Green Bay Packers: Scott Tolzien

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- After three days of training camp practices, the Green Bay Packers are taking Tuesday off.

It's a small sample size, but before they get back on the field Wednesday morning at 8:20 local time, here's a look at what we've learned about them so far, starting with the offensive side of the ball:

  Boykin's for real: Despite using three of their nine draft picks on receivers to provide depth behind Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb, there's no reason to think any of them will supplant Jarrett Boykin as the No. 3. That's no knock on second-round pick Davante Adams or fifth-rounder Jared Abbrederis -- both have made their share of early plays (seventh-round pick Jeff Janis has not practiced yet because of injury). But Boykin looks every bit like the same receiver -- or better -- than the one who caught 49 passes for 681 yards and three touchdowns in the final 12 games last season. "I know Aaron [Rodgers] feels very good about him," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said.

Lacy in the passing game: McCarthy said this offseason that he wants his running backs to be able to stay on the field for all three downs, and that could mean more opportunities for starter Eddie Lacy in the passing game. During several of the team blitz periods, we've seen Lacy leak out of the backfield and catch passes in the flat. At one recent practice, Lacy was working on catching passes off to the side while there was a special teams period taking place on the main field.

Who needs Finley?: Everything Richard Rodgers has done since the Packers drafted him in the third round this offseason suggests he will be the team's most productive tight end in the passing game. He stood out in the OTA and minicamp and has done the same so far in training camp. But is it enough to make the Packers forget about Jermichael Finley, who remains a free-agent awaiting medical clearance to return from last year's neck surgery? Rodgers gives the Packers the same type of athletic presence as a receiving tight end, but he remains unproven as a blocker.

Tretter
  Center concerns: McCarthy has invested an entire offseason in JC Tretter as his new starting center, so two shaky performances in the first one-on-one pass blocking drill of the season are not likely to bring any changes. But the Packers will need a much better showing than what Tretter gave them on Sunday, when he got smoked by nose tackle B.J. Raji twice in the drill. One time, Raji beat him with his quickness, the next time with his power. Raji is exactly the kind of player Tretter will have to be able to handle this season if he's the starting center.

Backup QB competition: Ultimately, it will come down to how they play in the preseason games, but so far it's a dead heat between Matt Flynn and Scott Tolzien for the backup quarterback job behind Rodgers. Flynn took the No. 2 reps on Saturday and Monday, and Tolzien got them on Sunday. Both have had their moments -- good and bad -- but neither has done anything to separate from the other.

