Thumbs up: Having led the Packers to the Super Bowl XLV title, Mike McCarthy deserves the benefit of the doubt on the decisions he makes with his team. Yet there will be those who criticize him for giving all veterans with at least seven years of NFL experience – Aaron Rodgers, Charles Woodson, Nick Collins, Scott Wells, Chad Clifton, Ryan Pickett, Donald Driver and Howard Green – the night off Tuesday night. While some may say that given the abbreviated camp and lack of an offseason, each practice is vital, McCarthy has been very good at keeping his finger on the pulse of his team, and he clearly saw the value in letting some younger players take those snaps and give the “old-timers” a rest on the 11th day of camp.
Thumbs down: Brandon Jackson signed a very affordable two-year, $4.5 million free-agent deal with the Cleveland Browns, whom the Packers will face in their preseason opener Saturday night. In the meantime, the Packers haven’t figured out who’ll replace Jackson as the team’s third-down back. When the defense started their blitz-happy ways in practice, the running backs struggled mightily, including James Starks, who appeared to be getting the first crack at the job during the Family Night Scrimmage. While it’s a crowded backfield with Ryan Grant, Starks and third-round pick Alex Green all locks for the roster, the team may rue the decision not to keep Jackson, whom McCarthy constantly praised for his blitz work. “I think it would be unfair of me to rule anyone out at this point. We need to go through some game-type situations to kind of feel it out and see who’s going to fit that role,” running backs coach Jerry Fontenot said after practice Tuesday night. “But we certainly have the guys that are capable, the guys that are willing to do it. It’s going to be a competition. We’ll see who rises to the top.”
Play of the day: For the first time in camp, T.J. Lang spent more time in practice with the starters at left guard than rookie first-round pick Derek Sherrod. Earlier in the week, Lang said he wasn’t letting Sherrod’s initial work with the No. 1 line bother him. The position won’t be decided until at least a couple of preseason games are played – in the past, McCarthy has wanted to set his line entering the third preseason game – and Tuesday night’s developments would indicate that Lang is very much in the battle. “The left guard is wide open,” McCarthy said after practice. “T.J. Lang and Derek are competing for that.”
Camp confidential: While the Packers certainly aren’t in the market for a new kicker after signing Mason Crosby to a five-year, $14.75 million deal in free agency, But in the short term, they may need one. During a 4-for-8 effort on field-goal attempts in practice last Friday, Crosby sprained his ankle, and with the exhibition opener four days away, the Packers will either have to let punter Tim Masthay handle the job, or use one of their open roster spots on a temporary kicker. "We might,” GM Ted Thompson said. “We'll kind of see how it goes over the next couple of days."
Injury report: Cornerback Brandian Ross left practice with a hamstring injury. Safety Brandon Underwood (knee), cornerback Davon House (hamstring) and offensive linemen Adrian Battles (Achilles’) and Theo Sherman (ankle) remained sidelined, while linebacker Diyral Briggs (hamstring) and defensive tackle Eli Joseph (hamstring) still haven’t passed their physicals and remain on PUP. Wide receiver Brett Swain (hamstring) did not practice after leaving Monday night’s workout. Left tackle Marshall Newhouse (shoulder) returned to practice after leaving Monday night’s workout.
Practice schedule: The Packers practice in pads at 7 p.m. at Ray Nitschke Field on Wednesday, weather permitting.
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