NFC North: Jarrett Bush

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Green Bay Packers have lost one of their core special-teams players, backup linebacker Andy Mulumba, to a knee injury, but starting safety Micah Hyde appears to have avoided a major injury.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

McCarthy said Hayward was checked out by the team’s medical staff on Monday but did not have any update. The team does not have to file an injury report for this week's game at the Detroit Lions until Wednesday.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- There was a time not too long ago when the Green Bay Packers were perennially the NFL's youngest team.

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

Not anymore.

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

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

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

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

Nine rookies made the Packers’ final cuts, with Davante Adams and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix being the youngest at 21.

Packers Camp Report: Day 10

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

Packers Camp Report: Day 9

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And House, according to Sullivan, soaked it up.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now, thanks in part to Sullivan and Revis, he believes he can.
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. -- 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. -- Since 2010, when Julius Peppers arrived in Chicago, only two NFC North players have more sacks than him.

Peppers
Matthews
One of them is now his teammate.

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

The partnership between Matthews and Peppers should be mutually beneficial.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"I think he's going to give teams a lot of trouble, especially with Clay, Nick Perry, Mike Neal, Mike Daniels," Packers cornerback Jarrett Bush said this week. "Within also the D-line, they can't just double Clay anymore, so he's going to wreak havoc over there. I played with him in Carolina before I came here to the Packers, so I got to see his ability over there in Carolina. He's definitely a force to be reckoned with. I think with Clay and the whole gang, I think we'll be a championship caliber team."
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- With the bulk of the free-agent work done, it's a good time to recheck the Green Bay Packers' depth chart leading up to the May 8-10 NFL draft.

On Thursday, we broke down the way things look on offense.

Next up is the defense:

Defensive end: Datone Jones, Josh Boyd, Jerel Worthy.

[+] EnlargeDatone Jones
AP Photo/Morry GashThe Packers are counting on defensive end Datone Jones to rebound in his second season.
Analysis: The Packers have high hopes for Jones despite a disappointing rookie season in which the former first-round pick was slowed by an ankle injury and recorded just 3.5 sacks (two of which came in one game). "I feel he's one of those second-year players who [can] take a huge jump," coach Mike McCarthy said of Jones earlier this offseason. "That will be my expectations for him." Boyd, a fifth-round pick, actually saw more playing time late last season than Jones. Worthy played in only two games a year after he blew out his knee.

Defensive tackle: B.J. Raji, Mike Daniels, Letroy Guion.

Analysis: Moving Raji back to nose tackle on a full-time basis should help his production, which declined sharply over the last three years following a move to defensive end. Daniels was perhaps the team's most improved player last season, which should lead to an even bigger role this season. Guion, who was cut the Minnesota Vikings, will have to battle for a roster spot.

Elephant: Julius Peppers, Nick Perry, Mike Neal.

Analysis: Elephant is a catch-all term for the multiple positions this trio will play. They will be part outside linebacker, part defensive end and part defensive tackle. The addition of Peppers, who was signed last month after being released by the Chicago Bears, should boost the pass rush. Expect Perry to play more on the right side this season, where he was far more impactful last season. These players will actually be tutored by linebackers coach Winston Moss.

Inside linebacker: A.J. Hawk, Brad Jones, Jamari Lattimore, Sam Barrington, Victor Aiyewa.

Analysis: Hawk had perhaps his best season last year, but Jones was a disappointment after signing a three-year, $11.75 million contract and could be on shaky ground for a starting job. Lattimore, a restricted free agent who has yet to sign his tender, got some playing time last year while Jones was hurt and could push for the starting job. So could Barrington, a promising rookie who missed the second half of the season because of a hamstring injury.

Outside linebacker: Clay Matthews, Andy Mulumba, Nate Palmer, Chase Thomas.

Analysis: Neal and Perry played almost exclusively at outside linebacker last season, so there's a good chance they'll be a big part of this group again. But behind Matthews are a couple of second-year players, Mulumba and Palmer, who played more than anyone expected last year as a rookies. Mulumba, an undrafted free agent, played better than Palmer, a sixth-round pick. Thomas was signed early in the offseason off the street after spending most of last season on the Atlanta Falcons' practice squad.

Safeties: Morgan Burnett, Sean Richardson, Chris Banjo.

Analysis: Easily the thinnest position on the roster, there's still likely to be several additions here, probably via the draft. However, McCarthy said cornerback Micah Hyde will get some work at safety. Whether he's a candidate to start next to Burnett (a strong safety), however, remains to be seen. Burnett needs to bounce back from a disappointing season, but there's little reason to think his job is in jeopardy. Richardson returned late last season from a serious neck injury and showed promise. Banjo played more early in the season than he did late last year.

