Green Bay Packers: Jarrett Bush

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Cornerback Casey Hayward, who missed Wednesday's practice because of glute strain, was back on the field Thursday, when the Green Bay Packers worked out in full pads.

Hayward did not play a single snap on defense last Sunday against the New York Jets but played his usual role on special teams.

In Week 1, Hayward played 36 of 70 defensive snaps as the third cornerback in the nickel package. The Packers had planned to use Davon House in their nickel package against the Jets anyway, but Hayward did not even play in the dime package. Those snaps went to Jarrett Bush.

The only two players who were not practicing Thursday were linebacker Brad Jones (quadriceps) and outside linebacker Andy Mulumba (knee).

Right tackle Bryan Bulaga, who practiced last week but did not play against the Jets, continued to practice and appeared to be moving more fluidly than he did last week.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Green Bay Packers have lost one of their core special-teams players, backup linebacker Andy Mulumba, to a knee injury, but starting safety Micah Hyde appears to have avoided a major injury.

Both were injured in Sunday's win over the New York Jets.

Hyde, who was injured at the end of a second-quarter punt return, said Monday that he has some swelling in his left knee but believes it was just a bruise.

"I just took a little shot on the knee cap, nothing serious," he said. "Nothing major. Just a little soreness."

However, Mulumba was not as fortunate. He was injured while covering a punt in the fourth quarter and sustained what coach Mike McCarthy called a "significant" injury. That's usually code for a torn ACL, although McCarthy declined to give specifics.

"It didn't look good during the game, and it doesn't sound very good," McCarthy said.

The most puzzling injury situation, however, was to cornerback Casey Hayward. He did not play at all on defense after playing 36 of 70 snaps in Week 1.

Against the Jets, the Packers used Davon House as their No. 3 cornerback, which was in the plans all along. However, Hayward also did not play in the dime (Jarrett Bush got that call) and defensive coordinator Dom Capers said Hayward may have been dealing with a hamstring injury -- the same injury that limited him to three games last season. Yet Hayward still managed to play 11 special-teams snaps.

McCarthy said Hayward was checked out by the team’s medical staff on Monday but did not have any update. The team does not have to file an injury report for this week's game at the Detroit Lions until Wednesday.

CB depth keeps House on bench for now

September, 12, 2014
Sep 12
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GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Given how deep the Green Bay Packers were at cornerback, it was worth wondering how they would get Davon House on the field.

The answer, at least in the opener, was that they won't.

House
 Despite having the best training camp and preseason of his NFL career, House did not play a single snap on defense in last week's season-opening loss to the Seattle Seahawks.

Casey Hayward got the call as the fifth defensive back in the nickel package, and Micah Hyde, who started at safety, played as the dime (sixth) defensive back when rookie Ha Ha Clinton-Dix replaced him at safety.

However, that doesn't mean the fourth-year cornerback will be relegated only to special teams duty until an injury opens up a spot in the secondary.

"No, there doesn't have to be an injury; there's a possibility he could play this week," cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt said. "I said early on, and I said it in the [cornerbacks] room, there's going to be some uncomfortable moments, and everybody's not going to be happy, and that's just what it's going to be. Last week, he was not the happy the one. This week, we’ll see. One of them won’t be happy."

Whitt, however, said House handled the news that he wouldn't be in the regular defensive rotation with class.

"I know it's part of the business," House said. "Everyone wants to be the guy. I figured it'd be either me or Casey. The ball pointed to me. I've just got to do my job and keep my head up high."

It's a tough spot for House, who is in the final year of his rookie contract. He wants to be able to be able to show that he can carry over in the regular season what he showed in the preseason.

House is somewhat limited by the fact that he has only played on the outside at cornerback, while Hayward, Tramon Williams and Jarrett Bush all have played both outside and in the slot.

"I was always told you've got to learn how to follow before you lead, so I need to learn how to follow Tramon, J.B. and the starters before I get out there," House said.

According to defensive coordinator Dom Capers, the personnel in certain packages could change week to week. Given how many different formations and packages the New York Jets use, perhaps there's a way to get House on the field this week.

"I think you'll see Davon play a lot of football for us; you just will," Capers said. "Some games it works that way; some games it doesn't. But we've got a lot of confidence in Davon. We like what he's done in the preseason, so you'll see Davon play a lot of football for us."

