NFC North: David Bakhtiari

GREEN BAY, Wis. – When the Green Bay Packers go through their light, day-before-the-game practice on Saturday, coach Mike McCarthy believes starting defensive end Datone Jones will be on the field.

That's an indication that Jones, who sprained his ankle Oct. 2 against the Minnesota Vikings, has made enough progress that he could be available for Sunday's game at the Miami Dolphins.

Jones did not practice Wednesday or Thursday, and the Packers don't practice on Fridays during a typical game week. But McCarthy estimated that if the team did practice, Jones would have been limited.

"I would hope if we were practicing today, he would've been out there in some form or fashion," McCarthy said Friday. "He's very optimistic. He's doing everything he can. We'll see tomorrow."

Officially, Jones was listed as questionable.

The only player ruled out was receiver Jarrett Boykin, who will miss his third straight game because of a groin injury.

Here's the full injury report:

Probable
RT David Bakhtiari (back)
DE Josh Boyd (knee)

Questionable
LB Sam Barrington (hamstring)
DE Datone Jones (ankle)

Out
WR Jarrett Boykin (groin)
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Julius Peppers' new coaches say they have seen more than enough on the practice field and in their meeting rooms to believe the 34-year-old former All-Pro pass-rusher will be the major contributor that Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson banked on when he signed him as a $26 million free agent in March.

Even if his first foray didn't show it.

[+] EnlargeJulius Peppers
Benny Sieu/USA TODAY SportsThe Packers have been impressed with how Julius Peppers has picked up their defense.
Peppers admitted he "didn't get much done" in his Packers debut last Saturday against the Tennessee Titans. But for a player with 186 regular-season games with the Carolina Panthers and Chicago Bears to his credit, 10 unproductive snaps in his first preseason game with the Packers have not left defensive coordinator Dom Capers and linebackers coach Winston Moss fretting.

"I think he's been outstanding," Moss said this week. "It doesn't show in the Tennessee game, but he's come in and he's adapted to the scheme. He's a very smart, experienced player. He picks up and understands concepts. He's played long enough, and he's played in enough different schemes to where he understands everything."

One thing no one can deny is that Peppers, at 6-foot-7 and 287 pounds, still strikes an impressive pose on the field. He has not missed a practice even if it sometimes looks like he's on cruise control. However, in his only rep this week during the one-on-one pass-rushing drill, he turned it on and schooled starting left tackle David Bakhtiari with a speed move to the inside.

"You can tell when he makes a play on tape, you watch in the meeting room and those guys are all well aware when he makes a play," Capers said.

For most of his first 13 NFL seasons, Peppers played with his hand on the ground in a 4-3 scheme with the Panthers and Bears, but the Packers believe he can transition to rushing out of a two-point stance as an outside linebacker in Capers' 3-4 scheme.

"He's picked things up mentally really better than I anticipated he would," Capers said. "And the good thing about him is he's been able to stay on the practice field and work. He's been very professional in his approach, which you always look for that because when a guy's played as long as he's played, had the success that he's had, but he's come in and fit in.

"He can do probably whatever we ask him to do."

Coming off a down year -- relative to the rest of his career -- with just 7.5 sacks, Peppers knows there are those who wonder whether he can be an impact player anymore. But he has no interested in offering a defense.

"We'll see about that," he said. "I'm not really going to get into too much discussing what I can and can't do. I'm going to let the film speak for it."

And the Packers think that film will start showing more than it did against the Titans.

"I think that you have to look at the Tennessee game more as getting his feet wet," Moss said. "Once he gets some more reps in the preseason, I think he's going to take off."
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Derek Sherrod tried to downplay it. After all, it was only a preseason game.

Sherrod
Besides, the Green Bay Packers offensive tackle suited up for seven regular-season games last season.

But this was different.

Sherrod actually played. And played and played.

The six snaps he saw in the Thanksgiving 2013 blowout loss at Detroit aside, the former first-round draft pick had not played any extended stretch of offensive snaps since he broke both bones in his lower right leg late in his rookie season of 2011. Most of his action when he returned to the roster late last season for the first time in nearly two years came on special teams, which meant a play and a play there.

