Green Bay Packers: Brad Jones

GREEN BAY, Wis. – Maybe A.J. Hawk is just another accomplished NFL player nearing the end of his career.

Or at least the end of his time with the Green Bay Packers.

How else can you describe the nine-year veteran's diminished playing time the last two weeks?

He continues to insist that he's not hurt, just as he did when first asked about it on Thanksgiving and then again Thursday after his closest friend on the team, quarterback Aaron Rodgers, suggested this week on his ESPN Milwaukee radio show that Hawk has been playing hurt and dealing with "a body that hasn’t been responding, I think, as well as he wanted it to at times this year."

[+] EnlargeA.J. Hawk
AP photo/Jim MahoneyA.J. Hawk has 80 tackles this season, but no interceptions or forced fumbles.
"No, I'm not hurt. My body has bounced back every week," Hawk said Thursday after being told of Rodgers' comments. "I feel better older than I did younger. I think he was just trying to be supportive of a friend or teammate --I don't know."

Less than a month ago, Hawk played all 78 defensive snaps against the Philadelphia Eagles. A week later, he still played the majority – 55 of 68 snaps – against the Minnesota Vikings. But two weeks ago, his role was slashed. He took the field for less than half of the plays – 26 of 56 – against the New England Patriots. And on Monday night against the Atlanta Falcons, old No. 50 trotted out for just eight of 67 plays.

The last two weeks, defensive coordinator Dom Capers gave Hawk snaps in only one defensive package – his base 3-4, which he rarely employs anymore. Hawk, who used to play in both the nickel and dime package, has seen his role diminish in favor of Sam Barrington, Clay Matthews and even Brad Jones, depending on the game plan.

"I think he's probably better now that we aren't playing him [every snap]," Capers said. "There were a couple games he played 70 plays. We're always concerned about not overplaying our guys to where hopefully we can have him as healthy as we can have him through the month of December and hopefully a chance to play after that. I think A.J.'s fine now. I think he's better right now with the fact that he hasn't played 70 plays the last couple weeks. I think that will bode well for us moving forward."

The 30-year-old Hawk has spent his entire career with the team that drafted him fifth overall in 2006, although they did cut him once, in March 2011, only to sign him back under different terms one day later. He's one of the most insightful players on the team on the rare occasion that he shows up in the locker room during the week of a game, but he has never been comfortable talking about himself.

"It doesn't matter; no one cares," Hawk said at his locker. "Everyone is in their own life, and they should be. This team is playing really well. That's why I was hesitant to even come in here. Nothing is about me. It shouldn't be about me. It's dumb to talk about me. We're 10-3."

Hawk said he has thought about the end of his career but doesn't believe he's at that point yet. He has one more year remaining on his current contract, which pays him $3.5 million in salary and bonuses this season and calls for him to make the same next season.

"I've been preparing since the day I walked in here for the day I get cut," Hawk said. "I've been cut before, so whenever they decide to let me roll, that's something I've been preparing for since I was 21 basically, when I got drafted. But I have no idea. I can't predict the future; I definitely don't try to. I don't deal in hypotheticals, that's for sure. They can tap me on the shoulder right now and get me out of here. So our contracts aren't real contracts like that. They're not obliged to keep me here through the end of, what, next year, I guess, my contract is.

"So I don't think I let like my mind wander or anything towards what could happen. That's not up to me, but try to hopefully get another ring, at least, before they give me the boot."
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- You might have heard this before: The phasing out of A.J. Hawk from the Green Bay Packers defense has begun.

It happened in 2010, when the inside linebacker did not play a single snap on defense in the season opener against the Philadelphia Eagles. Days later, his agent went so far as to say Hawk would be open to a trade if the Packers weren't going to play him.

Hawk
A week later, Hawk was back in the lineup, had perhaps his best season and was the starter in Super Bowl XLV.

The former first-round pick finds himself in a similar spot.

His role in Sunday's 26-21 victory over the New England Patriots was greatly reduced. He played only in defensive coordinator Dom Capers' base package, which meant just 26 out of a possible 56 defensive snaps. Sam Barrington replaced him in the nickel package, playing next to Clay Matthews, who also played as the lone inside linebacker in the dime package (a role Hawk has played for most of his career).

