On Sunday, Head Coach Mike McCarthy explained the team’s decision to release QB Graham Harrell, which can be found here. A third kicker was also added to the competition, and you can read about his strong first impression here.
Other news & notes from the day…
–Nelson, Cobb back to work: WRs Jordy Nelson (knee) and Randall Cobb (bicep) were back on the practice field on Sunday, a good sign that the Packers WR corps could be at full strength for the season opener in San Francisco. Both players ran routes during a lengthy jog-thru period and did some conditioning work after.
Neither receiver has played in a preseason game yet, so Thursday in Kansas City would be the last opportunity, but that isn’t taking paramount importance.
“I don’t think it’s going to matter, because if I do play, it’s not going to be much,” Nelson said. “I think that little bit of work is not going to make a difference if I get it or not, but we’ll see.
“I feel good. If it was a regular-season game, we could definitely be going. But we still have to be smart, see what happens, and take it day by day.”
Cobb is taking the same approach. Wearing a compression sleeve on his injured right bicep, Cobb said he will play “free-minded” and not have any worries about the injury when he’s out there full time.
“I can play. If it’s up to me, I’d be on the field (Thursday), but we’re going to be smart about the situation,” he said. “We know what we’re dealing with and we know what we’ve got going forward, so we’re going to be smart about it.”
–Banjo making roster bid: Rookie S Chris Banjo, who went undrafted out of SMU, is making a bid for the No. 4 safety spot on the roster with his heads-up play on both defense and special teams.
In last Friday’s game in Seattle, Banjo made an impressive tackle of TE Luke Willson just shy of the first-down marker on third-and-5, forcing the Seahawks to punt. Later, he brought down former Packer Will Blackmon on a punt return.
“Chris Banjo has been making plays since he arrived,” Mike McCarthy said. “Very pleased what he has shown so far. This will be a big game for all the young guys, and definitely for Chris.”
There’s no guarantee the Packers will keep four safeties, but starter Morgan Burnett sustained a hamstring injury last Friday, which could force the Packers to go deeper at the position, increasing Banjo’s chances.
Banjo has been working against the odds from the start, arriving four days into camp after being released July 25 by Jacksonville.
“It was definitely tough, I can’t lie, especially on the defensive side of the ball, so much new terminology and all the adjustments,” Banjo said. “Trying to get all that put together and looking like I belong on the field, not looking lost, that was definitely a tough curve. But day by day I’m getting better at it, and I’m trying to put it all together.”
Injury update: Of the players injured in last Friday’s game, McCarthy said Burnett (hamstring) and CB Casey Hayward (hamstring) would not be available this week. LB Brad Jones (hamstring) could be back sooner than the other two.
RB DuJuan Harris (knee) and CB Jarrett Bush (ankle) also missed practice, while TE Matthew Mulligan (elbow) returned.
CB Tramon Williams (knee) would not rule himself out for Week 1 in San Francisco, but he wasn’t guaranteeing he’d be ready, either.
“We’re taking our time with it,” he said. “There was never a timetable set for it, but it wasn’t serious. That’s what was coming from the doctor. We’re still pushing and, like Coach said, making progress.”
Tags: brad jones, casey hayward, chris banjo, dujuan harris, jordy nelson, mike mccarthy, morgan burnett, randall cobb, tramon williams
Posted in Packers.com Blog, Training Camp
For the main recap of Saturday’s Family Night scrimmage, including a close look at the kicking competition and the QB play, click here.
Other news & notes from the night:
–Young DBs shine: All the injuries at cornerback for the Packers have led to extra reps for a lot of prospects, and that paid off for two young corners on Saturday.
James Nixon, a practice-squad holdover from a year ago, and Brandon Smith, a converted receiver, both turned in impressive interceptions, with Nixon returning his 65 yards for a TD.
Nixon, who has been in and out of practice with a troublesome knee, looked full speed as he took off down the sideline. He had jumped a hook route by receiver Jeremy Ross and picked off QB B.J. Coleman’s throw, and from there he said the adrenaline kicked in.
“Once I saw (the receiver) start to break down, I knew to jump and react right then,” Nixon said. “Luckily he threw it.
“It was huge. I’m still a little humbled by it, a little shocked by it.”
Smith, an unknown 26-year-old who was out of football the past two years, shocked everyone with an interception on the first day of practice, but he showed on Saturday that maybe it wasn’t a fluke.
He had tight coverage on Ross in the end zone, spun around at the right moment and snagged Coleman’s underthrown jump ball.
“I just read his eyes,” Smith said. “His eyes got big, so I whipped my head around and jumped up as high as I can to make the play.
“I want to come out here and prove myself.”