This, however, was a 45-snap stint with the No. 2 offensive line in Saturday's preseason opener at the Tennessee Titans that just may have represented an important step in his comeback, if for no other reason than it may have been a mental hurdle he needed to clear.

Except he did not quite see it that way.

"Not really," Sherrod said. "Going into training camp, I was ready to go, 100 percent."

Sherrod came on in relief of starting left tackle David Bakhtiari for the second series against the Titans and finished the half before moving to right tackle to start the third quarter. He did not allow a sack and, according to ProFootballFocus.com, he did not give up a quarterback hit or pressure, either.

"Derek, frankly, that might be the best he's played since he's been here," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "So I thought he definitely took a step."

Sherrod's importance to the Packers was heightened last week when Don Barclay was lost for the season because of a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. Barclay was the Packers' swing tackle who also could back up both guard spots.

If Sherrod shows he can perform well and hold up over long stretches, it would ease Barclay's loss.

"I'm really proud of him, the way he's handled his business," offensive line coach James Campen said. "The thing that people don't understand is the amount of work that was done to get him prepared for this moment, to be able to go out and compete. It's a great tribute to him and who's he about and what he's about. He's as classy of a kid as they come. He will earn everything that he gets. It's been a long road for him, but we're past that. It's a bright future for him. It's exciting to see him out there playing. It's fun."

Packers Camp Report: Day 12

August, 11, 2014
Aug 11
8:00
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GREEN BAY, Wis. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Green Bay Packers training camp:
  • As training camp practices go in Green Bay, Monday was a bit unusual. It was one of only a handful of summer sessions that was closed to the public. Reporters were allowed to watch, but it was made perfectly clear that any scheme or personnel-related activities were off limits. Clearly working on things coach Mike McCarthy did not want anyone to see, likely in preparation for the season opener against the Seattle Seahawks on Sept. 4, the Packers went for one-hour and 55 minutes with tarps pinned to the fence that surrounds Ray Nitschke Field. "It was exactly what we wanted," McCarthy said. "That's an in-season Wednesday practice for us, and I thought it was a very good practice."
  • Quarterback Aaron Rodgers used every bit of the 57 seconds the coaches gave him to run the 2-minute drill, but he capped a nine-play drive with a 20-yard touchdown pass to Randall Cobb. Rodgers completed 5 of 8 passes for 60 yards. He hit tight end Brandon Bostick for gains of 7, 8 and 5 yards on three of the first five snaps. He kept the drive going by converting a fourth-and-5 on a scramble in which he avoided a sack by Mike Neal.
  • Scott Tolzien and Matt Flynn alternated taking the No. 2 quarterback reps until the 2-minute period, when Flynn got a turn but Tolzien did not. He took the offense into the red zone but ran out of time. On his final play, on first down from the 15-yard line, Flynn missed tight end Jake Stoneburner in the end zone.
  • Starting left guard Josh Sitton had taken only one rep in the one-on-one pass blocking drill in camp before Monday. It came on July 31, a loss to Mike Daniels. Sitton, who said it was to give his sore back a chance to rest, was back in the drill on Monday and blocked rookie defensive tackle Carlos Gray in his only turn. Julius Peppers, who had split four reps during the first two weeks, won his only turn on Monday. He beat starting left tackle David Bakhtiari to the inside.
  • Apparently, Saturday's preseason opener at Tennessee wasn't enough to satisfy the players' desire to hit someone because there were at least three separate scuffles during Monday's practice.
  • Safety Morgan Burnett returned to practice after missing Saturday's games against the Titans because of an oblique strain, but the Packers still had their largest injury list to date. Those who did not practice were: receiver Davante Adams (wrist), running back Rajion Neal (knee), safety Tanner Miller (ankle), tight end Colt Lyerla (knee), linebacker Joe Thomas (knee), guard/tackle Don Barclay (knee), receiver Jared Abbrederis (knee), receiver Jordy Nelson (hamstring), defensive tackle Josh Boyd (ribs), defensive tackle Letroy Guion (hamstring) and defensive end Jerel Worthy (back).
  • The first of two open practices this week is Tuesday at noon local time.

