Green Bay Packers: Jake Stoneburner

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The lower leg injury Green Bay Packers tight end Brandon Bostick sustained on Saturday against the St. Louis Rams likely will keep him out for the remainder of the preseason.

That also could leave his availability for the Packers' regular-season opener at Seattle on Sept. 4 in doubt.

Bostick
"He's going to be a couple of weeks," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Monday. "They were encouraged once they got all the testing done."

Bostick is not expected to need surgery, but McCarthy would not give any other specifics about the injury.

The second-year tight end was injured after he caught a 9-yard pass on the third snap of the Packers' second offensive possession against the Rams. Bostick remained on the field for one more play before taking himself out.

The Packers have been preparing rookie third-round pick Richard Rodgers for the starting job -- he opened each of the first two preseason games with the No. 1 offense -- but Bostick is a big part of their plans, too. He has taken many of the first-team reps in the two-minute drill throughout training camp. He has the big-play ability the Packers lose without Jermichael Finley. Of all the tight ends on the roster, Bostick most resembles Finley in terms of size and athleticism.

Veteran Andrew Quarless replaced Bostick on that series against the Rams and went on to lead the Packers with four catches for 58 yards.

However, when it came time to replace Bostick in practice Monday -- at least in the two-minute period -- second-year pro Jake Stoneburner filled that role.

There were no other new injuries as a result of the game against the Rams.

Packers Camp Report: Day 12

August, 11, 2014
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GREEN BAY, Wis. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Green Bay Packers training camp:
  • As training camp practices go in Green Bay, Monday was a bit unusual. It was one of only a handful of summer sessions that was closed to the public. Reporters were allowed to watch, but it was made perfectly clear that any scheme or personnel-related activities were off limits. Clearly working on things coach Mike McCarthy did not want anyone to see, likely in preparation for the season opener against the Seattle Seahawks on Sept. 4, the Packers went for one-hour and 55 minutes with tarps pinned to the fence that surrounds Ray Nitschke Field. "It was exactly what we wanted," McCarthy said. "That's an in-season Wednesday practice for us, and I thought it was a very good practice."
  • Quarterback Aaron Rodgers used every bit of the 57 seconds the coaches gave him to run the 2-minute drill, but he capped a nine-play drive with a 20-yard touchdown pass to Randall Cobb. Rodgers completed 5 of 8 passes for 60 yards. He hit tight end Brandon Bostick for gains of 7, 8 and 5 yards on three of the first five snaps. He kept the drive going by converting a fourth-and-5 on a scramble in which he avoided a sack by Mike Neal.
  • Scott Tolzien and Matt Flynn alternated taking the No. 2 quarterback reps until the 2-minute period, when Flynn got a turn but Tolzien did not. He took the offense into the red zone but ran out of time. On his final play, on first down from the 15-yard line, Flynn missed tight end Jake Stoneburner in the end zone.
  • Starting left guard Josh Sitton had taken only one rep in the one-on-one pass blocking drill in camp before Monday. It came on July 31, a loss to Mike Daniels. Sitton, who said it was to give his sore back a chance to rest, was back in the drill on Monday and blocked rookie defensive tackle Carlos Gray in his only turn. Julius Peppers, who had split four reps during the first two weeks, won his only turn on Monday. He beat starting left tackle David Bakhtiari to the inside.
  • Apparently, Saturday's preseason opener at Tennessee wasn't enough to satisfy the players' desire to hit someone because there were at least three separate scuffles during Monday's practice.
  • Safety Morgan Burnett returned to practice after missing Saturday's games against the Titans because of an oblique strain, but the Packers still had their largest injury list to date. Those who did not practice were: receiver Davante Adams (wrist), running back Rajion Neal (knee), safety Tanner Miller (ankle), tight end Colt Lyerla (knee), linebacker Joe Thomas (knee), guard/tackle Don Barclay (knee), receiver Jared Abbrederis (knee), receiver Jordy Nelson (hamstring), defensive tackle Josh Boyd (ribs), defensive tackle Letroy Guion (hamstring) and defensive end Jerel Worthy (back).
  • The first of two open practices this week is Tuesday at noon local time.

