Green Bay Packers: Jordy Nelson

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- If the Seattle Seahawks think they have the Green Bay Packers' no-huddle offense figured out from watching Aaron Rodgers run it last Saturday at the St. Louis Rams, they should think again.

According to several Packers' players and coaches, the hand signals they are using in the preseason are nothing like what they will use to combat the noise when the regular season opens in the Pacific Northwest on Sept. 4.

"It's really geared towards our first game," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "So you don't want to show a whole lot. I think our players, particularly, on offense have done a great job with communication. No-huddle is a big part of what we do. To have a set of signals for preseason and a whole different set for the regular season, this is really the first year we've done that. So, we just have a lot more going on."

The reason for the different hand signals is two-fold:

1. The Packers want to keep the Seahawks guessing.

2. They believe several of the players they cut in their roster reduction at the end of camp may be picked up by other teams on their schedule.

"It's tough, especially when you play in a no-huddle situation," quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt said. "You have 90 guys in camp but 53 are going to be around so, obviously, some people aren't going to be here. You try to have the second group of signals ready to go. Use the ones we use in camp then say, 'All right, guys, let's wipe the slate and here's the new set.' That's part of dealing with crowd noise is having the ability to change signals. Maybe one week the signal is 'this,' and the next week the same signal becomes the double move off of that. Just try to keep the defense guessing."

While much of the talk this offseason has been about what new wrinkles defensive coordinator Dom Capers may throw at the Seahawks that they have never seen from the Packers before, there's also plenty McCarthy wants to be a surprise from Rodgers & Co. That's why at the start of practice, when the defense is outside going through its pre-practice walk-through, the offense works behind the closed doors of the Don Hutson Center.

"It's the same offense; it's just different plays," receiver Jordy Nelson said. "It's nothing difficult. It's just plays that, as I said, us older guys have seen every play in the book. There's just plays that we'll probably run more throughout the season than what we'll run in the preseason. Preseason games are very vanilla and watered down. We're just getting more into those plays that might be deeper in the playbook. It's nothing difficult."
Jeff JanisJasen Vinlove/USA TODAY SportsJeff Janis turned a short reception into a 34-yard touchdown scamper Saturday.
On the eve of what would be his first NFL game, Saturday's preseason affair against the St. Louis Rams, rookie receiver Jeff Janis could not help but think about his father.

As the Green Bay Packers' seventh-round pick sat in his St. Louis hotel room and prepared for his debut, Janis knew it was the anniversary of his dad's death. Christopher Janis died on that day, four years earlier, of liver cancer.



So forgive the 23-year-old if he got emotional one day later in front of 55,072 people at the Edward Jones Dome.

For it was his father who entered his thoughts as soon as he realized what he had just done the first time he caught the ball in a professional game on Saturday. After Janis grabbed a short crossing route from quarterback Matt Flynn in the third quarter, he flashed the speed that allowed him to run a 4.42-second 40-yard dash at the combine (only three receivers ran faster in Indianapolis this year). He turned down the left sideline and outran safety Christian Bryant to the end zone.

Then, in his words, he "kind of blacked out. It was pretty exciting."

And in an instant, it hit him.

"I think I had a pretty good guardian angel over me today," Janis said. "I'm just glad everything happened the way it did."

For Janis, it may have sealed his spot on the Packers' opening-day roster. After missing the first seven practices because of a case of shingles, which was diagnosed on the eve of training camp, Janis returned to the field with a flurry. On his first day as a full participant, he snagged a one-handed catch for a touchdown over cornerback Sam Shields. From there, not a practice went by that Janis didn't make an eye-catching play.

But he still needed to do it in a game.

Coach Mike McCarthy held out Janis from the preseason opener at Tennessee, so Saturday's game against the Rams was his first chance to show that his small-school success at Saginaw Valley State and practice-field production would translate to a game.

"It was great to get Jeff out there finally," McCarthy said. "It was great experience for him, and he continues to do something every day. That's something that you look for.”

The next step will be to do it with the starters and against an opponent's starters. That chance could come against the Oakland Raiders on Friday, when McCarthy likely will play quarterback Aaron Rodgers for more than just the two series he did against the Rams.

But the 6-foot-3 Janis already has captured his teammates' attention.