"I thought our defense played great, so me personally, whenever I'm in, I'm going to play hard," Hawk said after the game. "It was awesome, the whole defensive effort."

With the Packers preparing for Monday night's game against the Atlanta Falcons, there's no telling what Hawk's role will be going forward.

"I would say it would vary from week to week," Capers said. "You saw him play every snap of our [base] defense. And you saw two weeks ago against Minnesota, we used Brad Jones inside in our dime defense. You saw Clay Matthews in there [Sunday]. Again, based off what our opponent is doing, you'll see different personnel groups and different people involved in those, and it could change from one week to the next based on your injury situation [and] who's available."

That would indicate Hawk remains in the Packers' plans. However, this isn't the 26-year-old Hawk of 2010. Four years later, Hawk might not be the player he was then. Although he insisted last week that he is healthy, Hawk looked like he was struggling in coverage against Minnesota Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph, who on the first play of the Nov. 23 game caught a pass 2 yards from the line of scrimmage and ran away from Hawk for a 23-yard gain.

Perhaps with that play in his mind and with Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski coming up next, Capers went with Matthews in the middle in the dime, a role he had never played before Sunday.

"The purpose is to try to get your best 11 people against who they put out there and the matchups," Capers said. "[Sunday] was going to be a big matchup game and if they got the matchup they wanted, I mean, you've seen them take Gronkowski and just wear people out on Gronkowski. That's why we were willing to have a number of different ways to cover him."

Another new spot for Clay Matthews

November, 17, 2014
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GREEN BAY, Wis. – If Dom Capers keeps this up, it's going to become nearly impossible to come up with a label for the position that Clay Matthews plays on the Green Bay Packers' defense.

As it was in Sunday's win over the Philadelphia Eagles, Matthews played three different spots, one of which doesn't exactly have a name.

A week after he debuted at inside linebacker against the Chicago Bears, Matthews once again played the majority of his snaps there against the Eagles. He hardly ever played his old outside linebacker spot, instead playing another new position in which he lined up outside of the outside linebacker at times on either side of the line of scrimmage.

Here's how Matthews' 57 snaps broke down:
  • Inside linebacker: 37 snaps
  • Outside linebacker: 4
  • Outside of the outside linebacker: 16

Capers described the position with Matthews lined up to the right or left of a five-man defensive line like this: "He's basically the dime in that defense, but he's a big dime. It's a different look when we do it with him."

A typical dime package features six defensive backs. In this case, Matthews replaced the sixth defensive back, who typically would play in the slot.

Matthews recorded his second-quarter sack of Eagles quarterback Mark Sanchez while in that outside-outside position, which, if Matthews rushes from that position, is equivalent to a wide-9 technique that some teams use with their defensive ends to get them matched up against tight ends. Matthews, who was unblocked on his sack, said that position is not much different than the traditional outside linebacker spot.

"It depends on whether I'm rushing or playing the run," Matthews said. "But much like the outside linebacker, it's a lot of the same responsibilities as far as whatever that responsibility is, but it's played very much the same."

According to coach Mike McCarthy, this was the plan all along for Matthews in Year 6 of his NFL career.

"I think we're kind of moving around our ready-list, frankly," McCarthy said Monday. "It's not like we're drawing up new things. These are concepts and schemes that we've been working on since Day 1, and the idea of moving Clay around our defense is something we talked about back in April."

But the Packers would not have moved Matthews to inside linebacker if they had someone else capable on their roster. They were hoping inside linebacker C.J. Mosley of Alabama would fall to them at No. 21 in the draft; they preferred Mosley over Ohio State's Ryan Shazier, who went at 15th to the Pittsburgh Steelers. When the Baltimore Ravens took Mosley at 17, the Packers' chances to acquire an impact inside linebacker were gone.

General manager Ted Thompson did well with safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix with that 21st overall pick, who looks like a long-term starter, but their problems at the inside linebacker spot next to A.J. Hawk necessitated Matthews' move after Brad Jones, Jamari Lattimore and Sam Barrington all got shots at the job during the first half of the season.

And Capers might not be done moving Matthews around.

"We have plenty of different ways [to use him]," Capers said. "It's just figuring out what's going to work and what's going to give them the most problems. But we've got a lot of different packages."
GREEN BAY, Wis. – Mike McCarthy did not even want to talk about it when the subject was broached on Friday morning. A little while later, Josh Sitton knocked on his wooden locker at Lambeau Field.