Packers Camp Report: Day 9

August, 5, 2014
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GREEN BAY, Wis. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Green Bay Packers training camp:
  • For the second time in camp, first-round pick Ha Ha Clinton-Dix got extended work with the starters on Tuesday in place of strong safety Morgan Burnett. And unlike last time, when Burnett returned from an ankle injury the next day, this stint could last longer. Burnett has a strained oblique muscle that could keep him out for multiple days. Playing in Burnett's spot had Clinton-Dix near the line of scrimmage more than if he were playing alongside at free safety. At Alabama, Clinton-Dix said he played both spots so it's not a major adjustment. When the Packers picked Clinton-Dix at No. 21 overall, the thinking was he would be an immediate starter at free safety, but the Packers have instead stuck with Micah Hyde throughout camp. "Nothing is given to you," Clinton-Dix said. "You have to earn it."
  • Burnett's absence also meant more work for second-year safety Chris Banjo, who had a pass breakup on a crossing route by tight end Ryan Taylor from Matt Flynn. Banjo also should have had an interception on a Scott Tolzien pass thrown over tight end Jake Stoneburner, but the Banjo did not get his hands up in time and allowed the ball to hit him in the helmet.
  • In the first eight camp practices, the Packers installed a different part of their offense and defense in each session. With that process complete, coach Mike McCarthy switched to an in-season practice format which featured almost no competitive team periods. The starting offense worked against a scout-team defense and vice versa to prepare for Saturday’s preseason opener at Tennessee. "We started that process today of starting to have periods look and conducted the way they will be during game plan week," McCarthy said. It resulted in the shortest regular practice of camp, just one hour and 41 minutes. The only shorter session was the 90-minute practice portion of the Family Night event on Saturday.
  • Aaron Rodgers does not throw many interceptions in practice, but veteran cornerback Jarrett Bush got him during a team period. He stepped in front of a pass intended for Jarrett Boykin, which brought a huge cheer for the defensive sideline.
  • A day after an impressive 4-0 performance in the one-on-one pass rushing drill, rookie outside linebacker Jayrone Elliott did not fare as well. He lost both of his reps, getting blocked by tackles Bryan Bulaga and Jeremy Vujnovich. ... Datone Jones handed T.J. Lang his first loss in six one-on-one reps this camp. ... Fourth-round pick Carl Bradford has not gotten much done in the one-on-ones. He lost a pair of turns Tuesday to fall to 0-4. ... For the first time in camp, Lang did not appear to be limited at all by his sore shoulder. He took his regular share of reps in every period.
  • In addition to the knee injury that took out backup offensive lineman Don Barclay, others who missed practice were: Burnett (oblique), running back Michael Hill (concussion), safety Tanner Miller (ankle), tight end Colt Lyerla (knee), receiver Jared Abbrederis (knee), defensive tackle Letroy Guion (hamstring) and defensive end Jerel Worthy (back).
  • Wednesday's 11:45 a.m. practice is the last open session of the week prior to the preseason opener against the Titans.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- With the preseason opener looming on Saturday at Tennessee, the Green Bay Packers released their first depth chart of the season.

It was labeled "unofficial."

And there were few, if any, surprises.

At almost every position where there is even a hint of competition, the more experienced player was listed first.

Keep in mind that a year ago, the first depth chart of the season listed Eddie Lacy as the No. 4 running back behind DuJuan Harris, Alex Green and James Starks. Harris never played a down because of a knee injury, Green got cut at the end of camp and Lacy became the NFL's offensive rookie of the year. The same chart listed Marshall Newhouse as the starting right tackle and Bryan Bulaga as the left tackle. By then, Bulaga had already blown out his knee, and Newhouse did not start a game until Week 11.

Nevertheless, here's what stood out on the first edition of this year's depth chart:
  • Without Jermichael Finley, the order at tight end was Andrew Quarless, Brandon Bostick, Ryan Taylor, rookie Richard Rodgers and Jake Stoneburner.
  • Although coach Mike McCarthy said he has not decided how the backup quarterback reps will be divided up against the Titans, Matt Flynn was listed as No. 2 and Scott Tolzien No. 3 behind Aaron Rodgers.
  • At running back, James Starks was listed as the No. 2 behind Lacy. DuJuan Harris was third followed by Michael Hill, Rajion Neal and LaDarius Perkins.
  • JC Tretter was the top center ahead of rookie Corey Linsley.
  • The No. 2 outside linebacker combination behind starters Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers was Mike Neal and Nick Perry. Neal was the backup to Matthews on the right side, while Perry was behind Peppers on the left even though Perry has been more productive on the other side.
  • Morgan Burnett and Micah Hyde were listed as the starting safety duo with Sean Richardson behind Burnett and first-round pick Ha Ha Clinton-Dix behind Hyde.
  • At right cornerback, former practice-squader Jumal Rolle was No. 3 (behind Sam Shields and Casey Hayward) ahead of rookie sixth-round pick Demetri Goodson, who has struggled so far.
  • At kickoff returner, it was Hyde followed by Harris, Cobb and rookie Jeff Janis. The punt returners were Hyde and Cobb.
  • The depth chart also included the assistant coaches' locations on game days, and there was one major change. Offensive coordinator Tom Clements is going to the coaches box after previously working from the sideline. He will be joined in the box by defensive coordinator Dom Capers, offensive quality control assistant Luke Getsy, assistant offensive line coach Steve Marshall, defensive/special teams assistant Jason Simmons and cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Julius Peppers, all 6-foot-7 and 287 pounds of him, strikes an impressive pose on the practice field.