House still made an impact on special teams against Seattle. He made a heads-up play when he more or less baited Richard Sherman into blocking him in to Seahawks punt returner Earl Thomas, who then muffed the ball that the Packers recovered.

"I thought it was a real smart play on his part when he went into Richard Sherman and that collision ended up getting in the way of the returner catching the ball," special teams coach Shawn Slocum said.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- There was a time not too long ago when the Green Bay Packers were perennially the NFL's youngest team.

They held that distinction in each of coach Mike McCarthy's first four seasons (2006-09).

Not anymore.

Peppers
Although the NFL waits until after Week 1 to calculate official ages of opening-day rosters because transactions will continue throughout this week, Philly.com did its own calculations after last weekend's final roster cuts, and the Packers came in as the sixth-youngest team in the NFL with an average age of 25.62. In those same rankings, the Packers also were the sixth-youngest team last season and the fifth-youngest in 2012.

The Rams were the youngest team this season with an average age of 25.01, and the Raiders were the oldest at 27.0.

The rest of the NFC North checked in this way: Vikings (No. 5, 25.58), Lions (No. 21, 26.34) and Bears (No. 30, 26.72).

The Packers have only six players age 30 or older with Julius Peppers (34) being the oldest, by three years over John Kuhn (31) and Tramon Williams (31). Aaron Rodgers, Jarrett Bush and A.J. Hawk all are 30.

Nine rookies made the Packers’ final cuts, with Davante Adams and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix being the youngest at 21.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Nearly a month into training camp, it is apparent that at least two healthy members of the Green Bay Packers' recent draft class won't be able to help them much -- if at all -- this season.

So what does general manager Ted Thompson do with linebacker Carl Bradford and cornerback Demetri Goodson?

He might be willing to hang onto the fourth- and sixth-round picks, respectively, anyway.

When asked this week whether he's more inclined to give a draft pick a little longer to develop than he would a player off the street, Thompson admitted: "Maybe a smidgen."

Thompson has cut ties with only one fourth-pick pick as a rookie, receiver Cory Rodgers in 2006, and he has kept 11 of his 14 sixth-round picks as rookies.

However, a realistic look at the depth chart at both positions would indicate that Bradford might be no better than the eighth outside linebacker on the roster. The Packers likely won't keep more than 10 linebackers combined counting both inside and outside backers. It goes without saying that Bradford ranks behind Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers, Mike Neal and Nick Perry. Based on playing time, Andy Mulumba and Nate Palmer also rank ahead of him. And based on production, undrafted rookies Jayrone Elliott and Adrian Hubbard might be as well.

"I believe in the kid," Packers linebackers coach Winston Moss said Tuesday. "He works hard. He's a great guy. He has a skill set that can help us out. It's only a matter of time before he shows up, and what you're going to anticipate seeing is a guy that can play the run very, very well and a guy that can be an effort-determined rusher to get to the passer. I think that's going to show up before it's all over."

From the moment the Packers drafted Bradford at No. 121 overall out of Arizona State, it seemed he might be better suited to play inside linebacker. At 6-foot-1 and 252 pounds, he is the shortest outside linebacker on the roster and the second lightest among those he's competing against for a spot.

To date, however, Bradford has not taken a single snap at inside linebacker.

Still, that could end up being his eventual position. Moss would not rule it out.

"I can't judge what position he's going to be playing, I'll leave it at that," Moss said. "He's working hard. I think we've done well in the past being able to convert outside backers to the inside, but we'll see what happens."

And then there's Goodson, who played three years of college basketball at Gonzaga before he transferred to Baylor to play football. The Packers picked him at No. 197 overall knowing full well that he will need time to develop, but he might be further away than they thought.

"He has a ways to go," cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt said. "He's still a young player. We're in the work phase with him, teaching him the defense, teaching him just the base parts of it."

There are at least five cornerbacks -- Sam Shields, Tramon Williams, Casey Hayward, Davon House and Jarrett Bush -- ahead of Goodson. It's possible a sixth, Jumal Rolle, might be, too.

"But the great thing is we don't need him to play right now," Whitt said. "He has time to grow."