W2W4: Packers' Family Night

August, 2, 2014
Aug 2
3:30
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GREEN BAY, Wis. – From a pure football standpoint (forget about the fireworks and the jersey giveaways) the best thing about the Green Bay Packers' Family Night was always the fact that it featured the first live tackling (except of the quarterbacks, of course) of the summer.

But even that is no more.

Coach Mike McCarthy decided to ditch the scrimmage this year in favor of a regular training camp practice. Fans still ate up the $10 tickets, and Lambeau Field is sold out for tonight's event, which gets underway with pre-practice activities at 5:30 p.m., but it surely won't be the same.

"Just the way the whole schedule laid out for Mike and his staff, we just needed that day as a normal practice day to be able to get everything accomplished that we wanted to get accomplished," Packers general manager Ted Thompson said this week. "And quite frankly, I don't know that it'll look a whole lot different. We still have some really good fireworks, which is a big hit in the locker room and with all the kids and that sort of thing."

With that in mind, here are a few things to watch:

QB competition: The last time anyone saw Scott Tolzien at Lambeau Field, he was getting benched in favor of Matt Flynn during the Nov. 24 tie against the Minnesota Vikings. So far in camp, Flynn holds the edge over Tolzien for the backup job behind Aaron Rodgers, but how Tolzien performs from here on out will determine whether the Packers have a difficult decision to make when it comes to deciding how many quarterbacks to keep.

"Matt knows what he does well and plays to his strengths," quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt said Friday. "He's won games for the Packers. Scott, he's still trying to catch up and learn. Having a year in the system in the offseason has helped him tremendously, so he's coming along as well. Matt's done a great job, and I think Scott should be commended as well."

One-on-one reps: The most competitive drill in training camp is almost always the one-on-one pass-rushing/pass-blocking drill and given that they did not do the drill on Friday, there's a good chance they will do so tonight.

Here's a look at the best records in the drill so far:

Offensive linemen: T.J. Lang (4-0), Bryan Bulaga (6-1), Corey Linsley (6-1), David Bakhtiari (5-1), Derek Sherrod (5-1), JC Tretter (5-2), Garth Gerhart (5-2) and Don Barclay (5-3).

Pass-rushers: Mike Daniels (6-2), Datone Jones (6-4), Mike Neal (3-3), Julius Peppers (2-2), B.J. Raji (4-6).

Crosby's kicks: If there was a low point for Mason Crosby, it might have been on Family Night last year. Coming off his worst NFL season and locked in a kicking competition with Giorgio Tavecchio, Crosby missed five of his eight kicks in the scrimmage. He eventually steadied himself to reclaim the job and went on to his best season. He has carried that over into training camp, where in two kicking sessions so far he has made 14-of-16. Special-teams coach Shawn Slocum said Crosby will kick tonight, but it won't be as extensive as last year's session.

"Last year he was under a pretty intense competition," Slocum said. "He did well toward the end of it and had a good season and has come back this year, I really like where he's at. I think he's in a good place right now."

Wild-card performers: In Family Nights of the past, there have been players who have come out of relative obscurity to make themselves noticed. One of the unknowns who has already worked his way up the depth chart is rookie free-agent linebacker Joe Thomas of South Carolina State, and he likely will get more opportunities to show whether he can make enough plays to earn a roster spot.

"I think I've just done enough to get the attention of the coaches and better my chances of making the team," Thomas said. "I've got to continue to progress each day to keep catching the eye of the coaches."

Until preseason games begin next week, there's no better chance to do so than on Family Night.

Abbrederis injury update: You won't see rookie receiver Jared Abbrederis on the field (although he may be in attendance), but we should learn more about his knee injury.

Indications are that the fifth-round pick from Wisconsin sustained a torn ACL, although he was awaiting another round of tests to be sure. If those tests confirm such, he will need season-ending surgery.
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 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. -- 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. On Tuesday, it was the non-essential needs, Nos. 7-9.

Next up are the secondary (and I don't mean the position group) needs.