Packers Camp Report: Day 2

July, 27, 2014
Jul 27
7:45
PM ET
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Green Bay Packers' training camp:
  • One day after Matt Flynn got the bulk of the work as the No. 2 quarterback, Sunday was Scott Tolzien's turn. He got the call in the no-huddle period and completed 3-of-5 passes, including a 12-yarder to tight end Brandon Bostick on third-and-7 to keep the drive going. His arm strength was apparent when he zipped a 9-yard out to rookie receiver Davante Adams on the next play. The drive ended four plays later when he missed receiver Alex Gillett in the flat on third-and-4. His only other incompletion was on a pass that appeared to be tipped near the line of scrimmage. The backup quarterback snaps have been split equally between Flynn and Tolzien the first two days. Although he played in three games last season (including two starts), this is Tolzien's first chance to go through an offseason with the Packers after being signed to the practice squad last September. "Work ethic, he knocks it out of the park, and you're seeing the benefits of that," coach Mike McCarthy said. "I think they're both very comfortable not only with the people they're working with but what we're asking them to do."
  • Adams, the Packers' second-round draft pick, had a tough assignment during the first team period when he drew cornerback Casey Hayward. A day earlier, Hayward got his hands on just about every pass thrown his way. But not this time, Adams ran an out route and used his 6-foot-1, 215-pound frame to shield Hayward from the ball. Hayward tried to jump the route, but Adams' positioning allowed him to make the play along the left sideline, leaving Hayward grasping at air.
  • It was a good day for another rookie receiver. Fifth-round pick Jared Abbrederis had perhaps the play of the day, when he hauled in a deep pass from Flynn with cornerback Tramon Williams in tight coverage.
  • Micah Hyde finished last year as the primary punt returner and is getting the first crack at the job this season. In a punt return period, he took the first rep. Others who took turns were Abbrederis, Williams, Randall Cobb and Myles White. There has not been a live kickoff return period yet.
  • Hyde, who continued to work ahead of rookie first round-pick Ha Ha Clinton-Dix at safety, had two big pass breakups – one on a deep ball to Jordy Nelson and another when he went over the back of Abbrederis. … After missing more than half of the offseason program while recovering from foot surgery, Bostick is off to a strong start. He had the catch from Tolzien in the no-huddle period and appears to be moving well. … Undrafted rookie tight end Justin Perillo probably does not have NFL speed, but he catches the ball with ease. He made a difficult grab against tight coverage from rookie cornerback Demetri Goodson during a team period. He had at least two catches during team periods. … Lane Taylor took a few snaps with the No. 1 offensive line during team. He played left guard, which is Josh Sitton's spot. … Despite recent praise from McCarthy, safety Sean Richardson appears to be no better than fifth on the depth chart. He has been behind Hyde, Morgan Burnett, Clinton-Dix and Chris Banjo.
  • The only addition to the injury list was linebacker Jamari Lattimore, who had a stomach illness. Right guard T.J. Lang (shoulder) was again limited and did not take any team reps. Don Barclay worked in Lang's place.
  • The Packers' first two practices -- both non-padded workouts -- have lasted two hours, 15 minutes (Saturday) and two hours, 17 minutes (Sunday). McCarthy said Monday's first full-pads workout will go longer. It begins at 8:20 a.m. local time and is followed by a day off from practice on Tuesday.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- A look at the hot topics from Friday's reporting day at the Green Bay Packers' training camp:
  • Matthews cleared: Although coach Mike McCarthy said he did not have any injury information during his Friday morning news conference, the daily NFL transaction wire revealed some details about the Packers' injury situation. While several players were listed in various injury categories, there was no mention of outside linebacker Clay Matthews, who missed the offseason program while recovering from a second surgery to repair his twice-broken thumb. That would indicate Matthews was cleared for the start of training camp. How much he will practice right away remains unclear. However, two others at his position, Nick Perry and Mike Neal, were placed on the physically unable to perform list, meaning they failed their physicals. Perry missed the entire offseason program with an undisclosed injury, but Neal had been a full participant. Defensive tackle Letroy Guion and defensive end Jerel Worthy were placed on the non-football injury list, and rookie receiver Jeff Janis was placed on the non-football illness list. All count toward the 90-man roster limit.
  • Top line: Given that the Packers will have a starting center who has never played in an NFL game, it was a bit surprising to hear McCarthy say this has a chance to be the best offensive line the Packers have had during his nine-year tenure as head coach. JC Tretter is the favorite to win the starting center job even though he has never played the position before (he was a tackle in college at Cornell) and did not play in any games (preseason or regular season) last season as a rookie. McCarthy also said he was impressed with rookie center Corey Linsley, a fifth-round pick from Ohio State. The Packers return starting guards T.J. Lang and Josh Sitton. At tackle, they will have Bryan Bulaga back at right tackle after he missed all of last season because of a knee injury, and second-year starter David Bakhtiari at left tackle. "I don't do comparables, but I think you have to feel good about the depth that we have in the O-line compared to prior years," McCarthy said.
  • Counting quarterbacks: One of the biggest issues facing McCarthy and general manager Ted Thompson is whether they will keep three quarterbacks on their opening-day roster. The past five years, they have opened the season with just two quarterbacks, but this year they appear to have two capable backups for Aaron Rodgers -- Matt Flynn and Scott Tolzien. "I know I said in the spring I'm not opposed [and] Ted’s not opposed to keeping three quarterbacks," McCarthy said. "It really depends on the competition at the other positions."
  • Talking to the team: The unofficial opening of training camp is Friday at 5:30 p.m., when McCarthy addresses the team for the first time. McCarthy said he spends plenty of time -- "probably too much time on it, frankly," he said. -- working on his speech. "You know when you have this much time to give a talk, my history has been to, I have to cut, I probably cut 60 percent of the stuff I have," McCarthy said. "You have to tighten it down and get it where you want it. Video is always a little better because [video director] Chris [Kirby] has more time to work on it. So the video will be awesome, and I hope the guy delivering the talk can deliver."
  • New hire: Despite a rash of injuries in recent years, McCarthy holds the team's medical, training, strength and conditioning staffs in high regard. Many of them predate McCarthy's time with the organization. But he also said on Friday that there will be a new addition in that area, although he did not get into specifics. When discussing injury prevention techniques, McCarthy said: "We have a young man coming aboard that we'll announce here in another day or so that will impact our team."
  • What's next: The first practice of camp begins at 8:20 a.m. local time on Saturday.
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. -- Between now and the Green Bay Packers' first training camp practice on July 26, we will break down each position group.