Still, Thompson will have to decide whether he can afford to let players develop while taking up a spot on the 53-man roster. Other than sixth-round pick Jared Abbrederis, the receiver who will be placed on injured reserve because of his knee injury, the Packers likely will keep the rest of their draft picks on the roster.

It might be a risk to cut Bradford or Goodson with the hope of getting them back on the practice squad. The other 31 teams would have a chance to put in a waiver claim before the Packers could do so.

"Most of the people outside this building are going to care if we win or lose," Thompson said. "So we better keep the best ones."

Packers Camp Report: Day 10

August, 6, 2014
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GREEN BAY, Wis. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Green Bay Packers training camp:
  • There were several dropped passes in Wednesday's practice, but there also were two spectacular one-handed catches. And they occurred on back-to-back plays courtesy of a pair of rookie receivers, second-round pick Davante Adams and seventh-rounder Jeff Janis. First, Janis pulled down his one-handed, 16-yard touchdown from Scott Tolzien on a fade route over Sam Shields in the left corner of the end zone. It was only Janis' third day of practice after missing the first week of camp because of shingles. It showed the kind of athleticism the Packers liked when they drafted the 6-foot-3, 219-pounder out of Saginaw Valley State. On the next play, Adams snagged an 11-yard touchdown from Matt Flynn over Casey Hayward in the right corner of the end zone. For Adams, perhaps it made up for two drops during the two-hour, 12-minute practice. Rookie tight end Richard Rodgers and receiver Randall Cobb also had drops.
  • Speaking of one-handed catches, safety Micah Hyde went up high to pull in an interception in the end zone against fourth-string quarterback Chase Rettig. Hyde and first-round pick Ha Ha Clinton-Dix continued to work as the top safety combination with Morgan Burnett (oblique strain) still out. Cornerback Jarrett Bush had an interception for the second consecutive day. After getting Aaron Rodgers on Tuesday, Bush picked off a Tolzien pass for Alex Gillett that popped into the air after Gillett collided with linebacker Jake Doughty.
  • Outside linebacker Clay Matthews let an interception slip through his hands, but he said it had nothing to do with his twice-broken thumb from last season. "Flynn put a little extra zip on that, and it just kind of caught me off-guard," Matthews said. "It won't happen on game day." Matthews expects his first game action to come in Saturday's preseason opener at Tennessee. He has taken part in every training camp practice after missing the entire offseason while recovering from the thumb injury. "It's still not 100 percent, but it's getting close," he said. "It's getting stronger every single day, and I feel good about the progress I'm making."
  • A day after losing versatile backup offensive lineman Don Barclay to a torn ACL, Derek Sherrod took some snaps as the backup right tackle after spending all of camp as the No. 2 left tackle. Sherrod was perfect on three reps in the one-on-one drill, including a turn at right tackle. Lane Taylor's snaps also increased at guard, where Barclay backed up both spots.
  • Coach Mike McCarthy classified Burnett's oblique strain as "day to day" and did not rule out the possibility that Burnett could play on Saturday. Others who missed practice were: 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).
  • The Packers will be at Lambeau Field for meetings, individual workouts and a walk-through on Thursday but there is no formal practice. The team will then hold a short, closed practice on Friday before leaving for Tennessee. This will simulate an in-season Friday-Saturday schedule before a normal Sunday game. After an off day following the Titans game, the Packers will hold another closed practice on Monday. The next practice open to the public is Tuesday at noon local time.

Packers Camp Report: Day 9

August, 5, 2014
Aug 5
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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. – On the same day that rookie receiver Jared Abbrederis learned that his season was over because of a knee injury, the Green Bay Packers had two other injury scares during their annual Family Night event at Lambeau Field.

Raji
One of them, to rookie tight end Colt Lyerla, was potentially serious.

On the other, to veteran nose tackle B.J. Raji, the Packers appear to have gotten lucky.

Packers coach Mike McCarthy decided not to scrimmage on Family Night, but rather just hold a regular training camp practice. There is no live tackling in McCarthy's practices.

Lyerla wouldn't specify his exact injury, but he had crutches in his locker. He would only call it a leg injury and when he was not using the crutches, he walked slowly and with a limp. The injury occurred on one of Lyerla's biggest -- and perhaps most unwise -- plays of training camp.