The Green Bay Packers are by and large healthy this season, and that's newsworthy for a team that has been injury-plagued for the better part of McCarthy's tenure as head coach.

This week's injury report provide a snapshot of just how different this season has been in the Packers’ training room. Every Friday, before McCarthy takes the microphone for hisnews conference, public relations director Jason Wahlers reads the injury report. This week, it contained just four names: Sitton (toe), fellow starting guard T.J. Lang (ankle) -- both listed as a probable -- and a pair of backups, tight end Brandon Bostick (hip) and outside linebacker Jayrone Elliott hamstring), who were ruled out.

Never before in McCarthy's previous eight seasons as head coach had the Packers listed so few players on a Week 11 injury report.

"Let's talk about that after the season," McCarthy said, "because I don't want to jinx it."

But he added, "The numbers are good."

Anything might look good compared to the run of injury luck -- if luck actually has anything to do with injuries -- the Packers have been on the last several seasons. According to an annual offseason study by Football Outsiders, the Packers ranked ahead of only two teams in adjusted games lost to injuries. In 2012, no one was hit harder than the Packers, according to the same formula. Since 2008, the Packers have ranked in the top half of the NFL in adjusted games lost only twice -- in 2009 (12th) and 2011 (16th).

Football Outsiders has not compiled injury data yet this season, but the Packers have only one projected starter –--nose tackle B.J. Raji -- out for the season. He was lost to a torn biceps tendon in the preseason.

Only one offensive starter has missed a game (right tackle Bryan Bulaga in Week 2). On the other side of the ball, defensive end Datone Jones leads the way among starters with three missed games, while cornerback Sam Shields has missed two. No other defensive starter has missed more than one unless you count Brad Jones, the Week 1 starter at inside linebacker who upon his return after missing three games because of a thigh injury did not get his job back.

McCarthy has searched far and wide for ways to limit injuries. This season, he adopted a practice schedule similar to what Sunday's opponent, the Philadelphia Eagles, have done under coach Chip Kelly.

"I look at really my time here, we've probably been through three generations of practice schedules," McCarthy said. "The first couple years, the amount of time that we were on the field was obviously extremely higher than it is now, and then we made adjustments, which I thought were favorable."

This year, in a normal, seven-day week before a Sunday game, the Packers practice Wednesday (not in pads), Thursday (in pads) and rest on Friday before a short practice on Saturday morning without pads.

"I've always been taught the philosophy of two days on and one day off," Sitton said Friday. "That's how I've always trained; that's how I train in the offseason. So, it makes sense to do it during the season. Your body can only handle so many days in a row. I think we've brought a lot more energy to the practice field. I seem to notice a difference."
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Green Bay Packers might have solved their two biggest problems on defense with one move.

Or maybe it was just a one-week wonder that caught the Chicago Bears off guard.

But on Sunday night, they filled their need for a playmaking inside linebacker and fixed their leaky run defense all at once.

Matthews
Yes, that was No. 52 lined up next to A.J. Hawk in the middle of the defense at a spot where defensive coordinator Dom Capers has tried -- and moved on from -- Brad Jones, Jamari Lattimore and Sam Barrington.

Meet the Packers' new inside linebacker, Pro Bowl outside linebacker Clay Matthews.

In a defense cooked up during last week's bye, Matthews opened the game at inside linebacker and stayed there during most of Sunday's 55-14 victory against the Bears, except when Capers used his dime package on third-and-long situations. The rest of the night, Matthews played next to Hawk in a nickel alignment that served as the primary defense. Nick Perry started in Matthews' place at right outside linebacker.

Producing a team- and career-high 11 tackles (including nine solo stops) later -- and one sack, which came from his old outside linebacker spot -- Matthews' move was an instant success that took half a season to discover. He had never had more than eight tackles in a game, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

"We'll see what it means moving forward," Matthews said. "Obviously it's a little premature to say there's a switch to middle linebacker or whatever you want to call it, but I think as we've shown throughout the years, throughout this season as well, we try to find a little more versatility for myself."

The Packers came into the game ranked last in the NFL in rushing defense, giving up 153.5 yards per game. They held the Bears, who rushed for 235 against them in Week 4, to just 55 yards on 24 attempts. It was the first time all season the Packers have held anyone to less than 100 yards in a game.