He stands – literally in some cases – a head above his new Green Bay Packers teammates.

That was unmistakable even in shorts and helmets during the offseason practices.

Put the pads on, like the Packers Monday did for the first time in training camp, and the full-frame image of Peppers was even more impressive.

He looks the part of a pass-rusher worth the $7.5 million signing bonus the Packers forked over as part of the three-year, $26 million free-agent contract he signed in March. He split four reps in his first go-around in the one-on-one pass-rushing drill on Monday, registering two victories.

[+] EnlargeJulius Peppers
AP Photo/Morry GashJulius Peppers is excited about his role with the Packers.
But it looks like the Packers are going to ask him to do more than just rush the quarterback.

And that's fine with him.

He's an outside linebacker now in a 3-4 base scheme after playing the last four years as a defensive end in the Chicago Bears' 4-3 system and before that in Carolina for eight seasons.

There he was on Monday, dropping into coverage against tight end Jake Stoneburner on a crossing route.

Although Peppers would not concede that he needed a change to revitalize his career, which he does not believe needs revitalization, there's reason to think the 34-year-old who is entering his 13th NFL season has a renewed sense of purpose on the field.

"It's fun. It's fun," he repeated. "I'm actually having a lot of fun. I'm enjoying it. It's a little different than what I've been used to in the past. I actually think it fits my skill set better than just being down every play. I'm having fun doing it. I'm just enjoying it."

All that might be fun for Peppers and a way for defensive coordinator Dom Capers to disguise him, but the Packers signed Peppers for one overriding reason: his 119 career sacks, which rank third on the active list.

"He's here to go towards the quarterback; we all understand that," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "But when he does drop, he has great ability and range. And you look at his ball skills, we do a lot of ball skills with the whole team by design, I want everybody to handle the football. He handles the football like an offensive player."

Peppers had only 7.5 sacks last season -- his lowest output since 2007 -- and he chuckled at those who use the word "only."

"You look at my last year, was it one of my better years?" Peppers said. "Probably not, you know, statistically. But if you compare it to a lot of the guys who played last year, it was better than a lot of guys. So I don't really think I need to revitalize anything, just improve upon what I did last year. That's not going to be easy to do. I should be able to do it."

Even if Peppers was only able to replicate his sack total from last season, it would be better than any Packers player not named Clay Matthews since Aaron Kampman had 9.5 in 2008.

"It’s not about really proving anybody wrong," Peppers said. "It's about accomplishing some personal goals, one of which being is winning a world championship. That's the main thing. That's the main motivation. All that other stuff, it's there, but it's not as big as coming in here and helping this team hoist that trophy at the end."

If there's pressure on Peppers to improve the Packers' defense from its 25th overall ranking last season, it might not be even close to what the Bears placed on him last season before they cut him because they felt he wasn't worth the $18 million salary-cap charge.

"You look at our defense right now, there's a lot of high expectations for those guys," Packers guard T.J. Lang said. "The talent that they have, all across our D-line, the linebackers, the defensive backs. It's a group that you look out at, it's impressive to look at 'em. Just the physical stature that Julius has. I mean that alone is intimidating enough for an offense. We've played him eight or nine, 10 times since I've been here. Every time you look at the guy, you're just as equally impressed as the first time you've seen him. He's just a freak. And then you go to Clay out there, who's also proven to be one of the best pass-rushers in the game. It's just an impressive group to look at."
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Between now and the Green Bay Packers' first training camp practice on July 26, we will break down each position group.

Next up is the tight end group.

Returning players: Andrew Quarless, Ryan Taylor, Brandon Bostick, Jake Stoneburner

Gone from last season: Jermichael Finley (unsigned)

New this season: Richard Rodgers (third-round pick), Colt Lyerla (undrafted free agent), Justin Perillo (undrafted free agent)

Position coach: Jerry Fontenot (third season, previously was an offensive assistant in 2006, assistant offensive line coach from 2007-10 and running backs coach in 2011)

Bush
Finley
Biggest issue: Finley was one of the most dynamic tight ends in the NFL before he sustained a season-ending (and possibly career-ending) neck injury on Oct. 20 against the Browns. The Packers struggled to replicate his production in the passing game. With Finley still unsigned, they will need to look elsewhere for a player who can make plays deep down the seam and also take the short and intermediate routes and break tackles for extra yards. The athletic and powerful Finley was able to do both.

Player to watch: Rodgers was perhaps the most impressive rookie in the offseason practices, making difficult catches look easy. One member of the team's personnel department predicted Rodgers would be the opening-day starter ahead of Quarless.

Quarless
Medical report: Quarless missed all the offseason practices due to an undisclosed injury.

