Josh Sitton, Jermichael Finley miss practice on Wednesday

Posted by Mike Spofford on September 11, 2013 – 4:54 pm

LG Josh Sitton (back) and TE Jermichael Finley (toe) both missed practice on Wednesday, leaving their status for Sunday’s game against Washington in doubt. Also, S Morgan Burnett (hamstring) returned to practice on a limited basis, but Head Coach Mike McCarthy said it would take the entire week to determine whether or not Burnett can play.

LG Josh Sitton

LG Josh Sitton

Sitton had his back flare up on him during the long flight to San Francisco, but he played the whole game. The long flight back didn’t help matters, though.

“It’s feeling better than it did Monday and Tuesday, but I don’t know, we’ll see,” Sitton said. “We’ll be able to gauge it more as the week goes on.

“It’s one of those things that comes and goes, and hopefully it’ll go away before Sunday.”

Sitton had a rough second quarter in San Francisco, getting called for three penalties — two holding and one illegal hands to the face — while trying to block All-Pro Justin Smith. Long story short, Sitton wasn’t crazy about the calls.

“You can’t really do anything about the officials,” he said. “I don’t necessarily agree with a couple of the calls, but you can’t do anything about it. Screaming and complaining about it isn’t going to get you anywhere. Old ‘94’ (Smith) out there is a pretty good actor. He likes to throw his hands up in the air a lot, pretend like he’s getting held. Nothing you can do about that.”

If Sitton is unable to play on Sunday, McCarthy said that Marshall Newhouse would be the next lineman in. Newhouse started primarily at tackle the past two years, so one possible lineup would put Newhouse at right tackle and move Don Barclay to Sitton’s left guard spot. Newhouse also could play guard, though he hasn’t done so in a regular-season game in his career.

“Things are kind of open,” Newhouse said. “We’ll be flipping a lot and taking a lot of reps and things are still up in the air as far as that’s concerned. I know the offense well.

“There shouldn’t be any dropoff. I’ve always prepared mentally like I’m a starter, and in 2011 when my number was called, I was ready.”

Finley will be “hard pressed” to practice on Thursday, according to McCarthy, but any decision on his game status would wait until at least Friday.

“I’ve got the mentality that I want to play,” said Finley, acknowledging that the best medicine for his sore toe is rest. “I don’t have it in my mind that I want to sit down Sunday. We have four days until Sunday, so if it’s up to me, I’m going to be out there.”


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News & notes: Aaron Rodgers hits again from long range

Posted by Mike Spofford on August 21, 2013 – 4:13 pm

For a recap of Wednesday’s practice, which did not please Head Coach Mike McCarthy, and a rundown on some of the team’s injuries, check out today’s feature story. Here are some other news & notes:

–On target: QB Aaron Rodgers has done it many times before, and he did it again on Wednesday.

Launching throws from long range toward a netted hoop near the sideline, Rodgers dropped one in from around 40-50 yards away, drawing cheers from the Ray Nitschke Field crowd, which got to see an exaggerated “belt” celebration from Rodgers.

For a video of Rodgers throwing a deep ball into the hoop earlier this training camp, click here.

As for the rest of practice, Rodgers said he feels fine after missing Tuesday’s workout due to a head cold. Acknowledging the starters may not play the entire first half like they normally would in the third preseason game, Rodgers said that won’t impact the team’s readiness for the regular season.

“Anything from this point forward are just bonus reps,” he said. “We practice hard, we practice together, we spend a lot of time talking and working together. We need to go in against a good defense this week and get some reps, stay healthy and get out.”

–Time to catch up: WR Charles Johnson, a seventh-round pick from Grand Valley State, says he’ll be ready to play as soon as the coaches decide to put him in a game, despite the fact that he has hardly seen the field.

Johnson got hurt on the second day of OTAs, returned for the first two training camp practices without pads, but then had not practiced since until Wednesday, when he was very limited but in full uniform.

“The things that have happened to me while I’ve been here have been very humbling for me,” Johnson said. “I used to be the guy who was like, hey, I’ve never been hurt. I’ve never missed a game. But now I can barely get on the practice field. Now I go out there and say every day I have to prove something.”

It would seem awfully soon for Johnson to play on Friday after just one limited day of practice, so his roster fate could very well come down to the fourth preseason game, at Kansas City next week. But he’s willing to take any snaps the coaches want to give him, even if it’s right away Friday night.

