GREEN BAY – Jerel Worthy can’t promise that he’ll be back on the field before the end of training camp, but the Green Bay Packers third-year defensive end insists that offseason lower back surgery won’t keep him from being ready for the Sept. 4 regular-season opener at Seattle.
“I will be ready for the season, I can tell you that much,” Worthy said after Wednesday’s training camp practice, the fourth he’s missed while on the team’s non-football injury list. “This is not going to set me back.”
Trouble is, it already has.
The 2012 second-round pick from Michigan State played 467 snaps before suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee in the regular-season finale at Minnesota. That wiped out his entire offseason last year and landed him on the physically unable to perform list to start the year. While he was eventually cleared to practice on Nov. 13 and added to the 53-man roster 10 days later, he saw action in only two regular-season games. Including the two snaps he played against San Francisco in the playoff loss at Lambeau Field, Worthy was on the field for just 12 plays last year.
Worthy said he injured his back weightlifting on his own this spring before organized team activity practices were to begin and had surgery in April. He called the surgery “a little bit of cleanup” on his lower back and did his best to downplay the severity.
“I feel really good. I can do a lot of the things that they ask me to do as far as running, change of direction, lifting. I'm getting back to feeling like my old self,” Worthy said. “A couple things got out of place in my lower spine, and at the end of the day core strength and having a strong back is huge for what we do in the trenches. The way our team operates, we take the conservative road and make sure everybody is able before putting a guy back out there. They just have to make sure everybody is in tip top shape.”
Meanwhile, outside linebacker Mike Neal was back on the field after starting camp on the physically unable to perform list like Worthy. He was able to practice immediately in pads because of a rule change this offseason made by the league that eliminated the requirement that players coming off injury spend two days out of pads before returning to full duty, and he worked in both 11-on-11 sessions and 1-on-1 drills.
“I thought they would have to start me off and gradually work me back into it, but they told me I was good to go if I wanted, and I was good with that,” Neal said. “I felt good. A little sore, but I felt good.”
Neal now must adjust to playing at his new, lower weight of 263 pounds – down more than 30 pounds from his listed weight as a rookie.
“I feel rusty right now, but I do (feel quicker). Shoot, I stepped on the scale today and I was 260,” said Neal, who had five sacks last season while primarily playing outside linebacker. “I’m playing this game now where I’m trying to settle about 265. But I feel a little bit faster. It’s one of those out-of-body experiences, where, I’m not used to this. I have to get used to being a little bit lighter and a little faster on my feet. So I’m a little rusty in that case, but I feel pretty good.”
GREEN BAY – Taking a closer look at the Green Bay Packers’ third practice of training camp from Monday:
Thumbs up: Whether it’s motivation, or being in better shape, or the position switch, or facing a first-year center, nose tackle B.J. Raji has looked phenomenal during the first four practices of camp. On Wednesday in pads, Raji trashed center JC Tretter on a pair of 1-on-1 run-blocking matchups – although Tretter did stop Raji on a 1-on-1 pass-rush rep. Then, in an 11-on-11 team red-zone period, Raji whipped Tretter again to reroute an Eddie Lacy run in the backfield. Having returned on a one-year prove-it $4 million deal, Raji is off to a terrific start.
“B.J.’s in great shape,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said when asked about his nose tackle’s strong start to camp. “I know our strength staff [was very happy with] where B.J. came in at with his weight and where he is and so forth. Some of the things we’ve changed, not really changed, but what we’re emphasizing in B.J.’s particular job responsibility, I think he does very natural.”
Thumbs down: Oh, Myles White. With the increased competition for a roster spot at wide receiver following the selections of Davante Adams, Jared Abbrederis and Jeff Janis, you can’t be muffing punts – much less three in the same period. But that’s exactly what happened during a special teams session Wednesday. While White probably is the team’s fourth or fifth option as the punt returner, it’s never a good idea to make glaring fundamental errors, especially in succession.
Play of the day: Brandon Bostick would have been fine just talking about the 1-yard, fourth-down touchdown catch he had to end the 2-minute drill. Instead, perhaps we should start calling him Honest Abe. Bostick admitted that on the play before that play, he ran the wrong route and would likely have scored a touchdown had he not made the mistake. He also would have saved himself from getting yelled at by quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
“I ran the wrong route and Aaron threw me the ball, so he kind of chewed me out a little bit. So I came back the next play and he threw it to me again and I just made the play. Just a simple pass, just a dump pass,” Bostick explained. “I was down for a little bit [after being yelled at] and then he came back to me, so it was definitely a confidence-booster. He said, ‘Be more focused next time and you won’t have that problem.’”