Help wanted: The Packers not only have an opening for a starter but also are looking for another playmaker to emerge. That could be Lyerla, who went undrafted and unsigned until he parlayed a tryout with the Packers into a roster spot. Although he did not stand out in the offseason practices, he has big-play ability. Or it could be Bostick, who averaged 17.1 yards per catch in limited action last season.

Quotable: "I think that we are pretty wide open at this point," Fontenot said of his group. "I think that guys have shown some progress, and those guys warrant a much bigger look. Once we get to training camp, we'll kind of have an idea of what the rotation will be and how we give guys reps."

Previous installments:

Monday: Quarterbacks

Tuesday: Running backs

Wednesday: Receivers
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Between now and when the Green Bay Packers report to training camp on July 25, we will spend considerable time looking at the roster from a variety of angles.

In the days leading up to camp, we will break things down by position group. And before that, we will look at several players who need to give the Packers more than they did last year.

But before we do any of that, let's reset the depth chart as it likely stands heading into training camp. This is an unofficial assessment, but it is based on observations during organized team activities and minicamp practices combined with interviews with assistant coaches and scouts.

First up is the offense:

Quarterbacks: Aaron Rodgers, Matt Flynn, Scott Tolzien, Chase Rettig.

Notes: Expect a legitimate battle for the No. 2 job between Flynn and Tolzien in the preseason. Coach Mike McCarthy noted several times how much Tolzien improved thanks to a full offseason with the Packers. The biggest question here is whether the Packers will keep three quarterbacks rather than only two. Rettig looks like a camp arm, at best.

Running backs: Eddie Lacy, James Starks, DuJuan Harris, Michael Hill, Rajion Neal, LaDarius Perkins.

Notes: The loss of Johnathan Franklin to a career-ending neck injury struck a blow to what appeared to be a deep position. But it also sorted out things somewhat, although Harris still needs to show that he can be productive like he was late in the 2012 season. The knee injury that cost him all of last season does not appear to be an issue. Neal and Perkins, a pair of undrafted rookies, both are slashing backs similar to Harris with Perkins (5-foot-7, 195 pounds) also being similar in stature.

Fullbacks: John Kuhn, Ina Liaina.

Notes: There's no reason to think the veteran Kuhn won't be around for another season.

Receivers: Outside -- Jordy Nelson, Jarrett Boykin, Davante Adams, Jeff Janis, Kevin Dorsey, Chris Harper. Slot -- Randall Cobb, Jared Abbrederis, Myles White, Alex Gillett.

Notes: Adams, the rookie from Fresno State, may eventually supplant Boykin, but he will have to catch the ball more cleanly than he did in the offseason. He battled drop issues at times during the OTAs and minicamp. Fellow rookie Janis showed up regularly during team periods. Harper was off to a strong start until a hamstring injury knocked him out. In the slot, Abbrederis looks like a natural fit. White bulked up after contributing some as a rookie last season and should not be ignored.

Tight ends: Richard Rodgers, Andrew Quarless, Brandon Bostick, Ryan Taylor, Jake Stoneburner, Colt Lyerla, Justin Perillo.

Notes: Even if Quarless is healthy for the start of camp, Rodgers might still have the edge for the starting job after a strong offseason. He's more dynamic as a receiver than Quarless, who missed the entire offseason because of an undisclosed injury. Bostick came back late in the offseason from foot surgery. While there are high expectations for Lyerla, the undrafted rookie did not flash often enough during offseason practices.

Tackles: Right side -- Bryan Bulaga, Don Barclay, Aaron Adams, John Fullington. Left side -- David Bakhtiari, Derek Sherrod, Jeremy Vujnovich.

Notes: Bulaga practiced with a large brace on his surgically repaired left knee and has something to prove after missing all of last season, but the fact that he's back at right tackle shows how much the Packers believe in Bakhtiari on the left side. Sherrod made it through the full offseason program for the first time, which is something of an accomplishment considering his injury history. But he's running out of time to show he can play like the first-round pick that he was in 2011. Barclay, who started 18 regular-season games the last two seasons, has split his time between right tackle and guard and looks like the No. 6 offensive lineman.

Guard: Right side -- T.J. Lang, Barclay, Lane Taylor. Left side -- Josh Sitton, Barclay, Andrew Tiller, Jordan McCray.

Notes: Barclay likely would be the top back up at both guard spots, although Taylor worked at right guard with the No. 2 offensive line while Barclay played right tackle or left guard.

Center: JC Tretter, Garth Gerhart, Corey Linsley.

Notes: Tretter took all the snaps with the number one offensive line this offseason. It is his job to lose, but his lack of experience makes him something short of a sure thing. Gerhart worked ahead of Linsley, a fifth-round pick, but if anyone is going to challenge Tretter it might be Linsley.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- It's not the only way to measure what a team thinks of an undrafted free agent, but one way to gauge it is by the size of the signing bonus the player received.