“Physically I’m a little bit behind because I’m not getting on-the-field reps. I’m not up to speed with the game like some of the other guys may be,” he said. “But mentally I’m up to speed, I’m at par. I know everything I need to know if I was to get thrown out there in a game. I know all my materials.”

–More on injuries: Undrafted rookie LB Andy Mulumba (knee) missed practice on Wednesday, while CB Loyce Means (ankle) was back in action.

–Play of the day: TE Brandon Bostick made the play of the day, leaping between two defenders in the end zone with one arm reaching straight up, tipping the ball to himself and then hauling it in as he fell to the ground.

“He’s come a long way and I’m proud of him,” said fellow TE Jermichael Finley, who spent time working out with Bostick in the offseason. “I call him ‘Little Finley.'”


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News & notes: M.D. Jennings constantly reminded of Seattle

Posted by Mike Spofford on August 20, 2013 – 5:33 pm

For a recap of Tuesday’s practice, which featured the backup QBs as Aaron Rodgers sat out with an illness, check out today’s feature story. Here are some other news & notes:

–Constant reminder: S M.D. Jennings isn’t thrilled with his current fate, which is being forever connected to last year’s “Fail Mary” on the final play in Seattle. He can’t escape reminders of it wherever he goes, though he’s always a good sport about it and has signed autographs of the famous end zone picture when asked. Of course, the reminders are back again this week with the Seahawks coming to Lambeau Field for a preseason game.

“All the time,” Jennings said of how often he’s reminded of last year’s Week 3 contest. “It’s something that’s stuck with me unfortunately. It’s something I’m trying to get over. I don’t want to be remembered by that play. I just try to go out there and play football.

“It’s not about Golden Tate or the Seahawks. It’s just about getting better as a team and getting ready for the regular season.”

More important to Jennings, he’s trying to lock down the starting safety spot opposite Morgan Burnett. He’s been competing with Jerron McMillian throughout the preseason, and based on the way the reps with the first unit are being distributed in practice, Jennings is in the lead for the starting job.

He’s taking nothing for granted, though. Any talk of what he’s working to improve on always comes back to the basic fundamentals.

“I’ve been trying to focus on playing with better pad leverage and pursuit angles to the ball, just things of that nature,” he said. “I really know which way the coaches are going to go with it. All I can do is go out there and do my job.”

No matter who wins the starting job, both Jennings and McMillian are expected to play from scrimmage in the various defensive packages. Neither has made any standout plays in the preseason yet, but two games still remain.

“It’s always a learning curve,” McMillian said. “You need to be accountable, make plays and play as fast as you can. Not have any mental errors. That’s your quickest way on the field is to make sure you know what’s going on.”

–True contender: Mike McCarthy said earlier this week that rookie CB Micah Hyde would get an opportunity to return punts, and he was the returner taking the first rep on Tuesday. Hyde had a 13-yard punt return last week in St. Louis and could make a strong bid for the job with a good showing against Seattle.

–Injury update: The only changes to the injury list were that CB James Nixon (ankle, knee) returned to practice, while CB Loyce Means (ankle) was sidelined.

–Finley fans: TE Jermichael Finley makes a big play or two in practice every day, and Tuesday was no exception. Finley continues to beat defenders down the middle of the field and on crossing routes, providing a steady target for whichever Packers QB is throwing the ball.

“This is the Jermichael Finley I work with every day,” McCarthy said. “This man approaches football the same way every day. He’s a joy to coach. Physically he’s in a place he wants to be and he’s clearly having his finest training camp. It’s clear-cut.”

QB Vince Young, a teammate of Finley’s for one season at the University of Texas, said more than once that he’s proud of the former Longhorn, who came into the NFL two years after Young did.

“He’s got a lot of swag,” Young said. “You can tell he’s feeling it right now.”


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Game notes: Johnny Jolly almost gets sack

Posted by Mike Spofford on August 10, 2013 – 1:06 am

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.

DE Johnny Jolly

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.”


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News & notes: Jermichael Finley ‘in a good place’; David Bakhtiari getting noticed

Posted by Mike Spofford on July 31, 2013 – 2:45 pm

There was a lot of discussion on Wednesday of the goings on at backup QB and in the return game. For an update on both, check out today’s feature story.