Now, for just the second time in seven weeks, they are not ranked last in the league in rushing defense. They climbed two spots to 30th, matching their highest ranking of the season.

"During the bye week, it's like everything, you have a chance to kind of reboot, to reset yourself for the second half of the season," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "Playing Clay at different areas, a different position, to create targeting problems for the offense was something that we spent the whole offseason highlighting it, and this was kind of the next step. Great job by our defensive staff with the creativity, and Clay stepped in there and played at an extremely high level. I thought he was outstanding."

And what kind of inside linebacker does Hawk think his new partner made?

"Tonight, obviously, a pretty good one," Hawk said after the game. "I think being on the move, different times rushing off the edge or coming back and being in the box, that adds something that the offense hasn't seen until tonight, really."

Packers' bye-week review: Defense

October, 31, 2014
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GREEN BAY, Wis. -- With a 5-3 record midway through the season and in the midst of their bye, the Green Bay Packers are taking most of the week off. So it's a good time to review the first half of the season. On Thursday, we looked at the offense.

Here's a look at some of the first-half highlights, lowlights and other noteworthy items on defense:

MVPs
  • Mike Daniels: The third-year defensive tackle leads the Packers' defensive line with 2.5 sacks and leads the team with nine quarterback hits. It's a continuation of the way he played last year in his breakout season. Since the start of 2013, he leads the Packers with nine sacks.
  • Sam Shields: After he signed a four, $39 million contract in the offseason, he was performing like one of the highest-paid cornerbacks in the league should until a knee injury in Week 6 at Miami. He hasn't played since. Still, he ranks ninth among all NFL cornerbacks in ProFootballFocus.com's position rankings. He and fellow cornerback Casey Hayward are tied for the team lead with two interceptions apiece. The Packers need Shields back after the bye. His absence was felt in last week's loss to the Saints, who completed several deep passes over the top of the secondary.
  • Safeties: What was easily the weakest position on the roster last season has turned into one of the strengths thanks to the improved play of Morgan Burnett, who is having the best season of his five-year career, the addition of first-round pick Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and the move of second-year pro Micah Hyde from cornerback. That trio has given the Packers a group of sure-handed tacklers, and Sean Richardson made some plays in spot duty as well.
Disappointments
  • Inside linebackers: This is the safety position of last year. General manager Ted Thompson overestimated what he had at this spot, and it has become the weak link of the defense. Brad Jones was so bad before his quad injury that he didn't get his starting job back upon his return. Defensive coordinator Dom Capers has tried both Jamari Lattimore and Sam Barrington at the spot next to A.J. Hawk, and all three have taken a turn as the dime inside linebacker. Capers clearly is still searching for someone to produce.
  • Datone Jones: After an ineffective rookie season last year, it has been more of the same for the Packers’ 2013 first-round pick. The opening-day starting defensive end has missed the last three games because of an ankle injury. He has only one sack and has been a nonfactor against the run, where the Packers rank dead last in the league.
  • Clay Matthews/Julius Peppers combination: It's not that they have played poorly but if you expected this pass-rushing duo to wreak havoc then you'd have to put them in this category. Matthews is off to the slowest start of his career in terms of his big-play production with just 2.5 sacks, while Peppers has four sacks, a forced fumbled and an interception return for a touchdown but tends to disappear at times.
Grades
  • Passing defense: The pass rush has been decent and the coverage has been solid. That combination has put the Packers back in the top-10 statistically in this category, ranking ninth overall in passing yards allowed and fifth in opponent passer rating. They're still living and dying by the turnover – too much for McCarthy's liking – but this unit has by and large done its job. Grade: B
  • Rushing defense: The best the Packers have fared against the run was in Week 7 against the Panthers, who still managed to rush for 108 yards as a team. Four times, the Packers have given up 147 yards or more on the ground, and three times that total has been more than 190. The decision to get leaner and more athletic (plus the season-ending biceps injury to nose tackle B.J. Raji in the preseason) has blown up in their face. No team has allowed more rushing yards per game (153.5) than the Packers. Grade: F

The Film Don't Lie: Packers

October, 28, 2014
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A weekly look at what the Green Bay Packers must fix:

The Packers have started three different players at the inside linebacker spot next to A.J. Hawk this season, and they have not gotten enough production out of any of them.