First up is quarterback.

Returning players: Aaron Rodgers, Matt Flynn, Scott Tolzien

Gone from last season: Seneca Wallace, coach Ben McAdoo

New this season: Chase Rettig (undrafted rookie, Boston College)

Position coach: Alex Van Pelt (first season), moved from running backs coach to replace McAdoo (who became the New York Giants offensive coordinator)

Flynn
Flynn
Tolzien
Biggest issue: Last year, the Packers went in to training camp unsure whether they had a capable backup behind Rodgers. As it turned out, they did not. Graham Harrell, B.J. Coleman and Vince Young all failed to show enough to warrant the job, so the Packers turned to the journeyman Wallace. This year, coach Mike McCarthy thinks he has two viable options in Flynn and Tolzien. So what happens if both play well enough in the preseason to warrant the job? The Packers have not kept three quarterbacks on their opening-day roster since 2008, preferring instead to stash their third quarterback on the practice squad. Can the Packers afford to keep three quarterbacks at the expense of another position?

Player to watch: The Packers know what Flynn can do. Although his days of competing for a starting job with another team have probably passed him by, he once again proved his value as a backup -- especially in Green Bay -- by going 2-2-1 last season while Rodgers was sidelined with his collarbone injury. So all eyes will be on Tolzien, who went 0-2 as a starter last season after Wallace was injured before giving way to Flynn. Tolzien's upside might be higher than Flynn's based on his arm strength and age (26 compared to Flynn, who is 29). But Tolzien must show he can avoid the costly turnovers that befell him last season, when he was picked off five times in two games.

Medical report: Rodgers reported for the offseason program in perhaps the best shape of his career. He said his weight was around 220 pounds (5 to 10 pounds lighter than his playing weight last season) thanks in part to yoga exercises and diet. He showed no side effects from the collarbone injury and participated fully in the offseason program.

Help wanted: Barring an injury, the Packers won't need any additional help.

Quotable: "I think there's a comfort level obviously with the group that's here now," Van Pelt said. "Scott having a chance to start last year, probably a little premature. I don't know if he was quite ready for that, but he did a nice job and managed the game when he was in there. And then having Matt come back last year was a good shot in the arm for the group. Obviously with his knowledge of the system we feel very comfortable with him in there, won two games for us last year, did a nice job when he was in there. I think we're very happy with who we have and what we are and the direction we're moving. Should be interesting competition in the fall between Matt and Scott."
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. -- 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.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Here's a look at what stood out from the Green Bay Packers' minicamp practice on Tuesday:

Hayward
1. Hayward's return: Casey Hayward played like it was 2012, when he led all NFL rookies with six interceptions. After a lost 2013 season in which Hayward was limited to only three games (and no interceptions) because of a recurring hamstring injury, which first occurred on the eve of training camp, Hayward has taken part in the entire offseason program and looks to be back to his rookie form. During a play from the defense's 15-yard line during red zone period, Hayward made a leaping interception in the end zone on a corner route that may have been slightly underthrown by Matt Flynn for tight end Richard Rodgers.