4. Receiver: Letting veteran James Jones leave for the Oakland Raiders in free agency was not a huge surprise, but it left the Packers with just two proven receivers (Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson) and one they believe can jump into that category (Jarrett Boykin). There's a group of unproven receivers that could follow what Boykin did last season, when he filled in adequately while Cobb and Jones were injured. That group includes Kevin Dorsey (a seventh-round pick last year), Chris Harper (a fourth-round pick of the Seattle Seahawks last year) and Myles White (an undrafted free agent who played sparingly last season as a rookie).

Possible players of interest: Odell Beckham Jr., LSU; Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt; Marqise Lee, USC; Bruce Ellington, South Carolina.

5. Interior offensive linemen: With Josh Sitton and T.J. Lang, the Packers are set at guard for the foreseeable future. But center is as big a question mark as ever. What is certain is Aaron Rodgers will have his fourth different center in as many seasons after Evan Dietrich-Smith left in free agency to sign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. There's no one on the roster with any NFL experience as a starting center, but the leading candidate is second-year pro JC Tretter -- a former college tackle who did not play a snap as a rookie last season. Even considering the need, the Packers aren't likely to spend a first- or second-day pick on a center. The top centers carry second- or third-round grades.

Possible players of interest: Marcus Martin, USC; Weston Richburg, Colorado St.; Russell Bodine, North Carolina; Travis Swanson, Arkansas; Luke Bowanko, Virginia.

6. Offensive tackle: A year from now, this could be a pressing need depending on what happens with Bryan Bulaga and Derek Sherrod, both of whom are in the final season of their contracts. With the emergence of David Bakhtiari last season as a rookie at left tackle, Bulaga will move back to the right side. But he needs to stay healthy after failing to make it through each of the past two seasons. Sherrod, a first-round pick in 2011, has not contributed since he broke his leg as a rookie, and the Packers declined his 2015 option year. There's no reason to think any of the first-round tackles will fall to No. 21.

Possible players of interest: Cyrus Kouandjio, Alabama; Ja'Wuan James, Tennessee; Morgan Moses, Virginia; Jack Mewhort, Ohio State; Billy Turner, North Dakota State.
The day after the Green Bay Packers' season ended, Bryan Bulaga was asked whether it would be much of an adjustment if he had to move back to right tackle in 2014.

Bulaga chuckled and said: "I didn't even get a full year at left tackle, more like two months."

In terms of actual live practice, it was more like two weeks.

Bulaga
Bulaga injured his knee during the annual Family Night scrimmage on Aug. 3 and missed the entire 2013 season. Combine that with the fact that rookie David Bakhtiari was more than just OK in Bulaga's place at left tackle last season, and it made sense that Bulaga would move back to the right side, where he started from 2010-2012.

Packers coach Mike McCarthy on Tuesday confirmed that will be his plan heading into this season. He told WBAY-TV as much at the NFL annual meetings.

McCarthy said he informed Bulaga recently of his decision. Bulaga, a former first-round draft pick, is entering the final year of his rookie contract.

A year ago, McCarthy moved Bulaga to left tackle as part of a massive offensive line overhaul that also included guards T.J. Lang and Josh Sitton switching sides.

"I think that's part of my game that I like; I feel like I can go back and forth," Bulaga said in January.

"I felt pretty comfortable [at left tackle] at the time I got hurt in the Family Night. I felt pretty good about where I was at."

With Bakhtiari set to stay at left tackle and Bulaga back on the right side, it leaves another former first-round pick, Derek Sherrod, as a possible swing tackle. That role had been occupied last season by Marshall Newhouse, who signed a free-agent contract with the Cincinnati Bengals last week. Sherrod returned late last season from the broken leg he suffered in 2011. After missing all of the 2012 season, he was on the roster for the final seven games in 2013, but played only six snaps on offense.

The Packers also have Don Barclay, who started all but two games at right tackle last season. Barclay could end up moving inside to compete with JC Tretter for the starting center job. The Packers lost last season's starter, Evan Dietrich-Smith, who signed a free-agent deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Sometimes, NFL players outperform their contracts.