During this week's bye and before the Packers return to action on Nov. 9 against the Chicago Bears, defensive coordinator Dom Capers will have to decide whether to continue using both Sam Barrington and Jamari Lattimore in the spot that actually belonged to Brad Jones to start the season. Jones played poorly in Week 1 against Seattle and then went down with a quad injury. Although he has returned to action, he has not reclaimed a regular role on defense.

In Sunday's loss to the New Orleans Saints, Barrington made his second straight start and played in the base and nickel packages alongside the veteran Hawk. But in the dime package, which used only one inside linebacker, Lattimore got the call.

It's unusual for the dime backer not to play in the other defensive packages. If the Packers had a player like they truly liked at that spot, they would play him on all three downs.

If the Packers could get more impact plays from their inside linebackers, perhaps it would help their struggling run defense, which has fallen back to last in the league after giving up 193 yards to the Saints.

"We've got different packages, and we'll constantly look at what we feel is going to give us the best chance to get things stopped," Capers said. "So obviously after a game like [Sunday] night, you go back and you're going to look at your run defensive stuff and try to make sure you get that corrected."
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- If Aaron Rodgers had not directed that comeback drive in the final two minutes to beat the Miami Dolphins last Sunday, the Green Bay Packers might have spent this week lamenting a pair of late-game missed tackles that would have cost them.

On the first play of the Dolphins' go-ahead touchdown drive, which began at their 21-yard line, receiver Mike Wallace caught a short out route at the 29-yard line, where Packers cornerback Casey Hayward dove at his ankles. Wallace broke free and continued down the left sideline for a 25-yard gain.

Three plays later, on third-and-2 from the Packers' 46-yard line, running back Lamar Miller caught a swing pass in the left flat, where linebacker Brad Jones had a chance to stop him two yards behind the line of scrimmage. But when Jones went for Miller's legs and came up empty handed, Miller turned it into a 20-yard gain. Two plays later, the Dolphins took a 24-17 lead on Wallace's 5-yard touchdown catch with 9:13 to play.

"We missed way too many tackles," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said of the Dolphins game. "The majority, 80 percent of our missed tackles were in the second half. I think we had two missed tackles at halftime."

And they finished with nine, according to ProFootballFocus.com.

Those late-game missed tackles were surprising in the sense that the Packers had wrapped up well since their Week 1 tackling debacle in Seattle. They had not missed that many in a game since they whiffed 18 times against the Seahawks.

In the four games in between, the Packers averaged only six missed tackles per game.

But heading into Sunday's Week 7 game against the Carolina Panthers, the Packers have the sixth-most missed tackles in the NFL this season (see chart).

Asked this week whether he was happy with the Packers' tackling since Week 1, linebackers coach Winston Moss said: "As a coach, can you ever be pleased?"

That must be a no.

However, the Packers' tackling improvement has coincided with increased playing time for rookie safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, who has started to bring the physical presence the Packers had hoped when they drafted him in the first round. Since the opener, when Clinton-Dix missed an open-field tackle on Seahawks receiver Ricardo Lockette's 33-yard touchdown catch and also missed another tackle, he has missed only once.

Perhaps he had rubbed off on his teammates

"I think everyone on this team is a pretty good tackler," Clinton-Dix said. "But it is contagious. Once you see somebody else making plays, you want to make plays. They say interceptions are contagious. So coaches always emphasize tackling and being in the right spot at the right time, and that's something I've tried to work on."
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- One series, the Green Bay Packers' defense looks impenetrable. On another, it looks porous.

Even defensive coordinator Dom Capers would agree with that assessment.

"I see elements to where we'll play as good as any defense in the league and then all of a sudden we have a lull and people move the ball on us," Capers said Monday after reviewing Sunday's 27-24 victory over the Miami Dolphins.

Consider this: In the first half on Sunday, the Dolphins ran just 27 plays and totaled 87 yards. They had six possessions and scored three points. The Packers picked off two passes, forced two punts and had a fourth-down stop. In the second half, the Dolphins had touchdown drives of 80, 80 and 79 yards. Thus, the very definition of impenetrable and porous in the same game.