Camp confidential: Lacy is on the cover of Sports Illustrated this week, one of three running backs – Kansas City’s Jamaal Charles and Philadelphia’s LeSean McCoy are the others -- to be so honored. (The covers are regionally distributed.) Lacy, after rushing for 1,178 yards and 11 touchdowns as a rookie last season, is off to a strong start in camp, and his experience from a year ago is showing in how he grasps his responsibilities.
“I’d just say he’s improved at all the little things, the details of his position,” McCarthy said after practice. “Just for example today, we were in the inside skeleton drill where the running backs are against the inside linebackers and the safeties, and we were talking about route-running and cleaning up some things. And he made the comment, he had run a real nice route and gotten the football and he said, ‘Man, I did this all drill all last year and never got open.’ So, that it in itself tells you [he is] just working on the little things. Pass protection, he’s much better. Once again, he had an excellent rookie year, extremely productive. [And now] I think you’re just seeing the growth through all aspects of his game.”
Packers Playlist: "American Ride" by Toby Keith, "The Fixer" by Pearl Jam, "Diane Young" by Vampire Weekend and “I Will Wait” by Mumford and Sons were the four songs played during the regeneration periods Wednesday.
Injury report: S Morgan Burnett dropped out of practice after suffering an ankle injury, although McCarthy didn’t make it sound particularly severe. Burnett’s absence allowed Micah Hyde and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix to be on the field together.
LB Jamari Lattimore returned to practice after sitting out for two days with a stomach illness, while DE/OLB Mike Neal (abdominal) was activated from the physically unable to perform list and took part in practice, even wearing pads for 1-on-1 pass-rush drills and seeing limited action in 11-on-11 sessions.
OLB Nick Perry (foot/knee) remain on the PUP list. DE Jerel Worthy (lower back) and DT Letroy Guion (hamstring) remain on the Non-Football Injury list. Rookie WR Jeff Janis remains on the Non-Football Illness list but was again watching practice.
Starting right guard T.J. Lang (shoulder) was again very limited in practice but did manage to take at least one snap at right guard in 11-on-11.
They said it: “That’s what I am: I’m a scout. I work alongside some good scouts upstairs. That’s what I do, that’s what I enjoy. As a scout, you’re always looking for that so-called diamond in the rough that no one else can find. That’s very difficult to do in this day and age with the communication and the information and the names and that sort of thing. [But] you still are looking to one-up somebody else who’s in your business.” – General manager Ted Thompson, upon signing a new contract extension, when asked why he keeps doing the job.
Practice schedule: The Packers return to practice at 8:20 a.m. Thursday, presumably in pads.
GREEN BAY – When general manager Ted Thompson stepped to the podium at the annual shareholders meeting last week for his football report and mentioned coach Mike McCarthy, he said, “I thank God every day that he’s the Green Bay Packers’ coach.”
Now that Thompson has his contract extension, he can get to work on making sure McCarthy remains in that role long-term.
“Big priority,” Thompson said when asked about McCarthy’s contract situation. “It's been the plan the whole time. The way the organization is set up – obviously, I'm not giving any trade secrets away – it's the way it's always been done here: The general manager kind of gets put away and then you do the head coach.”
Both Thompson and McCarthy signed extensions after leading the team to the Super Bowl XLV title after the 2010 season, connecting them in terms of a timeline. McCarthy’s current deal runs out after the 2015 season, and Thompson’s deal was set to expire after the 2016 NFL Draft.
Thompson hired a largely unknown McCarthy as coach in 2006 after firing former coach/GM Mike Sherman, with whom his relationship was poor after then-president Bob Harlan stripped Sherman of his personnel duties and hired Thompson. The two have seen their relationship grow into a strong partnership.
“I think when two people work together for as long as Mike and I have, I think you develop certain understandings of each other,” Thompson said. “There are certain things you can communicate that are unsaid as opposed to originally when you probably need to spell everything out.