Here are some other news & notes from the day:

–The ’88’ of old: TE Jermichael Finley didn’t have a whole lot to say to reporters in his first media session of training camp. Asked about playing in a contract year and maximizing on his potential, Finley simply kept repeating that “everything will take care of itself” if he works hard and does his job.

TE Jermichael Finley

TE Jermichael Finley

Head Coach Mike McCarthy has been impressed with Finley’s start to camp, which Finley agreed is a carryover of sorts from his strong finish to last season. He’s the only tight end regularly making plays in the team periods, which shows how valuable he can be in this offense.

“He’s back to the Finley of 2009 or ’10,” McCarthy said. “He’s where he needs to be. He’s in a very good place.”

Finley’s offensive teammates like what they see thus far as well.

“I feel we’re getting that ’88’ of old back, which is good, because he’s going to help us win games,” receiver James Jones said. “He’s just having fun out there, and we should expect big things out of him.”

–Making a move up front?: McCarthy didn’t get into specifics, but he suggested that rookie offensive tackle David Bakhtiari (featured on packers.com earlier this week right here) is going to be given a legitimate opportunity to win a starting job. He’s been working as the No. 2 left tackle behind Bryan Bulaga and the No. 3 right tackle behind Marshall Newhouse and Don Barclay, but the fourth-round draft pick has been impossible not to notice.

“I think he’s someone that is worthy of more reps and furthering the competition along the offensive line,” McCarthy said. “He’s clearly one of the guys that has made a step in the padded work. I’m pleased with what he’s done so far.”

Assuming Bulaga is entrenched at left tackle, look for Bakhtiari to perhaps start getting some snaps with the first unit at right tackle. Newhouse and Barclay have been rotating to this point, with Barclay getting all the snaps in the final no-huddle period on Wednesday.

“Right now, I thought I was taking a lot of reps. The more, the merrier, I guess,” Bakhtiari said. “I want to keep a level head. It’s been, what, three days in pads? Yeah, I’ve had some bright, shining moments, but I wouldn’t say I’m perfect. I’ve definitely had some, in my opinion, God-awful plays that I wish I could take back. It’s a good foundation to build upon. I’ve been doing good, but I still have a ways to go.”

–Injury update: OLBs Dezman Moses (foot) and Nate Palmer (shoulder), along with S David Fulton (knee), were added to the injury list and sat out practice on Wednesday, while DL Johnny Jolly (ankle) dropped out during the workout.

OL Kevin Hughes (headaches) returned after missing Tuesday’s practice. CB James Nixon (knee) also returned after dropping out on Tuesday, but then he dropped out again and had ice on his knee.

–More kicking coming: Kickers Mason Crosby and Giorgio Tavecchio haven’t had a head-to-head field goal showdown since the first practice last Friday, but McCarthy said one would be coming on Thursday. They are scheduled to kick every other day, but they only did kickoffs on Tuesday.

Continuing with the every-other-day schedule and the opportunity afforded in Lambeau Field, It’s likely they’ll have a field-goal duel during the Family Night Scrimmage on Saturday as well.


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Jermichael Finley to attend music boot camp

Posted by Mike Spofford on March 7, 2013 – 10:25 am

Jermichael FinleyPackers TE Jermichael Finley will be one of 20 current and former NFL players getting a crash course on breaking into the music industry at the NFL’s second annual ‘Business of Music Boot Camp,’ slated for March 18-21 at New York University’s Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music.

The four-day workshop covers various aspects of the music industry, including production, artist development and management, digital music, publishing, marketing and touring. Participants will be given guidance on how to develop business plans and establish a career in the music industry.

Faculty members at the boot camp will include Tom Calderone, president of VH1, and Darryl “DMC” McDaniels from the rap group Run-DMC, among several others.


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Jermichael Finley was ‘different man, different player’ down the stretch

Posted by Mike Spofford on January 15, 2013 – 6:19 pm

Jermichael FinleyHead Coach Mike McCarthy spoke rather positively about TE Jermichael Finley in his season-ending press conference on Tuesday, praising the fifth-year tight end for finishing the 2012 season very strongly.

