The Packers coaching staff awarded game balls to five players for their performances at Chicago in Week 17.
CB Jarrett Bush was recognized on special teams, while WR Jordy Nelson and RB James Starks were the recipients on offense, plus CB Tramon Williams and LB Andy Mulumba on defense.
Bush had a tackle on kickoff coverage and a forced fumble on a Bears kickoff return. He also recovered a fumble by teammate Micah Hyde on a punt return.
Nelson had a career-high 10 receptions and a season-high 161 yards, while Starks had 11 rushes for 88 yards as part of the offense’s four-TD output. Nelson’s 161 yards were just one yard shy of his single-game career high, while Starks’ 88 yards were his most this season since Week 2.
Williams was credited with six total tackles (five solo) with two pass break-ups and one forced fumble. Mulumba, an undrafted rookie, had a sack among two tackles for loss and three total tackles.
Tags: andy mulumba, game balls, james starks, jarrett bush, jordy nelson, tramon williams
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Amidst all the injuries the Packers are dealing with, they’re actually starting to get healthier at some spots, which “encouraged” Head Coach Mike McCarthy.
RB James Starks (knee) returned to practice on Wednesday and was listed as a full participant, though it was a non-padded practice. Starks has been out since injuring his knee in the first half at Cincinnati in Week 3.
“James Starks looked good,” McCarthy said. “Looks to be back. We didn’t do a whole lot of team (drills) today. We were in helmets. Did a lot of jog-through and a lot of teaching periods today. Based on the workload, I thought he looked fine.”
Also listed as full participants were three players with hamstring injuries — LB Brad Jones, CB Jarrett Bush and CB Casey Hayward.
McCarthy said Jones is being “eased” back into things, but this marks the second straight week Hayward has practiced on Wednesday and appears on track to work every day. Hayward has yet to play this season after missing all but three practices in training camp.
“When push came to shove, he was close last week,” McCarthy said. “It’s good for him to get his confidence back. I think he’ll be ready to go with a full week of work.”
McCarthy didn’t have anything new to report on TE Jermichael Finley, who is seeking opinions from multiple specialists regarding his neck injury and his future outlook. Finley remains in a local hospital but continues to improve.
“We’re going to wait until everything comes in,” McCarthy said, referring to the medical reports. “(Team physician) Pat McKenzie is collecting all the information, and we’ll do our due diligence. We will not be premature on anything, and we will do what’s in the best interest of Jermichael Finley. That’s where we are.”
For the full report from the Packers’ locker room on Wednesday, click here.
Tags: casey hayward, james starks, Jermichael Finley, mike mccarthy
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Packers LB Clay Matthews, who missed the second half of the Week 3 game in Cincinnati due to a hamstring injury, returned to practice on Wednesday but only on a limited basis. His availability for Sunday’s home game against Detroit remains in question.
“I think Clay is getting better,” Head Coach Mike McCarthy said. “He’s made a lot of progress since coming off the field in Cincinnati. I’m hopeful he’ll be able to do more tomorrow. That’s the plan.”
Elsewhere on the injury report, CB Casey Hayward (hamstring) has been ruled out for the fourth straight game. Since re-aggravating his hamstring injury in the third preseason game, Hayward has now been out for six weeks.
RB James Starks (knee) is also out and will be sidelined “a couple weeks,” McCarthy said. Also, backup offensive lineman Greg Van Roten sprained a foot in Monday’s practice and will be out multiple weeks.
The other six players on the injury report were full participants in Wednesday’s practice. They included S Morgan Burnett (hamstring), CB Jarrett Bush (hamstring), TE Jermichael Finley (concussion), RBs Eddie Lacy (concussion) and Johnathan Franklin (foot) and FB John Kuhn (hamstring).
In speaking to reporters for the first time since his concussion, which occurred on the first offensive series in Cincinnati, Finley called it a “long process” to get medical clearance, but he said he understands the reasons for the protocol and the protection of players’ health. He said it took a couple of days before he felt mostly normal again.
“Jermichael looks good. The bye week has helped him,” McCarthy said. “He looked like Jermichael. He’s in a good place. He practices very hard. It was good to have him back.”
To see Wednesday’s feature story on the Packers running game, click here.
Tags: casey hayward, clay matthews, injury, james starks, Jermichael Finley, john kuhn, morgan burnett
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Packers QB Aaron Rodgers and RB James Starks have been voted the Air & Ground NFL Players of the Week for Week 2.
Rodgers tied a franchise record with 480 yards passing in Green Bay’s 38-20 victory over Washington. He completed 34 of 42 passes with four touchdowns and no interceptions, posting a passer rating of 146.0, the third highest of his career. The 34 completions tied his career best.