After he caught a pass from Matt Flynn, Lyerla hurdled cornerback Jumal Rolle and got drilled by cornerback Jarrett Bush before he hit the ground.

"I was just trying to make a play," Lyerla said.

Perhaps he felt he the need to do so after a slow start in his return to football after leaving the University of Oregon midway through last season.

"The first couple days were a little bit of a slow start but after Week 1, I feel like I've made a lot of leaps and bounds," said Lyerla, who was signed after a tryout in May.

Many in the crowd of 67,336 -- a Family Night record -- were probably holding their breath when Raji appeared to injury his right ankle. He did not return to the practice but afterward said he was only scheduled to play one more snap.

"I'm fine; I just got rolled up on in one of the passing drills," Raji said. "But after the initial shock of it, I was able to walk it off, and I felt like I'll be OK."

Raji said he expected to be able to practice when training camp resumes Monday.

McCarthy said he had no injury information.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Will Sullivan calls the drill Blood in the Water, and it does not matter whether you're Darrelle Revis or Davon House, the assignment is the same.

It's you against the receiver, mano a mano. Just you, him and the ball.

"If you get beat in the drill, you stay in there until you figure out what you did wrong and you make it right," said Sullivan, the overseer at Sullivan PROformance training center in Phoenix. "I don't care who you are.

[+] EnlargeGreen Bay's Davon House
Benny Sieu/USA TODAY Sports"I'm a lot more confident," Davon House said, "playing with more swagger I guess you could say, so it makes things a lot easier."
"So House comes in -- no one knows who he is -- and we keep him in the drill until he gets it right."

For three-and-a-half weeks last month before House returned for the start of his fourth NFL training camp with the Green Bay Packers, he worked out with Revis and nearly a dozen other college and NFL players under the guidance of Sullivan, who has been Revis' personal cornerback coach the last eight offseasons.

After training with Revis & Co., House has gotten it right on the Packers' practice field more often than not.

Take the two-minute drill during the Packers' training camp practice Wednesday. It was second-and-goal at the 1-yard line, and quarterback Aaron Rodgers made one of his favorite throws, the back-shoulder fade, to wide receiver Jordy Nelson.

House was there to break up the pass, but he might not have made the play two or three years ago.

"Two or three years ago? No," House said. “But now I'm a lot more confident, playing with a lot more swagger, I guess you could say, so it makes things a lot easier."

Confidence can be found in any number of places, but House found it on Revis Island.

"For me, he was just so patient," House said when asked what he learned from working out with Revis. "Just how patient and how balanced he was and how controlled he was. His confidence level is top-notch. I guess you could say kind of like how you see [Rodgers play quarterback], so smooth, and he makes everything look so easy. That's how Revis was."

The time with Revis and Sullivan might end up being a defining moment in House’s career.

"If he doesn't have his best year as a pro," Sullivan said in a phone interview, "I'd be surprised."

That does not mean House will become a Revis clone. In fact, Sullivan believes in teaching techniques designed to help a player excel in whatever scheme his respective team runs.

"It's not the 'Shutdown U' program where it's my way or the highway," Sullivan said. "It's my job to learn what is it that the Green Bay Packers are asking from House and what are the techniques that make him successful."

And House, according to Sullivan, soaked it up.

"I started calling him 'The Computer,'" Sullivan said. "I said, 'You're like a human computer because you process information very, very well.'"

This is not the first time House has started fast in training camp. A 2011 fourth-round draft pick, he was on his way to winning a starting job in his second season until he sustained a shoulder injury in the preseason opener at San Diego. He missed the rest of the preseason and the first six games of the regular season. By then, Sam Shields had taken hold of the job and has never relinquished it.

So far in camp, the 6-foot-1, 195-pound House has worked regularly as the No. 3 cornerback on the outside. Because he has not yet become versed in playing in the slot -- something he plans to work on with Sullivan in the future -- he's not an option as a nickelback or dime back. But his long, physical style lends itself well to covering the bigger outside receivers the Packers typically face in the NFC North, such as Detroit’s Calvin Johnson and Chicago's duo of Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery.

