Green Bay Packers: Davante Adams

GREEN BAY, Wis. – Davante Adams impressed NFL teams at last year's scouting combine with his vertical jumping ability. He tested at 39.5 inches, which was tied for the third-best vertical among all the receivers.

The Green Bay Packers receiver showed off that leaping ability in another way. In a post on his Instagram account, the 6-foot-1 Adams can be seen throwing down an impressive dunk. He went 360 degrees and through his legs.

See for yourself:

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- In some ways, the NFL is a forgive-and-forget business. Players, coaches and league executives get second and third chances all the time, which made it understandable that there was a hankering among some fans for the Green Bay Packers to bring back Greg Jennings.

The former Packers receiver was cut by the Minnesota Vikings over the weekend after just two years in purple.

Here's why a reunion wouldn't work:

[+] EnlargeGreg Jennings
Bruce Kluckhohn/USA TODAY SportsFormer Packers receiver Greg Jennings was released by Minnesota over the weekend.

It's not that Jennings left the Packers for more money -- although he ended up with only $18 million over two years with the Vikings and not the $45 million he would have received over the full five years of the deal -- it was what happened after he left that would make a reconciliation with the Packers difficult, if not impossible.

In the summer after he signed with the Vikings, Jennings did a series of interviews with Minneapolis media outlets in which he painted a negative picture of the Packers and, more specifically, of quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

In a radio interview, he said he was "brainwashed" when he played for the Packers when it came to how other teams in the NFC North were supposed to be perceived.

"Being over in Green Bay, you're brainwashed to think anyone in the division is tiers below," Jennings said on KFAN radio. "It's like everything that you know in Green Bay is like the best, the best, the best, the best, the best." And it's like total brainwashing. And I think you don't open your eyes to see what other teams have to offer unless you are in that position, and I was afforded this position."

That followed a story in the Minneapolis Star Tribune in which Jennings spoke critically of Rodgers' leadership style, saying: "Don't get me wrong, '12' is a great person. But when you hear all positives, all positives, all positives all the time, it's hard for you to sit down when one of your teammates says 'Man, come on, you've got to hold yourself accountable for this.' It's hard for someone to see that now because all they've heard is I'm doing it the right way, I'm perfect. In actuality, we all have flaws."

Jennings' half-hearted apology didn't sit well with Rodgers, who responded by saying he was confident in his leadership style.

And then there was the bizarre Twitter rant by Jennings' sister during a game in the 2012 season in which she was critical of Rodgers for not throwing the ball to her brother.

People can change. Former Packers running back Ahman Green was as difficult a player for the media to deal with during his first stint with the Packers, but was pleasant as could be when he returned to finish his career in Green Bay after a failed stint with the Houston Texans.

That brings us back to the possibility of a reunion with Jennings. The Packers' offense might have been at its best in 2011, when it had Jennings, Jordy Nelson, James Jones, Donald Driver, Randall Cobb, and Jermichael Finley catching passes.

Last season, the passing game was mostly Cobb and Nelson with a little Davante Adams, Andrew Quarless, and Richard Rodgers sprinkled in. But that offense had chemistry and continuity. It led the NFL in scoring, which led coach Mike McCarthy to say after the season that "I've never had an offense this good."

It didn't need Jennings to qualify as such last year.

McCarthy laughed off Jennings' comments in the summer of 2013, saying "You know, when you put on that purple, something happens to you," but he and general manager Ted Thompson are as mindful as anyone about the culture in their locker room. Putting Jennings back into it would probably do more to disturb that than foster it.

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Jarrett Boykin and DuJuan Harris were once promising offensive prospects for the Green Bay Packers.

Now they're no longer needed.

Boykin
The Packers did not offer tenders to either Boykin or Harris before Tuesday's deadline, and both become free agents at 4 p.m. ET.

Boykin was a restricted free agent. He began last season as the Packers' No. 3 receiver but was quickly replaced by rookie Davante Adams. A year after catching 49 passes for 681 yards with three touchdowns, Boykin had as many drops (three) as he did catches (three for 23 yards) despite being active for all but three games in 2014.

