ESPN Wisconsin Blogs - Jason Wilde
GREEN BAY – Taking a closer look at the Green Bay Packers’ fourth practice of training camp on Monday:
Thumbs up: Getting suspended for the regular-season opener for getting caught smoking marijuana, as DE Datone Jones did, isn’t exactly a way to endear yourself to the masses. But to the 2013 first-round draft pick’s credit, he stood in and faced the music publicly Monday, answering questions from reporters for more than 10 minutes, including one blunt question from ESPN.com’s Rob Demovsky, who asked Jones point-blank if he’s stopped smoking pot because of the suspension and the civil citation he received in the hours after the Packers returned from their NFC Championship Game loss to Seattle on Jan. 18.
“You know the NFL rules, man. That would be crazy for me to be smoking right now,” a surprised Jones replied. “What about you? Have you?”
Jones was taken aback by the question, but he was prepared to publicly apologize – and did – to just about everyone associated with the team, from president Mark Murphy to general manager Ted Thompson to coach Mike McCarthy to the fans. Jones also took responsibility for his mistake, saying he “didn’t appeal at all” because “I did it to myself” and has no one else to blame. He will have to leave the team after training camp ends and can return after the Packers play at Chicago on Sept. 13.
“I’m not a young player anymore. I have to make better decisions, and I have to be accountable to my teammates. What I do off the field affects them as well,” Jones said. “I’ve been pushing myself day in and day out just to make it up to my teammates.”
While some may argue that the NFL’s rules on marijuana are archaic given how it has been legalized in several states, the rules remain the rules. But given the disappointment so many Packers fans felt after the team’s collapse against the Seahawks, Jones said he’s seen fans be mostly supportive on social media.
“It’s not about saying the right things. For me, football is my everything. Football is my way. It’s been my ticket. It’s what I love doing every day,” Jones said. “I’m hurt over the situation. I’m focused and I’m ready to go. That’s all I can really say.”
Thumbs down: Depending on your perspective, the thumbs-down either goes to QB Aaron Rodgers, who ended the No. 1 offense’s 2-minute drill by throwing an interception to rookie CB Damarious Randall, or to the retired officials who work practice, who – in a certain MVP’s opinion – should have ruled Randall out of bounds since his upper body landed well out of bounds (before his feet came down, in Rodgers’ humble opinion). Jordy Nelson, whom Rodgers had hit against Randall for roughly a 25-yard gain on a third-down play earlier in the drive, was the intended receiver, and given how rarely Rodgers throws interceptions, it’ll be interesting to ask on Tuesday whether the film backed up the QB’s opinion. After all, the film of the NFC Championship Game did in fact show Seattle defensive end Michael Bennett was offsides on Rodgers’ end-zone interception to Richard Sherman, just as Rodgers claimed.
Play of the day: While the starting offense went down to defeat – even though Rodgers disagreed with the call – the No. 2 offense had no such problems. Backup QB Scott Tolzien led his group down the field against the No. 2 defense, capping it – and ending the practice – with a fantastic 35-yard touchdown pass to WR Myles White, who caught the ball over rookie CB LaDarius Gunter on the final play of practice.
Camp confidential: The primary beneficiary of the coaches limiting starting LG Josh Sitton’s snaps in 11-on-11 work has been G Lane Taylor, a third-year player whose most extensive work last season was at New Orleans after RG T.J. Lang suffered an ankle injury and could not return. Taylor played poorly in Lang’s place in the Packers’ 44-23 loss, and it’s been motivating him ever since.
“It was definitely not the level of play that I play at. In a sense, it was good for me because I’ve never played that bad and I’m never going to again,” Taylor said after practice Monday. “So I put that behind me, came out the next week and had a good week and just have been building ever since.”
Assuming the Packers’ five starters stay healthy, they have three legitimate keepers as backups: T Don Barclay, C/G/T JC Tretter and Taylor – although Taylor is taking nothing for granted.
“You have to go out there and compete. There’s no ‘not competing’ for a job. You’ve got to go out there every day and compete for a job,” he said. “Every rep I can get [with Sitton limited] is great. It’s just another chance to get better. I’ll take every rep I can get.”
Packers Playlist: "Chelsea Dagger" by The Fratellis, "Kickstart My Heart" by Motley Crue, "Can’t Feel My Face" by The Weeknd, "Snow (Hey Oh)" by the Red Hot Chili Peppers and “So Much To Say" by The Dave Matthews Band were the songs played during the regeneration periods Monday. Listen to all the tunes from training camp on the Packers Regeneration Period Playlist on Spotify.