"Davon House is clearly having his best year here as a pro -- just what he's done in the offseason, some of the things he's focused on, things he knew he could improve on," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "You saw that since April. He's a big, long, strong corner. He does a lot of good things. I love that whole secondary, just our depth, competition. And I think Davon is off to an excellent start."

With House in the final year of his rookie contract, it's time for him to carry that to the regular season. If he does, he could be in line for a starting job next year if the Packers decide not to re-sign veteran Tramon Williams.

However, cornerback might be the deepest position on the roster with Williams, Shields, House, Casey Hayward, Jarrett Bush and rookie Demetri Goodson.

"So how do I get on the field?" House said. "Make plays. Catch picks. Should've done it last year."

Now, thanks in part to Sullivan and Revis, he believes he can.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Between now and the Green Bay Packers' first training camp practice Saturday, we will break down each position group.

Next up is cornerbacks.

Returning players: Sam Shields, Tramon Williams, Casey Hayward, Micah Hyde, Davon House, Jarrett Bush, Jumal Rolle, Antonio Dennard.

Gone from last season: James Nixon.

New this season: Demetri Goodson (sixth-round pick), Ryan White (undrafted rookie).

Position coach: Joe Whitt (sixth season, also spent one season as a defensive quality control coach).

Biggest issue: Halfway through last season, it was starting to look like Williams' days with the Packers -- at least under his current contract structure -- might be coming to an end. In the middle of his seventh NFL season, Williams' game had still not returned to its 2010 form, when he was a key player on the Super Bowl-winning defense. But over the course of the second half of the season, Williams closed with the kind of play that prompted the Packers to sign him to a four-year, $33 million contract extension in the first place. Williams now is in the final year of that contract and is slated to make $7.5 million this season. Although it's highly unlikely, if the Packers were to cut Williams before the season started they would remove his base salary of $6.9 million off their books and would have to count only $2 million of his remaining prorated signing bonus on their salary cap.

House
Player to watch: The last two offseasons have been the same for House. He has shown up big in practice, but those results have not transferred to the regular season. Once again this year, the former fourth-round pick has stood out in OTA and minicamp practices. Now entering the final year of his rookie contract, House must show that he can take the next step to warrant consistent playing time, another contract and possibly a shot at a starting job someday.

Medical report: On the eve of training camp last season, Hayward pulled his hamstring. He was never the same. He played in only three regular-season games last year before landing on injured reserve. He was a regular participant in the offseason practices this spring and has shown no signs that the hamstring will continue to be an issue.

Help wanted: The Packers want to get Hyde on the field as much as possible but with Hayward returning as the likely nickel defensive back and Shields and Williams seemingly entrenched as starters, his best chance might be at safety. Although he is still listed as a cornerback on the roster, Hyde spent most of this offseason playing safety, where he regularly lined up as a starter next to Morgan Burnett.

Quotable: "As a cornerback group, I believe we were eighth in the league in interceptions [last season] with nine," Whitt said. "In the [last] five years, I know we're No. 1. We've got to be top-five as a cornerback group in interceptions. I think we had nine last year; we need to be around 12. We just have to catch the football when it's thrown to us."

Previous installments

July 14: Quarterbacks

July 15: Running backs

July 16: Receivers

July 17: Tight ends

July 18: Offensive line

July 21: Defensive line

July 22: Linebackers
Examining the Green Bay Packers' roster:

Quarterbacks (3)
The Packers have not kept three quarterbacks on their opening-day roster since 2008, but they might be inclined to do so this season in order to avoid a situation like last year, when Rodgers broke his collarbone. Coach Mike McCarthy is high on Tolzien, who made two starts last season, but Flynn has proved he can win as a backup in Green Bay.

Running backs (4)

The return of Harris, who missed all of last season because of a knee injury, gives the Packers insurance behind Lacy and Starks. Kuhn is valuable both as a fullback and on special teams. It's possible they'll keep a fourth halfback, but the loss of Johnathan Franklin to a career-ending neck injury has left them without a strong in-house candidate for that spot.

Receivers (6)

The Packers often keep only five receivers, but given that they drafted three -- Adams (second round), Abbrederis (fifth round) and Janis (seventh round) -- there's a good chance they will keep six. Abbrederis and Janis will not only have to show they're better prospects than second-year pros Myles White and Chris Harper, but they also could help themselves if they can return kicks.