"I told him today, don't go pulling a hamstring the day before he's supposed to come to training camp," defensive coordinator Dom Capers said after practice.

2. Tolzien's progress: On back-to-back plays during the final team period of practice, backup quarterback Scott Tolzien completed a deep out to Myles White and then threw a rocket on a seam route that rookie Jared Abbrederis snagged. They were among Tolzien's most impressive throws of the offseason and could be a sign that he is poised to launch a legitimate run at Flynn and the No. 2 job this summer.

"He's made improvements throughout the course of the whole camp," quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt said of Tolzien, "which is what you'd expect to see."

3. Matthews eases in: Clay Matthews was not an official participant in practice but near the end he jumped into a drill during a position group period. He did not wear a helmet but did some light drill work. He did not have any protection on his twice-broken right thumb.

"Clay is coming along," coach Mike McCarthy said. "He's still part of the group that's not practicing."

4. Cool Crosby: Mason Crosby was perfect on seven field goals during a special teams period. He hit from 33, 36, 40, 43, 45, 50 and 53 yards on a breezy day. The Packers have no plans to bring another kicker to training camp like they did last season, when Crosby was coming off his worst year in 2012. So far, he looks to be in the same form as last season, when he made 33-of-37 field goals.

"We've got to maintain this and not outkick ourselves and be fresh and explosive week to week," special teams coach Shawn Slocum said.

5. Rodgers on the Bucks: Just as he did in our one-on-one interview on Monday, quarterback Aaron Rodgers would not elaborate on his reported interest in becoming a part owner in the Milwaukee Bucks, who were recently sold.

"I don't have any update besides the fact that I was wearing a Bucks long-sleeve [shirt] with Rob Demovsky in my interview," Rodgers said.

6. Roll call, part 1: The following players were present but did not take part in practice: Matthews, cornerback Jumal Rolle, running back Johanthan Franklin, linebacker Nick Perry, Andrew Quarless and Jerel Worthy.

7. Roll call, part 2: Left guard Josh Sitton did not attend practice. McCarthy said Sitton had been excused.

8. Wednesday's activity: McCarthy has a practice on the schedule for Wednesday but given that it is closed to the public, it is expected that he will take the team on a non-football team-building exercise like he typically does during minicamp. The next practice open to the public is Thursday.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Richard Rodgers stood in the Green Bay Packers' locker room on Tuesday with his iPad clutched in his left hand.

He was headed to a meeting to watch film of that day's organized team activity with his position coach, Jerry Fontenot, and the rest of the tight ends.

[+] EnlargeRichard Rodgers
Mike Roemer/AP PhotoCoach Mike McCarthy says rookie tight end Richard Rodgers is "off to a very good start" in Packers' organized team activities.
But when that meeting was over, he planned to power on his team-issued tablet and watch more film -- not of anything he has done since the Packers picked him in the third round of last month's draft, but of what the tight end is supposed to look like in the Packers' offense.

To do that, he planned to roll video of plays from last season before tight end Jermichael Finley sustained his season-ending (and possibly career-ending) neck injury.

"He makes plays, catches the ball, makes moves in space and that's really what you want to do as a tight end," Rodgers said of Finley. "You want to get the ball and make plays and break tackles, and that's exactly what he does."

Finley's uncertain future -- he remains available on the free-agent market while teams try to figure out whether it is safe for him to play football game -- casts a shadow over the Packers. His nameplate still sits atop his locker at Lambeau Field, although the locker itself is empty.

For now, Rodgers is among seven tight ends on the roster. Combined, they have four career touchdown catches, or 16 fewer than Finley (who has 13 in his 2 1/2 seasons).

"I'm not really worried about what's going on over there," Rodgers said as he glanced toward Finley's locker. "I just try to focus on what I'm doing and learning my stuff and not making mental errors on the field."