Here are some things to like and some not to like about the Packers defense, which at this point ranks 19th in yards allowed (368.0 per game) but is 12th in scoring defense (21.7 points per game) and second in opponent passer rating (72.4).

What to like
  • Takeaways: If you count the throwaway turnover the Dolphins gave them on the final play, and the NFL certainly does, the Packers have forced 11 turnovers in their last four games. The legitimate takeaways came from Sam Shields and Casey Hayward. Shields picked off his second pass in the last three games, while Hayward came up with his first of the year. The Packers' nine interceptions ranks second in the league behind the New York Giants. "We have to keep the takeaway-giveaway thing going because we know how important that is to winning," Capers said. "A big part of that is being able to disrupt the opposing quarterback."
  • Pass rush: Although this wasn't the 15-quarterback-hit performance the Packers had the previous week against the Vikings, the pass rush has been consistent most of the season. They only sacked Ryan Tannehill once and hit him just four times, according to the official game statistics, but ProFootballFocus.com also credited the Packers with seven other quarterback hurries. Of the Packers' 13 sacks this season, which ranks tied for 15th, the outside linebacker group has 7.5 of them. Against the Dolphins, Capers rotated Clay Matthews (49 of 58 snaps), Julius Peppers (42), Mike Neal (27) and Nick Perry (13). "I actually like the rotation that we had with Clay, Julius, Mike Neal and Nick Perry yesterday," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Monday.
  • Ha Ha Clinton-Dix: The rookie safety has played like the Packers imagined he would when they drafted him in the first round. He registered a team-high seven tackles (all solo stops against the Dolphins), including one tackle for a loss, and had a pass breakup. "Ha Ha Clinton-Dix played his best game as a Packer," McCarthy said. For the third straight game, he played more snaps that starting safety Micah Hyde (37 to 34).
What not to like
  • Run defense: The Dolphins running backs (Lamar Miller and Knowshon Moreno) managed just 63 yards on 20 carries, but the Packers still gave up 112 yards rushing, and they're still giving up the most yards per game on the ground (154.5) in the NFL. The major problem against Miami was the read-option, which resulted in the 40-yard run by Tannehill. "I'll take that most days," Capers said of the running back production. "It wasn't like they gashed us running the ball there. They broke the one 40-yarder. We'll go back to work and get that cleaned up."
  • Missed tackles: By ProFootballFocus.com's count, the Packers missed eight tackles. By McCarthy's count, 80 percent of the Packers' missed tackles in the second half. "We missed way too many tackles," McCarthy said. A couple of them resulted in explosive gains on the Dolphins' go-ahead touchdown drive in the fourth quarter. Hayward and linebacker Brad Jones missed tackles on the same drive that resulted in pass plays of 25 yards to Mike Wallace and 21 yards to Miller, respectively, on the drive that put the Dolphins ahead 24-17 with 9:13 to play.
  • Matthews' big-play production: While the outside linebacker group has been solid as a whole, Matthews has not put up big numbers. He has just one sack this season and against the Dolphins, he did not register a single tackle. However, he did have a quarterback hit and batted down a pass in the fourth quarter on Miami's final drive. "Production will come," McCarthy said. "And I think history will show you it usually comes in chunks."
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Coaches and players alike say it all the time, that the bye week comes at just the right time.

They usually say so because of their injury situation.

This past weekend wasn't the Green Bay Packers' bye -- that comes Nov. 2 -- but they had what coach Mike McCarthy called a "mini bye" after playing last Thursday against the Minnesota Vikings.

And given the Packers' relatively low injury count at this point, maybe the mini bye was not even needed.

"I don't know why we've got to talk about that,” said McCarthy, ever leery of discussing injuries.