The move says the Packers did not think Boykin was worth even the lowest tender, $1.542 million, which would have been payable only if he made the 53-man roster. The Packers could re-sign Boykin for a minimum salary. However, Boykin was scheduled to visit the Carolina Panthers on Wednesday, according to a league source.

Harris would have cost even less as an exclusive-rights free agent. The Packers could have had their No. 3 running back for $660,000, non-guaranteed. Harris went into the 2013 offseason thinking he would be the starting running back, but the Packers drafted Eddie Lacy and then Harris missed that entire season because of a knee injury. He carried only 16 times for 64 yards last season while playing behind Lacy and James Starks and was ineffective as a kickoff returner before being benched late in the season.

The Packers offered the lowest tender to their other two restricted free agents, tackle Don Barclay and safety Sean Richardson. Both will play for $1.542 million if they make the roster. However, other teams are free to make them offers between now and April 24. The Packers would have the right to match but would not receive any compensation if they did not.

The Packers also gave an exclusive-rights deal to Chris Banjo, the second-year safety who was signed only through the end of the season when he was promoted from the practice squad last year.

Players need four accrued seasons to qualify for unrestricted free agency and three for restricted free agency.

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Mike McCarthy believes last season's offensive line was the best one he has had in his nine years as the Green Bay Packers' coach.

The reason?

"History will tell you if you have five guys who line up and play together week in and week out, you're going to have a pretty good offensive line," McCarthy said last month at the NFL scouting combine. "This line is the best line I've coached in my time in Green Bay all the way through. What we ask of them as far as their responsibility is more than we've ever done. The continuity they've created has been awesome. The production is definitely the best we've had. This has definitely been our best group."

That no doubt had to play a part in general manager Ted Thompson's willingness to pay right tackle Bryan Bulaga more than he had originally hoped. Bulaga agreed to a deal to return to the Packers on Tuesday, a few hours before he would have hit free agency. His new contract was expected to come in slightly under $7 million per year for five years.

The same five offensive linemen started 17 of the Packers' 18 games, including playoffs, last season. The only one who missed a game was Bulaga, who suffered a knee injury in the opener but returned in Week 3. It was a group that helped Eddie Lacy rush for 1,139 yards and kept Aaron Rodgers upright. Rodgers was sacked just 28 times.

With Bulaga's deal done, the Packers are in position to keep their starting offensive line together through at least 2016. They have guards T.J. Lang and Josh Sitton plus left tackle David Bakhtiari signed through that season, while starting center Corey Linsley is under contract through 2017.

The Packers also will retain backup Don Barclay, who started at right tackle for part of 2012 and all of 2013 while Bulaga was injured. Barclay was given the low restricted free-agent tender Tuesday, according to his agent, Joe Linta. That will pay Barclay a $1.542 million salary for this season (if he makes the roster) unless another team signs him to an offer sheet, which is unlikely considering Barclay is coming off a knee injury that kept him out all of last season. The Packers would have the chance to match any offer to Barclay.

The big winner in all of this is Rodgers, the reigning NFL MVP who was at risk of losing both Bulaga and receiver Randall Cobb. Within a span of less than 48 hours, both agreed to return.

Not only is the offensive line intact for at least two more years, but the entire starting 11 is as well. Lacy is under contract through 2016, while Cobb and Jordy Nelson are signed through 2018 and No. 3 receiver Davante Adams and tight end Richard Rodgers are signed through 2017. Rodgers' deal runs through 2019.

Injuries, of course, could change things, and that was the biggest risk with Bulaga, given his hip and knee injuries of 2012 and 2013, respectively. But with Bulaga back, the Packers not only have their entire offensive line, but also every key component to what was the highest-scoring offense in the NFL last season.
With free agency set to begin Tuesday, we've spent the past two weeks counting down the top-10 Green Bay Packers' players scheduled to hit the open market.

We went in reverse order (see below).

