July 28.

CB Tramon Williams

CB Tramon Williams

He’s been nursing a painful bone bruise on his knee since then, but he tested it out in a limited number of snaps in Monday’s no-pads practice, and the early reports were good.

“It felt OK. Coaches limited my reps, obviously, but it felt good for the most part, moving around against different guys,” said Williams, who played some bump-and-run against receivers and didn’t hold back when he was on the field. “I wondered how that would feel, but it held up. It was encouraging.”

Encouraging enough for Williams to feel better about his chances of making it all the way back for the season opener at San Francisco, but as has been his approach, no guarantees.

“I think so,” he said when asked if Week 1 is realistic. “I still don’t want to go out and say that I will be there Week 1, but for me to be out here now, I think it’s definitely a possibility.”

–More on injuries: McCarthy ruled out LB Brad Jones (hamstring) from Thursday’s game in Kansas City, having already done so with S Morgan Burnett and CB Casey Hayward, who also have hamstring injuries.

Rookie WR Kevin Dorsey (toe) and LB Dezman Moses (toe) did not practice on Monday.

RB DuJuan Harris (knee) is getting a second opinion on his injury, so there’s no definitive update on his situation.

–Smooth it out: The backup center position has been a rough spot through much of training camp. Early on, Don Barclay was having QB-C exchange issues before moving back to tackle full time, and lately Greg Van Roten and Patrick Lewis have struggled with some shotgun snaps.

Van Roten is the leader for the backup job but rolled another shotgun snap back to the QB in practice on Monday.

“Greg has been given the majority of (the second-team work),” McCarthy said. “He needs to clean some things up. He had one or two things go on today that he needs to clean up, … and from Seattle.”


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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: Mike Neal has ‘best practice’ of camp

Posted by Mike Spofford on August 14, 2013 – 5:11 pm

For the rundown on QB Aaron Rodgers’ chat with reporters at his locker, in which he talked about his lighter workload and the “vibe” of the team, check out today’s feature story. Here are some more news & notes from Wednesday:

–Neal flashes in new role: He missed time early in camp due to an abdominal injury and sat out the first preseason game, but DE Mike Neal is starting to look more comfortable in his new hybrid lineman-outside linebacker role.

DE Mike Neal

DE Mike Neal

On Wednesday, Neal was showing up in a number of drills, including the OLB-RB blitz pick-up and the one-on-one pass rush, where he worked from both inside and outside. He also stuffed one running play in team (11-on-11) work and was a factor at the line of scrimmage on a number of other snaps.

“Today was probably the first time we felt what we hope he’s about — his ability to be a difference-maker, the ability to put him in one-on-one situations and for him to win and to win consistently,” Mike McCarthy said. “I think Mike had his best practice today of training camp.”

Neal is taking a liking to the hybrid role now that he’s had more time to absorb the responsibilities of the OLB position, a process that began in OTAs. The next step will be to carry the kind of impact he had on the practice field on Wednesday into the preseason game in St. Louis on Saturday, which he said he’s definitely looking forward to.

“I think it best suits me. Just using my athleticism is probably the biggest thing,” Neal said. “The learning part of it is what they wanted me to (accomplish) so I can put myself in those positions.”

–Young to get more plays: McCarthy said he’s seen a lot of progress in QB Vince Young now that he’s been in camp for a week, and he plans to get Young more snaps with a larger play selection in Saturday’s game.

Young took a number of snaps in the team drills on Wednesday and appeared to be getting the ball out of his hand faster on pass plays, an indication he’s understanding the scheme more and more.

“It’s important for Vince to be able to call it, see it in his mind and be able to execute,” Rodgers said. “Seven days after he’s been here he’s definitely improved with the verbiage and he’s making some plays.”

–Injury update: WR Randall Cobb (bicep) and RB James Starks (illness) sat out practice, while G T.J. Lang (back) returned and TE Ryan Taylor (knee) was back on the field for the first time since the Family Night scrimmage. DE Ryan Pickett also returned after missing a day for personal reasons.

RBs Eddie Lacy and DuJuan Harris were cleared for more contact, with Lacy doing more in the team drills than Harris did. Lacy didn’t appear to have any issues with his hamstring, but he stopped short of saying he would for sure have clearance to play on Saturday in St. Louis. Both Lacy and Harris missed the first preseason game last week.

“Most likely they’re going to make the decision, but you have to look at the bigger picture,” Lacy said. “Preseason is a time for you to go out there and showcase what you can do and get a taste of how it is, how it’s going to be when the season gets here. But if you’re not 100 percent or don’t feel you can go, then don’t risk it.”

–Plays of the day: Two of the rookie stars thus far in camp have been undrafted WR Tyrone Walker and fifth-round CB Micah Hyde, and the pair made two of the highlight plays in practice again on Wednesday.

Walker made a nifty tip-toe catch right at the front pylon of the end zone on a throw from QB Graham Harrell after Harrell scrambled to his left to buy extra time.

Then, moments later, Hyde was in coverage on a fade to the corner of the end zone to WR Myles White. With his back to the ball, Hyde turned his head at just the right time to see it and deflect it. As he fell to the turf, the ball then hung on Hyde’s hip and he was able to tip it back to himself, make the interception and get up to run.

The grab looked similar to Antonio Freeman’s “Monday Night Miracle” against the Vikings in 2000, only it was a great defensive play rather than an offensive one.

“I knew it didn’t hit the ground,” Hyde said. “Luckily I was able to tip it back into my hands.”


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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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