"He's made a few plays," Rodgers said. "He's athletic. He's fast. He ran his route, caught a ball and outran everybody today. When you're playing against the first string, you have to run crisp routes and make the plays that are there, so plays like today help him out confidence-wise for sure. He did it in practice last week. Coming back from his ailment, he did a nice job for us."

Said Jordy Nelson: "Janis obviously showed his speed tonight. I was very impressed. He got up the sideline."

Halfway through the preseason, Janis might be the leading contender for the fifth receiver spot behind Nelson, Randall Cobb, Jarrett Boykin and second-round pick Davante Adams, who had two catches for 28 yards against the Rams. Janis also got three chances as a punt returner. He had two fair catches and one return for 9 yards.

But Janis wasn't thinking about roster spots or depth charts after Saturday's game. This was a day for him and his dad.

"He's just probably got a big grin on his face, and he's just as excited as I am," Janis said.
Mike McCarthy wanted to see more big plays from the Green Bay Packers in their second preseason game Saturday at St. Louis.

He came away from the 21-7 victory over the Rams at the Edward Jones Dome feeling like the Packers did that.

Among the things that would fit into the big-play category were:

    [+] EnlargeLacy
    AP Photo/Scott KaneEddie Lacy contributed his share of production Saturday for the Packers, but the team output could've been much greater if not for penalties.
  • A total of 279 yards passing by his top-three quarterbacks -- Aaron Rodgers (11-of-13 for 128 yards), Scott Tolzien (10-of-15 for 107 yards) and Matt Flynn (2-of-3 for 44 yards and a touchdown pass) -- who combined for a 122.9 passer rating.
  • Runs of at least 10 yards by three running backs -- Eddie Lacy (with a long run of 13 yards), DuJuan Harris (10) and LaDarius Perkins (14).
  • Catches of 14 yards or more by seven players -- Andrew Quarless (with long reception of 35 yards), Jeff Janis (34), Michael Hill (27), Randall Cobb (22), Kevin Dorsey (18), Lacy (18) and Davante Adams (14).
  • Seven sacks, including three in a four-play stretch in the fourth quarter by rookie outside linebacker Jayrone Elliott.

"I thought our big-play production as a football team was very high," McCarthy said after the game.

But he also knows his team lost out on several other potential big plays because of penalties. In a game that featured 22 accepted penalties for 171 yards, the Packers committed 12 of them for 95 yards.

Four of those flags nullified potential impact plays. They were:

  • An illegal use of hands on starting left tackle David Bakhtiari in the second quarter on what would have been a 10-yard touchdown pass from Rodgers to Jordy Nelson. Instead, the Packers were forced to replay third down, and Rodgers couldn't connect with Quarless so settled for a field goal.
  • An illegal use of hands on backup center Corey Linsley in the third quarter that wiped out a 4-yard touchdown pass from Tolzien to Myles White. The Packers did not get any points on that drive after McCarthy decided to let the offense try to convert the next two plays. In a meaningful game, McCarthy would have taken the three points.
  • An illegal use of hands on backup defensive Carlos Gray in the fourth quarter that took away an interception by safety Chris Banjo. On his pass rush, Gray knocked off the helmet of a Rams' lineman.
  • A pass interference on starting cornerback Sam Shields in the second quarter on a third-down incompletion that would have forced the Rams to punt. Instead, they continued the drive and turned it into their only touchdown.

The Packers spent three days with an NFL officiating crew during the first week of training camp, so they know what is being emphasized this season. Still, Rodgers called all the flags "way over the top."

"Especially after a big play, you're always looking back to see if there's a penalty out there," Rodgers said. "We don't want to get down that road too far. Hopefully, it's the preseason, and they're working their kinks out as well."
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers wanted to stay healthy, and he wanted to lead a touchdown drive.

He did both in his preseason debut Saturday afternoon in St. Louis.

In fact, Rodgers nearly had two touchdown drives, but his second was wiped out by a penalty.

After sitting out the preseason opener at the Tennessee Titans a week earlier, Rodgers completed 11 of 13 passes for 128 yards and one touchdown (a 3-yarder to Randall Cobb on a classic Rodgers play in which he moved out of the pocket to buy more time). On Rodgers' second -- and final -- series, he thought he had a 10-yard touchdown pass to Jordy Nelson on a comeback route, but it was called back because of a penalty on left tackle David Bakhtiari, forcing the Packers to settle for a field goal.