So far, Rodgers has done that perhaps better than any of the rookies in the Packers' draft class. In Tuesday's OTA, he made one of the most memorable plays of OTAs when he snagged a one-handed catch on a deep ball that fluttered, perhaps because it was slightly tipped, from backup quarterback Scott Tolzien.

It was an example of what the Packers saw from the 6-foot-4, 257-pound Rodgers last season at Cal, when he played receiver after the Bears' new coaching staff removed the traditional tight end from the offense.

"I just think he's a natural in space," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "I'm excited to see him when we get into the in-line work into training camp, but as far as all of the movement, playing in space, picking up the scheme, I think Richard's off to a very good start."

Much like Finley, there are questions about Rodgers' blocking that he hopes to answer when the pads go on in training camp.

But so far, it appears those who thought the Packers reached for Rodgers at No. 98 overall might have been wrong.

"He's made a lot of plays," Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said after Tuesday's practice. "Matt [Flynn] and I were just talking about it, how when we made the pick some of the so-called experts on the draft channel said he was a late sixth-round pick, [where] they had him as far as a grade, which is pretty laughable when you watch the talent he's got and the ability, especially some of the plays he made today.

“Again, it's helmet and shorts, but you have to be excited about his body type and the hands. He's made some incredible catches, makes it look easy. I think he's going to push for some playing time if he can transfer what he's done in the spring now to the fall and have the potential to be an impact player.”

Whether it’s Rodgers or another tight end (perhaps Andrew Quarless, Brandon Bostick or rookie Colt Lyerla) the Packers need more from the position than what they got after Finley's injury.

When asked whether he can give the Packers that, young Rodgers said: "I hope so."
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Here's a look at what stood out from the Green Bay Packers' third open organized team activity of the offseason on Tuesday:

1. Rodgers impresses: No, not Aaron Rodgers, although the quarterback looks likes his old self. Tight end Richard Rodgers made more plays than perhaps any other rookie during the one hour and 40-minute practice. During one team period, he hauled in a pass from backup quarterback Scott Tolzien that was either lightly tipped or was thrown behind him. Either way, Rodgers reached back to bring in the ball while still keeping his momentum going down the field. Said coach Mike McCarthy of the rookie Rodgers: "Big-time catch today. I just think he's a natural in space. I'm excited to see him when we get into the in-line work into training camp, but as far as all of the movement, playing in space, picking up the scheme, I think Richard's off to a very good start."

2. An interception by a safety, really: For a team that failed to get a single interception from a safety all of last season (the only NFL team with such a dubious distinction in 2013), there was reason to get excited about Sean Richardson's play during a no-huddle team period. Richardson, who played in the final seven games last season in a reserve role after coming off PUP following neck surgery, intercepted an Aaron Rodgers' deep pass intended for Jarrett Boykin. Richardson said he still put some value on the play even though it was during a non-pads session because of the focus placed on taking the ball away and "because I dropped three interceptions since the OTAs started," he said.

3. Inside pass-rushing combo: It remains to be seen how defensive coordinator Dom Capers will line up his pass-rushers once Clay Matthews and Nick Perry return to practice, but it appears he likes the pairing of Datone Jones and Mike Daniels as inside pass-rushers. Those two have lined up in tandem often.

4. A scare for Hyde: Defensive back Micah Hyde, who continues to work with the number one defense at free safety, briefly left practice after getting shaken up but returned to the drills a short time later. First-round pick Ha Ha Clinton-Dix got his first work with the defensive starters in Hyde's place the rest of that drill. The Packers do not give injury information during offseason workouts and Hyde was not available to reporters, but the injury (which appeared to be to his upper body) did not appear serious given that he returned to the field.

5. Sitton's back: A week after Josh Sitton was limited because of a sore back, he was back taking all the snaps at left guard with the starting offensive line.

6. Barclay on the move: Sitton's return meant Don Barclay, who filled in last week at left guard, was back with the number two offensive line at right tackle.