Injury report: ILB Nate Palmer suffered a left hand injury during Saturday’s practice but was able to take all his regular snaps Monday while wearing a club cast. WR Adrian Coxson, who left practice on Saturday after feeling lightheaded and ended up departing Ray Nitschke Field in an ambulance, is out of the hospital and has been diagnosed with a concussion, McCarthy said. WR Jared Abbrederis (concussion) and G Matt Rotheram (ankle) remained sidelined, although McCarthy said Abbrederis is making progress. CB Quinten Rollins (hamstring) was activated from the non-football injury list, so the only remaining players yet to pass a physical are OLB Mike Neal (abdomen), WR Ricky Collins (heel) and RB John Crockett (ankle), who are all on the physically unable to perform list.
Short yardage: The coaches withheld Rollins from doing any 11-on-11 work since it was his first practice since suffering the hamstring injury while working out on his own on campus at Miami (Ohio) a few weeks before camp began. “It felt amazing, just to finally be able to get out there with the team and get into the swing of things a little bit,” Rollins said. “Obviously I didn’t get any team reps – they’re trying to ease me back in – but it felt good to get out there in individual and be able to do walkthroughs. Hopefully we can continue to take small steps forward.” … With Abbrederis, Collins and Coxson all sidelined, the Packers signed WR Ed Williams, an undrafted free agent from Fort Hays (Kan.) State. Williams, who started his college career at the University of Toledo, had 53 receptions for 946 yards and seven touchdowns last season. … P Tim Masthay’s punting session against P Cody Mandell got off to a rough start, but his last punt was a doozy, a 43-yarder with over 5 seconds of hang time. … QB Matt Blanchard took a hit from DT Bruce Gaston on a scramble near the goal line but the UW-Whitewater product was able to continue. He said after practice that the hit – something that’s a big no-no with guys in red jerseys – was actually a good thing with preseason games starting soon. … Rookie QB Brett Hundley had perhaps his best day so far, throwing a pair of touchdowns passes in the red-zone period. … So far in camp, K Mason Crosby's only misses have come with Mandell holding instead of Masthay. On Monday, Crosby was 8 for 10 – 5 for 5 with Masthay holding, but getting a 33-yarder blocked and missing wide left on a 50-yarder out of the five kicks he had with Mandell.
They said it: “Tempo’s been good. Not great, but it’s been good. These are installation practices – today was installation No. 4, which puts us halfway through the installation phase, [and the] emphasis was red zone. Things happen faster down there, the periods go quicker, which is natural. I thought the offense did some really good things today at practice. It takes some time. I think there’s definitely peaks and valleys in our work so far this training camp.” – McCarthy, on the first four practices of camp.
Practice schedule: The Packers practice at 8:20 a.m. Tuesday, in pads. There is no practice Wednesday, although players will have meetings and health-and-wellness/recovery sessions.
GREEN BAY – Calling it “the saddest day of my life,” Green Bay Packers tight end Andrew Quarless revealed Monday that he missed the first two days of the team’s training camp last week because his daughter died at birth last week.
Quarless had initially been excused from the first practice of camp on Thursday for what coach Mike McCarthy had termed “a positive personal situation.” The coach’s tone changed ominously the following day when Quarless was again absent, saying the sixth-year tight end was dealing with “a very difficult family situation.”
On Monday, after fully participating in his first practice of camp, Quarless shared the devastating news amid a large group of reporters around his locker and acknowledged that returning to football had been something of a safe haven
“It's the saddest day of my life,” Quarless said. “I thank this team for the type of support they have given me to help me get through this. Just very thankful for these guys. It's really a family in here. It's really a family. I [was] looking forward my first day getting back out there today. It felt real good. It felt real good just to get out there, catch some passes, be able to run around a little bit, kind of get back to your old self and get back into things.”
Quarless had taken part on a limited basis in Saturday’s practice before players had Sunday off. He struggled at times to keep his emotions in check as he spoke Monday, after several family members – including his 5-year-old son – watched practice from the Ray Nitschke Field sideline.
“The most important thing was my son was able to come out there. He was really looking forward to being a big brother,” Quarless said. “Today was rough. I’m a little drained. I was drained the past couple of days. Just to get out there today, it was a great feeling. It was a great feeling being around my teammates having fun and actually smile. Actually to smile and be happy, that was good for me.”