Cobb
Here's No. 1: Randall Cobb

2014 pay: $812,648 (final year of rookie contract).

By the numbers: Set career highs with 91 catches, 1,287 yards and 12 touchdowns last year in the regular season and was the team's leading receiver in the postseason with 15 catches for 178 yards and a touchdown. Also rushed 13 times for 42 yards (including playoffs) and averaged 8.0 yards per punt return while sharing the duties with Micah Hyde.

The case for keeping him: Cobb established himself as perhaps the NFL's premier slot receiver last season and in the process should have answered any doubts about his durability. He played in all 18 games (including playoffs) and was on the field for 88.4 percent of the offensive snaps a year after he missed 10 games because of a fractured lower leg. At age 24 (he won't turn 25 until Aug. 22), he should have plenty of productive years in front of him. With Cobb operating from the slot, it allowed Jordy Nelson (98 catches, 1,519 yards and 13 touchdowns) to work the perimeter. Together, they formed one of the most productive combinations in recent NFL history. Last season, they became just the third set of teammates with at least 1,200 yards and 10 touchdowns in the same season in NFL history.

The case for letting him walk: There really isn't one, even if Cobb's asking price is as high as $11 million-$12 million per year, as some reports have suggested. The Packers have plenty of salary-cap space (more than $33 million), and it would be foolish to let a young, homegrown player who was drafted in the second round leave this early in his career. Without Cobb, the only proven veteran receiver the Packers would have on the roster is Nelson. Davante Adams showed signs during his rookie season last year that he could be the next highly productive receiver in the Packers' offense, but he may not be ready to make that jump right away and there's no guarantee he will have two 80-plus-catch seasons like Cobb did in his first four years.

Prediction: The Packers won't let Cobb go even though it could cost them more than $10 million per season to keep him. They will get a deal done shortly before free agency opens.

Previous installments
No. 10: Linebacker Jamari Lattimore
No. 9: Cornerback Jarrett Bush
No. 8: Fullback John Kuhn
No. 7 (and 7a): Quarterbacks Matt Flynn and Scott Tolzien
No. 6: Defensive tackle Letroy Guion
No. 5: Cornerback Tramon Williams
No. 4: Defensive tackle B.J. Raji
No. 3: Cornerback Davon House
No. 2: Tackle Bryan Bulaga

Packers may let Jarrett Boykin walk

February, 25, 2015
Feb 25
2:30
PM ET
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Green Bay Packers are in a holding pattern with at least one of their three restricted free agents.

They have yet to notify receiver Jarrett Boykin whether they intend to offer him one of the RFA tenders. If they do, it almost certainly would be the lowest tender, which last year was $1.431 million.

Boykin
However, even that seems pricey for a player who caught just three passes for 23 yards last season despite appearing in all but three games.

The Packers could be waiting to see whether they will be able to re-sign receiver Randall Cobb, their top free-agent priority. If so, they might be willing to let Boykin walk or perhaps try to do a deal for less than the lowest tender offer. If it looks like Cobb will hit the open market, they then might want to bring back Boykin for depth purposes.

Boykin, 25, seemed like a promising prospect heading into last season. In 2013, he caught 49 passes for 681 yards and three touchdowns after he moved into the lineup when Cobb sustained a fractured lower leg and missed 10 games.

Boykin opened last season as the No. 3 receiver but was quickly surpassed by rookie Davante Adams. Boykin, who refused to talk to reporters all season, had as many dropped passes as he did receptions last year and most of the season was relegated only to special-teams duty.

Teams have until March 10, when free agency opens, to submit tender offers for restricted free agents. If they don't do so, then those players are free to sign with other teams without their old team having the right to match the offer.

Last offseason, the Packers let one restricted free agent, safety M.D. Jennings, walk without a tender offer, and he signed a minimum contract with the Chicago Bears. But the Packers tendered linebacker Jamari Lattimore at the $1.431 million rate. No other teams signed him to an offer sheet, and he returned to the Packers for that price.