Without tearing up those deals, there is a way for players who fit that description to earn more money. It’s called the NFL's performance-based pay distribution in which each team can allot a total of $3.46 million in additional play to its players.

It typically benefits players in their first NFL contracts or minimum-salaried free-agent signings who become key contributors.

For example, Green Bay Packers left tackle David Bakhtiari, a fourth-round pick with a base salary of $405,000 last year, will receive an additional $256,882.22 in performance-based pay, according to documents obtained by ESPN.com. Bakhtiari started every game last season as a rookie. He received the largest pay increases among Packers' players. According to the NFL, those payments will be made on April 1, 2016.

The smallest distribution to a Packers' player went to backup tackle Derek Sherrod, who will receive $2,154.55. He was active for seven games but only took six snaps on offense all season.

Here’s a list of the top-10 and bottom-10 performance-based bonuses on the Packers’ roster:

Top 10
Bottom 10
Each week, I will ask for questions via Twitter with the hashtag #PackersMail and then will deliver the answers over the weekend.
 
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- No matter where Bryan Bulaga plays, regardless of whether David Bakhtiari remains at left tackle and whoever ends up playing center, the Green Bay Packers have more stability on their offensive line than they did last offseason.

Bakhtiari
Bakhtiari
Bulaga
It was nearly a year ago that coach Mike McCarthy and offensive line coach James Campen revamped the line by changing positions for four of the five starters. Bulaga and Josh Sitton switched from right tackle and right guard, respectively, to the left side. Left tackle Marshall Newhouse was moved to the right side (where he failed to beat out Don Barclay), and left guard T.J. Lang moved to right guard.

Only center Evan Dietrich-Smith remained in his regular spot.

This season, perhaps only the center position is up in the air with Dietrich-Smith scheduled to be a free agent next month.

It all depends on where the Packers decide to play Bulaga, who missed all of last season after he sustained a knee injury last August in training camp.

Although McCarthy said last week at the NFL scouting combine that he had not finalized his plans for Bulaga, he later told the Green Bay Press-Gazette that Bakhtiari performed well enough last season as a rookie that the Packers appear to be set to keep him at left tackle.

“If you look at our depth chart right now this is the best group of offensive linemen from a depth standpoint that we’ve had in my time in Green Bay,” said McCarthy, who is entering his ninth season as head coach. “There’s a lot of good things to build off of with our offense.”

Moving Bulaga back to the right side would not be a major adjustment. He excelled at right tackle from 2010-12 and never even made it to his first preseason game as a left tackle. Bulaga spent most of the season rehabbing his knee in Florida but is expected to return to Green Bay for the offseason program in April.

“He’s on time and he’s hit his targets,” McCarthy said of Bulaga’s rehab. “But as I’ve told Bryan when he left in the exit interview [after the season], I’ll be in touch with him to let him know what our plan is whether it’s the left side or the right side.”

A potential change at center would not impact any of the other projected offensive line starters. Lang is not a candidate to move to center even though he filled in there for Dietrich-Smith for parts of two games last season.

The only other possible starting center on the Packers’ roster is JC Tretter, a fourth-round pick last year who did not play at all as a rookie after sustaining an ankle injury in the offseason.

Wrap-up thoughts from the combine

February, 23, 2014
Feb 23
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INDIANAPOLIS – The media access portion of the NFL scouting combine ended on Sunday afternoon, but events for the invitees and league personnel continues through Tuesday.

Looking back over the four days spent in and around Lucas Oil Stadium, there was plenty to be learned.

Here are some final thoughts from the Green Bay Packers’ perspective.

Lineup changes: This is the time of year where the coaches ponder new roles for new players. We already told you about a possible new role in the defense that might better suit Nick Perry, and coach Mike McCarthy’s desire to turn Eddie Lacy -- and the other running backs -- into three-down players in order to limit substitutions and therefore speed up the offense. Also, cornerback Micah Hyde could add safety to his list of duties, while David Bakhtiari appears likely to remain at left tackle, but there’s been no decision made on where Bryan Bulaga will play.