Here's a look at the few lingering injury issues the Packers are dealing with heading into Sunday's game at the Miami Dolphins:
  • Datone Jones: The starting defensive end left the game against the Vikings with a sprained ankle and did not return. After the game, Jones appeared to be walking fine on his way out of the locker room. He said someone rolled on his ankle during a second-quarter screen pass. "Obviously you can see I'm not hurt, so it was just one of those scary situations," Jones said after the game. "I don't really know what happened, but I'm OK." However, on Friday, McCarthy said he was unsure whether Jones would be able to practice when on-field preparation for the Dolphins begins Wednesday.
  • Josh Boyd: The defensive end was inactive against the Vikings after he sustained a knee injury against the Chicago Bears Sept. 28. His injury prompted the Packers to promote rookie Luther Robinson from the practice squad the day of the Vikings game. McCarthy said he was hopeful Boyd would be able to practice Wednesday.
  • Brad Jones: The inside linebacker actually returned against the Vikings but did not reclaim his starting spot from Jamari Lattimore. Jones, who missed three games because of a quadriceps injury, played just nine snaps on defense, and all but one came during the late stages of the blowout victory. Said McCarthy: "We're going to need more than 11 [players on defense]. It's good to have Brad back out there, and Jamari's doing an excellent job."
  • Jarrett Boykin: McCarthy was less optimistic about the No. 3 receiver's chances of practicing Wednesday. Boykin missed the last two games because of a groin injury he sustained in practice leading up to the Bears game. Boykin also had been listed on the injury report with a knee injury that week. Rookie Davante Adams has taken over as the No. 3 receiver, and in those two games he has three catches for 39 yards and one touchdown (the first of his career).
  • Sam Barrington: The backup linebacker missed Thursday's game because of a hamstring injury, which is especially concerning because his rookie season last year ended because of the same injury in Week 9.
  • JC Tretter: The projected starting center remains on the temporary injured reserve list but is eligible to begin practicing Oct. 13 and could return to play following the bye week. Tretter sustained a fracture in his knee during the Aug. 22 preseason game against the Oakland Raiders. However, it's not a given that Tretter would get his starting job back considering how well rookie Corey Linsley has performed.
Each week, I ask for questions via Twitter with the hashtag #PackersMail and then deliver the answers over the weekend. This week, after the Green Bay Packers (3-2) won two games in a span of five days, there were a wide array of topics. We'll start off with a question about safety Morgan Burnett's performance in Thursday's win over the Minnesota Vikings and hit on a few other things as the Packers take the weekend off.

Demovsky: Morgan Burnett was at his best Thursday against the Vikings. He was credited with a team-high 11 tackles, and it wasn't just because he was sitting back in the secondary waiting for ball carriers to come to him. He played a hard-charging game and made sure he found the football. It was the kind of performance the Packers want from their strong safety, whose job it is to play near the line of scrimmage. His forced fumble was a solid example of that. That game may have been his breakout, but he's made steady progress this year since his disastrous 2013 season. It has to help that he has better players around him no matter if it's Micah Hyde or Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, who have split time at free safety.

Demovsky: Well, Brad Jones returned to action against the Vikings after missing three games because of a quad injury, and Jamari Lattimore still retained the starting job that he got after Jones' injury. In fact, Jones probably would not have seen any action on defense (he played nine snaps) if not for the fact that the game was out of reach. Lattimore has been steady in Jones' place and finally made a splash play Thursday with his first career interception. It's hard to imagine them going back to Jones on a full-time basis.

Demovsky: Brandon Bostick's practice habits have not been up to standard. If you're a coach and you see a player not getting it done in practice, what would make you think he can do it in a game? The surprising part is that Bostick looked ready to have a breakout season based on his performance in the preseason. Perhaps the leg injury that he sustained midway through training camp has affected him mentally. Physically, he says he feels fine.

Demovsky: That's something that we will have to gauge when JC Tretter gets closer to being able to return. He can begin practicing a week from Monday and could play two weeks later. Outside of a couple of penalties and one botched snap, Corey Linsley has been perhaps better than expected, so it might be hard to take him out of there. It's not like center is a position where you can rotate players, and the coaches might not want to disrupt the continuity that Aaron Rodgers and the rest of the line has going with Linsley. Besides, we don't know exactly what kind of player Tretter would have been considering he had never played center before this year. He looked solid in the preseason games before he hurt his knee, but he has never played in a regular-season game at any position, center or otherwise.

Demovsky: One of the Vince Lombardi biographies recalled how he would build a team up after a loss and tear it down after a win. Not that it's my job to do either, necessarily, but it's an interesting philosophy. The best way to cover a team is to do it fairly and objectively. If criticism is warranted, win or lose, then so be it. Same for praise. Football is such an interesting dynamic because of all the moving parts. Yes, the result is all that matters, but there are so many little victories or failures along the way worth telling regardless of the outcome of a game. 
GREEN BAY, Wis. – The adage that you don't lose your starting spot because of injury apparently doesn't fit with Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy's philosophy.

