Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy said on Thursday that he’s hopeful C Evan Dietrich-Smith can return to practice in some capacity on Friday, but he hasn’t made a final decision on the starting offensive line should Dietrich-Smith not be able to play.
Dietrich-Smith injured an ankle in practice on Wednesday and sat out Thursday. If he can’t play, he’d be replaced by RG T.J. Lang at center, the same move made in Detroit last week when Dietrich-Smith went down with a knee injury.
One of three other players would fill in from there. One option would be for ro0kie Lane Taylor to take Lang’s spot at RG. Another would be for Don Barclay to slide over from RT to RG, with Derek Sherrod starting at RT. Or Marshall Newhouse could start at either RG or RT, with Barclay playing the other spot.
“The opportunity needs to be earned and performance will drive it,” McCarthy said.
The Packers got no further clarity on QB Aaron Rodgers’ availability for Sunday. He practiced in pads and “made a little progress,” according to McCarthy, but there was nothing more to report.
“He’s a step closer, but how far away, time will answer that question,” McCarthy said.
In other news, CB Tramon Williams acknowledged that he was fined by the league for the contact he made with an official in the end zone in Detroit last Thursday. Williams said the fine was “in the 20s,” meaning thousands of dollars, but he maintained there was no intent behind the contact and that he didn’t know in the heat of the moment it was an official whose arm he swiped away.
“I’ll appeal,” he said. “Hopefully they give me some money back.”
Tags: aaron rodgers, evan dietrich-smith, mike mccarthy, tramon williams
Posted in Packers.com Blog
Packers starting RT Don Barclay missed his second straight practice on Thursday with a knee injury, but Head Coach Mike McCarthy said he was going to give Barclay every opportunity to get himself healthy enough to play on Sunday.
“He didn’t probably feel as good today as we had hoped,” McCarthy said, explaining Barclay did only rehab but did not practice. “We’ll see how he is tomorrow. I’m going to give him the full week to try to give it a go.”
If Barclay is unable to play, the Packers’ options would be to start Marshall Newhouse — who has filled in at RT in each of the last two games when Barclay had to shift over to RG — or to give Derek Sherrod his first game action since Dec. 2011.
Also on the offensive line, C Evan Dietrich-Smith was a limited participant in practice for the second straight day. Thursday’s practice was in pads and Dietrich-Smith was not held out, so that bodes well for his chances to play.
McCarthy also said CB Casey Hayward (hamstring) will be out “multiple weeks.” On the defensive line, Johnny Jolly (groin) sat out for the second straight day, and Ryan Pickett (knee) was limited.
Tags: casey hayward, don barclay, evan dietrich-smith, johnny jolly, ryan pickett
Posted in Packers.com Blog
The Packers lost two starters on the offensive line to injury in last week’s game, but there appears to be a chance for the starting unit to remain intact for the road trip to play the Giants.
C Evan Dietrich-Smith (knee) was back at practice on Wednesday on a limited basis, while RT Don Barclay (knee) did not practice. Mike McCarthy said, however, that Barclay was waiting for a brace to arrive and he could try to practice on Thursday.
“He’s getting better,” McCarthy said of Barclay. “Better than we thought.”
Dietrich-Smith said the scans done on his knee were “encouraging,” and he sounded optimistic about being able to play.
“I’d like to think of myself as a very durable player,” Dietrich-Smith said. “I don’t miss too many games, and for me, it’s important to be out there with the guys. I was out there today and I felt like practicing the whole time, but I knew I have to be smart, and you can’t push those kinds of things. I’m hoping for the weekend, and we’ll see how it goes.”
In other injury news, DE Mike Neal (abdomen) is “beat up,” according to McCarthy, and may not practice all week.
DE Johnny Jolly (groin), LB Nick Perry (foot/ankle) and CB Casey Hayward (hamstring) also did not practice. LB Andy Mulumba (ankle) and DE Ryan Pickett (knee) were limited, while LB Clay Matthews (thumb) was listed as a full participant.