Salary-cap space: With the 2014 salary cap expected to exceed $130 million and possibly be as high as $132 million, the Packers will have even more room than they expected. Including unused cap space, they could carry over from last season, the Packers will have more than $30 million of salary-cap space available for this offseason.

Tag or no tag: General manager Ted Thompson would not reveal whether he would use the franchise tag as a way to retain cornerback Sam Shields. Although they have the space to absorb the more than $11 million that the tag would cost, Thompson would prefer to sign Shields to a more cap-friendly, long-term deal. Shields’ agent, Drew Rosenhaus, was expected to continue discussions with the Packers in Indianapolis.

Talking to prospects: On the final day of media access, among the players who confirmed they have met or will meet with the Packers included Wisconsin linebacker Chris Borland, Notre Dame defensive lineman Louis Nix III and safeties Ha Ha Clinton-Dix of Alabama and Calvin Pryor of Louisville. There are two kinds of interviews -- formal ones that last 15 minutes (teams are limited to 60 of those) and informal interviews (of which there is no limit).

Up next: Free agency officially begins on March 11 but teams can start negotiating with free agents on March 8. The next official league gathering is the NFL annual meeting, known as the owners meeting, March 23-26 in Orlando, Fla.
A roundup of what's happening on the Green Bay Packers beat.

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Mel Kiper Jr. liked the Packers draft right away last April and with a full season to watch the rookies, the ESPN NFL draft analyst saw nothing to change in his mind.

In an ESPN Insider piece Insider, Kiper gave the Packers' 2013 draft class the same grade -- a B-plus -- after the season that he gave it right after the draft.

We can't give away everything Kiper wrote -- that's what Insider subscriptions are for -- but here are some snippets:
“At the time, I wrote, ‘I love what Green Bay got out of this draft, particularly at two spots -- defensive end and running back.'”

Of course, he was talking about first-round pick Datone Jones, the defensive end from UCLA, and running backs Eddie Lacy (second round) and Johnathan Franklin (fourth round).
“After one season, I still love what the Packers got at running back, as Lacy has been everything they could have hoped for and completely changes the manner in which this offense can threaten you. But we'll need to see more from Jones, who was OK but not great and isn't yet a first-team player. But the draft was crucial elsewhere.”

Kiper went on to praise fourth-round pick David Bakhtiari, who started every game at left tackle, and fifth-round pick Micah Hyde, who played as the nickel defensive back and primary punt returner.
“Name another rookie who played a whole season at left tackle. Fifth-rounder Hyde also was good in a return role. Not a bad start for this draft class, and you have to believe Jones can and will give them more.”

In all, the Packers have retained 10 of their 11 draft picks. Only seventh-round receiver Charles Johnson is gone. He was signed off the practice squad by the Cleveland Browns in October. Another seventh-round receiver, Kevin Dorsey, spent the entire season on injured reserve.

In case you missed it on ESPN.com:
  • The Packers haven't officially announced the move, but running backs coach Alex Van Pelt will become the new quarterbacks coach. He will replace Ben McAdoo, who left to become the New York Giants offensive coordinator. It was a natural move for Van Pelt, who played the position in the NFL and has previously coached quarterbacks in the league.
  • We continued our position outlook series with the focus on the tight ends, where there are plenty of questions.
  • In our “Next Big Thing” feature, we looked at the most pressing concerns for the offseason.
  • Finally, Ian O'Connor authored a fantastic piece on legendary former Packers coach Vince Lombardi by talking to those who knew him when he was a young high school coach and teacher in New Jersey.
Best of the rest:
  • At ESPNWisconsin.com, Jason Wilde wrote about Van Pelt's path to becoming the Packers quarterbacks coach.
  • In the Green Bay Press-Gazette, Pete Dougherty talked to an NFL scout who said that of the two new coaches in the NFC North, the Packers should be more worried about what Mike Zimmer will do for the Minnesota Vikings than Jim Caldwell with the Detroit Lions.
  • In the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Tyler Dunne looked at some of the receivers at the Senior Bowl that might interest Green Bay, including one who has ties to Packers receiver James Jones.

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