Tight ends (4)

McCarthy likes tight ends (he has kept five before), and the wild card is undrafted rookie Colt Lyerla.

Offensive linemen (8)

The Packers typically only activate seven offensive linemen on game day, so they can get away with keeping just eight on the roster. Barclay's ability to play all five positions also allows them some freedom. Lane Taylor could be the ninth lineman if they go that route.

Defensive line (7)

Worthy and Guion have work to do to make the roster, but there's room for them if you count Julius Peppers and Mike Neal among the outside linebackers, which is where they lined up more often in the offseason.

Linebackers (8)

There will be some tough cuts here. Second-year pros Nate Palmer and Andy Mulumba both played last year as rookie outside linebackers. It also may be tough for highly touted undrafted rookie Adrian Hubbard to make it.

Cornerbacks (6)

Hayward's return from last season's hamstring injury means he likely will return as the slot cornerback in the nickel package, a role played last year by Micah Hyde (who may primarily play safety this year).

Safeties (4)

The major question here is whether Hyde or Clinton-Dix will be the starter alongside Burnett. Chris Banjo, who played primarily on special teams last season, might be the odd man out.

Specialists (3)

There's no competition at any of these spots.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- After looking at the Green Bay Packers' offensive depth chart on Monday, it's time to take a look at the defensive side of the ball.

Remember, 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.

Defensive line: Ends -- Datone Jones, Josh Boyd, Khyri Thornton, Jerel Worthy, Carlos Gray, Luther Robinson. Tackles -- B.J. Raji, Mike Daniels, Letroy Guion, Mike Pennel.

Notes: Raji, who returned on a one-year, $4 million contract, will move back to nose tackle in the base 3-4 defense. Defensive coordinator Dom Capers plans to pair Jones and Daniels together as the inside rushers in nickel and dime situations. Guion should provide some run-stopping bulk up front that was lost when the Packers chose not to re-sign Ryan Pickett and Johnny Jolly.

Outside linebackers: Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers, Mike Neal, Nick Perry, Carl Bradford, Andy Mulumba, Nate Palmer, Adrian Hubbard, Jayrone Elliott, Shaun Lewis.

Notes: The Packers plan to move around Peppers, but he played almost exclusively out of a two-point stance during OTAs and minicamp practices that were open. Matthews and Perry did not practice all offseason because of lingering injuries. Bradford, a fourth-round pick, flashed some pass-rush ability, while undrafted rookie Hubbard brings some added size (6-foot-6, 257 pounds) to the position.

Inside linebackers: A.J. Hawk, Brad Jones, Jamari Lattimore, Sam Barrington, Jake Doughty, Joe Thomas.

Notes: Linebackers coach Winston Moss insisted this offseason that Brad Jones remains one of the two starters despite an inconsistent 2013 season, and there was nothing in the offseason practices to suggest Jones' job is in jeopardy. However, the Packers want to get Lattimore more involved, so look for them to carve out a role for him.

Cornerbacks: Sam Shields, Tramon Williams, Casey Hayward, Davon House, Jarrett Bush, Demetri Goodson, Ryan White, Jumal Rolle.

Notes: The importance of Hayward's return from the hamstring injury that limited him to just three games last season was evident during minicamp, when the third-year cornerback picked off a pass in the end zone. The Packers remain high on House, who stepped in for Shields in the playoff game against the 49ers and performed well. Goodson, a sixth-round pick, brings athleticism to the group.

Safeties: Morgan Burnett, Micah Hyde, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Sean Richardson, Chris Banjo, Charles Clay, Tanner Miller.

Notes: Hyde, who played as a slot cornerback last season as a rookie, has looked natural in his conversion to safety and played ahead of Clinton-Dix, the first-round pick, with the defensive starters. Richardson also had a strong offseason.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Here's a look at what stood out from the Green Bay Packers' minicamp practice on Thursday:

1. Veterans gone: For the final practice of the team's mandatory minicamp, coach Mike McCarthy excused all veterans with five or more years of experience. Without the 16 players that fit into that category, it gave the rookies and younger players more reps than they had received at any point previously in the offseason. But it meant this week's mandatory minicamp was essentially one day of football for the full squad because the Packers spent Wednesday at their annual team-building event, which this year was bowling.