Tags: casey hayward, clay matthews, don barclay, evan dietrich-smith, johnny jolly, mike neal, nick perry, ryan pickett
Posted in Packers.com Blog
* Notes written by Packers public relations
As per team tradition, the Packers select game captains each week. Tonight’s captains will be C/G Evan Dietrich-Smith (offense), DT Johnny Jolly (defense) and K Mason Crosby (special teams).
Tags: #GBvsMIN, captains, evan dietrich-smith, johnny jolly, mason crosby, minnesota vikings
Posted in Packers.com Blog
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
As Packers.com’s Mike Spofford mentioned in his Friday story, Evan Dietrich-Smith is taking over at center for Jeff Saturday for Sunday’s game against Tennessee. Ryan Grant will also get the start at running back in place of Alex Green, who is still recovering from a concussion. The following players have been declared as inactive for today’s Green Bay Packers-Tennessee Titans game at Lambeau Field.
Green Bay Packers
20 RB Alex Green
21 DB Charles Woodson
44 RB James Starks
83 TE Tom Crabtree
87 WR Jordy Nelson
98 DE C.J. Wilson
99 DE Jerel Worthy
Starting lineup changes: On offense, #89 James Jones will start at wide receiver for #87 Jordy Nelson. #25 Ryan Grant will start at running back for #20 Alex Green. #62 Evan Dietrich-Smith will start at center for #63 Jeff Saturday. On defense, #96 Mike Neal will start in place of #98 C.J. Wilson at right defensive end.
11 QB Rusty Smith
13 WR Kendall Wright
29 CB Ryan Mouton
52 LB Colin McCarthy
60 C Kevin Matthews
66 T Mike Otto
90 DE Scott Solomon
Starting lineup changes: On offense, #67 Mitch Petrus will start at LG for #61 Fernando Velasco. Velasco will start at C for #62 Kyle DeVan. #68 Byron Stingily will start at RT for #66 Mike Otto. On defense, #59 Tim Shaw will start at MLB for #52 Colin McCarthy.
Tags: #TENvsGB, evan dietrich-smith, inactives, tennessee titans
Posted in Packers.com Blog
But he admitted it was best for him not to push it on his sore ankle, and he was back at practice on Wednesday feeling pretty good about his chances to play on Sunday in Chicago.
“That was probably the best-case scenario to give me an extra gameday to heal up and not bang it up any more and be close to fully recovered this week,” Lang said. “Those guys who played in the game last week all played well, so it was probably the smartest decision to sit out.”
Mike McCarthy said after practice that Lang took most of his reps on Wednesday at his old spot, left guard, which could indicate the Packers are going to stick with undrafted rookie Don Barclay at right tackle, who made his first start last week. Then again, McCarthy reiterated that Evan Dietrich-Smith, who had been playing Lang’s LG spot while Lang was playing RT in place of Bryan Bulaga, earned an offensive game ball for his performance last week.
McCarthy said he wants to see how Lang looks in practice throughout the week before making a final decision, so the offensive line will be prepared for various scenarios.
“We want to make sure Don Barclay gets as many reps as he can outside (at tackle),” McCarthy said. “We’ll make sure we’re ready to go.”
Lang said he had no trouble moving back to LG after his roughly month-long stint at RT. The best guess for now is if Lang is healthy enough to play, he’ll be back at his old spot.
“Like riding a bike, man,” Lang said. “It’s something I’ve done a lot of and it’s where my comfort level is.”
In other injury news, McCarthy said WR Jordy Nelson (hamstring) would be a longshot to play this week. The same goes for DE C.J. Wilson, whose knee injury is more serious than initially thought, though McCarthy still sounded hopeful Wilson could be back by season’s end. He has missed the last two games.
Also on the defensive line, DE Mike Neal (shoulder) practiced on Wednesday somewhat unexpectedly. The Packers signed another D-lineman, Jordan Miller, to the active roster from the practice squad on Tuesday due to the injuries to Wilson and Neal, but Neal is “making progress.”
CB Davon House missed practice due to an illness.