Looking at the Green Bay Packers' list of undrafted rookies from that angle, it appears five players stand out from the rest.

Utah State linebacker Jake Doughty, Toledo outside linebacker Jayrone Elliott, Washington State guard John Fullington, Alabama outside linebacker Adrian Hubbard and South Carolina State linebacker Joe Thomas all received $5,000 signing bonuses as part of their three-year, minimum salary deals.

As we wrote on Monday, Hubbard was one of the top undrafted rookies.

Last year, the highest signing bonus the Packers paid to an undrafted rookie went to guard Lane Taylor ($7,000). The next group consisted of quarterback Matt Brown ($5,000), defensive tackle Gilbert Pena ($5,000), tight end Jake Stoneburner ($5,000) and outside linebacker Andy Mulumba ($5,000). Taylor and Mulumba made the Week 1 roster, while Stoneburner started the year on the practice squad but was elevated to the roster.

It's worth noting what a former agent pointed out this week when he said the undrafted free-agent process moves so fast that teams will sometimes tack on an extra thousand or two in the heat of a conversation just to get a deal done so they can move on to their next target.

With that in mind, here's a list of the signing bonus money the Packers paid out to their undrafted rookies, according to salary data from ESPN Stats & Information and NFL Players Association contract files.

(Note: there are two additions to the original list – Fullington and Iowa safety Tanner Smith).

$5,000
Jake Doughty, LB, Utah State
Jayrone Elliott, OLB, Toledo
John Fullington G, Washington State
Adrian Hubbard, OLB, Alabama
Joe Thomas, LB, South Carolina State

$4,000
Carlos Gray, DE, North Carolina State

$3,500
Jordan McCray, G, Central Florida
Mike Pennel, DT, Colorado State-Pueblo
Chase Rettig, QB, Boston College

$3,000
LaDarius Perkins, RB, Mississippi State

$2,000
Rajion Neal, RB, Tennessee
Justin Perillo, TE, Maine
Ryan White, CB, Auburn
Tanner Miller, S, Iowa
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- With the bulk of the free-agent work done, it's a good time to recheck the Green Bay Packers' depth chart leading up to the May 8-10 NFL draft.

First up, the offense:

Quarterback: Aaron Rodgers, Scott Tolzien.

Analysis: Coach Mike McCarthy said at last week's NFL owners meetings that he not only hopes to bring back Matt Flynn but also would to take a fourth, developmental quarterback into training camp.

[+] EnlargeEddie Lacy
Jeff Hanisch/USA TODAY SportsLed by Eddie Lacy, the running back position is expected to be a key strength for the Packers in 2014.
Running back: Eddie Lacy, James Starks, Johnathan Franklin, DuJuan Harris, Michael Hill, Orwin Smith, Ina Liaina (fullback).

Analysis: This could be the deepest backfield McCarthy has had in his nine seasons as head coach, and they still may re-sign fullback John Kuhn. Starks excelled in a backup role last season behind Lacy, while Franklin showed some signs during a 100-yard game against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 3 before a neck injury ended his rookie season. Harris looks to bounce back after missing all of 2013 because of a knee injury. Hill spent time with both the Packers and Buccaneers last season. Smith was on the practice squad last year. Liaina was signed off the street early in the offseason.

Receiver: Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson, Jarrett Boykin, Myles White, Chris Harper, Kevin Dorsey, Sederrick Cunningham, Alex Gillett.

Analysis: Boykin is expected to take over as the No. 3 for James Jones, who signed with the Oakland Raiders as a free agent. White and Harper both spent time on the roster last season. White could be Cobb's backup as a slot receiver. Harper is an intriguing prospect. He was a fourth-round pick of the Seattle Seahawks last year and has good size. Dorsey, a seventh-round pick last season, and Cunningham spent all of 2013 on injured reserve. Gillett spent last season on the practice squad.

Tight ends: Andrew Quarless, Brandon Bostick, Ryan Taylor, Jake Stoneburner, Raymond Webber.

Analysis: There's not an established big-time playmaker to replace Jermichael Finley, who remains on the free-agent market but has not been medically cleared following last season's neck injury. Quarless is the starter until someone beats him out. Bostick, a former small-college receiver, is raw but has some playmaking ability. Taylor and Stoneburner played mostly on special teams, while Webber was signed off the street early in the offseason.

Center: JC Tretter, Garth Gerhart, Don Barclay.

Analysis: Not one of those players has ever taken a regular-season snap at center. Only Barclay has played in the regular season, and that has been almost exclusively at tackle. But after losing Evan Dietrich-Smith to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in free agency, the Packers will see if Barclay can transition to center. There are high hopes for Tretter, a former college tackle who did not play last season as a rookie after sustaining an ankle injury. Gerhart only has practice squad experience.