"A lot of younger players got a lot of reps today that did not have the opportunity in the other practices," McCarthy said Thursday.

2. Tolzien shines: With Aaron Rodgers and Matt Flynn among those excused from practice, it gave young quarterbacks Scott Tolzien and Chase Rettig the chance to run the offense. For Tolzien, it was his first time getting starter reps since the weeks leading up to his two starts last season against the Giants and Vikings. Tolzien looked especially sharp in the red zone. On consecutive plays, he threw short touchdowns to his former University Wisconsin teammate Jared Abbrederis and tight end Brandon Bostick. The throw to Bostick was a perfectly thrown fade in the left corner of the end zone.

"I think any time that guys are relying on you and you're the first guy in the huddle, that's a big chance for you," Tolzien said. "But at the same time it shouldn't really change how you are. You should prepare like a starter every day."

3. Rettig's reps: Any reps for Rettig would have been more than normal given that the fourth quarterback on the depth chart rarely gets any work during team periods, so Thursday was big for the undrafted rookie from Boston College. There's no guarantee the Packers will take four quarterbacks to camp, but Rettig helped his cause with a few nice throws. He hit tight end Ryan Taylor in stride on a seam route and also connected with receiver Kevin Dorsey and tight end Richard Rodgers.

4. Changing duties: At one point during position drills, defensive line coach Mike Trgovac worked with the offensive linemen. A few yards away, offensive line coach James Campen ran the defensive line drill. That was something new this offseason, but it makes senses that a defensive line coach could give pointers to offensive linemen and vice versa.

5. Bradford's bat down: Rookie outside linebacker Carl Bradford made perhaps the most impressive defensive play of the practice when he batted down a pass attempt by Rettig on a two-point conversion try. The fourth-round pick from Arizona State showed his athletic ability by leaping and swatting the ball away with two hands.

6. Changing of the guard: With starting guards T.J. Lang and Josh Sitton among the veterans excused from practice, Don Barclay and Lane Taylor worked with the No. 1 offensive line. Barclay played left guard, while Taylor lined up on the right side. It showed how committed the Packers are to leaving Derek Sherrod at left tackle. As a rookie in 2011, Sherrod battled Lang for a starting job at guard. Instead, he remained as the backup left tackle.

7. Roll call, part 1: The 16 veterans excused on Thursday were: kicker Mason Crosby, cornerback Jarrett Bush, fullback John Kuhn, cornerback Tramon Williams, linebacker A.J. Hawk, linebacker Clay Matthews, linebacker/defensive end Julius Peppers, linebacker Brad Jones, long snapper Brett Goode, receiver Jordy Nelson, defensive tackle B.J. Raji, defensive tackle Letroy Guion, Flynn, Rodgers, Lang and Sitton.

8. Roll call, part 2: The following players attended practice but did not participate: receiver Chris Harper, cornerback Jumal Rolle, linebacker Nick Perry, tight end Andrew Quarless and defensive end Jerel Worthy. Running back Johnathan Franklin, who will be waived/injured on Friday because of a career-ending neck injury, was not present.
Each week, I ask for questions via Twitter with the hashtag #PackersMail and then answer the best ones. Here's the latest edition, which comes after the Green Bay Packers' rookie orientation camp over the weekend:

Demovsky: Having only gotten the chance to spend a couple of days around the rookies during last weekend's orientation camp, it's hard to gauge where the rookies are at in terms of their readiness to compete. But there were several who made a good first impression, especially from a personality standpoint. Sometimes, it's easier to get a read on a player's personality than his football ability during the rookie camp because the brand of football is so new to them. In that regard, it was hard not to be impressed by how second-round pick Davante Adams comes across. He was very much a look-you-in-the-eye kind of guy. So was sixth-round pick Demetri Goodson. Maybe that won't mean much when the pads go on, but I'll be especially interested in seeing how both of those guys progress just because they seemed outgoing and ready for what's ahead.