While battling a shoulder injury early in the season, Finley’s production dipped. He started the season with seven receptions in the season opener, but through the first nine games he had 60 yards receiving in a game just once. Following the bye in Week 10, Finley reached or surpassed 60 yards in a game five times over the final seven weeks of the regular season. He had four games with at least five receptions over the final five weeks.

Finley finished the regular season with 61 receptions, a Packers single-season record for a tight end. He gained 667 yards and scored two TDs. He added five catches for 45 yards in the two playoff games.

Amidst some media speculation that Finley, who has one year left on a two-year contract he signed following the 2011 season, might not be back with the Packers next season at his current price tag, McCarthy made it sound as though he has every chance to return. Though McCarthy, as he said repeatedly on Tuesday, wasn’t making any final declarations about anybody.

“I’ve really felt Jermichael Finley was a different man, different player from the bye week on,” McCarthy said. “I had an opportunity to talk to him about that at length in his exit interview.

“I feel very good about the way he finished the year. He did some good things Saturday night. There was a change in that young man. But we also have to look at that first half, too, and make sure that’s part of the evaluation. Because we’re all judged on (18) games.”


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Nelson, McMillian not at practice on Tues.

Posted by Mike Spofford on January 8, 2013 – 4:45 pm

WR Jordy Nelson and S Jerron McMillian were not at practice on Tuesday during the portion of the workout open to the media.

On the other side of the injury equation, TE Jermichael Finley (hamstring) and WR Jarrett Boykin (ankle) were practicing. Finley left last Saturday’s wild-card game, while Boykin was inactive.

Mike McCarthy will be addressing the media shortly.


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Tramon Williams probable for Packers; Ponder, Winfield questionable for Vikings

Posted by Mike Spofford on January 4, 2013 – 2:26 pm

Tramon WilliamsPackers CB Tramon Williams, who missed Thursday’s practice due to illness, is listed as probable on the injury report for Saturday night’s game.

Of the four Packers pass-catchers on the injury report, only WR Jarrett Boykin (ankle) is out. WR Randall Cobb, WR Jordy Nelson and TE Jermichael Finley are all probable.

Also listed as probable are RB Alex Green, CB Davon House and DB Charles Woodson.

RB James Starks (knee) is listed as questionable, while DE Jerel Worthy (knee) is out. Worthy’s injury is season-ending.

The Vikings are listing two starters as questionable — QB Christian Ponder (elbow) and CB Antoine Winfield (hand). Ponder developed a sore elbow following a hit from Packers S Morgan Burnett on a blitz last Sunday but finished the game without incident. Winfield tried to play with a soft cast on his broken hand but removed himself from the game by halftime.

The only player the Vikings have ruled out is backup LB Tyrone McKenzie (shoulder). The other eight Vikings on the injury report — including starters DE Jared Allen, DE Brian Robison, S Harrison Smith and RB Adrian Peterson — are all probable.


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Finley’s agent ‘has his own opinion’

Posted by Mike Spofford on September 20, 2012 – 4:47 pm

TE Jermichael Finley distanced himself from agent Blake Baratz’s Twitter comments on Thursday after Baratz questioned QB Aaron Rodgers’ leadership of the Packers.

“He has 30 clients around the league,” Finley said. “He has his own opinion.”

Finley added that everything is fine between him and Rodgers over the matter. Rodgers brushed everything off, likening Baratz’s disparaging comments to something a guy at the burger restaurant “Five Guys” might say about him if he thinks he’s a bad tipper.

“He’s the leader of this team,” Finley said of Rodgers. “He’s the man, and I respect him as a player. Outside the locker room, I’m a fan of Aaron Rodgers. We’re all good.”

As for the rest of the team, the injury report is rather extensive, but the only significant concern may be with WR Greg Jennings (groin), who missed practice. Jennings has by no means been ruled out of Monday’s game, however.

Also missing practice were TE Tom Crabtree (shoulder) and LB Jamari Lattimore (ankle). Five players were limited participants in the non-padded practice: WR Randall Cobb (hamstring), CB Davon House (shoulder), G Josh Sitton (knee), RB James Starks (toe) and DE C.J. Wilson (groin). Both LB Nick Perry (wrist) and Terrell Manning (concussion) were also listed on the injury report, but they were full participants in practice. Mike McCarthy said he  expects Cobb and Sitton to be fine by Monday, and he has no doubts Perry will play.


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