“I think we have a very good working relationship. We anticipate each other’s thoughts often, which might drive both of us crazy sometimes, but I think it’s working well and has worked well. Obviously, we see things pretty close.”
GREEN BAY – Ted Thompson isn’t going anywhere.
On a few weeks after team president/CEO Mark Murphy said signing Thompson to a contract extension was a priority, that’s exactly what happened Wednesday – meaning Thompson will remain the Green Bay Packers general manager for the foreseeable future.
Thompson, 61, was under contract through the 2016 draft before the extension. Terms of the new deal were not made available by the team, with the news release saying only that it is a “multiyear” contract. Thompson declined to say how long the deal will run.
“I felt very appreciated by the organization and honored to work in this position with such fine people. The more you think about it, the more you think, ‘How nuts are you that you’d walk away from something like this?’” Thompson said during the first of his regularly-scheduled training-camp news conferences Wednesday. “It’s important to me. It’s not my family, but I’ve got a lot of really good friends here and co-workers that I enjoy coming to work with every day.”
Thompson missed the annual NFL Meetings in March with an undisclosed non-threatening medical issue that curtailed his travel but didn’t cause him to miss much work in preparation for the NFL Draft and free agency. After that, though, some wondered if he was in the twilight of his time as Packers GM, a job he took in 2005 after then-coach/GM Mike Sherman was stripped of his personnel duties.
“I was asked that question a lot, how long I was going to go, but I’ve felt good,” Thompson said. “You always self-evaluate as you go along in life. How much longer do you want to do this? I have family back home in Texas, and I’ve not done a good job of this, but I’m going to make a more concerted effort to go back home and see them from time to time. It won’t be months at a time but I want to go back and be more connected to my family.”
On Thompson’s watch, the Packers won Super Bowl XLV following the 2010 season and have won four NFC North titles, including three straight. After drafting quarterback Aaron Rodgers in 2005, all 89 players on the Packers’ current roster were acquired by Thompson.
“I’m pleased that we were able to enter into this contract extension with Ted,” Murphy said in a statement released by the club. “His outstanding work has been the key factor in the success that we’ve enjoyed in recent years. I have tremendous respect for Ted, and am confident that we will continue to contend for championships under his leadership.”
After playing 10 years in the NFL as a linebacker with the Houston Oilers (1975 through ‘84), Thompson spent 1992 through ’99 in the Packers’ personnel department before spending five seasons in Seattle (2000 through ‘04) as the Seahawks’ vice president of football operations.
“I feel I feel great. I’m honored that Mark Murphy and the organization would like to have me stay on,” Thompson said. “This place means a lot to me. Counting the eight years before and almost 10 now, that’s a lot of your life. I’m honored to be a part of it.”
GREEN BAY – After a five-sack season and playing in all 16 games for the first time in his career in 2013 – leading to a two-year, $8 million contract this offseason – it’s clear Mike Neal has a future in the NFL.
But if the Green Bay Packers outside linebacker/defensive end is looking for another business opportunity, perhaps he could help the rest of us normal humans in the weight-loss department.
A year after showing up at camp having lost 20 pounds in order to play that hybrid linebacker/lineman position, Neal is back for camp having shed more weight. He said Monday he’s at 263 pounds, which is 31 pounds lighter than the 294 pounds he was listed at as a rookie second-round pick from Purdue in 2010.
In fact, the 27-year-old Neal said Monday that he hasn’t been this light since he was, well, just a kid.
“I can be honest with you. I can’t remember the last time I stepped on the scale and seen that since I was going to college,” he said.
While Neal has yet to practice because of a lingering abdominal muscle injury that landed him on the physically unable to perform list to start camp, the reason he shed more weight was his desire to get faster this season. Neal, who was listed at 285 pounds last season on the roster, said he trained with Jason Riley at the Performance Compund in Tampa, Fla., as he has every offseason since preparing there for the draft in 2010.
“For me, I think naturally what you're seeing now is probably naturally where my body is at,” Neal said. “When you get to college, what's the one thing they preach? We have to get you bigger. We have to get you bigger.
“Now my body is just kind of settling around 270 where it's probably naturally built that.”
Neal acknowledged last season that some of his injury problems early in his career might be caused by him carrying more weight than his body was designed to carry. Perhaps this extreme weight loss makeover will even further extend his career.
For now, though, he just wants to start practicing, which could happen later this week.