The Packers have two other restricted free agents this offseason, offensive linemen Don Barclay and safety Sean Richardson. Both are expected to be tendered.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- As we head toward the NFL scouting combine, which begins later this week in Indianapolis, it's time to look at the Green Bay Packers' needs by position this offseason and which prospects general manager Ted Thompson might be taking a closer look at during workouts and interviews.

Here are the previous installments:

Feb 9: Defensive line

Feb 10: Linebackers

Feb. 11: Cornerbacks

Feb. 12: Safeties

Feb 13: Quarterbacks

Monday: Running backs

Next up, Receivers/tight ends:

Why the Packers might need help: Even if the Packers re-sign Randall Cobb, who is seeking a deal that averages at least $9 million per season, the Packers will still have depth issues to address at this position. Behind Cobb and Jordy Nelson, the next-best receiver is Davante Adams, the former second-round pick who had an up-and-down rookie season as the No. 3 receiver. It's possible the Packers won't even offer last year's No. 4 receiver, Jarrett Boykin, a restricted-free-agent tender. Two other draft picks from last season, Jared Abbrederis and Jeff Janis, are still unknowns. Abbrederis spent all of last season on injured reserve after a training-camp knee injury, while Janis spent the entire season on the roster but rarely played. He was inactive for all but three games.

At tight end, the Packers like what last year's third-round pick, Richard Rodgers, showed late in the season, when he became more involved in the offense, but it's still too early to say whether he'll be the playmaker that Jermichael Finley was before his neck injury. Behind Rodgers and Andrew Quarless, the Packers are thin. Once a promising prospect, Brandon Bostick was released on Monday, a month after he botched the onside kick recovery in the NFC Championship Game. They also have undrafted rookie Justin Perillo who was promoted from the practice squad.

WRs/TEs the Packers should be watching: As many as a half-dozen receivers could come off the board in the first round. Thompson, however, loves to take receivers in the second round (Adams, Cobb, Nelson, Greg Jennings all were second-round picks) or third round (James Jones). So he could be keeping an eye on Oklahoma's Dorial Green-Beckham, Arizona State's Jaelen Strong, Auburn's Sammie Coates, Ohio State's Devin Smith and Duke's Jamison Crowder.

At tight end, it's possible the best one in the class, Minnesota’s Maxx Williams, will be available when the Packers pick at No. 30.

Draft priority (low, medium or high): Medium. Their need for another pass-catcher (whether at receiver or tight end) would jump to high if they were unable to re-sign Cobb.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Green Bay Packers were on the field for 2,916 plays combined on offense, defense and special teams in 18 games, including playoffs, this season. Most will be forgotten, but some will be remembered for years to come.

As we look back on the season that ended with the stunning NFC Championship Game collapse against the Seattle Seahawks, we will examine 10 plays, chosen subjectively, as the ones that most shaped the Packers' season.

The list, so far, in reverse order:

No. 10: The Jets' touchdown that wasn’t a touchdown.

No. 9: Dez Bryant's catch that wasn't a catch.

No: 8: Julius Peppers' 49-yard interception return for a touchdown vs. Minnesota.

No: 7: Mike Daniels' and Mike Neal's combined sack of Tom Brady in the fourth quarter vs. New England.

No. 6: Aaron Rodgers' 45-yard touchdown pass to Jordy Nelson with 14 seconds left in the first half vs. New England.

No. 5: Peppers' forced fumble on DeMarco Murray in the NFC divisional playoff win vs. Dallas.

Rodgers
Here's No. 4 (and 4a):

Game: Packers vs. Miami Dolphins

Date: Oct. 12, 2014

Location: Sun Life Stadium; Miami Gardens, Fla.

The play(s): Aaron Rodgers' fake-spike pass to Davante Adams followed by his touchdown pass to Andrew Quarless.