Guard: Josh Sitton, T.J. Lang, Barclay, Lane Taylor, Andrew Tiller.

Analysis: The starters are set with Sitton on the left side and Lang on the right. Barclay also could be in the mix for a backup job. Taylor made the team as an undrafted free agent last season but played mostly on special teams. Tiller was on the practice squad last season.

Tackle: David Bakhtiari, Bryan Bulaga, Derek Sherrod, Barclay, Aaron Adams, Jeremy Vujnovich.

Analysis: Bakhtiari, who started every game at left tackle last season as a rookie, will stay in his spot even with the return of Bulaga from the knee injury that kept him out all of last season. Bulaga will go back to the right side. Sherrod returned late last season after missing all of 2012 following the broken leg he sustained on Dec. 18, 2011. He likely will compete with Bakhtiari on the left side. Barclay started all but two games last season at right tackle but the Packers want to upgrade. Adams was on the practice squad last season, while Vujnovich was signed as a street free agent early in the offseason.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Re-signing Andrew Quarless on Thursday gave the Green Bay Packers some security at the tight end position.

Entering his fifth season, Quarless might be on the cusp of a breakout, so it was a wise move to bring him back.

He showed signs late last season of being the player they liked as a fifth-round pick in 2010 coming out of Penn State. He took over as the starting tight end midway through last season after Jermichael Finley's season-ending neck injury on Oct. 20 against the Cleveland Browns.

Given his size (6-foot-4, 252 pounds), the Packers like Quarless as both a blocker and a receiver. He caught 32 passes for 312 yards and two touchdowns last season and is a more natural blocker than Finley.

They also are high on Brandon Bostick, an athletic receiving tight end who resembles Finley in terms of body type and skill level more so than Quarless does. In a limited role last season, Bostick averaged 17.1 yards per catch before a foot injury ended his season on Dec. 15.

But the tight end position is hardly settled.

That won't begin to happen until a determination is made about Finley. It's unclear whether the Packers have had a chance recently to examine his surgically repaired neck. Finley underwent surgery last November to fuse his C-3 and C-4 vertebra.

Finley visited the Seattle Seahawks on Tuesday and Wednesday and was scheduled to meet with their team doctors. However, no deal has been completed, meaning Finley remains on the market.

Even if the Packers already have decided not to bring back Finley, that doesn't mean they will stand pat with Quarless, Bostick and their other returning tight ends (Ryan Taylor, Jake Stoneburner and Raymond Webber). They had Owen Daniels, formerly of the Houston Texans, in for a visit on Wednesday. Daniels is scheduled to visit the Washington Redskins next.

This is a tight-end-rich draft class. In fact, ESPN's Todd McShay had the Packers taking North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron with the 21st overall pick in his latest mock draft. Insider
INDIANAPOLIS – The Green Bay Packers' contingent of coaches, doctors, executives and personnel evaluators is on the ground at the NFL combine – and so is ESPN's NFL Nation – and therefore we have come to the conclusion of our countdown.

The first three parts focused on the Packers many defensive needs, from safety to defensive line to linebacker.

The final part before we turn our attention to the events at Lucas Oil Stadium for the remainder of the week will focus on what could be the biggest need on the offensive side of the ball for the Packers: tight end, a position group that will meet with reporters here on Thursday.

Why the Packers need help: It all hinges on the Packers' plans for Jermichael Finley, who has said he expects to be cleared soon from his neck fusion surgery. But that doesn't mean the Packers -- or other NFL teams -- will clear him. With Finley headed toward free agency next month, the Packers could simply decide not to re-sign him, regardless of the medical report. But they would be walking away from their most athletic, big-bodied tight end, and therefore would need to find a replacement. Andrew Quarless, who also is scheduled to be a free agent, probably didn't show enough in the second half of the season after Finley's injury to convince anyone that he can be that guy. He's a serviceable player who could return for a modest contract, but he's not a potential difference-maker like Finley. Of the Packers' three other young tight ends, Brandon Bostick has the most potential because of his athleticism and receiving skills, but he remains raw. Ryan Taylor is a solid blocker and top special teams player, and Jake Stoneburner has a ways to go. They also signed street free agent Raymond Webber this offseason. The Packers struggled in the red zone last season, ranking 25th in the touchdown percentage (50.8 percent), and missing a big target like Finley was one of the reasons.

Tight ends the Packers should be watching:

Eric Ebron, North Carolina: In his first mock draft Insider back in December, ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay had the Packers taking the 6-foot-4, 231-pound Ebron, who caught 62 passes for 973 yards last season. At that time, the Packers were projected to have the 18th pick in the draft. Now that they're locked into No. 21, it appears Ebron could be gone before the Packers pick.