Rodgers led a pair of 12-play drives and when he came out, the Packers had a 10-0 lead and went on to a 21-7 victory over the St. Louis Rams at the Edward Jones Dome. The Packers evened their preseason record at 1-1 heading into Friday's game against the Oakland Raiders at Lambeau Field.

Here are some other thoughts on the Packers' second preseason game of the season:
  • The game's opening drive was the perfect example of how coach Mike McCarthy wants to play. In the no-huddle offense, McCarthy did not make any substitutions and kept things moving quickly. That meant plenty of touches for running back Eddie Lacy, who had five carries for 25 yards and two catches for 22 yards. He stayed on the field for the only third down on the drive.
  • Outside linebacker Julius Peppers, who admitted he did not get much done in his 10-snap Packers debut against the Titans, had a tackle for loss on Rams running back Zac Stacy for a 2-yard loss and also had a hit on quarterback Sam Bradford in which Peppers beat rookie tackle Greg Robinson, the second overall pick in the draft.
  • After a slow start in large part because of shoddy pass protection by backup tackles Derek Sherrod and Aaron Adams plus a lost fumble by running back DuJuan Harris, backup quarterback Scott Tolzien got into a rhythm and put together a good drive in the third quarter. He hit rookie Davante Adams for a pair of 14-yard completions on a drive that ended after a failed fourth-and-goal play from the 5-yard line. However, Tolzien had a 4-yard touchdown pass to Myles White taken away because of an illegal hands to the face penalty on backup center Corey Linsley. Tolzien, who replaced Rodgers, finished 10-of-15 for 107 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions before giving way to Matt Flynn midway through the third quarter.
  • Sherrod struggled after a solid showing against the Titans. He allowed at least two quarterback hits in the first half and then gave up a sack to Rams rookie Michael Sam in the fourth quarter.
  • In his preseason debut, rookie seventh-round receiver Jeff Janis showed off his 4.42-second 40-yard dash speed. He caught a short crossing route and turned it up the field for a 34-yard touchdown from Flynn in the third quarter.
  • Undrafted rookie defensive tackle Mike Pennel helped his bid for a roster spot. He spun away from a double team in the second quarter and sacked Rams backup quarterback Shaun Hill in the second quarter. Mike Neal slowed down Hill to allow Pennel to make the play.
  • Another undrafted rookie, outside linebacker Jayrone Elliott, made quite the impression with three sacks in a four-play stretch in the fourth quarter. The last one was a strip-sack of quarterback Austin Davis.
  • The only injury announced during the game was to tight end Brandon Bostick (lower leg), who did not return. Bostick finished last season on injured reserve after he broke his foot.

W2W4: Green Bay Packers

August, 16, 2014
Aug 16
12:00
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The Green Bay Packers (0-1) play their second preseason game Saturday against the St. Louis Rams (0-1) at the Edward Jones Dome. Kickoff is at 4 p.m. ET.

Here are three things to watch:

1. Back in action: After sitting out the preseason opener at Nashville this past Saturday, quarterback Aaron Rodgers will make his preseason debut. He's expected to play a few series in this game and a few more in the third preseason game against the Oakland Raiders on Aug. 22 and then likely won't play in the finale against the Kansas City Chiefs six days later. Running back Eddie Lacy and receiver Jordy Nelson also did not play against the Titans. Lacy was held out as a coach's decision, while Nelson had a hamstring injury. Both appear likely to play against the Rams. When asked whether it was important to get Rodgers playing time with Lacy and Nelson, coach Mike McCarthy said: "You want everybody to play. It's not just two guys."

2. More from Peppers: Julius Peppers admitted he "did not get much done" in his preseason debut with the Packers last week. He played only 10 snaps but did not make any impact plays. He is expected to see more playing against the Rams. The preseason might not seem important to a 34-year-old, 13-year veteran, but given that Peppers is playing a new position (outside linebacker) in a new scheme, surely the Packers would like to see him make a few plays. "It matters, it matters," Peppers said of the preseason. "We all are going to need these reps to get ready for the season, which is going to be upon us pretty soon. It's a chance to get better. We have a couple more opportunities to try to accomplish those goals."