Why it mattered: Trailing 24-20 with 2:04 remaining, this was the Packers' last chance to pull out a much-needed road win. After the Packers converted a fourth-and-10 early in the drive and a third-and-10 just a minute later, the clock was running after Rodgers threw a short pass to Randall Cobb in the left flat. They were out of timeouts, so just about everyone in the stadium figured Rodgers would spike the ball to stop the clock. Rodgers ducked under center and motioned like he was going to slam the ball into the turf but instead fired a quick pass toward the right sideline to Adams, who caught it and ran 12 yards before he ducked out of bounds at the Dolphins' 4-yard line with 6 seconds to play. On the next play, Rodgers hit Quarless for the game-winning touchdown with 3 seconds left. It was the Packers' third straight victory after their 1-2 start, and it will go down as one of Rodgers' greatest game-winning drives.

Quotable: "It's one of those things that you don't really tell anybody what's going on," Rodgers said of the fake-spike play. "You're just yelling 'clock' and signaling 'clock' and then right before I snapped it, I looked out to the right and they were way off outside, so I just kind of faked it and moved."
A roundup of what’s happening on the Green Bay Packers beat.

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Last week, NFL draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. re-graded the 2014 draft in an ESPN Insider piece.

He gave the Packers a high mark for their class.

This week, Kiper took a different approach to judging the most recent draft classes. He looked at the impact they made on each team's season and concluded that the Packers' class made the biggest contribution in the league in terms of helping their team win in 2014.

Kiper’s top 10 can be found in this ESPN Insider piece.

Here's why he ranked the Packers at the top:

"They obviously won a lot of football games, and were nothing less than extraordinarily unlucky to not be in the Super Bowl. And rookies played a huge role all the way to the end. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix was good, and got better, and is a potential MVP of the NFC Championship Game if the Packers don't collapse. Pass-catchers Davante Adams and Richard Rodgers played winning roles. Corey Linsley started all year and was a borderline Pro Bowl center. That's getting a lot and winning, too."

In case you missed it from ESPN.com:
Best of the rest:
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- For a so-called "draft-and-develop" team like the Green Bay Packers, it's critical to have an influx of young talent on the roster.

And in that area, it appears the Packers are doing OK -- with one important caveat: They must re-sign receiver Randall Cobb, who is scheduled to become a free agent in March.

Former NFL scout Matt Williamson, for ESPN Insider, ranked all 32 teams based on their talent aged 25 and under.

The Packers came in at No. 9.

Because it's an ESPN Insider piece, I'm not going to reveal all that Williamson wrote. You can click here for the full story.

But here's a sampling of the 25-and-under players Williamson identified as key to where he ranked the Packers:
  • Randall Cobb, WR (age 24): The Packers could lose their best young player this offseason (and drop in these rankings, as a result), as Cobb hits the open market as a free agent. … He'd be a big loss, however, as Cobb is very productive as an all-around weapon: a slot receiver, a ball carrier and a consistent big-play and red zone threat.
  • Mike Daniels, DE (25): Daniels is rarely talked about when discussing the league's best 3-4 defensive ends, but he is very productive and highly versatile.
  • Eddie Lacy, RB (24): Lacy is exactly what the Packers need at this position: a power back who can shred lighter boxes and is built for the harsh, late-season Wisconsin weather.
  • Davante Adams, WR (22): He improved a lot over the course of his rookie season and his future looks very bright.
  • Casey Hayward, CB (25): He is one of the best cover men in the NFL today, with great quickness and recognition skills. He's a very underrated player who is getting better.

Williamson also listed a number of other players of note. Those included: S Morgan Burnett (25), T Bryan Bulaga (25), TE Brandon Bostick (25), WR Jarrett Boykin (25), OLB Nick Perry (24), DE Datone Jones (24), DB Micah Hyde (23), C Corey Linsley (23), T David Bakhtiari (23), TE Richard Rodgers (22) and S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (21).

Williamson rated one NFC North team, the Minnesota Vikings, ahead of the Packers. The Vikings came in at No. 4. The Detroit Lions were 20th and the Chicago Bears 31st.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- It's not as long of a list as last year, when the Green Bay Packers had 19 players headed toward free agency, but general manager Ted Thompson still has plenty of decisions to make about which players to try to keep and which ones to let walk.

