If necessary, McCarthy prepared to go with just two RBs

Posted by Mike Spofford on September 19, 2013 – 4:36 pm

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.

RB Johnathan Franklin

RB Johnathan Franklin

“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.


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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: Clay Matthews remembers his first preseason game

Posted by Mike Spofford on August 8, 2013 – 1:53 pm

For a look at potential playing time and the Packers’ current injury situation heading into Friday night’s preseason opener vs. Arizona, check out today’s feature story (to be posted soon). Here are some other news & notes:

LB Clay Matthews

LB Clay Matthews

Matthews remembers: In a rather lighthearted moment in the locker room after Thursday’s practice, LB Clay Matthews was asked if he remembered his first preseason game.

He did. It was back in 2009, and Matthews had been injured in training camp, so he didn’t take the field for a preseason game until the fourth and final contest, at Tennessee.

“I was going up against that guy,” Matthews said, pointing toward another locker near his now occupied by a new teammate. “Vince Young, like a 12-play drive, no huddle, I was gassed, I didn’t think I was going to make it very long in this league.”

Lacy doubtful: RB Eddie Lacy didn’t practice for a second straight day due to a hamstring injury, making it unlikely he’ll play on Friday night. With RB DuJuan Harris still out, that will leave the running back duties to be shared amongst Alex Green, James Starks, Johnathan Franklin and Angelo Pease.

Like many of the rookies, Franklin claimed he’ll be more excited than nervous when he gets out there.

“It’s football,” he said. “When you’re doing something you love and you have a big opportunity like this, you look forward to something like this.

“The priority is to get better and take advantage of the opportunity.”

Kickers to alternate: Head Coach Mike McCarthy didn’t delve into specifics, but he said the coaching staff would come up with a plan to rotate or alternate kickers Mason Crosby and Giorgio Tavecchio so their competition can continue throughout the preseason.

“Exactly how we’ll alternate the kickers, that hasn’t been finalized, but we’re going to try to keep the competition as far as opportunities as balanced as possible,” McCarthy said.


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News & notes from Day 2

Posted by Mike Spofford on July 27, 2013 – 3:38 pm

For the main news of Saturday, check out the full story on Clay Matthews on the main packers.com site. For some additional tidbits, here are a few news items and notes from the second practice of training camp:

Three WRs already down: Just two days into camp, and the Packers have lost three receivers to injuries. On Friday, undrafted rookie Sederrik Cunningham injured his wrist when he battled cornerback Micah Hyde for a deep ball that was knocked away incomplete. Cunningham was in the locker room on Saturday wearing a sling.

WR Charles Johnson

WR Charles Johnson

Then on Saturday, seventh-round picks Charles Johnson and Kevin Dorsey both dropped out of practice. Johnson fell awkwardly as his left leg got caught underneath him while he tried to stop a slant route and catch a pass that was slightly behind him. He walked off under his own power and later said he was scheduled to have an MRI taken.

“My foot got stuck in the ground as I stopped to catch the ball,” Johnson said. “I felt a little bit of pain, but I could still walk when I rolled over. Personally, I don’t feel like it’s something major.”

Not long after Johnson’s injury, Dorsey came up limping after a running a relatively innocent-looking route.

After practice, Head Coach Mike McCarthy did not have an update on either Johnson’s or Dorsey’s status.

Glance at the depth chart: Jerron McMillian took the majority of the snaps at safety with the No. 1 defense, after M.D. Jennings had done so on Day 1. It appears those two will continue rotating in with the first unit probably throughout much of camp until the competition is decided. McMillian did have what would have been a sack on a blitz late in practice when he got around the attempted block of RB Alex Green.

Also, first-round pick Datone Jones isn’t with the No. 1 defense in base (B.J. Raji, Ryan Pickett and C.J. Wilson are the down linemen), but he’s being paired with Raji in the No. 1 nickel package, which features only two down linemen.

With CBs Casey Hayward (hamstring) and Davon House (illness) out, veteran Jarrett Bush is working as the nickel CB, and he had a nice pass break-up on Saturday on a deep pass down the seam intended for WR Jeremy Ross.