Quarless had been looking forward to his daughter’s birth, especially in the wake of his July 4 arrest in Miami Beach, Fla., on a misdemeanor gun charge after he allegedly fired two shots into the air after an argument with a group of women, according to police. He pleaded no contest last month and has a hearing scheduled for Aug. 24.
Quarless faces a possible suspension under the NFL personal-conduct policy, although it’s unclear when such a decision would be made. Defensive lineman Letroy Guion was arrested on drug and gun charges in February and reportedly learned last month that he’d be receiving a three-game suspension, although he is appealing.
Asked how his conversation went with coach Mike McCarthy after his arrest, Quarless replied, “He was very upset. Very upset. I just apologized to him for bringing negativity to this place. We have a great group of character guys. There’s just so much character in this locker room. I just apologized for bringing negative because you never want to bring negative to something like this.”
Quarless said McCarthy then told him to “just focus, don’t be too hard on yourself” and to learn from his mistake.
“Life is serious. I'm a role model to a lot of kids,” Quarless said. “You can't take things for granted and I don't take this organization for granted and I don't take my position for granted. I'm just really, really thankful. That's the main word I can really use is thankful for this group of guys.
“My whole mindset about life has kind of changed a lot. With my daughter, I promise you, I was looking [to find] a little bit of happiness in my daughter. You just can’t take life for granted.”
GREEN BAY – Green Bay Packers five-time Pro Bowl linebacker Clay Matthews missed Monday morning’s practice with what coach Mike McCarthy termed “knee soreness,” and the coach downplayed any concerns about the player who is the centerpiece of the team’s defense.
Matthews felt something in his knee during Saturday’s first in-pads practice of training camp, McCarthy said. The Packers players had Sunday off before returning to practice Monday, again in pads.
Matthews came out and watched a brief portion of practice wearing a Packers baseball cap and jogged off the field and into the Don Hutson Center after his cameo appearance. McCarthy said Matthews did rehabilitation work with other injured players inside the Hutson Center during practice.
McCarthy said he does not have a timetable for Matthews’ return.
The Packers are working Matthews both inside and outside this camp after changing his role at midseason last year. Because he moved to inside linebacker during the bye week last season after 4 1/2 years as exclusively an outside linebacker, Matthews was forced to take a crash-course in that position. The idea this summer has been to get him more work inside to improve his understanding of that role.
McCarthy said Friday he had no concerns about Matthews’ practice workload.
“]His] workload hasn’t changed. He’s always worked this much. Where he is working has changed,” McCarthy said. “He’s spending a lot more time at the inside linebacker position. We all understand that. I mean, he’s played his whole career at outside linebacker, so the ability to keep moving him over there every third day or so is the plan. Just to get the reps from inside and get the full training because he’s never had that from starting in training and going all the way through training camp.”
GREEN BAY – Taking a closer look at the Green Bay Packers’ third practice of training camp on Saturday:
Thumbs up: At Stanford, one of the knocks on WR Ty Montgomery was that he dropped too many passes. But so far in training camp, he’s caught just about everything thrown his direction. On Saturday, in the first padded practice of camp, Montgomery took the first rep fielding kickoffs, showed good burst on an end-around and then had the catch of the day when he went high to reel in a deep ball from rookie QB Brett Hundley against fellow rookie CB LaDarius Gunter down the left sideline. It was the kind of splash play that gets everyone’s attention, including the head coach.
“I think he’s fit in nicely on offense, made some plays,” coach Mike McCarthy said. “So he’s off to a good start.”
Thumbs down: Maybe it’s because DE Datone Jones will be suspended for the first game of the regular season, so the Packers coaches are limiting his reps with the starting defense. But the 2013 first-round pick isn’t getting many first-team reps so far in camp, and on Saturday morning, when the defense’s top players were outside for their early practice work, Jones was one of the defensive players inside the Don Hutson Center playing on the scout team as the starting offense got its work done. Then, in one-on-one pass-rush drills, Jones lost twice to guard Josh Walker, although he did win against tackle Fabbians Ebbele. For a player with a lot to prove this summer, Jones is off to a slow start.