Starks took over for Eddie Lacy (concussion) in the first quarter and rushed 20 times for a career-high 132 yards, including a 32-yard TD. He became the first Packers RB to rush for 100 yards in a regular-season game since Brandon Jackson in Week 5 of 2010, and the first to do so in any game since Starks himself rushed for 123 yards at Philadelphia in the 2010 NFC Wild Card playoff contest.
Tags: aaron rodgers, james starks
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With RB Eddie Lacy (concussion) and FB John Kuhn (hamstring) still not having practiced this week, Mike McCarthy said on Thursday he’s prepared to go into Sunday’s game at Cincinnati with just two running backs — James Starks and Johnathan Franklin — if he has to.
“I’m prepared. That’s my job,” McCarthy said. “The preference is not to go into the game with two running backs. We’ll be much better prepared than we were two years ago in Kansas City.”
McCarthy referred to that game as a “hard lesson,” as the Packers’ only healthy RBs for that contest were Ryan Grant and Kuhn, and Grant had bruised ribs coming in. McCarthy said the game got to a point in the second half where “it was time to run the ball,” but Grant had to sit out a series or two and the Packers didn’t have the firepower in the backfield to make it go.
The Packers do have one RB on the practice squad, rookie Michael Hill from Missouri Western, so if neither Lacy nor Kuhn can play, Hill would be a possible third back, but a player would have to be released in order for Hill to be signed to the 53-man roster.
An emergency option would be WR Randall Cobb, who has carried the ball out of the backfield at times the past two seasons, but McCarthy said he’d never put Cobb in a workhorse-type position.
“I don’t want to make a living running the ball with Randall Cobb, let’s be honest,” McCarthy said. “Randall is a dynamic player, but he doesn’t need to be lined up behind center carrying the ball 20 times. That’s not the plan.”
It’s also not the plan to automatically sit all of the Packers’ injured players because the bye week is coming up, though McCarthy did indicate S Morgan Burnett (hamstring) is a “longshot” to play this week.
In Thursday’s full-pads practice, CB Jarrett Bush (hamstring) joined Burnett, Lacy and Kuhn as a non-participant, while TE Jermichael Finley (toe) and DE Johnny Jolly (neck) practiced but were limited. G T.J. Lang (back) was added to the report as a limited participant, but McCarthy didn’t believe his injury was anything serious.
Tags: eddie lacy, james starks, jarrett bush, Jermichael Finley, john kuhn, johnathan franklin, johnny jolly, mike mccarthy, morgan burnett, running backs, t.j. lang
Posted in Packers.com Blog | 9 Comments »
Quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers, Philip Rivers and Matt Ryan and running backs James Starks, Marshawn Lynch and Knowshon Moreno are nominees for Air & Ground NFL Players of the Week for Week 2, the NFL announced today.
The vote is in your hands. Read up on this week’s nominees and then cast your vote for the Air & Ground® NFL Players of the Week. Fans can vote for one player in each category until 2 p.m. CST on Friday to determine the winners.
Tags: #WASvsGB, aaron rodgers, air & ground nfl players of the week, james starks, washington redskins
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–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.
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.
Tags: alex green, brad jones, c.j. wilson, casey hayward, clay matthews, dujuan harris, interceptions, james starks, jordan miller, mason crosby, mike daniels, nate palmer, russell wilson, sacks
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He could smile and laugh about it because it was the preseason, but Mike McCarthy clearly wasn’t buying the explanation he got for why his challenge of a call at the goal line was overruled on Friday night.
On their first offensive drive of the night, the Packers went for it on fourth-and-goal at the 2-yard line and handed off to RB James Starks, who was tackled and ruled down at the 1. Trying to push through the pile, Starks appeared to reach the ball out across the goal line without his knee hitting the ground, so McCarthy challenged the play, only to see the call on the field upheld.
Asked for the explanation he got from referee Carl Cheffers, McCarthy obviously wasn’t satisfied.
“The ball was over the goal line. Carl said he could not see his knee,” McCarthy said. “His hip was three feet off the ground, so I couldn’t see his knee either.
“You can figure that out … at least three feet off the ground.”
For a full recap of McCarthy’s Saturday press conference, click here.
Tags: challenge, james starks, mike mccarthy, referee
Posted in Packers.com Blog, Training Camp | 47 Comments »
The Packers came close multiple times to getting sacks in Friday night’s 17-0 preseason loss to Arizona, but the most notable near-miss may have come from DE Johnny Jolly.