Demovsky: It's not the only way to measure what the team thinks of an undrafted rookie but you can tell a little bit about who the top ones are coming in based on the size of their signing bonuses. Last year, offensive lineman Lane Taylor got the largest signing bonus ($7,000) among the Packers' undrafted rookies and sure enough he made the team. This year, the top bonus was $5,000, and five players got that. Four of them -- Utah State's Jake Doughty, Toledo's Jayrone Elliott, Alabama's Adrian Hubbard and South Carolina State's Joe Thomas -- were linebackers. The other was Washington State guard John Fullington.

Demovsky: It's hard enough for late-round draft picks and undrafted free agents to make a 53-man roster, so imagine how much more difficult it is for a guy who comes into the NFL with only the promise of a two-day tryout? That said, Colt Lyerla's situation is not the norm. From a pure talent level, he probably would have been at least a mid-round pick if not higher. But his highly-publicized off-the-field issues scared everyone away. If Lyerla even makes it to training camp and if he can stay out of trouble, he's got a chance. How good? It still has to be considered a long shot.

Demovsky: The easy answer is we'll see in Week 1 at Seattle. And at this point, that may be the only answer that we're able to give because there are too many ifs at this point. If Ha Ha Clinton-Dix becomes the play-making safety the secondary needs, if Julius Peppers adds a spark to the pass rush, if second-year defensive end Datone Jones makes a big jump … You get the idea. The Packers need those ifs to turn into certainties in order for anyone to even begin to think they have closed that gap.

Demovsky: I wouldn't count on that, especially if they are as committed to their special teams as they say they are. Plus, Jarrett Bush probably had his best season on defense in 2013. He does have the third-highest salary-cap number ($2.033 million) among the Packers' cornerbacks this season, but that's not prohibitive from keeping him for another year.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Since 2010, when Julius Peppers arrived in Chicago, only two NFC North players have more sacks than him.

Peppers
Matthews
One of them is now his teammate.

That means the Green Bay Packers -- with the addition of Peppers -- have two of the top-three pass rushers in the division. Since Peppers' first season in the division, only Jared Allen, who left the Minnesota Vikings to sign with the Chicago Bears in free agency this offseason, has more sacks among NFC North players than Clay Matthews and his new teammate, Peppers (see accompanying chart).

The partnership between Matthews and Peppers should be mutually beneficial.

From Matthews' standpoint, he believes it will mean fewer double teams.

"This guy's (6-foot-7), 290 (pounds); I'm 6-4 on a good day and 255," Matthews said during a recent interview with USA Today. "They're going to double the big guy, and that leaves plenty of opportunities for me. I haven't had too many one-on-one opportunities, and when you do, you're expected to win -- at least in our locker room -- the majority of the time, because that's supposed to be a mismatch."

Matthews expects to be fully recovered from his second thumb injury -- the two of which kept him out of six games last season (including the playoff loss to the San Francisco 49ers).

With Peppers and Matthews, the possibilities for defensive coordinator Dom Capers are many. He could line them up on the same side of the formation, forcing a guard or tight end to block one of them. He could separate them, leaving a dominant pass-rusher on each side. Or he could rush one or both of them from the inside.

"I'm excited about it," Matthews said. "Most people are curious as to how they're going to use him in a 3-4 scheme, but I don't think it matters. I think you line him up on the field in a zero-, one-, three-, five-, seven-, nine-technique -- he's going to get attention, and he's going to get double teams. It's going to create opportunities for one of us on the field to have our one-on-one matchups, and that's where that person needs to win."

Even if Peppers can only repeat his performance from last season, when he posted seven sacks, that would be more than any Packers' defensive lineman posted last season. Mike Daniels was tops with 6.5 sacks.

The Packers want to expand Daniels’ role this season and also hope to get more production from B.J. Raji, who will move back to nose tackle. They also plan to use Nick Perry and Mike Neal the same way they will use Peppers -- as a multi-position player they are calling the elephant spot.

"I think he's going to give teams a lot of trouble, especially with Clay, Nick Perry, Mike Neal, Mike Daniels," Packers cornerback Jarrett Bush said this week. "Within also the D-line, they can't just double Clay anymore, so he's going to wreak havoc over there. I played with him in Carolina before I came here to the Packers, so I got to see his ability over there in Carolina. He's definitely a force to be reckoned with. I think with Clay and the whole gang, I think we'll be a championship caliber team."

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