Jace Amaro, Texas Tech: The 6-5, 260-pound Amaro caught 103 passes last season. He lined up in the slot position most of the time, much like Finley did for the Packers.

Troy Niklas, Notre Dame: More of a pure blocker than Ebron or Amaro, but the 6-7, 270-pounder has the potential to grow into a split-out role. He averaged 15.6 yards per catch on 32 receptions last season.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- This probably isn’t what Green Bay Packers fans had in mind when they read earlier that the team will have money and salary-cap space available for free agency this year, but the Packers signed a tight end off the street on Thursday.

General manager Ted Thompson announced that he has signed the 6-foot-2, 237-pound Raymond Webber, who last was in an NFL training camp in 2012 with the New York Jets.

Webber played at Arkansas-Pine Bluff and led the Southwestern Athletic Conference with 101 catches for 1,429 yards in 2010 as a receiver. He was not drafted but went to training camp in 2011 with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers but sustained a hamstring injury that landed him on injured reserve. The Bucs eventually released him and he was claimed off waivers by the Seattle Seahawks but was released a week later.

He also spent time last season with the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League.

As a 218-pound receiver, Webber ran a 4.5 40-yard dash during a pro day workout at Central Arkansas prior to the 2011 draft.

The Packers might have some significant needs at tight end given that Jermichael Finley and Andrew Quarless are scheduled to become free agents next month. The other returning tight ends are Brandon Bostick, Jake Stoneburner and Ryan Taylor.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Over the next two weeks, we’ll take a position-by-position look at what the Green Bay Packers have and what they need.

We can revisit this process before the draft based on what – if anything – general manager Ted Thompson does in free agency.

So far, we’ve looked at quarterbacks, running backs and receivers.

Bush
Finley
Next up, tight ends:

2014 free agents: Jermichael Finley, Andrew Quarless.

The good: Finley was playing some of the best football of his six-year career before his season ended on Oct. 20, when he suffered a bruised spinal cord. He had 25 catches for 300 yards with three touchdowns in basically five games (he missed most of the Sept. 22 game against the Bengals because of a concussion). He was a tackle-breaking machine, and his run blocking was improved. Quarless had a couple of solid games -- back-to-back efforts with six catches for 66 yards and a touchdown late in the season against the Falcons and Cowboys -- but his season-long stats (32 catches for 312 yards and two touchdowns) barely matched Finley’s five-game output.

The bad: The Packers’ offense wasn’t the same after Finley went down, and that wasn’t just because quarterback Aaron Rodgers fractured his collarbone two weeks later. The Packers missed the threat of Finley running down the seam and taking a safety away from one of the outside receivers. The athletic Brandon Bostick was just starting to show some of that big-play ability -- he had catches of 22, 26, 24 and 19 yards -- before he broke his foot in Week 15.

The money: Finley had the second-highest salary-cap number ($8.5 million) on the team last season, behind only Rodgers ($12 million), while Quarless was still on his rookie deal. Finley will want another big contract. Even if doctors clear Finley, who had spinal fusion surgery, there’s no guarantee the Packers will be willing to pay him again. The other three tight ends on the roster -- Bostick, Ryan Taylor and Jake Stoneburner -- all are under minimum deals.

Draft priority: Depending on what Thompson decides to do with Finley, this could rank among his biggest needs. Whether it’s Finley or someone else, tight ends coach Jerry Fontenot said shortly after the season is over that his group needs someone to be the playmaker they lacked after Finley’s injury. Last month, ESPN’s Todd McShay had the Packers taking North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron in the first round of his mock draft Insider.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Last week, we graded the Green Bay Packers by position groups as part of our season wrap-up.

This week, we’ll go a little deeper and rank the roster as it stood at season’s end.

The rankings will include 64 players and are based on how those players performed this season -- not their overall importance to the team.

We'll start at the bottom of the roster and work our way up.

Today we’ll address players 51-64:

51. Marshall Newhouse, T: Demoted after starting at left tackle in 2011 and 2012, the fourth-year pro started two games at right tackle after Don Barclay injured his knee and played in spot duty in three other games (including some snaps at right guard). After allowing 18 sacks in the previous two seasons combined, according to ProFootballFocus.com, he allowed three sacks and committed two penalties in essentially six games this past season. An unrestricted free agent who likely won’t be offered a contract to return.

52. Jake Stoneburner, TE: Undrafted rookie who was promoted from the practice squad on Oct. 15. Played mostly on special teams (29.3 percent of the season snaps), where he had three penalties (including two personal fouls). His role diminished late in the season. Played only 10 snaps on offense, and despite a reputation as a good receiver did not catch a pass. Could develop into a receiving threat.