Play of the day: While Montgomery’s catch was a nifty one, it wasn’t the only one by a rookie wide receiver. On the final play of practice, QB Matt Blanchard sent a deep ball down the sideline to rookie WR Jimmie Hunt. One day earlier, Hunt had gone up for a similar ball from Blanchard and had it broken up by rookie CB Damarious Randall. Not on this day. Hunt contorted his body after plucking the ball out of the air and came down with it, and the end-of-practice horn followed. Although listed only a 6-feet, Hunt has shown a knack for high-pointing the ball so far in camp. Hunt caught 40 passes for 698 yards and seven touchdowns last season at Missouri.
Camp confidential: TE Andrew Quarless, who missed the first two days of practice because of a personal family matter, took part in practice for the first time, although he didn’t do much. He took part in the ball-security and team-takeaway drills but took next to no snaps during 11-on-11 work. After practice, McCarthy emphasized that Quarless’ absence has been unrelated to his arrest in South Florida over the Fourth of July weekend on misdemeanor gun charges.
“Andrew obviously has been gone because of what him and his family have been dealing with,” McCarthy said. “From a professional standpoint, you’ve got to make sure that he’s OK, and that’s the priority. But as far as his workload, just treat him as if it was his first day. The first two practices were obviously laid out different; we had the walk through at the end of the first two practices. Obviously this was a much more demanding practice as far as the length and the team periods. So [we were] just being real smart with his reps and just had a couple of people watching him.”
Packers Playlist: "On Top Of The World" by Imagine Dragons, "Days Of Gold" by Jake Owen, "Fuel" by Metallica, "Everlong" by Foo Fighters and "Beautiful Day" by U2 were the songs played during the regeneration periods Saturday.
Injury report: WR Adrian Coxson left practice after feeling lightheaded and ended up departing Ray Nitschke Field in an ambulance. As of Saturday afternoon, he was still being evaluated. WR Jared Abbrederis (concussion) and G Matt Rotheram (ankle) remained sidelined while CB Quinten Rollins (hamstring) remains on the Non-Football Injury list and OLB Mike Neal (abdomen), WR Ricky Collins (heel) and RB John Crockett (ankle) are on the Physically Unable to Perform list.
Short yardage: McCarthy said during the offseason that he intended to use more veteran players on special teams, and when the Packers went to their No. 1 kickoff return unit, it was largely populated by non-rookies. The two exceptions: Montgomery, and undrafted rookie free-agent tight end Mitchell Henry. … With LG Josh Sitton continuing to be limited in team periods, G Lane Taylor continues to be the beneficiary of the additional reps. … Montgomery was the first man up as the kickoff returner, but S Micah Hyde was next. Hyde was the up man on Montgomery’s turn deep, and RB Raijon Neal lined up in front of Hyde on his turn deep. … Gunter, who has made roughly one play per day, had another on Saturday when he jammed WR Jordy Nelson at the line of scrimmage and then broke up QB Aaron Rodgers’ pass to Nelson. … Retired Packers GM Ron Wolf, who’ll be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame next Saturday, was at practice. … DE Mike Daniels got the better of RG T.J. Lang on one 1-on-1 pass-rush turn, but Lang then stonewalled him on the next round. … OLB Jayrone Elliott and OLB Andy Mulumba both flashed in the 1-on-1 pass-rush period and in the half-line run-blocking period.
They said it: “I think we got off to a solid start. A lot of video. We did more team work today than we did the last two days. That’s the best work that you can have, competing against each other. I thought we got a lot of teaching done in the special teams segments.” – McCarthy, on doing additional 11-on-11 periods during the first padded practice of camp.
Practice schedule: The Packers are off. The players will return to practice at 8:20 a.m. Monday, in pads.
GREEN BAY – Josh Sitton was in a great mood Saturday, cracking jokes and even lifting up his shirt and laughing off one reporter pointing out that he’s seemingly lost some weight after having been, uh, fat for most of his career. It was meant as a compliment.
“Really? Do I look thinner?” Sitton said with a chuckle as he lifted his t-shirt. “I don’t appreciate the word fat. I’m probably a little bit [lighter]. I probably slimmed down a little. Not a whole lot.”
It’s certainly not from his workload the first few days of training camp, which has been limited for undisclosed reasons. Sitton, who has battled back problems in the past and played through a painful toe injury last season, parroted coach Mike McCarthy’s remark from the day before and said simply that the Packers are “just being smart” with him early in camp.
Sitton said the toe “feels great” right now, but he wouldn’t disclose what soreness he’s experiencing.