"It's hard for me to wake up every single day and come to work and be happy when I can't go on the field. This is what you do. This is your livelihood," Neal said. "This is how you put food on the table. I know it sounds cliché but I'm a competitor. I get goose bumps talking about it. I'm kind of pissed about it, but what can you do? I've been through this."
GREEN BAY – At age 26 and entering his sixth NFL season, T.J. Lang finally knows where the training room is. And as one of the Green Bay Packers’ resident tough guys, the veteran guard has realized that it doesn’t make him soft.
So while it’s killed him to be essentially miss the first three days of training camp with a lingering shoulder injury – he tapped his replacement, Don Barclay, on the shoulder and replaced him for one 11-on-11 rep in practice Monday – Lang might be better for it in the long run because of the lesson the injury is teaching him.
“You know with offensive linemen, you have that attitude that you can play through things,” Lang said Monday, explaining that he didn’t do anything specifically to the shoulder during the offseason that caused an injury. “Throughout the years of playing, you start to feel things catch up to you a little bit. So there’s just times you need to take a step back and get back on the right track and get healthy, and that’s something I’m doing right now.”
And that’s something that in the past, Lang wouldn’t have done.
“It’s tough to [sit out]. It comes down to a pride thing,” said Lang, who’s been replaced on the No. 1 offensive line by Barclay, the team’s versatile sixth lineman. “You don’t really like sitting on the sideline watching people take your reps or watching your teammates out there working hard and having to settle to watch.
“I’ve been a guy in the past that probably didn’t do as much stuff as I should do to take care of my body, and I’m not a guy that likes to spend a lot of time in the training room. But you talk to a lot of older guys and you get some tips, and it’s getting to a point with both [left guard] Josh [Sitton] and I that a big focal point is taking care of our bodies and the small things to make sure that you’re staying healthy.”
Packers coach Mike McCarthy said he isn’t worried about Lang’s injury being a long term issue, and Lang said tests showed that there isn’t any significant structural damage to his shoulder.
Lang, who has played in 75 of a possible 80 games in his first five seasons, said he expects to return to practice following Tuesday’s players day off.
“I was trying to get a couple reps in there today [but] the coaches and the trainers just want to take it slow right now,” Lang said. “For me, it’s just about getting confidence in what feels good. I’m trying out a couple different things – tape and braces. But I did three or four different things today and I was happy with how it went.
“Each day, my shoulder keeps improving, and I’m going to be back either Wednesday or Thursday. I’m going to be back out there full time.”
GREEN BAY – Taking a closer look at the Green Bay Packers’ third practice of training camp from Monday:
Thumbs up: While the two wide receivers atop the depth chart were the talk of camp the first two days – Jordy Nelson for his new four-year, $39 million deal and Randall Cobb for questions about whether he’ll be next – the new No. 3 receiver has simply gone about his business. But don’t sleep on Jarrett Boykin. During the no-huddle period late in practice, the third-year wide receiver had a pair of quality catches from quarterback Aaron Rodgers – a 12-yard catch on a crossing route against Clay Matthews to convert a second-and-7, and a terrific back-shoulder catch-and-throw with Rodgers on the final play of the period, gaining 26 yards down the right sideline.
“I would think [the connection] is there,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. “Boykin had a tremendous year [in 2013] for what he was asked to do and the opportunities that he was given, and how he performed. I think that connection, I know Aaron feels very good about him.”
Thumbs down: Skirmishes are to be expected on the first day of padded work, and it was actually surprising that there wasn’t a fight all day. The closest the Packers came, though, was during a no-huddle 11-on-11 period when a play was over and defensive end Datone Jones was still upset with something offensive lineman Don Barclay had done. With the offense ready to run another play, Jones was getting into it with Barclay and delayed the snap. McCarthy was irritated enough that he kicked Jones out of the play and had rookie third-round pick Khyri Thornton come in to replace him.
“It’s football. That’s all it really is,” McCarthy said dismissively after practice. “That’s part of the game.”.
Play of the day: Sean Richardson is trying to crack the safety rotation – for the first few days of camp, he was behind Morgan Burnett, Micah Hyde, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Chris Banjo – but the play he made on Rodgers’ pass across the middle to Nelson is the kind of play that moves you up the depth chart. During an 11-on-11 blitz period, Nelson appeared to be open but Richardson broke on the ball, arrived at just the right time and picked off the pass as he collided with Nelson.