Tags: don barclay, evan dietrich-smith, jordy nelson, mike mccarthy, offensive line, t.j. lang
Posted in Packers.com Blog
The Packers’ coaching staff has awarded game balls from Sunday night’s victory over Detroit to the following three players:
Defense — CB Tramon Williams
Offense — G Evan Dietrich-Smith
Special teams — LB Frank Zombo
Williams drew the assignment of guarding Lions WR Calvin Johnson for most of the game, getting safety help over the top much of the time. Johnson had 10 receptions for 118 yards, but when none of those receptions was longer than 20 yards and he didn’t find the end zone, that’s a strong night’s work against the league’s leading receiver.
Dietrich-Smith was a key blocker in the Packers’ surging ground attack. He pancaked Detroit’s Nick Fairley on a draw play to RB Alex Green that converted a third-and-2 on the go-ahead TD drive in the fourth quarter. He then threw the key block on LB Justin Durant, pulling around from his left guard spot to undercut Durant at the point of attack as RB DuJuan Harris scooted through the huge hole for a 14-yard TD.
Zombo wasn’t credited for any tackles on special teams, but it’s worth noting that the Lions averaged just 20.3 yards on four kickoff returns and the special teams overall had another solid game. The only hiccup was K Mason Crosby’s miss from 51 yards in the second half, which barely hooked left.
Tags: #DETvsGB, evan dietrich-smith, frank zombo, game balls, tramon williams
Posted in Packers.com Blog
Coming off of their first loss of the season last week, the GREEN BAY PACKERS were able to get back on track by beating a long time rival in the Chicago Bears and clinch home field advantage throughout the playoffs. The Packers offensive line allowed AARON RODGERS (California) enough time to have a personal best five touchdown passes while allowing only one sack. This impressive performance by the injury plagued offensive line establishes the Green Bay Packers as a contender for the third annual Madden Protectors Award. The award honors the NFL’s best offensive line and will be presented during the week of Super Bowl XLVI, which will be played on February 5, 2012 in Indianapolis. Past Madden Protectors Award recipients include the NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (2010) and the NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (2009).
The Madden Protectors Award recognizes the fundamental role offensive linemen play in their teams’ success by providing consistent and powerful protection day in and day out.
The Packers continued their dominance throughout this season as they notched their 14th win of the year and can now rest easy until the second round of the playoffs. The offensive line was missing three of their four top tackles and still managed to only allow one sack and only two hits on Rodgers. The offensive line starts in the middle with center SCOTT WELLS (Tennessee), who is flanked by guards EVAN DIETRICH-SMITH (Idaho State) and JOSH SITTON (Central Florida). Providing powerful protection on the outside are tackles MARSHALL NEWHOUSE (Texas Christian) and T.J. LANG (Eastern Michigan). Offensive line coach JAMES CAMPEN is in his fifth season with the Packers and in each of his first four years, the Packers have finished in the top 10 in the NFL in total offense. The offensive line allowed for Rodgers to throw for 283 yards and 5 touchdowns. With the combination of RYAN GRANT (Notre Dame) and JAMES STARKS (Buffalo), the Packers were able to rush for 81 yards on the day.
“The Packers offensive line played a great game against Chicago on Sunday night,” said Pro Football Hall of Fame Coach JOHN MADDEN.
Other offensive lines from around the league delivering powerful protection during Week 16 were the NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (463 total yards, 307 passing yards, 164 rushing yards, 1 sack allowed, 2 QB hits allowed) the BUFFALO BILLS (351 total yards, 191 passing yards, 160 rushing yards, 1 sack allowed, 2 QB hits allowed), the BALTIMORE RAVENS (284 total yards, 122 passing yards, 162 rushing yards, 1 sack allowed, 2 QB hits allowed), the CAROLINA PANTHERS (433 total yards, 163 passing yards, 270 rushing yards, 1 sack allowed, 1 QB hit allowed), and the PITTSBURGH STEELERS 377 (total yards, 208 passing yards, 169 rushing yards, 0 sacks allowed, 1 QB hit allowed).
Tags: evan dietrich-smith, james campen, john madden, josh sitton, madden protectors award, marshall newhouse, offensive line, scott wells, t.j. lang
Posted in Packers.com Blog