Special teams coordinator Shawn Slocum said rookie CB Micah Hyde was a little hesitant on his first two punt returns on Sunday in Baltimore, but after that he began exploding up the field.
With the multiple-week injury to WR Randall Cobb, Hyde was likely to become the Packers’ full-time punt returner anyway. But even without Cobb’s injury, Hyde may have locked down the job with three consecutive returns of 23, 20 and 16 yards in the late second and early third quarters.
“I thought we blocked them well on the three explosive gains, and I thought Micah was real decisive after he caught the ball,” Slocum said. “He got off the spot well and got vertical.”
Another rookie defensive back, S Chris Banjo, showed up once again on the coverage units with a couple of tackles of Baltimore’s dangerous kick returner, WR Jacoby Jones.
P Tim Masthay also had a key play, booming a punt from the back of the end zone when the Packers were snapping from their own 1-yard line. The punt traveled 52 yards and had to be fair caught.
The Ravens had one long punt return, for 38 yards by WR Tandon Doss, and the only other significant blemish for the special teams was the mistake by FB John Kuhn to try to pick up the blocked punt. After it had crossed the line of scrimmage, Kuhn’s failure to pick it up became a muff and the Ravens recovered, keeping possession.
Slocum said the Packers had seen the Ravens get a punt blocked against Denver back in Week 1, so the punt-return team stayed aggressive. LB Andy Mulumba nearly got a second block later in the game. The first one was by TE Ryan Taylor, and the ball caromed forward and over toward the Packers’ bench.
“Don’t grab it,” was Slocum’s thought as he saw Kuhn going after the ball practically right in front of him. “The ball crossed the line of scrimmage, and after a blocked kick crosses the line of scrimmage, it’s going to be our ball if we stay away from it, and that was a mistake.
“It’s something we covered and cover quite often. He knew it. He was trying to make a play and made a poor decision.
“If there were no one around, it was clear and there’s no traffic and a guy makes a play, you pat him on the back and remind him of the rule. But in that situation, it’s close enough to the line of scrimmage, it’s close enough to the scrum of the bodies, and we should have stayed away from it.”
Tags: john kuhn, micah hyde, randall cobb, Shawn Slocum
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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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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
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Packers CB Casey Hayward has been ruled out for the third straight week to start the 2013 season with a hamstring injury, so the earliest Hayward could see the field this season will come after next week’s bye.
“He just tells me he’s making progress,” Head Coach Mike McCarthy said. “He had a similar injury. This one wasn’t supposed to be as bad as when he hurt it the first time, the day before he came back for training camp, so he’s making progress.”
Hayward missed the first three full weeks of training camp before returning to practice, but then he aggravated the hamstring when he tried to play in the third preseason game vs. Seattle, on Aug. 23. He has not practiced since.
Also missing practice on Wednesday were CB Jarrett Bush (hamstring), FB John Kuhn (hamstring), RB Eddie Lacy (concussion) and TE Jermichael Finley (toe). Finley was on the report last week and rested the toe at times and then still played in the game on Sunday.
S Morgan Burnett (hamstring) practiced on a limited basis, but in the portion of the workout open to reporters, he was doing jog-thru work on the scout team, so he may be held out until after the bye week as well.
DE Johnny Jolly is also listed on the injury report with a neck injury, but he was a full participant in practice.
Tags: casey hayward, injuries, Jermichael Finley, john kuhn, mike mccarthy, morgan burnett
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The coaching staff awarded four game balls from the NFC Wild Card playoff victory over the Vikings on Saturday night. They went to FB John Kuhn on offense, LB Clay Matthews and CB Sam Shields on defense, and rookie LB Terrell Manning on special teams.
Kuhn rushed for a 3-yard TD and caught a 9-yard TD pass, giving him both a rushing and receiving TD for the second time in his career in a playoff game, a first in franchise history. He also scored for the fourth consecutive postseason, the only player in the NFL who can make that claim.
Matthews had two sacks, including a forced fumble and fumble recovery on the second one. The two sacks accounted for 18 lost yards as Matthews had the second two-sack playoff game of his career. The only other player in franchise history to accomplish that is Reggie White.
Shields was credited by the press box statisticians with seven tackles, a team high. He also broke up two passes and had an interception, the third of his career in the postseason.
Manning was credited with two coverage tackles, bringing down Minnesota returner Marcus Sherels on both the first kickoff and first punt of the game. Manning also helped to separate Sherels from the ball when he muffed a punt in the fourth quarter.
Tags: clay matthews, game balls, john kuhn, Playoffs, sam shields, terrell manning
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LB Erik Walden (ankle) returned to practice on Thursday after missing Wednesday’s workout, but FB John Kuhn was added to the absence list.
Kuhn was not on the injury report on Wednesday, so an update from Mike McCarthy will be coming after practice.
Otherwise, the participation at practice on Thursday was essentially unchanged from Wednesday.