3. Do it for real: McCarthy said it best this week when asked about rookie receiver Jeff Janis, saying he has "made a play every day he's been out there." It's time to see whether the rookie seventh-round pick from Saginaw Valley State can do it in a game. Janis was held out of the preseason opener because he had only a week of practice under his belt after missing the first seven practices because of a case of shingles. However, he has been impressive in practice, catching difficult passes against some of the Packers' top cornerbacks. "The biggest thing for me is just making the play whenever it comes my way," Janis said. "That's what I've been trying to do lately. So that's what's most important to me." Janis is locked in a battle for one of the last receiver spots with the likes of Kevin Dorsey, Alex Gillett, Chris Harper, Gerrard Sheppard and Myles White.
GREEN BAY, Wis. – It's the time of the NFL year for odds and predictions, and here are some of note involving the Green Bay Packers.

They are courtesy of the online sportsbook, Bovada.LV.

Who will lead the NFL in passing yards?
Drew Brees: 11/4
Peyton Manning: 11/4
Aaron Rodgers: 7/1
Matthew Stafford: 15/2
Tom Brady: 12/1

Who will lead the NFL in rushing yards?
Adrian Peterson: 4/1
LeSean McCoy: 9/2
Jamaal Charles: 7/1
Marshawn Lynch: 12/1
Arian Foster: 16/1
Alfred Morris: 16/1
Matt Forte: 18/1
Eddie Lacy: 18/1

Who will lead the NFL in receiving yards?
Calvin Johnson: 13/5
Dez Bryant: 15/2
Julio Jones: 8/1
Demaryius Thomas: 8/1
Antonio Brown: 16/1
A.J. Green: 16/1
Brandon Marshall: 16/1
Alshon Jeffery: 20/1
Andre Johnson: 25/1
Jordy Nelson: 28/1
Others – Randall Cobb: 50/1

Who will win comeback player of the year?
Robert Griffin III: 5/1
Aaron Rodgers: 6/1
Julio Jones: 6/1
Others – Clay Matthews: 25/1

Packers Camp Report: Day 13

August, 12, 2014
Aug 12
7:30
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GREEN BAY, Wis. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Green Bay Packers training camp:
  • Rookie seventh-round receiver Jeff Janis continues to impress. Even though he had his first drop of camp on Tuesday in the two-minute drill, Janis made another eye-catching grab, laying out to catch a deep post from Aaron Rodgers during a team period. It followed a one-handed catch for a touchdown last week and a twisting catch in practice on Monday. It has been a remarkable return from shingles, which caused the seventh-round pick from Saginaw Valley State to miss the first seven training camp practices. "Jeff Janis has made a play every day he's been out there," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said after Tuesday's practice. "He made another big play today. He looks good. Hopefully, we can get him fully cleared by the medical staff for Saturday night [against the St. Louis Rams]. I really like what he's done so far."
  • Another receiver fighting for a roster spot came back after a bad day. Second-year pro Kevin Dorsey, who dropped two passes on Monday, made a difficult catch on a crossing route with cornerback Sam Shields in tight coverage.
  • Quarterback Scott Tolzien got to run the two-minute drill but could not lead a touchdown drive. Trailing by 28-24 with 1:31 on the clock and no timeouts starting at the 35-yard line, Tolzien drove the No. 3 offense to the 9-yard line with 6 seconds left. Tolzien got off two plays but couldn't finish either one. On third down, he went to Chris Harper on a corner route but safety Charles Clay broke it up. On fourth down, he rolled to his right and went to Harper again but could not connect.
  • Receiver Jordy Nelson returned to practice on Tuesday after sitting out Saturday's preseason opener at Tennessee because of a hamstring injury. Nelson did not practice Monday but was cleared to work on a limited basis.
  • Rookie safety Tanner Miller, who has been out since the first week of camp because of an ankle injury, returned to practice. The undrafted free agent from Iowa broke up a Rodgers pass intended for Randall Cobb.
  • Defensive end Josh Boyd (ribs) also returned. He missed only one day.
  • The Packers were not in pads, but McCarthy said that was the plan all along.
  • Those who did not practice were: receiver Davante Adams (wrist), running back Rajion Neal (knee), tight end Colt Lyerla (knee), linebacker Joe Thomas (knee), guard/tackle Don Barclay (knee), receiver Jared Abbrederis (knee), defensive tackle Letroy Guion (hamstring) and defensive end Jerel Worthy (back).
  • Lyerla said the second opinion he got on on his knee last week confirmed what he suspected: that he likely will miss the remainder of the preseason. Although he would not get into details about the injury, the rookie free agent said he will not require surgery but the healing time will make it nearly impossible for him to participate in any of the preseason games. The Packers will have to decide whether to place him on injured reserve or come to an injury settlement if he's not healthy by Week 1. "I don’t think I'll really find anything out until the cut day," he said.
  • The next practice is Wednesday at 11:45 a.m. local time. It is the last open practice of the week.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- They're taking water breaks and serving snacks during training camp practices. They're using a GPS system to monitor players' movements.