“I’ve just got some soreness right now, so we’re just trying to limit what I’m doing right this minute,” Sitton said. “We’ve got a plan going forward. We know what I need to get and I’m on the same page with the coaches right now and we know what we need to do.”
Pressed on if it’s his back that’s bothering him, Sitton replied, “I’m sore everywhere. Mentally, spiritually, emotionally, mentally, everything. Just beaten down.”
Sitton, who earned his second Pro Bowl berth last season, then was asked if the fact that he was joking around about his limited practice reps was a sign that he’s not worried about whatever it is that’s bothering him.
“We’re not concerned with anything in the long run. I’ll be just fine,” Sitton replied. “There’s nothing to really worry about. We’re just being smart. I’m getting older. I’ve played a long time, I don’t need as many as reps as maybe I did in the past. We’re just being smart.”
As for his weight, to the naked eye Sitton – listed at 6-foot-3 and 318 pounds – does seem slimmer than past years, although when he lifted up his shirt he didn’t exactly reveal six-pack abs.
“My weight’s about the same. I think I’ve just cut a little bit of fat,” Sitton said. “People have been saying that [I look thinner], but I think I’m the same weight. Maybe I just put it in the right places.”
Sitton said he’s not especially enjoying his reduced workload, which has Lane Taylor, JC Tretter, Don Barclay and others getting snaps in his place. Sitton was held out of 11-on-11 drills as well as the half-line run-blocking drill Saturday, during the team’s first practice in pads.
“Traditionally I’ve been a guy, I need my practice and I’ve always wanted to practice. This is new, and it’s not easy to sit and watch – especially when the offense is out there kicking ass like they were today,” Sitton said. “You want to be out there and be a part of that and be with your guys and make your team better.
“I just need to be in football shape. Usually that takes a week or two for linemen.”
GREEN BAY – Undrafted rookie wide receiver Adrian Coxson was taken from Ray Nitschke Field in an ambulance after experiencing lightheadedness during the Green Bay Packers’ first in-pads practice of training camp Saturday morning.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Coxson, a 6-foot-1, 209-pound receiver from Stony Brook, left practice after feeling ill.
“We had a situation where he just was feeling fatigued, lightheaded,” McCarthy said. “So he’s under observation right now.”
An Ashwaubenon rescue squad that is normally stationed at practice backed up into a parking lot by the Don Hutson Center and Coxson was loaded onto it by team medical personnel. Packers director of security Doug Collins was seen coordinating the effort.
Coxson was taken to a nearby hospital for tests, and his agent, Jonathan Herbst, told ESPN.com’s Rob Demovsky that his client was still undergoing tests as of Saturday afternoon.
Coxson is one of a handful of promising undrafted free-agent wide receivers that the Packers have seen potential in.
The players are off Sunday before returning to practice Monday for another in-pads session.
GREEN BAY – Casey Hayward had a screw inserted into his foot during the offseason, and he isn’t sure if it’ll stay in there for the rest of his life or be surgically removed at some point.
All the Green Bay Packers cornerback knows is this: Right now, his foot feels OK, and he’s working with the starting defense.
“The bone is healed. My foot is healed. I just have to deal with a little nagging pain here and there,” Hayward said Friday after deflecting an Aaron Rodgers pass intended for Jordy Nelson that turned into a Morgan Burnett interception in 11-on-11 work. “I’m not going to do any complaining about it. I’m going to stay on my rehab, make sure my cleats are right, fitted right, things like that.”
Hayward said his foot didn’t affect his play last season, but he did feel it toward the end of the year and noticed it more after the season ended. That led to an exam and the surgery when a stress fracture was found.
He missed virtually all of the offseason program but said he was cleared to be full-go about two weeks ago. Through two days of training camp, he’s worked with the starters opposite No. 1 cornerback Sam Shields and ahead of his would-be challengers.
“I’m up to speed. I’m a vet so I know this defense. I know how to play it, I know how to play this game,” Hayward said. “I know the ins and outs of offenses so I can read some of the plays before they happen or while they’re developing. It’s just me getting in shape. I think that’s the ultimate goal is getting in top shape, getting in better shape every week and keep trusting my speed and my legs.”
Hayward, who missed nearly all of the 2013 season with a hamstring injury suffered just before camp, said he doesn’t think the foot will be an issue that lingers.
“I feel good. I’m making plays already in this camp,” he said. “I’m feeling healthy. As long as I stay on top of my rehab and keep doing those things throughout the year – not just throughout camp but throughout the year – my body will hold up.”