Making big plays in front of a big crowd is a start for Nixon and Smith. Their next task is to carry it over to the preseason games.
“Anytime you see your DBs compete in a one-on-one situation and go up and get the football, that’s what it’s about,” Mike McCarthy said. “It’s a one-on-one battle out there in space, and it was a great job by both of those guys, especially scoring with the football.”
–Lacy blasts ahead: Rookie second-round pick Eddie Lacy posted powerful runs of 16, 19 and 8 yards amongst his handful of carries.
The productivity on the ground was spread around the backfield, as James Starks added a pair of 5-yard runs and a 23-yard gain on a screen pass, while Alex Green had rushes of 11 and 6 yards. But it was Lacy’s explosive plays that stood out.
“I think Eddie definitely has picked it up here the last 3-4 days,” McCarthy said. “This is our longest stretch of practices in a row, and it’s important for guys to take that step, and he’s definitely getting more and more comfortable with the things we’re doing.”
“I’m very comfortable, a lot more comfortable than when I first got in. but it’s going to continue to be a progression,” he said. “I still have things I need to learn and make sure I’m not second-guessing myself no matter what they call. There’s still room for improvement.”
–O-line update: McCarthy didn’t rule Don Barclay out of the right tackle competition, but it’s worth noting that the first sub for Marshall Newhouse at the position was rookie fourth-round pick David Bakhtiari.
Equally interesting, Barclay actually took some snaps at right guard in place of T.J. Lang with the No. 1 line.
“I give Don a lot of credit,” McCarthy said. “He’s doing what’s best for the team, and what’s best for the offensive line unit is that he’s versatile. We aren’t just letting him line up and play right tackle.”
–One injury: The only injury from the scrimmage McCarthy mentioned was to TE Ryan Taylor, who left the field, but the injury wasn’t specified.
–Williams’ status uncertain: CB Tramon Williams, who injured his knee earlier this week and hasn’t practiced since, said there is no tear in his knee and the current prescription is for plenty of rest.
He reiterated what McCarthy said earlier this week, that the injury isn’t serious, but his status for the rest of the preseason is uncertain. Williams said he didn’t think this would be something that would sideline him for the season opener, but he wasn’t going to make any guarantees he’d be out there, either.
“We’re definitely going to rest as much as I need it, but at the same time, if I feel I don’t need it and I’m able to go, I’m going to go,” he said. “We’ll be smart with it, though. Docs are smart here with injuries. I’ll let those guys do their jobs.”
Tags: eddie lacy, family night, mike mccarthy, scrimmage, tramon williams
Posted in Packers.com Blog, Training Camp
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.
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.”
Tags: datone jones, dujuan harris, Jerron McMillian, johnathan franklin, randall cobb, tramon williams, wide receivers
Posted in Packers.com Blog, Training Camp
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.
Tags: antoine winfield, charles woodson, christian ponder, Jermichael Finley, jordy nelson, randall cobb, tramon williams
Posted in Packers.com Blog
Packers CB Tramon Williams was not at practice on Thursday in the portion of the workout open to reporters. Williams has not been on the injury report this week. Mike McCarthy will provide an update following practice.
The only other players on the 53-man roster who were not at practice were WR Jarrett Boykin (ankle) and DE Jerel Worthy (knee). McCarthy said on Wednesday that Worthy’s knee injury is season-ending.
Tags: tramon williams
Posted in Packers.com Blog
The Packers’ coaching staff has awarded game balls from Sunday night’s victory over Detroit to the following three players:
Defense — CB Tramon Williams
Offense — G Evan Dietrich-Smith
Special teams — LB Frank Zombo
Williams drew the assignment of guarding Lions WR Calvin Johnson for most of the game, getting safety help over the top much of the time. Johnson had 10 receptions for 118 yards, but when none of those receptions was longer than 20 yards and he didn’t find the end zone, that’s a strong night’s work against the league’s leading receiver.
Dietrich-Smith was a key blocker in the Packers’ surging ground attack. He pancaked Detroit’s Nick Fairley on a draw play to RB Alex Green that converted a third-and-2 on the go-ahead TD drive in the fourth quarter. He then threw the key block on LB Justin Durant, pulling around from his left guard spot to undercut Durant at the point of attack as RB DuJuan Harris scooted through the huge hole for a 14-yard TD.
Zombo wasn’t credited for any tackles on special teams, but it’s worth noting that the Lions averaged just 20.3 yards on four kickoff returns and the special teams overall had another solid game. The only hiccup was K Mason Crosby’s miss from 51 yards in the second half, which barely hooked left.
Tags: #DETvsGB, evan dietrich-smith, frank zombo, game balls, tramon williams
Posted in Packers.com Blog