They changed their practice plan, flip-flopping their Friday-Saturday in-season schedule, and even within those individual practices they moved drills that used to be at the beginning to the end, and vice versa.

All for one reason: To reduce the injuries that have befallen the Green Bay Packers in recent years.

And what good has it done?

They already have lost two players -- rookie receiver Jared Abbrederis and offensive lineman Don Barclay -- who almost certainly would have been on the opening day roster. Both suffered torn anterior cruciate ligaments within the first two weeks of practice.

Some injuries -- no matter what the training staff does to keep players energized for practice and regardless of how coach Mike McCarthy designs his schedule -- just have to be chalked up to bad luck.

"Watch either one of those things as it happened, it wouldn't give any sort of indication that it was going to be a bad deal," Packers general manger Ted Thompson said. "It's just the way it turned out."

But so far in camp, the number of missed practices due to muscle or fatigue-related injuries has been low. A year after hamstring pulls were the order of camp, the only serious muscle pull in the first two weeks was an oblique strain suffered by starting strong safety Morgan Burnett.

THREE REASONS FOR OPTIMISM

[+] EnlargeAaron Rodgers
Benny Sieu/USA TODAY SportsA rejuvenated Aaron Rodgers is showing no aftereffects -- so far -- of last season's broken collarbone.
1. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers turned 30 in December and is coming off the worst injury of his career (a broken collarbone), but you would never know it by watching him now. He has been humming along in training camp as well as he ever has. His command of the offense is so great that McCarthy has been able to cut several practices short because they have not been forced to repeat plays ruined by mental errors. Rodgers reported to camp about 11 pounds lighter than he was last season, thanks to a combination of workouts (which included yoga) and diet.

2. If there's such a thing as a distraction-free training camp, this has been it. They addressed their No. 1 contract concern by signing receiver Jordy Nelson to a four-year, $39 million extension on the morning camp opened. A few days later, they locked up Thompson with a multiyear extension and said McCarthy would be next. And perhaps they have finally put any bad vibes from Brett Favre behind them when they announced last week that their former quarterback will have his number retired next summer, when he also will be inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame. All of that has allowed the team to focus on its preparation without anything getting in the way.

3. The biggest area of concern last year, the safety position, now may be one their strengths. Micah Hyde's switch from cornerback has gone better than expected, and first-round draft pick Ha Ha Clinton-Dix looks game-ready. Then there's third-year safety Sean Richardson, who has made perhaps more big plays in practice than anyone on defense. If Burnett comes back soon from his oblique strain -- and finally starts to perform like the Pro Bowl-caliber player they thought he was when they gave him a four-year, $24.75 million extension last summer -- then there should not be any concerns.

THREE REASONS FOR PESSIMISM

1. The Packers still do not know -- and may not know for a while -- whether JC Tretter can handle the starting center job. After a rough start to training camp, the second-year pro seemed to settle into the position and was solid in the preseason opener. But given the opener is at the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks in perhaps the loudest stadium in the league, there's probably nothing that can prepare Tretter for what he will have to deal with in Week 1.

2. As good as the Packers feel about Nelson, receiver Randall Cobb and running back Eddie Lacy, they don't have many other proven weapons for Rodgers. No one from the tight end group has emerged as the favorite to replace Jermichael Finley, although Andrew Quarless, Brandon Bostick and rookie Richard Rodgers have had their moments (both good and bad). And among the receivers, Jarrett Boykin has been no better than average in his quest to replace James Jones as the No. 3 receiver. Every time it looks like rookie Davante Adams may take that job from Boykin, he drops a ball.

3. Outside linebacker Clay Matthews participated in every practice during the first two weeks but still is not ready to proclaim his twice-broken right thumb 100 percent. Perhaps it's more of a mental hurdle for Matthews, but he needs to be able to use his hand without restrictions in order to return to his Pro Bowl level. It's hard to tell if Matthews is babying the injury, but in the first two weeks of practice, he took only two reps in the one-on-one pass-rushing drill and lost both. He played a few snaps early in the preseason opener against the Titans and did not seem to have any issues.