Thompson may already have made up his mind about some. Others will come down to price. But this much is certain: Not all of the 14 upcoming free agents (11 unrestricted and three restricted) will be back with the Packers next season. Last year, eight of the 19 returned.

Here's a look at the Packers' free-agents-to-be on offense (to be followed later by the defensive players):

Unrestricted

Bryan Bulaga, OT: This was an important year for the former first-round pick, who missed the last half of 2012 (hip injury) and all of 2013 (knee), to show he can stay healthy. And he did, although it looked iffy early on when he sustained a knee injury in the season opener. However, he missed only one start (Week 2 vs. the Jets) and was part of an offensive line that started the same five players in 17 of the 18 games (including playoffs). Despite the injury history, he's still young (he will turn 26 in March). He allowed just four sacks, two of which came in one game (at Miami). The Packers already have big money invested in their guards, Josh Sitton ($4.85 million base salary in 2015) and T.J. Lang ($4.2 million), so it could be tough to keep another high-priced player on the line. 2014 base salary: $2,565,500.

Randall Cobb, WR: Back in November, a high-ranking NFL executive said the feeling around the league was there's no way Cobb would hit the open market. Since then, the price to keep him has gotten higher. Cobb finished with 91 catches for 1,287 yards and 12 touchdowns -- all career highs. Jordy Nelson’s extension last summer averaged $9.75 million per season. Cobb may not get that much, but it could be close. 2014 base salary: $812,648.

Matt Flynn, QB: The Packers brought back Flynn as an insurance policy after he went 2-2 as a starter last season during part of the time Aaron Rodgers was out because of his broken collarbone. But the Packers didn't need Flynn this time. He played only in mop-up duty except for two meaningful series in the Week 17 game against Detroit after Rodgers left briefly because of his calf injury. If Flynn returns, it likely will be under another one-year deal. 2014 base salary: $730,000.

Kuhn
John Kuhn, FB: At a dying position, Kuhn still managed to make a significant impact, especially late in the season when the Packers tried to run the ball more, and was selected to the Pro Bowl. However, he's no longer a sure thing in short-yardage situations. Still, he's a Rodgers favorite and could come back under another one-year deal. 2014 base salary: $855,000.

Scott Tolzien, QB: After a strong showing in the preseason, outplaying Flynn, he spent the entire season as the No. 3 quarterback, marking the first time since 2008 the Packers opened the season with three quarterbacks on the roster. Coach Mike McCarthy invested nearly two years in Tolzien, so it's unlikely the Packers would let him walk without seeing if he could handle the No. 2 job. 2014 base salary: $645,000.

Restricted

Don Barclay, OG/OT: After starting 18 games over the previous two seasons, mostly in place of Bulaga, Barclay was expected to be the utility lineman who could play either inside or outside. But he tore the ACL in his right knee in early August and missed the entire season. Still, he likely will be tendered at the minimum level and given another chance to compete for a roster spot. 2014 base salary: $570,000.

Jarrett Boykin, WR: Perhaps the most disappointing player on the Packers' offense this past season, Boykin had as many dropped passes (three) as he did receptions (three for 23 yards). That followed a 2013 season in which he caught 49 passes for 681 yards and three touchdowns. He lost the No. 3 receiver spot to rookie Davante Adams in the first month of the season. Given that the minimum restricted free-agent tender will be around $1.5 million, it's possible the Packers won't even make him an offer. 2014 base salary: $570,000.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Few quarterbacks, if any, are better at taking advantage of free plays than Aaron Rodgers. He thought he had one in the first quarter of the Green Bay Packers' NFC Championship Game loss on Sunday when he saw Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett cross the line of scrimmage.

So he took a shot and threw to rookie receiver Davante Adams in the end zone, but cornerback Richard Sherman picked it off.

Rodgers
Since there was no flag for on offside penalty, so the interception stood.

Two days after the game, Rodgers remained convinced the officials missed the call.

"I think it's pretty evident on the film," Rodgers said Tuesday on his ESPN Milwaukee radio show.

