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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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: Vince Young takes more snaps, kicking competition continues

Posted by Mike Spofford on August 7, 2013 – 3:06 pm

For the latest injury news and a recap of Wednesday’s practice skirmishes, check out today’s feature story. Here are some other news and notes:

–Young more involved: New QB Vince Young took far more snaps in the team (11-on-11) drills than he did his first day, and the uneven results were to be expected. It appeared on one play that Young’s cadence caused someone to false start, and later he overthrew TE D.J. Williams, leading to an interception by S Chaz Powell.

He came back from that to make a good throw to WR Jeremy Ross, only to have it knocked away at the last moment by CB Loyce Means.

“Vince Young is on Day 2 in a new offense,” Head Coach Mike McCarthy said. “One of the reasons why we signed Vince Young is he knows how to play quarterback. He knows how to win. He’s played in games. He has experience. The hard part is what he’s going through right now. It’s a whole different verbiage.”

–Kickers even: In a brief kicking session, both Mason Crosby and Giorgio Tavecchio went 3-for-4 on field goals. Crosby was good from 36, 46 and 48 but missed wide right from 50. Tavecchio was good from 36, 48 and 51 but missed wide left from 46.

Not to get lost in the competition is the burden placed on holder Tim Masthay, who has to switch back and forth holding for both a right-footed (Crosby) and left-footed (Tavecchio) kicker from snap to snap.

“I feel like it’s come along pretty well,” Masthay said. “Ever since we signed Giorgio, I’ve taken a ton of snaps here. I’ve got a Jugs machine at my house and I’ve been catching left-handed field goal snaps for quite a while now and I’m starting to feel pretty comfortable with it. I feel good going into the game.”

Masthay also has been taking regular reps kicking off, and he did well in last Saturday’s scrimmage, but he was audibly upset at himself when he flubbed a low line-drive kickoff in practice on Wednesday. Masthay kicked off in college at Kentucky and enjoys getting his swings in.

“I was so mad at myself. It’s been quite a while since I mis-hit a kickoff like I did on that one today,” he said. “I don’t know if I just got a little too juiced up trying to crush it or something.”

–Different perspectives: Whether or not the post-whistle skirmishes witnessed Wednesday are good for the team depends on the point of view. DL Mike Daniels, who has been one of the more outspoken and feisty players throughout camp, loves it.

“The monotony of training camp, you see the same people every day, you eat the same grilled chicken every day, you should lose your mind,” Daniels said. “You should be angry when you hit the field. You should want to beat the crap out of each other. We’ve been doing that, and like I said, I can only imagine what we do when we see somebody we don’t like.”

QB Aaron Rodgers chalked up the extracurricular activity to fatigue and didn’t particularly care for it, but he agreed that it’s simply time to play against an opponent.

“Guys are grumpy and just don’t really take any of that extra stuff,” he said. “That’s part of camp. Some people like it more than others. I’d rather not have our guys punching each other in the helmet, hurting their hands, so hopefully that nonsense is done with. We’re excited about moving on to face somebody else.”

–Next man up: Rodgers called his new left tackle, rookie David Bakhtiari, “raw” and said he’ll be learning “in the fire” if he’s indeed the Week 1 starter.

Bakhtiari will be charged with handling the opponent’s best pass rusher on a regular basis, and Rodgers will need to have confidence that his blind side isn’t constantly under siege.

“There’s usually a tough guy at that position rushing at my back side against every team, and against their best pass rusher you need a lineman who can hold up,” Rodgers said. “Obviously we believe in David.”

Another injury on the offensive line could be problematic, though, Rodgers suggested.

“I’ve said before in this camp it’s impressive the kind of depth that we have, and now our depth is going to get tested,” he said. “We need those guys to step up and play well and be healthy. There’s fluke injuries in this thing and they’re frustrating, but from this point forward it’s going to be important that we keep all those guys healthy.”


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