[+] EnlargeB.J. Raji
AP Photo/Morry GashB.J. Raji, back at nose tackle after spending last season at defensive end, has had an impressive camp.
OBSERVATION DECK

  • B.J. Raji looks re-energized after moving back to nose tackle. He signed just a one-year contract (worth $4 million) after the free-agent market proved soft, and might be motivated by another chance to test free agency next offseason.
  • Defensive coordinator Dom Capers is preparing second-year pro Datone Jones for a big role. Last year as a rookie, the first-round pick played almost exclusively in the sub packages and hardly ever played in the base 3-4 defense. Now, Jones has been penciled in as a starting defensive end while also playing as an inside rusher in the nickel and dime defenses.
  • If there's a high draft pick who might struggle to get on the field early in the season, it's perhaps third-round defensive tackle Khyri Thornton. Much like defensive end Josh Boyd last season, Thornton might not be ready for playing time from the get-go. Last season, Boyd was inactive for the first five games and seven of the first nine before he found a role.
  • The same could be said for fourth-round pick Carl Bradford. The outside linebacker from Arizona State has struggled to make many impact plays.
  • Last year, safety Chris Banjo was signed a few days into training camp and made the team. Receiver Gerrard Sheppard has a chance to do something similar. He was claimed off waivers from the Baltimore Ravens five days after camp opened and has made some impressive catches.

Packers Camp Report: Day 12

August, 11, 2014
Aug 11
8:00
PM ET
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.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Rajion Neal did exactly what Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy wanted someone to do in Saturday's preseason opener against the Tennessee Titans: The rookie running back got the attention of the coaches.

He did so by rushing for 39 yards on just five carries, including a 12-yard touchdown run in which he ran over a Titans defender at the goal line in the third quarter. And then without a moment's notice, his night ended when he took a blow to the knee at the end of his 22-yard kickoff return in the fourth quarter.

The undrafted rookie from the University of Tennessee did not practice on Monday, when a pair of crutches were propped up against his locker. Walking without the crutches, Neal vowed to return quickly, perhaps even for preseason game No. 2 at St. Louis on Saturday.

"I've got to play; there ain't no way around it," Neal said. "Being in the position I'm in, I can't afford it."

There's no denying his position improved based on his performance against the Titans. The 5-foot-11, 220-pound Neal had shown signs of that kind of ability during the first two weeks of practice and validated it when he averaged 7.8 yards per carry in his preseason debut.

Neal still faces a difficult task to make the team given the depth the Packers have in front of him with Eddie Lacy, James Starks and DuJuan Harris, but at the very least he has caught the attention of McCarthy, who said last week that he wanted players to "jump out" against the Titans.

"I thought he ran strong," McCarthy said Monday. "I thought he did a nice job running his course. Obviously, you like the finish on the touchdown run. I thought he played very well."

He also got the attention of teammates like Aaron Rodgers and Jordy Nelson.

"Aaron and Jordy and all those guys gave me handshakes and told me they like the way I run," Neal said. "So it was definitely a moment you'll remember, and it felt good."

The Packers don't think Neal will be out for long. He said his knee is sore but otherwise sustained no other damage. He has three more preseason games to make his mark, and he intends to be ready.

"There's still a whole lot to prove and a lot more fun to be had," Neal said. "So I'm looking forward to it."
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The last time Jordy Nelson had a hamstring injury, he missed four games.

Nelson
Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy does not think his star receiver has anything anywhere near as problematic this time.

"I think it's day to day," McCarthy said.

But Nelson did not practice on Monday, and it became clear why he was held out of the preseason opener at Tennessee two days earlier. Unlike quarterback Aaron Rodgers and running back Eddie Lacy, who were held out by McCarthy, Nelson was not a healthy scratch.

According to McCarthy, Nelson also did not participate in the team's closed practice on Friday.

Nelson attended practice on Monday but did not participate. Near the end of the session, he did some leg exercises off to the side.

He made only a brief appearance in the locker room and when asked about his hamstring, he said: "I told you I was fine two years ago."

Except that he wasn't, which makes Nelson's comment Monday rather ambiguous.

In 2012, Nelson pulled a hamstring in practice leading up to the Week 8 game against Jacksonville. He did not play against the Jaguars but returned to start the next four games only to re-injure his hamstring in Week 13 against Minnesota. He missed the next three games.