“They brought the corner on a blitz, rotated the safeties and it was wide open in the middle,” Nelson said. “I kind of stayed on my cross, and I think I probably throttled [down] a little too much. We’ll look at it on film and see what it was, but obviously [Richardson] made a great break and took it right out of my hands. Give him credit for the play he made and holding onto the ball.”
Camp confidential: Every morning, McCarthy receives a packet of everything that’s been written by the local and national media about his team, compiled by PR department staffer Zach Groen and delivered by PR director Jason Wahlers.
“I don’t read ‘em,” McCarthy joked.
Perhaps not, but McCarthy was aware of loquacious defensive end Mike Daniels’ comments from a day earlier, in which he quoted Iron Mike Tyson and said that he’d be doing a lot of “mouth-punching” when the pads came on.
Asked about those comments Monday, McCarthy made it perfectly clear: He loves Daniels.
“I like everything about Mike Daniels. I like the way he goes about his business. I like his personality, I like the way he expresses himself,” McCarthy said. “I don’t like reading [comments like that in] the paper, I don’t think, that’s not necessary. But that’s the way it is, the access and so forth. So when it happens, it happens. He has a great approach and is definitely trying to take that next step and that’s what you want.”
Packers Playlist: "Give It Away" by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, "I Wanna Get Better" by Bleachers, "Misery Business" by Paramore and "What Would You Say" by Dave Matthews Band were the four songs played during the regeneration periods Monday.
Injury report: ILB Jamari Lattimore sat out his second straight day due to a stomach illness. DE/OLB Mike Neal (abdominal) and OLB Nick Perry (foot/knee) remain on the PUP list. DE Jerel Worthy (lower back) and DT Letroy Guion (hamstring) remain on the Non-Football Injury list, although Guion was wearing pads at the start of practice, even though he didn’t do anything. Rookie WR Jeff Janis remains on the Non-Football Illness list but was seen at practice for the first time. Starting right guard T.J. Lang (shoulder) was again very limited in practice but McCarthy isn’t concerned. “I’m not worried about T.J.,” McCarthy said.
They said it: “I really don’t have any concerns. This is the time to grow. We hit our targets in the offseason, we were able to come back and get going. … My focus is always about getting better each and every day, making sure the expectations of everything that the players, coaches, everybody is asked to do is very clear. That’s my job, to stay on top of that and make sure the direction’s always moving forward. But I don’t have any concerns. I’m excited about the progress we’re going to make as a team and the way we’re going to galvanize and get better as camp goes on and more importantly see who steps up and who’s going to be on the 53 and who’s going to be on the practice squad. That’s really what I’m thinking about.” – McCarthy, when asked what his No. 1 concern is in training camp.
Practice schedule: The collective bargaining agreement with the NFL Players Association mandates that players be given a day off during the first week of camp. That day for the Packers is Tuesday. They return to practice at 8:20 a.m. Wednesday, presumably in pads.
GREEN BAY – In the last kitchen Adam Korzun worked in, the logos of the University of Oregon’s Pac-12 Conference rivals were illuminated above the buffet line, with a neon sign that read, Eat Your Enemies – And The Other Food Groups.
In his new job with the Green Bay Packers, Korzun, who was named the team’s director of performance nutrition Sunday, will be charged with helping his players have a balanced diet to help them eat the Detroit Lions, Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears alive this season.
Korzun comes to the Packers after serving as the director of sports nutrition for the Oregon athletic department since August 2012. He started working as a sport dietitian for several sports for the United States Olympic Committee in May 2007 and later served as the full-time high-performance dietitian for the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association. He has also served as a consultant for Red Bull High Performance, the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Cleveland Indians.
In an interview with The Oregonian this spring, Korzun explained the importance of pairing nutrition with the proper strength and conditioning program.
“You can lift three times a day, but if you’re not fueling your body properly you’re not getting the gains out of it,” he told Ducks beat writer Andrew Greif. “Conversely, you can eat perfectly and if you’re not lifting you’re just going to get big and not get stronger. It’s what you do together, all the components coming together, that makes for improvement and performance.”
Korzun, who went to culinary arts school after high school, fed Ducks athletes regular, everyday foods – but with a healthy twist, like pancakes with protein powder, baked-not-fried chicken wings and high-protein burgers.