WR Randall Cobb took the first rep as the kickoff returner, followed by Ross and rookie RB Johnathan Franklin. All three worked on the punt return as well. McCarthy noted that he likes what he sees early on from Franklin.

Play of the day: The defensive play of the day was probably turned in by CB Tramon Williams, who leaped in the end zone to bat away a deep pass from QB Aaron Rodgers intended for WR Jordy Nelson. Rodgers scrambled to his right on the play, which Williams said forced the defenders to come out of zone coverage and find a receiver. He found Nelson in time to break up the play.

Harris still on the mend: RB DuJuan Harris, who had a cyst removed from his lung in the spring, hasn’t practiced in camp yet due to a knee injury, but he claims it’s nothing serious and he won’t be out much longer.

“It’s a little frustrating, but just taking it slow,” Harris said. “I should be out there real soon. Just being patient and not trying to rush back too soon.”

With the Packers drafting Eddie Lacy and Franklin, and with veterans James Starks and Green off to solid starts in camp, Harris acknowledged he needs to be on the field soon, but he remains confident he’ll be able to pick up where he left off late last season, when he was the team’s primary ballcarrier.

The procedure to remove the cyst should only help, too.

“I should be better than ever, as good as new,” he said. “My lung capacity should be where it’s supposed to be now, and my breathing should be better. It should be a little faster. I should last longer, be able to take more carries. I’m just excited to get back out there and see what I can do.”


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News & notes from Day 1 of camp

Posted by Mike Spofford on July 26, 2013 – 3:40 pm

Here are a few news items and notes from Day 1 of training camp:

Runnin’ with the ones: No real surprises as far as the depth chart goes. In the battle for the starting safety spot alongside Morgan Burnett, M.D. Jennings took the majority of the snaps with the first unit, but Jerron McMillian was rotated in as well. Same arrangement at right tackle, starting with Marshall Newhouse and followed by Don Barclay.

Johnathan Franklin

RB Johnathan Franklin

Sam Shields was the starter at cornerback opposite Tramon Williams, and he could hold down that spot for awhile with Casey Hayward (hamstring) and Davon House (illness) missing practice. At running back, there was a steady rotation of work amongst Alex Green, James Starks, Eddie Lacy, Johnathan Franklin and Angelo Pease.

No first-day jitters: The Packers’ three highest-profile draft picks said they didn’t have any first-day nerves to deal with on the practice field. Neither Datone Jones, Lacy nor Franklin did anything particularly eye-catching, but their enthusiasm for their first pro training camp was evident.

“It was exciting,” Franklin said. “We went through OTAs, so the nervousness got out then, and in rookie minicamp. Today was just learning and understanding the scheme of things, putting things together.”

Jones brushed off even the idea of being nervous.

“I prepare very hard, so I’m very confident in myself,”  he said. “I believe in myself that I can get the job done. I’m able to play fast because I know my assignments. I study a lot.”

Friday’s practice was in shells, and Saturday’s will be, too. The first day in full pads will be Sunday.

“Practice without pads is always tough,” Lacy said. “You can’t really run through them, they’re just tagging off. When we get the pads on, it’ll be different. I think I’ll do pretty good with the pads on.”

Sherrod hopeful: Former first-round pick Derek Sherrod says he feels “a heck of a lot better than at this point last year” in his recovery from a surgically repaired broken leg that cost him all of last season. He reiterated Head Coach Mike McCarthy’s hope that he can return to the field soon, but he’s not putting a timetable on it.

“Just taking it a day at a time,” said Sherrod, who is thought to be a contender in the battle for the right tackle job should he return soon. “It could be tomorrow, it could be whenever, but I’m working very hard and making sure that I am doing everything I can to get out there as soon as possible with my teammates.”

Neal lighter, but waiting: Defensive end Mike Neal has been dogged by injuries throughout his career, but he called this latest abdomen injury that is keeping him out of training camp a “minor setback.”

Neal worked extensively at outside linebacker during OTAs and has slimmed down to help make the transition. He said he now weighs 275 pounds, down nearly 20 from his playing weight of a year ago.

“It’s more natural for me to be at this weight,” said Neal, a stalwart in the weight room throughout his football life. “I feel better at this weight.”