After signing Nelson to a four-year, $39 million contract extension last month, the Packers will want to make sure Nelson does not have a recurrence of the injury like he did in 2012.

Last season, Nelson missed all but one series of the preseason because of a knee injury that required surgery. He returned in time for the regular-season opener and went on to his best season with 85 catches for 1,314 yards and eight touchdowns.

Two other previously unreported injuries came out of Saturday's game. Rookie receiver Davante Adams sustained a wrist injury and defensive end Josh Boyd injured his ribs. Adams said the injury occurred on the second of his two muffed punts but he stayed in the game despite feeling some discomfort. The X-Rays were negative.

McCarthy said the two injuries that were reported immediately after the game -- running back Rajion Neal (knee) and linebacker Joe Thomas (knee) -- were not serious. Although neither of the rookies practiced on Monday, they were not classified as long-term injuries.
Aaron Rodgers sat out the preseason finale last summer, and he will do the same for the opener this year.

Nelson
Lacy
Rodgers
Rodgers
The Green Bay Packers quarterback, who said this week that he did not expect his preseason playing time to be any more extensive than it was last August, did not suit up Saturday night for the game against the Tennessee Titans in Nashville, Tennessee.

Rodgers has taken part in every practice so far during training camp.

Two other healthy starters also will sit: running back Eddie Lacy and receiver Jordy Nelson.

Rodgers played in the first three preseason games last year but only took five series in those three games. Only one of those series came in last year's preseason opener against the Arizona Cardinals.

Matt Flynn will start at quarterback. James Starks will get the call for Eddie Lacy, and Jarrett Boykin will start in Nelson's spot.

Coach Mike McCarthy also likely will take a long look at Scott Tolzien, who has split reps with Flynn so far in training camp.

On Thursday, McCarthy ruled out seven other players, who did not make the trip: safety Morgan Burnett (oblique strain), receiver Jared Abbrederis (knee), offensive lineman Don Barclay (knee), tight end Colt Lyerla (knee), safety Tanner Miller (ankle), defensive tackle Letroy Guion (hamstring) and defensive end Jerel Worthy (back).

Two other players who have been limited or out of recent practices will suit up: running back Michael Hill and receiver Jeff Janis. Hill sustained a concussion in last Saturday's Family Night practice. Janis returned Monday after missing the first week of practice because of shingles. He was on a rep count for most of the week.
Each week, I will ask for questions via Twitter with the hashtag #PackersMail and then will deliver the answers over the weekend.
@RobDemovsky: I don't want to set off a state-wide panic or anything but if you thought Julius Peppers was going to dominate every practice, well, I haven't seen it. Perhaps Peppers, 34, is just pacing himself like any veteran entering his 13th NFL season might do. It's not like Peppers has been bad, but it's not like he has destroyed every offensive lineman he has lined up against, either. Surely a player with Peppers' experience and past production knows what he needs to do in order to get ready for the regular season. So at this point, there's no reason to question him. At 6-foot-7 and 287 pounds, he strikes an impressive figure on the field. He just has not made a ton of plays yet. The knock on Peppers last season in Chicago was that he took plays off. It's too early to say he's doing the same thing in Green Bay, but it's worth keeping an eye on.

@RobDemovsky: Jeff Janis absolutely has a chance. It was critical for him to get back to practice this past week, even if it was on a limited basis. He still has plenty of catching up to do after coming down with shingles on the eve of training camp, but his athletic ability was apparent in one of his first practices back. He made a one-handed catch for a touchdown over the Packers' No. 1 cornerback, Sam Shields. If you were not looking closely, you might have thought it was Jordy Nelson -- not Janis -- on that play. At 6-foot-3 and 219 pounds, Janis' build is almost identical to Nelson (6-3, 217). With fifth-round pick Jared Abbrederis lost for the season with a torn ACL, there is a receiver spot open. When the Packers keep five or six at the position, Janis has a chance.

@RobDemovsky: It's interesting that there are those who are fretting over the loss of Don Barclay, a former undrafted free agent, when the player who likely will fill in for him, at least at tackle, is former first-round pick Derek Sherrod. The difference is Barclay has played 20-plus games as a starter and Sherrod has played exactly six snaps on offense since he broke his leg as a rookie in 2011. But Barclay's jack-of-all-trades ability will be missed. Now, the likely top backup guard is Lane Taylor, who has only 20 NFL snaps on offense to his credit.