7. QB rotation: The quarterback rep counts during the team drills were distributed evenly among the top-three quarterbacks. In most team periods, Rodgers took four reps followed by four for Matt Flynn and three or four for Tolzien. Rookie Chase Rettig got very few team snaps. Typically in training camp, for every four reps for the starter, the top backup gets three and the third-stringer gets two.

8. Roll call, part 1: Tight end Colt Lyerla, defensive tackle B.J. Raji and defensive end Jerel Worthy all returned to OTAs after missing all or part of last week's sessions. Worthy, however, did not participate in practice. He missed the last two weeks after his grandmother was accidentally shot and killed. Tight end Brandon Bostick participated for the first time since he underwent foot surgery last December.

9. Roll call, part 2: Receiver Chris Harper (hamstring) joined the list of those not practicing, which included running back Johnathan Franklin, tight end Andrew Quarless, cornerback Jumal Rolle, Matthews and Perry.

10. Roster move: The Packers were back at the 90-man roster limit after signing rookie linebacker Shaun Lewis of Oklahoma State. Lewis was in Green Bay last month for the Packers' rookie orientation camp as a tryout player.

The Packers' next offseason session that is open to fans (weather permitting) and the media is June 17, the first of a three-day mandatory minicamp.
Tolzein/FlynnUSA TODAY SportsScott Tolzien and Matt Flynn give the Green Bay Packers more stability than they had at this time last year at the backup quarterback position.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Between them, the Green Bay Packers' backup quarterback combination of Matt Flynn and Scott Tolzien has played in 47 NFL games and thrown for 3,192 yards and 18 touchdowns.

That's 43 more games, 3,172 more yards and 18 more touchdowns than what the Packers' backups a year ago at this time had on their professional résumés.

How much better should the Packers feel about their backup quarterback situation with Flynn and Tolzien than they did last year at this time with Graham Harrell and B.J. Coleman?

"We know now what Scott and Matt can do," Packers receiver Jordy Nelson said. "And they'll be here all the way through training camp. That will be the big thing."

Last year, the Packers dumped both Harrell and Coleman by the time the regular season opened. They had to rely on three backups – Seneca Wallace, Tolzien and Flynn – who spent last offseason with different teams.


And when Aaron Rodgers broke his collarbone on Nov. 4, it showed.

Wallace did not make it through his first start, and Tolzien – although he showed signs of a strong arm and above-average athleticism – could not avoid the costly turnovers that may have been due to a lack of experience in the Packers' offense. Flynn, who spent 2008-11 with the Packers before stints in Seattle, Oakland and Buffalo, finally steadied the offense and went 2-2-1 to set up Rodgers' Week 17 return.

"Not only did we have to deal with the backup, there was two we hadn't seen and they were thrown into the fire two months into the season," Nelson said. "That will be the big thing. Scott's learning, still progressing. He'll do a great job. Obviously we know how hard he works. Matt's his normal self. We know what he can do, and he proved it again last year."

The Packers re-signed Flynn to a one-year deal that could be worth up $1.068 million (with incentives) and for now, he’s the No. 2 quarterback.

"You need a quality backup, and it's great having him," Rodgers said. "And Scott's done a really nice job for us as well. He's a really hard worker, a gym rat. He's made some great strides."

Tolzien isn't sleeping on a couch in the Packers’ locker room like he did during his early days with the San Francisco 49ers, but he appears to taking advantage of his first offseason in the Packers' quarterback-friendly program.

"Scott's gotten a lot better," McCarthy said. "I think what you're seeing now with Scott Tolzien is he's comfortable with the language. He's definitely comfortable with the footwork. We've changed some things with his mechanics and fundamentals. He's a tireless worker. I don't know if there's anybody in our program that spends as much time at it as Scott does. He's getting better."

For Tolzien, it's a chance to learn both the fundamentals that McCarthy and his assistants teach their quarterbacks and also to absorb the massive playbook without the pressure of cramming a game plan into his brain in less than a week.

As important as all the offseason work – the film study, the quarterback drills, the OTA and minicamp practices – will be for Tolzien, it might be his experience in real, live NFL games last season that will make the most difference.