A review of the game film shows Rodgers has a legitimate gripe.

It potentially cost the Packers points because it was a third-and-10 play from the Seahawks' 29-yard line. At worst, an incompletion there would have set up a 47-yard field goal by Mason Crosby, who was 5-for-5 in the game. A penalty would have given the Packers a third-and-5 play from the 24 yard line.

It was one of two interceptions Rodgers threw in the 28-22 overtime loss.

After the game, he explained them both.

"Felt like we might have had an offsides on the first interception," Rodgers said at the time. "Corey [Linsley] snapped it early -- I figured it was a free play -- and Davante was the only route that was going in the end zone. Sherm made a good play. The second one, just miscommunication between Cobb and I."

No prayers needed for Corey Linsley

January, 15, 2015
Jan 15
12:05
PM ET
GREEN BAY, Wis. – Take note, Bruce Irvin: Corey Linsley doesn't need anyone to pray for him this time.

Four months after Linsley, the Green Bay Packers rookie center, made his first NFL start against Irvin and the Seattle Seahawks in Week 1, there might be no player better prepared for Sunday's NFC Championship Game than Linsley.

At the time, Linsley admitted he was rattled by Irvin's comment that he was going to pray for him because it was going to be a long night.

Not much has rattled him since then.

[+] EnlargeAaron Rodgers
AP Photo/Mike RoemerRookie center Corey Lindley has come a long way since he last saw the Seattle Seahawks.
Linsley returns to the site of his first NFL game as one of the league's best centers.

ProFootballFocus.com rated Linsley as the fifth-best center in the league during the 2014 regular season. What started as a temporary assignment while JC Tretter was out with a knee injury has turned into a permanent position.

"It feels a lot different mainly because of the guys around me, and I feel like they have a little bit more confidence in me since Week 1," Linsley said. "And also in our offense, I think our offense is 10 times as better than it was Week 1. We found our identity."

Linsley had one major gaffe in the Packers' 36-16 loss to the Seahawks. He fired a shotgun snap into Aaron Rodgers' chest when he wasn't ready for it. Rodgers barked at him. Linsley took it, and they moved on.

Linsley, the only player who has been on the field for all 1,118 of the Packers' offensive snaps this season, is a different player, and the Packers are a different team. In that first game, the only offensive production came from Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb. Now, two other rookies – receiver Davante Adams and tight end Richard Rodgers – have been integrated into the offense, and the running game with Eddie Lacy is as strong as ever.

"Corey was in his first start, and he was getting a lot of prayers for him," Rodgers said this week on his ESPN Milwaukee radio show. "I'm not sure if he'll get the same amount of prayers. Hopefully he will; we need all the prayers we can get at this point. And then Davante rarely played; I think he played about eight to 10 snaps. And then Richard didn't play a whole lot, either. Those guys are playing more significant roles."

Maybe it's revisionist history, but coach Mike McCarthy said he knew right away in training camp that Linsley, a fifth-round pick from Ohio State, could handle the NFL.

"The first one-on-one pass blocking in padded practice," McCarthy recalled. "I remember that day. He stood out to me then."

With all that Linsley has done since then, he just laughs now when Irvin's comments are brought up.

"The whole situation was kind of funny," Linsley said. "But, yeah, now it's just long gone. That's long gone."
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Four months after the fact, the Green Bay Packers continue to insist they didn't purposely avoid Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman in the season opener.

Whether it was a directive from coach Mike McCarthy or a decision by quarterback Aaron Rodgers -- or some combination of both -- the Packers seem unlikely to employ the same strategy in Sunday's NFC Championship Game, given how badly it limited their offense in the 36-16 loss in Week 1 in Seattle.

It was an odd approach, given McCarthy's generally aggressive nature. And it didn't work as the Packers had hoped.

[+] EnlargeRichard Sherman
AP Photo/Stephen Brashear The Packers say they did not avoid Richard Sherman in September's season opener.
"My thought was, and I told Jordy [Nelson] in the game plan, just line up on the left side," McCarthy said Monday. "We thought Richard would come over there and play him on the left side. OK, it didn't happen, and how the game sorted out and things like that, and the ball went where it went was just really how the game was played. There was never a 'Don't throw right' in the game plan."