@RobDemovsky: If you believe safeties coach Darren Perry, then nothing is locked up, not even Morgan Burnett's spot. Perry has been one of Burnett's most vocal supporters, so it was a bit surprising to hear him say that, but it might be a sign the Packers are considering a shakeup at safety. And Sean Richardson could be a part of it. No one has made more plays in practice than he has, and coach Mike McCarthy went out of his way to praise Richardson this week.

@RobDemovsky: I would not pencil in Andrew Quarless just yet. Yes, he has more experience than any other tight end on the roster. But rookie Richard Rodgers and up-and-comer Brandon Bostick have gotten plenty of reps in practice. In fact, there have been plenty of instances where in a two-tight end set it has been Rodgers and Bostick. This race is far from finalized.

@RobDemovsky: No chance, and it's because Scott Tolzien has no more practice-squad eligibility left. There was some question about that, but he recently cleared that up. That's what makes this such a critical month for Tolzien. He's going to have to show enough to either convince the Packers that he's a better backup than Matt Flynn or at least to force them to keep three quarterbacks on the roster, which is something they have not done in Week 1 since 2008. 
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- When general manager Ted Thompson drafted Fresno State receiver Davante Adams in the second round this year, there were instant comparisons to former Green Bay Packers wide receiver James Jones -- another California kid with similar size and physical attributes.

Adams and Jones even worked out together before the draft this spring.

Davante Adams
Mike McGinnis/Getty ImagesSecond-round pick Davante Adams is making strides at wide receiver for the Green Bay Packers.
A little more than a week into training camp, however, the 6-foot-1 and 215-pound Adams has looked more like another, more productive former Packers' receiver.

The way Adams cuts in and out of his breaks with ease has reminded the Packers of a young Greg Jennings, who was perhaps the best route runner this team has had in the last decade or more. Because of that, Adams is making a strong push for the No. 3 receiver spot behind Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb.

"We noticed that the first day he got here," Cobb said after Tuesday's practice. "He's really smooth."

That was on display in Saturday's Family Night practice at Lambeau Field. With 67,336 people looking on, Adams made the best catch of the night on an out route from backup quarterback Matt Flynn. Adams had to extend to haul in the pass toward the left sideline against tight coverage.

Adams got off to a slow start in the offseason practices, making Jarrett Boykin look like a lock for the No. 3 spot. But with every training camp practice, it looks more like Adams will push and perhaps overtake Boykin, who has had an ordinary camp.

"I feel like I've made a pretty big jump," Adams said. "I was having some trouble at first just getting here for OTAs and getting adjusted. I was playing well, but it was a matter of just making sure I got all the concepts down. It's starting to be more fluid, and I feel better."

There may have been a good reason it took Adams' abilities a little longer to show up, and it is not solely because he missed the first week of OTAs while attending the NFL Players Association Rookie Premier event in Los Angeles. He said Tuesday that he was bothered by a hamstring injury this offseason. It did not keep him out of any practices, but he believes it impacted his ability to catch the ball.

"I'm a lot healthier now," he said. "Now, I'm rolling on two wheels so it's easier to catch up to the ball."

Receivers coach Edgar Bennett used the terms "explosive" and "quick" to describe Adams despite his 4.56 second 40-yard dash time at the combine. If Adams doesn't have blow-by-you speed, he uses his athleticism (his vertical jump of 39.5 inches was tied for third among the receivers at the combine) and precise route running to make up for it. He led the nation in receptions with 131 last season for a reason.

"He's not going to wow you with speed," Packers cornerback Davon House said. "But he's very quick off the line. Him and Boykin probably give me the most trouble off the line, and he's a big target who can catch."

The Packers are not necessarily down on Boykin, who caught 49 passes for 681 yards last season, but a bad drop like he had in Monday night's practice has further opened the door for Adams.

No Packers rookie receiver has caught more than 40 passes since Jennings had 45 and Jones 47 in consecutive seasons (2006 and 2007, respectively). Jones played seven solid years in Green Bay but caught more than 50 passes only twice and never had a 1,000-yard season, while Jennings went to a pair of Pro Bowls and had three straight 1,000-yard season before signing with the Minnesota Vikings in 2013.

"He adds another dimension to our team," Cobb said of Adams. "You can see that he has that playmaking ability, so I'm excited for him."
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.

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