GREEN BAY – Randall Cobb isn’t interested in playing it safe. If the Green Bay Packers need their $40 million man to return punts during the season, he’s in.
So even though the fifth-year wide receiver caught a big payday this offseason, and even though safety/nickel back Micah Hyde has been very effective in the role, Cobb says he wants to return punts when called upon this year.
“Special teams is important.” Cobb said Thursday after another practice in which he fielded punts along with Hyde and other candidates for the job. “We understand offense puts the points on the board a lot of the times. Defense, they’re going to make the stops. But special teams, one play can change the outcome of the game.
“I feel like I can make a big return. We have guys that can make big returns as well, but we bring different kinds of return ability to the table. So just being able to use us in different ways, and it’s all about field position. We’re trying to create better field position for our offense.”
As a rookie in 2011, Cobb returned 26 punts averaged 11.3 yards per punt return and had an 80-yard touchdown. In 2012, he returned 31 punts and averaged 9.4 yards with another TD. Last season, he returned 14 and averaged 8.0 yards.
Cobb also returned kickoffs in 2011 and 2012 and has done that job in the playoffs as well. He has three career returns (two punt, one kickoff) for TDs.
There’s a school of thought that Cobb has become too valuable to risk on returns, but coach Mike McCarthy doesn’t subscribe to that theory.
“When you’re designing plays and you’re looking at distribution of opportunities, you want to give Randall the ball,” McCarthy said. “So, he’s definitely an option as a punt returner.”
The most likely scenario would have Cobb occasionally on returns, perhaps when McCarthy feels the team needs a spark or based on field position.
Cobb suffered a broken leg in 2013 that cost him 10 games, and as he has pointed out multiple times, the injury didn’t come on a return. It came on an offensive play.
“Football is a contact sport. I’m going to take shots. I took shots at receiver last year. I took shots in the return game. That’s all part of football,” Cobb said. “It happens. It’s part of our game.
“I just know when my number is called, I’ll be on the field.”
GREEN BAY – Josh Sitton doesn’t exactly love this time of year.
“Training camp isn’t always the funnest thing in the world,” the Green Bay Packers Pro Bowl left guard said.
No, it’s not, and while Sitton certainly needs work to get ready for the season, with a history of back issues – and the first in-pads practice of training camp looming in the morning – Sitton had a light workload during the Packers’ second practice of training camp Friday.
And it probably won’t be the last time he takes it easy during a practice this summer, as he prepares for his eighth NFL season.
“Josh Sitton has played a lot of football here,” McCarthy replied when asked why Sitton’s snaps were limited. “I think it’s smart to give younger players an opportunity.”
Those younger players getting work at left guard Friday were JC Tretter, Lane Taylor and Josh Walker, and Don Barclay has taken snaps there during the first two days of camp, too.
Sitton, who has missed practices during previous training camps and during the regular season to save his back, also played through a painful toe injury during the second half of last season and refused to have surgery on it after the year was over. He understands the importance of keeping the Packers’ starting five together, since they missed one combined start last season (by Bryan Bulaga in Week 2) due to injury.
“We’re excited about our opportunity. We have a lot of talent here,” Sitton said. “We know what we can do if we stay healthy and just keep moving forward.”
GREEN BAY – Taking a closer look at the Green Bay Packers’ second practice of training camp on Friday:
Thumbs up: While the first two practices of training camp are, by rule, not in pads, it’s difficult for there to be any genuine excitement about anything other than the fact that football is back and the road to Super Bowl 50 is underway. But while the first two practices may feel ho-hum to observers, that should change on Saturday morning, when the pads come on and the hitting starts.
Now, this isn’t the Vince Lombardi Era, or the Forrest Gregg Era, or even the Mike Holmgren Era, when practices had live tackling and violent collisions. But everyone will feel the intensity ratchet up several notches when the half-line inside run drill and the 1-on-1 pass rush/pass blocking sessions.
That said, Packers coach Mike McCarthy felt that, given the limitations, the first two days went as he’d hoped.
“The first two practices, the things you really pay close attention to are the structure, the drill work. Make sure things are done right,” McCarthy explained. “Just getting all the little things the way you want it. Players are competing. The first two practices, it’s gone well. I feel good about the effort, it’s excellent. The energy is excellent. The workload is where it needs to be, so we’re off to a good start.”