Jones
Lattimore
Lattimore
How else to explain the fact that Jamari Lattimore has retained a starting job despite the fact that the linebacker he replaced three weeks ago, Brad Jones, has returned from his quadriceps injury?

Jones, the opening-game starter, was declared active for Thursday night's game against the Minnesota Vikings but will not return to the starting lineup, the team announced before the game. He will be available for backup and special-teams duties.

Lattimore ranks third on the team in tackles with 26 (according to the team's official count, which is based on the coaches' film review) despite not playing a single snap from scrimmage in Week 1.

The Packers also activated defensive tackle Luther Robinson, who was promoted from the practice squad a few hours before the game.

With the Packers back at 53 on their roster for the first time in two weeks, they had to declare seven players inactive. They were receiver Jarrett Boykin, quarterback Scott Tolzien, cornerback Demetri Goodson, linebacker Carl Bradford, linebacker Sam Barrington, center Garth Gerhart and defensive end Josh Boyd. Three of the inactives – Boykin, Barrington and Boyd – were injury-related scratches.

The Vikings' inactives included quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, meaning Christian Ponder will make his first start of the season.
GREEN BAY, Wis. – The Green Bay Packers won't have receiver Jarrett Boykin for Thursday's game against the Minnesota Vikings and might not have him beyond then, either.

The groin injury Boykin sustained in practice last week turned out to be more severe than originally thought. Boykin also missed last Sunday's game against the Chicago Bears.

"I don't know if he's going to be ready for Miami," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said, referring to the Oct. 12 game against the Dolphins.

Boykin began the season as the No. 3 receiver, which is essentially a starting spot considering how much the Packers use three wideouts. However, he has only two catches for 17 yards in three games.

In Boykin's absence against the Bears, rookie Davante Adams played 37 of 52 snaps and caught two passes for 18 yards. In his last three games, Adams has nine catches for 79 yards. Fellow rookie Jeff Janis also made his debut against the Bears, but played only one snap and was not targeted.

"Davante has been doing a good job," McCarthy said. "He's taking advantage of his opportunities. I would think they would tilt the coverage to Jordy [Nelson] more this week than we've seen. With that, Davante will probably have more opportunities. Jeff is ready to play. He's doing all the little things. We'll see if he gets some time tomorrow night."

For information on the Vikings' injury situation, including quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, check out Vikings reporter Ben Goessling's latest report.

Here's the Packers' full injury report:

Out
WR Jarrett Boykin (groin)

Doubtful
LB Sam Barrington (hamstring)
DT Josh Boyd (knee)

Probable
LB Brad Jones (quadriceps)
G T.J. Lang (not injury related)
OLB Clay Matthews (groin)
OLB Mike Neal (hip)
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Green Bay Packers had Clay Matthews on a limited snap count in Sunday’s game at the Chicago Bears.

Matthews
And it would have been that way even if the Packers did not have a Thursday game against the Minnesota Vikings to follow this week.

"I'm not saving players for anyone," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Monday. "That's not the way we operate."

But the fact Matthews came out of the victory over the Bears without any lingering issues from the groin injury that limited him to 52 of the 78 defensive plays worked out well for this week.

Although the Packers did not practice on Monday, they still had to submit an official injury report for Thursday's game against the Vikings. Here's the full report:

Here’s the full injury report*:
*Participation levels were estimates because the Packers did not practice.
CHICAGO -- The Green Bay Packers have not gotten much production from their No. 3 receiver so far this season, so perhaps it isn't a huge issue that Jarrett Boykin won't play Sunday against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field.

He was declared inactive after sustaining a groin injury in practice last week. He had already been listed on the injury with a knee injury.

Boykin has only two catches for 17 yards this season while splitting time with rookie Davante Adams (seven catches for 61 yards). The Packers have used their three-receiver set more than any other personnel group this season.

But Boykin being declared inactive has opened the door for another rookie receiver, Jeff Janis, to get his first shot. The seventh-round pick from Saginaw Valley State was declared active for the first time Sunday.

There were no other surprises on the Packers' inactive list, which featured just six players because they remain one short on their 53-man roster.

Here's the full list of Packers inactives:

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