Attempting a comeback after three years away from the game, Jolly found a lane through the middle and into the pocket, but he lost his footing as Cardinals QB Drew Stanton avoided him and completed a 17-yard pass on third-and-12.
“I should’ve had that play,” Jolly said. “I don’t know, man. It was just one of those plays, I should have had it. I missed out on it.”
Jolly, who has been on a rep count in practice, said he was prepared for 20-25 snaps and believes he got at least that many, though he didn’t know exactly. He admitted he’s not back to where he was when he last played in 2009, but he still believes he can get there.
“I can’t explain the feeling that it was, but it was an awesome feeling,” he said of being back on an NFL field. “It’s been three long years, and now I’m back here. I’m just going to continue to push.”
–New dimension?: Backup QB Vince Young moved the chains twice during his three series of work. First, he hit rookie WR Alex Gillett on a slant to convert a third down. Then he ran 7 yards on a bootleg right to set up third-and-2, and then converted that with a bootleg and scramble to his left for 5 more yards.
“It’s football,” Young said. “Whatever it takes to get a first down, I’m going to get it, whether it’s throwing or running. I feel like my guys did a good job getting me the edge.”
At age 30, Young doesn’t quite run like he used to, but the power and agility in his legs was certainly evident.
“I think ‘VY’ brings a lot to this offense. You don’t know what he’ll do,” said TE Jermichael Finley, who played one season in college with Young at Texas. “You don’t know if he’s going to pass it, you don’t know if he’s going to run it.”
–More production needed: The Packers weren’t shy about trying to run the ball on Friday, but the production wasn’t there. RBs James Starks, Johnathan Franklin, Alex Green and Angelo Pease combined for 26 carries but just 70 yards, a measly 2.7 yards per rush. Rookie second-round draft pick Eddie Lacy didn’t play due to a hamstring injury.
“We have to run the ball a little more effectively I think moving forward,” QB Aaron Rodgers said. “We had a lot of attempts tonight and not a lot to show for it. We need that balance moving into the season and we have to find it the next three weeks.”
Starks led the way with 12 carries for 38 yards, the only back to average at least 3 yards per attempt. In his pro debut, Franklin didn’t find much running room, finishing with 14 yards on six carries, though he did add 12 yards on two pass receptions.
“It was moving fast,” Franklin said of the speed of the game. “It was definitely different from college. But it’s just going to take more reps adjusting to it, and I think it will slow down a lot more. It definitely can be a lot going on.”
–Close but not quite: WR Jeremy Ross got two cracks at a kickoff return, and he was maybe one step away from breaking it on his second try.
Taking a kickoff 4 yards deep in the end zone, Ross got out near the 20 and made a cut to his left but was upended at the 21, a 25-yard runback. He appeared to have a lot of room to his left if he had been able to break that one tackle.
“I was close. I was really close,” Ross said. “If I wouldn’t have gotten tripped up on those blocks right there, I would have been up the sideline.”
Tags: james starks, jeremy ross, Jermichael Finley, johnathan franklin, johnny jolly, vince young
Posted in Packers.com Blog, Training Camp | 28 Comments »
WR Randall Cobb was practicing during the media portion of the Packers’ jog-thru workout on Tuesday, but WR Jordy Nelson was not.
Cobb missed last week’s game with knee and ankle injuries but appears on track to return this week for the rematch in the NFC Wild Card playoff against the Vikings. Nelson injured his knee in last Sunday’s game at the Metrodome and came out briefly but returned to catch a game-tying TD pass in the fourth quarter.
Also not practicing on Tuesday were WR Jarrett Boykin (ankle) and DE Jerel Worthy (knee), who both left Sunday’s game with injuries.
CB Davon House was back at practice after missing last week’s game, and DB Charles Woodson continued to practice and could be on track to return after missing the final nine games of the regular season.
At running back, Alex Green didn’t play in last Sunday’s game but was practicing. Also, RB James Starks was at practice with helmet in hand, but in the portion open to the media did not appear to be participating.
Mike McCarthy will address the media after practice, near the top of the hour.
Post-practice update: Cobb spoke with reporters after practice and said he expects to play on Saturday.
“It was about a 50-50 decision,” Cobb said of sitting out last Sunday in Minnesota. “We felt it was the best option to hold out and I think I’ll be ready to go this week.”
McCarthy declined to comment on Nelson’s absence from practice, however, only saying he’d have more information on Wednesday. The first official injury report of the week will be on Wednesday.
Tags: charles woodson, james starks, jordy nelson, randall cobb
Posted in Packers.com Blog | 19 Comments »