Nelson had a productive night on that left side with nine catches for 83 yards (although his longest gain was just 16 yards) but cutting the field in half didn't help the offense. Rodgers attempted 33 passes, and 23 of them were targeted at either Nelson or Randall Cobb (six catches for 58 yards). Rodgers' 23 completions were spread among just five players, two of whom were running backs.

"I think we've played a lot differently since then," McCarthy said.

How far has his offense come?

Ten times in the past 16 games, including Sunday's 26-21 win over the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC divisional playoff round, the Packers have had at least seven players catch passes. Three of those times, Rodgers spread the ball among eight receivers, and one time -- in the Week 7 win over the Carolina Panthers -- he found nine.

Rookie receiver Davante Adams played only nine of the 62 offensive snaps in the opener. Against the Cowboys, he played all but seven of the 68 plays and caught seven passes for 117 yards and a touchdown.

Rookie tight end Richard Rodgers didn't catch a pass against the Seahawks or in any of the first three games of the season. In his past three games, he has eight catches, including the 13-yard touchdown catch against the Cowboys that ended up as the winner.

"I think we're better; I think they're better," Packers offensive coordinator Tom Clements said Monday. "As the season goes along, teams get better."

And teams change their game plans, too.

In the opener, it was Jarrett Boykin who lined up on Sherman's side of the field most of the time. Boykin played 49 snaps and not only didn't catch a pass, he didn't have one thrown his way. Boykin barely plays anymore and finished the season with as many drops (three) as catches (three for 23 yards).

This time, it might be Adams' turn over there.

"He'd be a great matchup," Nelson said. "He's growing his understanding of the game, the speed of the game. He's got great quickness, great hands, so he'd be ready for that matchup."

Adams interacted with Sherman, a noted trash-talker, a few times during the opener, but there wasn't a whole lot of chatter.

"He didn't say anything," Adams said. "Actually, I said something to him about it. One of my pre-draft visits was over there and I was hanging out with him a little bit and I already knew the type of guy he was. I went over there and asked him where all the talking was. He was like, "There's nothing to talk about.' "

Adams couldn't argue the point.

And after the opener, Aaron Rodgers said he told Sherman that he hopes he gets some work this season.

It's now time to see if the Packers will provide that.

"We'll have a plan, and we'll develop it and implement it," Clements said.

When asked whether that plan would include throwing at the Seahawks' All-Pro cornerback, Clements said: "Well, we'll have a plan for the Seahawks, and we're in the process of developing it."
A roundup of what's happening on the Green Bay Packers beat.

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The last three games have been among the Packers' best tackling efforts of the season.

According to ProFootballFocus.com, the Packers missed just four tackles in Sunday's 26-21 win over the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC divisional playoff round. They also missed only four tackles in the regular-season finale against the Detroit Lions and just three the previous week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

But if the Packers want a reminder of just how bad their tackling can be, all they need to do is put on the film from the Week 1 loss at the Seattle Seahawks. The Packers missed 18 tackles in that game, according to PFF. Although that was their season high, it was not the only game in which their number reached double figures. They missed 12 tackles against the Buffalo Bills in Week 15, 10 against the Chicago Bears in Week 10 and 13 against the New Orleans Saints in Week 8.

Of the four games with at least 10 missed tackles on defense, the Packers lost three of them. Surely, the coaches will remind the players of that in advance of Sunday's NFC Championship Game at the Seahawks.

Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch was responsible for half of the Packers' missed tackles in the opener -- eight while he was rushing and one as a receiver.

"We're going to have to swarm and tackle him," said Packers linebacker Julius Peppers, who was charged with a pair of missed tackles in the opener. "He's a great back, a real physical runner. We're going to have to get a lot of bodies to him and get a lot of hits on him. He's the heart of that team, so we have to try to get to him and take him down."

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