Thumbs down: With every player-specific question McCarthy received the past two days – How has so-and-so looked to you? – you could sense the coach was inching toward a Herm Edwards moment. (Hello!) Writers need the coach’s thoughts on players they want to write about, but McCarthy wants more of a body of training-camp work before saying much about anyone. So let’s be clear that no lasting judgments are being made before the pads have even come on.
That said, it’s clear that rookie QB Brett Hundley has a ways to go. He’s working behind Aaron Rodgers, Scott Tolzien and Matt Blanchard at the moment, although he did get a ton of reps in the long jog-through period at the end of practice Friday. But in an 11-on-11 period, he eluded the pass rush and made a bad decision, throwing a ball up for grabs that S Morgan Burnett picked off. Now, Rodgers threw an INT later in practice, so it happens. But it’ll be interesting to see how Hundley develops in the coming weeks.
Play of the day: Rookie first-round pick Damarious Randall made the kind of play during 11-on-11 on Friday that grabs your attention. When Blanchard threw a deep ball down the left sideline to undrafted rookie receiver Jimmie Hunt, Hunt went up over Randall and appeared to be making a terrific catch for a big gain. But as Hunt came back to earth, Randall swatted the ball from his grasp, turning what could have been a big play into an incompletion and a win for the defense.
“That just shows what type of athlete he is, what type of player he can be,” said fellow CB Casey Hayward, who is working with the starters ahead of Randall. “He’s been doing a great job since he’s been here and hopefully that trend stays going up and he can help this defense out.
“He’s a confident young guy. He’s got a bright future. Hopefully that trend keeps going up.”
Camp confidential: If you got your hopes up for the Packers making a trip to London to play the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2016, you can forget it. It ain’t happening.
Packers president/CEO Mark Murphy said last week that he’d talked to Jags owner Shad Kahn and after that conversation, he didn’t think the Jaguars would want to give up a home game – and certain sellout – because of the way Packers fans travel. Turns out, Murphy was right.
Jaguars president Mark Lamping told the Florida Times-Union Thursday that the team will be hosting the Packers in Jacksonville next season. The Jaguars played San Francisco and Dallas at London’s Wembley Stadium the past two seasons and will play Buffalo there on Oct. 25.
The Packers haven’t traveled to Jacksonville since 2008, and based on the NFL’s scheduling formula, their next trip there wouldn’t be until 2024.
“We get the Packers here in Jacksonville so infrequently,” Lamping said. “They have such a national following. We have a lot of people here in Jacksonville that are Jaguars fans, but also fans of the traditional NFL teams. So we look forward to that game being played here in Jacksonville.”
Packers Playlist: “Homegrown” by Zac Brown Band, “Evenflow” by Pearl Jam, “Shut Up and Dance” by Walk the Moon, “Unbelievers” by Vampire Weekend, and “A Little Less Conversation” by Elvis Presley vs. JXL were the songs played during the regeneration periods Friday.
Injury report: WR Jared Abbrederis, who is coming back from a torn anterior cruciate ligament suffered in training camp last year, departed practice on Thursday and was diagnosed with a concussion, McCarthy said. Rookie G Matt Rotheram suffered an ankle injury Thursday and was being evaluated Friday. CB Quinten Rollins (hamstring) remains on the Non-Football Injury list, while OLB Mike Neal (abdomen), WR Ricky Collins (heel) and RB John Crockett (ankle) are on the Physically Unable to Perform list.
Short yardage: The Packers defensive backs had a strong second day of camp. Not only did Randall break up multiple passes, but Hayward deflected a thread-the-needle throw by Rodgers and Burnett picked it off. “I thought the DBs did very well. They got their hands on the balls a bunch,” McCarthy said. “We saw Randall had a nice play over there on the left boundary. That’s what you’re looking for.” … McCarthy is limiting veteran G Josh Sitton’s snaps in 11-on-11 work, rotating JC Tretter, Lane Taylor and Josh Walker in his place with the starters throughout practice. “Just being smart with him,” McCarthy said. … When the Packers went to their base defense Friday, Clay Matthews worked inside. But when they were in nickel, Matthews was outside and rookie ILB Jake Ryan got the call next to Sam Barrington.
They said it: “Having all our coaches out there in the stands during practice, it’s always a lot of fun.” – Randall Cobb, on fans filling the Ray Nitschke Field bleachers.
Practice schedule: The Packers will practice again at 8:20 a.m. Saturday, but in pads for the first time. There is no practice on Sunday.