Post-practice update: Kuhn’s absence was “not injury related,” according to McCarthy, while OL Greg Van Roten was added to the injury report with a back injury. He was limited in practice, but the injury isn’t something the medical staff is overly concerned about.
With Van Roten, T.J. Lang (concussion, illness) and Jeff Saturday (neck/shoulder) all dealing with issues, the offensive line was a little shorthanded at practice, but McCarthy didn’t sound worried. He said Saturday could potentially return to practice on Friday, and he anticipates Lang being cleared by Sunday. Lang hasn’t passed the concussion protocol yet, but he wasn’t able to proceed with any testing on Thursday because he had the flu.
Tags: erik walden, injury, john kuhn
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Led by QB Aaron Rodgers, who earned the fifth-most votes overall in the recently concluded fan voting for the Pro Bowl, six Packers pulled in the most votes at their respective positions.
The other position leaders in the NFC are FB John Kuhn, C Jeff Saturday, KR Randall Cobb, OLB Clay Matthews and SS Charles Woodson.
Voting by the players and coaches has not yet been tabulated. Fan voting counts one-third in the selection process for the Pro Bowl rosters, which will be announced next Wednesday.
As the top NFC QB, Rodgers finished fifth overall in the fan voting with 777,827 votes. Leading the way was Broncos QB Peyton Manning (993,045), followed by Patriots QB Tom Brady (980,099), Texans RB Arian Foster (829,591) and Vikings RB Adrian Peterson (828,255).
Tags: aaron rodgers, charles woodson, clay matthews, john kuhn, pro bowl voting, randall cobb
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The Packers coaching staff awarded game balls to a half dozen players following the 21-13 victory over Chicago that clinched the NFC North title for Green Bay.
On special teams, FB John Kuhn was the game-ball recipient.
On offense, QB Aaron Rodgers and WR James Jones earned game balls. Rodgers completed 23 of 36 passes for 291 yards with three TDs, all to Jones. Rodgers posted a 116.8 passer rating.
Jones enjoyed the first three-TD game of his career, catching five passes for 60 yards in all. Jones now has 12 TD receptions on the season, a total that leads the league and is his career high.
On defense, LBs Clay Matthews and Brad Jones, plus CB Sam Shields, all were awarded game balls.
Matthews, returning from a four-game injury absence, had two sacks to raise his team-leading total to 11. He also had two other tackles for loss and deflected a pass.
Jones led the team with eight total tackles, according to the press box statistics, and was involved on back-to-back run stops at the goal line in the third quarter. Jones also was credited with two passes defensed.
Shields engaged in a game-long physical battle with Bears WR Alshon Jeffery and ended up shutting the rookie out. Shields was credited with three passes defensed, and he also drew three offensive pass interference penalties on Jeffery, who did not have a catch in the game.
Tags: aaron rodgers, brad jones, chicago bears, clay matthews, game balls, james jones, john kuhn, sam shields
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When Benson initially injured the foot in Week 5 in Indianapolis, he was placed on IR with the designation to return. But that return now won’t happen. Benson said as recently as two weeks ago that he was going to be able to avoid surgery, but in the end, it was necessary.
That leaves the Packers with three healthy running backs in James Starks, Alex Green and John Kuhn.
“I feel we have a good rotation,” McCarthy said. “It’s really just finding the things they all do well, and playing to that and having them in sync with the run-blocking unit. I thought the way we started last game, and Arizona was a good game. If we can find that rhythm, it will definitely benefit us.”
Last week against the Giants, the aforementioned trio plus Randall Cobb combined for 40 rushing yards on 10 carries in the first half, a solid 4.0 average. But trailing 31-10 at halftime, the Packers were forced to get away from the run. Against Arizona before the bye, Starks and Green combined for 114 yards on 28 carries (4.1 avg.).
“We just need to pick up our end now,” Kuhn said. “I don’t think there’s just one in particular key. I think everybody just needs to detail their job – the line, the running backs, the wide receivers. The running game isn’t just the running back position. Every position falls into it.”
Tags: alex green, cedric benson, james starks, john kuhn, randall cobb
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Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers ranks fourth in the Pro Bowl voting amongst all NFL players, according to the league.
Broncos QB Peyton Manning has the most votes, with 586,523, followed by Patriots QB Tom Brady (534,020), Texans RB Arian Foster (519,261), Rodgers (485,196) and Vikings RB Adrian Peterson (484,227).
In addition to Rodgers, four other Packers lead the NFC voting at their respective positions. They are FB John Kuhn, C Jeff Saturday, OLB Clay Matthews and S Charles Woodson.
Pro Bowl voting continues through Monday, Dec. 17, and counts one-third in the selection process for the annual all-star game. Fans can vote by clicking here.
The Pro Bowl rosters will be announced at 6 p.m. CT on Wednesday, Dec. 26, on NFL Network’s “Total Access”.
The 2013 Pro Bowl will be played on Sunday, Jan. 27, 2013 and televised live on NBC at 6 p.m. CT from Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Tags: aaron rodgers, charles woodson, clay matthews, john kuhn, pro bowl, voting
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