Neal said the coaches didn’t ask him to lose any weight but left the issue up to him. When he gets on the field, which McCarthy said could be a couple of weeks, it will be interesting to see if the Packers employ him more as an inside or outside pass rusher. Neal had 4 1/2 sacks last season as an inside rusher.


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Packers NFL Draft 2013: Meet the draft class

Posted by Duke Bobber on April 27, 2013 – 11:15 pm

This draft class gives the Packers a tough look

This draft class gives Packers a tough look

Running backs join emphasis on defenseRead More

DRAFT RECAP VIDEOS

Meet the players

1. Datone Jones, DE, UCLA
2. Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama
4a. David Bakhtiari, T, Colorado
4b. J.C. Tretter, T, Cornell
4c. Johnathan Franklin, RB, UCLA
5a. Micah Hyde, CB, Iowa
5b. Josh Boyd, DE, Mississippi State
6. Nate Palmer, LB, Illinois State
7a. Charles Johnson, WR, Grand Valley State
7b. Kevin Dorsey, WR, Maryland
7c. Sam Barrington, LB, South Florida

Datone Jones

#95 DATONE JONESDE – UCLA – HT: 6-4 – WT: 285 – Drafted 1st Round, #26 Overall

AUDIO/VIDEO

additional coverage

Green Bay Packers RB Eddie Lacy

#27 EDDIE LACYRB – ALABAMA – HT: 5-11 – WT: 230 – Drafted 2nd Round, #61 Overall

AUDIO/VIDEO

additional coverage

T David Bakhtiari

#69 DAVID BAKHTIARIT – COLORADO – HT: 6-4 – WT: 300 – Drafted 4th Round, #109 Overall

AUDIO/VIDEO

ADDITIONAL COVERAGE

T J.C. Tretter

J.C. TRETTERT – CORNELL – HT: 6-4 – WT: 307 – Drafted 4th Round, #122 Overall

AUDIO/VIDEO

additional coverage

RB Johnathan Franklin

JOHNATHAN FRANKLINRB – UCLA – HT: 5-10 – WT: 205 – Drafted 4th Round, #125 Overall

AUDIO/VIDEO

additional coverage

CB Micah Hyde

MICAH HYDECB – IOWA – HT: 6-0 – WT: 197 – Drafted 5th Round, #159 Overall

AUDIO/VIDEO

additional coverage

DE Josh Boyd

JOSH BOYDDE – MISSISSIPPI STATE – HT: 6-3 – WT: 310 – Drafted 5th Round, #167 Overall

AUDIO/VIDEO

additional coverage

LB Nate Palmer

NATE PALMERLB – ILLINOIS STATE – HT: 6-2 – WT: 248 – Drafted 6th Round, #193 Overall

AUDIO

WR Charles Johnson

CHARLES JOHNSONWR – GRAND VALLEY STATE – HT: 6-2 – WT: 215 – Drafted 7th Round, #216 Overall

AUDIO

WR Kevin Dorsey

KEVIN DORSEYWR – MARYLAND – HT: 6-1 – WT: 207 – Drafted 7th Round, #224 Overall

AUDIO

LB Sam Barrington

SAM BARRINGTONLB – SOUTH FLORIDA – HT: 6-1 – WT: 235 – Drafted 7th Round, #232 Overall

AUDIO


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Packers trade up to add UCLA’s Franklin to backfield

Posted by Vic Ketchman, packers.com editor on April 27, 2013 – 12:34 pm

GREEN BAY–Competition in the Packers backfield increased significantly when the team selected UCLA running back Johnathan Franklin following a trade up into the fourth round with the Denver Broncos.

Franklin, 5-10, 201, was thought to be one of the fast-rising players in the draft, but mysteriously lasted into the fourth round. He was a late-season hit last year and followed that up with a strong performance at the Senior Bowl.

“A hungry, downhill, one-cut runner with the competitive zeal, football character and toughness to contribute immediately,” a draft publication said of Franklin.
The Packers selected Alabama running back Eddie Lacy in the second round.

Denver got the Packers’ fifth (146) and sixth-round (173) picks.


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