"When the bullets are flying and you make good plays in a game atmosphere, you realize you can do it," said Tolzien, who completed 55 of 90 passes for 717 yards with one touchdown and five interceptions in three games last season. "And that's a super powerful thing to have that inner confidence that you've done it before."
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Green Bay Packers will hold their second open practice of their organized team activities on Tuesday at 11:30 a.m. local time.

It will be outside on Ray Nitschke Field and open to fans (weather permitting) and reporters (rain or shine).

Here are some things to keep an eye on:

1. Davante Adams and Khyri Thornton: The rookie pair missed last week’s OTA sessions because they were selected to attend the NFL's annual Rookie Premier in Los Angeles. Coach Mike McCarthy did not sound too happy about it. "My understanding is the rookie premiere is part of the CBA contract, and I won't touch that with a long telephone pole," he said. "That's part of the legal counsel. I have no opinion on that stuff. Do I like that they're missing practice? No, I don't like that they're missing practice. I don't understand it either, but that's part of a contract.” Approximately 40 rookies participated in the event. Adams, a second-round pick from Fresno State, is expected to compete for the No. 3 receiver spot. Thornton, a third-round pick from Southern Miss, is expected to provide depth on the defensive line.

2. Rookie roles: Last week, there wasn't a single rookie who worked with the No. 1 offense or defense. At some point, that will change. Could it be this week? The Packers will no doubt begin to integrate first-round safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix -- and likely several others -- into the mix with the starters. However, when OTAs opened last week, Micah Hyde took all the reps with the starters at free safety. The second-year defensive back is working at safety for the first time after playing cornerback last year as a rookie.

3. Quarterback competition: The Packers believe they are in a better situation behind Aaron Rodgers than they were last year at this time, when Graham Harrell and B.J. Coleman were battling for the backup job. This year, they have a proven capable backup in Matt Flynn, who went 2-2 in four starts last season. And if Scott Tolzien develops like the Packers believe he can, then there might be a legitimate competition for the No. 2 job later this summer. The Packers also have a fourth quarterback, Boston College undrafted rookie Chase Rettig, on the roster. McCarthy has said he would like to take four quarterbacks to training camp.

4. Running back rotation: It might be the deepest group of running backs the Packers have had in McCarthy's nine season as head coach, but there's still plenty to sort out behind starter Eddie Lacy. James Starks was productive -- and finally healthy for the most part -- last season in a limited role that suited him well. But DuJuan Harris, who missed all of last season because of a knee injury, is back and practicing at full speed. There's also still hope for Johnathan Franklin, a fourth-round pick last season who did not practice last week and is coming off a neck injury that landed him on injured reserve last December. It's tough to judge running backs in these non-pads practices, but you can sometimes get a feel for how they're planning to use them.

5. Return duties: The Packers are not a team with the luxury of a proven kick returner -- unless they want to use receiver Randall Cobb, and there is no reason to think that they do. They liked what Hyde gave them in the punt return game last year, but they are sure to put several players through return tryouts this summer. Among the recent draft picks who could do it include receivers Jared Abbrederis and Jeff Janis plus cornerback Demetri Goodson. Look for them to get extended reps during OTAs.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Let's get this out of the way from the top: We know Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson does not draft for need -- or so he says.

But in the months leading up to this week's draft, Thompson and his scouts have spent hundreds of hours not only discussing the prospects who will be available to them but also their current roster and its strengths and weaknesses.

With that in mind, let's break the 12 position groups that make up the roster into four parts based on the following categories of draft needs.

We will define them this way:

Part 1: Negligible -- positions where there is little or no need.

Part 2: Non-essential -- positions where there is a need but it is not paramount to fill.

Part 3: Secondary -- positions where there is a need but not at the critical level.

Part 4: Pressing -- positions where it is imperative that help be found.

On Monday, we looked at the negligible needs, Nos. 10-12.

Next up are the nonessential needs.