“The guys never know the difference,” he told The Oregonian. “We find out what they like and make it healthy. My personal message is, it’s all on you. … Short of me placing a feeding tube for you, I can’t control what you eat, I can just give you the right education to make sure you choose the right things.”
GREEN BAY – Taking a closer look at the Green Bay Packers’ second practice of training camp from Sunday:
Thumbs up: Some may wonder why first-round pick Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is behind Micah Hyde on the safety depth chart, but the second-year cornerback-turned-safety continued to impress Sunday, just as he did throughout the offseason at his new position. Continuing to work with the starters, Hyde started the day by breaking up an Aaron Rodgers deep ball to Jordy Nelson, then broke up another pass from Scott Tolzien to Jared Abbrederis downfield. Asked about Hyde’s transition to safety, coach Mike McCarthy called it “seamless.”
“Micah Hyde is a football player. I think you can line him up anywhere. You really can,” McCarthy said. “He’s had the off-season to learn the position, to get the communication down where it’s so important. He’s a playmaker.”
Thumbs down: If McCarthy is going to reach his stated goal of running 75 offensive plays per game, the no-huddle offense is going to have to work better than it did Sunday when the No. 1 offense went against the No. 1 defense. .After running back Eddie Lacy broke a 25-yard run on the first play, the Packers’ next three plays went thusly: Lacy for 2; Lacy for 5; Rodgers incomplete across the middle to Jarrett Boykin. The No. 2 group, with Tolzien at the controls, didn’t fare any better.
Play of the day: Hyde’s breakup of Tolzien’s pass to Abbrederis was the kind of play that showed what he brings to the safety spot, as he went over Abbrederis’ back to break up the pass but he had such body control that he managed to avoid a pass-interference call. But Abbrederis had himself a strong day as well, and his deep-ball catch against veteran cornerback Tramon Williams was a thing of beauty, too.
Camp confidential: Mike Daniels can say whatever he wants, because he backs it up. Or, at least, he has a history of backing it up, having delivered 6.5 sacks last season in his second year. Now an even more vocal leader, that was Daniels’ booming baritone you heard if you were at practice Sunday when rookie tight end Richard Rodgers caught a pass from Aaron Rodgers in traffic against Clay Matthews. Because the first two practices are in helmets and shorts instead of pads, there was no collision that would have ensued during a live period. And Daniels wanted to make sure that the offensive players knew that Monday would be a different story.
“Going to be a different day tomorrow when the pads come on! Lots of ass kicking from the green shirts!” he yelled. (At practice, offensive players wear white jerseys; defensive players wear green.) Daniels continued to talk from the sideline for a few more minutes, and he'll have the chance to back up his words on Monday.
Reminded after practice that those are his teammates he’ll be hitting, Daniels replied: “Rright now, I see the Vikings, the Bears and the Lions across from me. I don’t see my teammates. That’s the mentality you’ve got to have, and I expect them to have the same mentality.
“Growing up, my brother and I, we got into some arguments and sometimes they turned physical. But God forbid anybody try to come up against my brother that isn’t my brother. So, I guess what I’m saying [is], with football, you’re going to fight against your brother. I think that builds a stronger bond. That way, when some outsider comes in, we all gang up on them.”
Please don’t stop the music: "Summer" by Calvin Harris, "Joker And The Thief" by Wolfmother and "My Kinda Party" by Jason Aldean were the three songs played during the regeneration periods Sunday.
Injury report: ILB Jamari Lattimore was a spectator for the day because of what McCarthy said was a stomach illness. DE/OLB Mike Neal (abdominal) and OLB Nick Perry (foot/knee) remain on the PUP list. DE Jerel Worthy (lower back) and DT Letroy Guion (hamstring) remain on the Non-Football Injury list. And rookie WR Jeff Janis remains on the Non-Football Illness list. McCarthy said it “is going to be some time” before Worthy is cleared to play.
Meanwhile, starting right guard T.J. Lang did very little in practice because of what McCarthy said was a lingering shoulder injury. Don Barclay took first-team reps in his place.
They said it: “We get to really see what everybody’s made of. Like Mike Tyson said, ‘Everyone’s got a plan until they get punched in the mouth.’ So, I’m going to do a lot of mouth-punching tomorrow and see how people respond.” – Daniels, on the anticipation of Monday’s first padded practice.