53. Robert Francois, LB: Journeyman backup and special teams player tore his Achilles’ tendon in Week 5 against the Lions in his first action on defense. He played 12 defensive snaps in relief of Brad Jones and made two tackles before getting injured. Was placed on injured reserve the next day. An unrestricted free agent who could return for another minimum contract.

54. Seneca Wallace, QB: Signed on Sept. 2 after the Packers deemed B.J. Coleman, Graham Harrell and Vince Young unfit to back up Aaron Rodgers. Was forced into action when Rodgers broke his collarbone on the first series against the Bears on Nov. 4 and played decently until he tore a groin muscle on the first series the next week against the Eagles and was done for the season. At age 33 and an unrestricted free agent, he’s not likely to return.

55. Kahlil Bell, RB: Veteran was signed on Dec. 3 as insurance after rookie Johnathan Franklin (neck) was placed on injured reserve. Did not appear on offense but played on most special teams units, where he had two tackles and one kickoff return for 22 yards. With all the depth returning at running back, it’s unlikely he will be back next season.

56. Casey Hayward, CB: Second year was derailed from the start when he pulled his hamstring in a pre-training camp workout. Re-injured it two more times and played in only three games before landing on injured reserve. A year after leading all NFL rookies with six interceptions, he was a non-factor.

57. Jerel Worthy, DE: Second-round pick in 2012 was activated off the physically unable to perform list on Nov. 23 after tearing his ACL in Week 17 of his rookie season. Made his season debut with nine snaps the next day and then was a healthy scratch for four straight weeks. Played just four more snaps the rest of the season. So far has been a major disappointment.

58. Sam Barrington, LB: Rookie seventh-round pick played seven games almost exclusively on special teams before a hamstring injury on Nov. 4 ended his season. Could be in the mix for playing time at inside linebacker next season.

59. Derek Sherrod, T: Former first-round draft pick was activated off PUP on Nov. 5 and saw his first action since he broke his right leg on Dec. 18, 2011 when he played on special teams against the Giants in Week 11. Played only six snaps on offense (all at right tackle) in the late stages of the Thanksgiving game against the Lions. Will have a full offseason to work out and compete for a job for the first time since his injury.

60. Chris Harper, WR: Rookie was claimed off waivers on Oct. 18. Was originally a fourth-round pick by the Seahawks. Appeared in just three games, mostly on special teams. He played only two snaps on offense but at 6-foot-1 and 228 pounds, he has good size and will be worth developing.

61. Greg Van Roten, C/G: Second-year pro won a roster spot coming out of training camp and was a backup at all three interior positions. Sustained a season-ending foot injury in practice and was placed on injured reserve on Oct. 15. Depending on whether starting center Evan Dietrich-Smith is re-signed, Van Roten could be in the competition for that job next season.

62. James Nixon, CB: First-year player was promoted from the practice squad on Oct. 7 and played in three games before sustaining a season-ending knee injury on Oct. 11. If the injury doesn’t cost him any of his remarkable speed, he could be in the mix again next season.

63. JC Tretter, C/G: Rookie fourth-round pick broke his ankle in offseason workouts in May and did not return to practice until Nov. 19. Was activated of PUP on Dec. 10 but did not suit up for any games. Late-season practice time could help him compete for the starting center job.

64. Jumal Rolle, CB: Rookie was signed to the practice squad on Oct. 8 and promoted to the roster on Dec. 27 but did not appear in a game. At 6-0 and with decent speed, he has a chance to compete for a backup spot next season.

Not rated because they were placed on injured reserve prior to Week 1: Bryan Bulaga, T; Kevin Dorsey, WR; Sederrick Cunningham, WR; DuJuan Harris, RB.

Coming Tuesday: Players 41-50.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- In 16 regular-season games plus the NFC wild-card playoff loss to the San Francisco 49ers, the Green Bay Packers’ special teams was on the field for 511 plays, according to weekly snap counts kept by the NFL.

Hyde
Special teams coordinator Shawn Slocum used 58 different players on his units this season. That was four more than in 2012 and explains why coach Mike McCarthy said all the personnel changes caused in large part by injuries caught up with the Packers’ special teams by year’s end.

The Packers finished the regular season ranked seventh in punt return average (thanks largely in part to rookie returner Micah Hyde) but just 30th in kickoff return average. Slocum’s units struggled in coverage, ranking 29th in both punt return and kickoff return average allowed.

The specialists -- kicker Mason Crosby, punter Tim Masthay and long-snapper Brett Goode -- all had strong seasons.

Davon House, who played a team-high 338 snaps on special teams, led the Packers with 12 special teams tackles.

Here are the snap-count leaders on special teams with playing-time percentages in parenthesis. We’re not going to list all 58 players, but rather those who appeared on at least 10 percent of all special teams plays this season. (Earlier, we looked at playing time for every player on offense and on defense this season):

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