7. Quarterback: It's too early to start thinking about a replacement for Aaron Rodgers, who turned 30 last December and is under contract through 2019, but they need to find the next Matt Flynn -- a long-term backup who can be counted on to win games just in case. Flynn is back under a one-year deal, but coach Mike McCarthy has said he would like to develop a young quarterback. Is that Scott Tolzien? Perhaps, but don't be surprised if they bring in a mid-to-late-round quarterback.

Possible players of interest: AJ McCarron, Alabama; Tom Savage, Pittsburgh; David Fales, San Jose State; Keith Wenning, Ball State; Brock Jensen, North Dakota State.

8. Cornerback: The Packers committed to Sam Shields this offseason with a four-year, $39 million contract just as free agency opened, but veteran Tramon Williams is in the final year of his contract. Casey Hayward is expected to be back from the hamstring injury that ruined his 2013 season, and there's depth with Micah Hyde, Davon House and James Nixon, although Hyde may move to safety. If the right corner fell to the Packers, Thompson might jump at the chance.

Possible players of interest: Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State; Kyle Fuller, Virginia Tech; Lamarcus Joyner, Florida State; Keith McGill, Utah; Stan Jean-Baptiste, Nebraska.

9. Outside linebacker: Like defensive end, this is another position where there's plenty of talent depending on who lines up where. Beyond Pro Bowler Clay Matthews, there's Julius Peppers (who will play a combination DL-OLB), former first-round pick Nick Perry, former second-round pick Mike Neal and second-year players Andy Mulumba and Nate Palmer.

Possible players of interest: Anthony Barr, UCLA; Kyle Van Noy, BYU; Jeremiah Attaochu, Georgia Tech; Demarcus Lawrence, Boise State.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Two years after receiving a $6 million signing bonus from the Seattle Seahawks in free agency, quarterback Matt Flynn took home only a $75,000 signing bonus on the deal he agreed to with the Green Bay Packers last week.

Flynn
Flynn
It's a one-year contract, according to ESPN Stats & Information, and for the Packers it's a relatively cheap insurance policy against another possibly injury to starter Aaron Rodgers. Flynn's average-per-year pay ranks 42nd among quarterbacks under contract for 2014.

Flynn, who began his career with the Packers as a seventh-round pick in 2008, returned to the team last season on Nov. 12 for a minimum-salary contract. He played in five games, including four starts, and helped the Packers to a 2-2-1 record in that stretch, keeping them alive in the NFC North until Rodgers returned from his broken collarbone for the regular-season finale.

This year, Flynn is expected to compete with Scott Tolzien to be Rodgers' backup, but coach Mike McCarthy has said he would like to keep three quarterbacks on the roster.

Here's a breakdown of Flynn's new deal:
  • Cash value: $968,125
  • Salary-cap charge: $1,068,125
  • Signing bonus: $75,000
  • Base salary: $730,000
  • Roster bonus: Up to $138,125
  • Workout bonus: $25,000
  • Other incentives: Up to $100,000 (considered likely to be earned for salary-cap purposes).
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Matt Flynn's signing is finally official.

The Green Bay Packers announced Tuesday what was agreed to last week, that the backup quarterback will return for a third stint with the team.

Terms of the deal still had not been filed with the NFL Players Association, but Flynn signed on Tuesday in time to take part in the start of the Packers' offseason program.

The Packers have the same three quarterbacks -- Aaron Rodgers, Scott Tolzien and Flynn – on their roster that they had at the end of last season. Flynn spent his first four seasons (2008-11) with the Packers. He left in free agency the following offseason and after stints with the Seahawks, Raiders and Bills, he re-signed last November.

While Flynn was able to join the Packers for the start of their offseason workouts, restricted free-agent linebacker Jamari Lattimore also apparently has done so even though he has not yet signed his tender offer, which is worth $1.431 million. Restricted free agents can still accept offer sheets from other teams through May 2, but the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Lattimore did report to team workouts under a participation agreement.

Lattimore's agents, Tony Agnone and Richard Rosa, did not return messages left on Tuesday seeking comment on their client's plans.

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