Practice schedule: The Packers return to practice at 8:20 a.m. Monday for their first workout in pads, per NFL rules.
GREEN BAY – Randall Cobb doesn’t know if he’s next on the Green Bay Packers re-signing to-do list – even though others, including his own teammates, are assuming that’s the case.
One day after fellow wide receiver Jordy Nelson signed a reported four-year, $39 million contract extension, Cobb stood at his locker Sunday following the team’s second training-camp practice and faced question after question about when he might get a new deal.
But reporters weren't the only ones talking about it. Not long after news of Nelson’s deal broke, other players were talking to Cobb, who’s entering the final year of his rookie deal, about him being next to get an extension. Among the Packers' other unrestricted free agents-to-be are right tackle Bryan Bulaga, cornerback Tramon Williams and defensive tackle B.J. Raji.
While Cobb said he’s gotten the feeling from the Packers that he is indeed next in line, he is consciously doing all he can to avoid thinking about his financial situation, especially coming off an injury-marred 2013 season in which he missed 10 games with a leg injury.
“At the end of the day, it’s a business,” Cobb said. “My heart’s in Green Bay, I love Green Bay, the three years I’ve been here have been unbelievable. But I understand the business side of it.”
After leading the team in receptions (80) and receiving yards (954) in 2012, Cobb suffered a fracture at the top of the tibia in his right leg on a low hit by Baltimore safety Matt Elam in an Oct. 13 victory over the Ravens and was placed on injured reserve with the designation to return. And he did return, catching a game-winning, last-minute 48-yard touchdown from quarterback Aaron Rodgers to beat Chicago in the regular-season finale and send the Packers to the playoffs. He finished the regular season with only 31 receptions for 433 yards and four touchdowns.
Asked if, in his mind, he’s done enough to merit a new deal, the 23-year-old Cobb replied, “I don’t believe I’ve done enough, and I think that’s on me. Last year, I missed 10 weeks, I got injured in a way that there was nothing I could do about it. I think my job is just to come out here every day, do what I’m supposed to, continue to work hard and hopefully my time will come.
“I feel I have a lot to prove. I know the player I’m capable of being. And it’s just going out and showing that on a day-to-day basis.”
While that may be Cobb’s mentality, that’s not how his teammates are viewing it. Rodgers wasted no time on Saturday in making Cobb’s importance clear.
“I’d love for Randall to be next,” Rodgers said at his locker following Saturday’s practice. “He’s a guy, again, who’s done it the right way. He’s been a great leader for us; he’s had some injury issues last year that hurt him that was out of his control. But he’s a consistent performer for us and a great guy in the locker room as well.”
Cobb is entering the final year of the four-year, $3.209 million deal he signed as a second-round pick in 2011, and his base salary for 2014 is just $812,648. Nelson, who signed a three-year extension in October 2011 while in the last year of his rookie deal, said he believes Cobb is and should be the top priority now, too.
“Obviously that’s the biggest thing,” Nelson said Sunday. “Randall means a lot to this team, the things he can do. You want to see him get that extension.
“I think he’s going to be in a situation somewhat similar to what I was [in 2011], especially with the unfortunate part of him getting hurt last year. … Like I’ve told a lot of guys in here – whatever your decision is, you’ve got to be happy with it, no matter what the outcome. If you become underpaid [after signing an extension] or if you get hurt, either way, you have to be happy with your decision and know that you’ll have to live with it one way or another.
“I think he’s in a good situation. He’s a smart kid. But you don’t ever know when it’s going to happen. We’ll see.”
Cobb said that to his knowledge, no contract talks with the Packers have taken place, although he also said he’s told his agent, Jimmy Sexton, not to discuss it with him unless discussions get serious.
Cobb said he is taking that approach after seeing two of his fellow wide receivers go through the same situation – Greg Jennings in 2012 and James Jones last year. Both ended up leaving as free agents, with Jennings signing with the Minnesota Vikings and Jones joining the Oakland Raiders.
“I’ve been able to witness those things, so I’m able to learn from their experiences in different ways. I know my situation will be totally different than theirs was. But I’ve been able to learn from those situations.
“I’m going to be the best Randall Cobb I can be and do the best I can do. And I’ll let everything else take care of itself.”