Cornerbacks: Sam Shields, Tramon Williams, Casey Hayward, Micah Hyde, Jarrett Bush, Davon House, James Nixon, Jumel Rolle, Antonio Dennard.

Analysis: This is among the Packers' deepest positions thanks to the return of Shields, who signed a four-year, $39 million contract, and Hayward, who is expected to be healthy after a hamstring injury limited him to just three games last season. Williams closed the season playing perhaps as well as he did during the Super Bowl season of 2010, which is why they kept him despite a $7.5 million salary. Bush had his best season in coverage last year, while House was a disappointment. Nixon's speed makes him an intriguing prospect. Rolle was promoted from the practice squad late last season, while Dennard joined the practice squad late last season.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- It's never too early to start looking ahead to the next class of free agents. That's part of what Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson and vice president of player finance Russ Ball have been doing while also dealing with their more immediate concerns.

Although they're not done assembling their roster for 2014, for every move the Packers make now, they must also consider how it will impact their ability to re-sign their players who will be free agents next offseason.

It's not as lengthy a list as it was this offseason, when the Packers had 17 unrestricted free agents and two restricted free agents, but next year's group is no less important with receivers Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson at the top of the list of players entering the final year of their contracts.

There's a good chance one or both of them will have their contracts extended before the start of this season. Thompson and Ball no doubt kept enough salary-cap space available -- $16,168,766 to be exact as of the beginning of this week, according to ESPN Stats & Information -- with that in mind.

Here's a look at the players entering the final season of their current contracts:

Offense
Defense

*Scheduled to be a restricted free agent

Also, it's likely tackle Derek Sherrod will be a free agent next offseason. He was part of the 2011 draft class in which all first-round picks signed four-year deals with a club option for a fifth year. It's unlikely the Packers will exercise that option, a decision they must make next month, given that the pay for that option year is expected to be around $9 million for offensive linemen.
A roundup of what's happening on the Green Bay Packers' beat.

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Packers coach Mike McCarthy completed his coaching staff last Friday, when he announced the hiring of four new coaches and gave different responsibilities to five others previously on his staff.

It brought the total number of assistant coaches working under McCarthy to 21 -- one more than the Packers had last season.

Only three NFL head coaches currently have more assistants than McCarthy does.

Philadelphia Eagles coach Chip Kelly and Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll each have 23 assistant coaches -- tops in the NFL. It's interesting that the two biggest staffs both were assembled by recent former college coaches.

Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians is next with 22 assistants. Three other teams -- the Buffalo Bills, Baltimore Ravens and Kansas City Chiefs -- match the Packers with 21.

In the NFC North, the Packers have two more assistants than the Chicago Bears, three more than the Detroit Lions and four more than the Minnesota Vikings.

The NFL average for assistant coaches is 19.1 per team. The AFC average is 18.9, while the NFC average is 19.3.

The numbers were based on coaching staff directories listed on each team's website.

While there could be a few additions to coaching staffs over the next few weeks, most of the coaching changes have been made, which makes it interesting to note that Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin currently has the smallest staff with just 14 assistants. The Steelers list only one strength and conditioning coach, while many teams have two or three, and only list one special teams coach while many teams have two or three. Other teams will small staffs include the New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons, each with 16 assistants.

In case you missed it on ESPN.com: Best of the rest:
  • In the Green Bay Press-Gazette, Mike Vandermause suggested that Seahawks general manager John Schneider, a former Packers scout, might be the best choice to replace Ted Thompson whenever he decides to retire from his GM job.
  • In the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Tom Silverstein wrote that the Thompson's draft-and-develop philosophy has put the Packers in good salary-cap shape.

Super XLV: Where are they now?

February, 6, 2014
Feb 6
6:30
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GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Exactly three years ago -- on Feb. 6, 2011 -- the Green Bay Packers won Super Bowl XLV.

Since then, much has happened to the 53 players who were on the roster for that 31-25 victory against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Arlington, Texas.

Free agency, injuries, retirement and declining performance cause roster turnover.

Still, it’s eye-opening that from the group that suited up for the Packers’ last championship, only 12 players (just 22.6 percent) remain under contract with the team for 2014. Another 11 are still officially members of the Packers, but have contracts that expire next month. There are 13 players with other NFL teams, and 17 are out of football -- perhaps for good.

Here’s a look at the status of every player who was on the active roster three years ago today at Super Bowl XLV:

Under contract for 2014

  • [+] EnlargeAaron Rodgers
    Wesley Hitt/Getty ImagesThree years after being named MVP of Super Bowl XLV, Aaron Rodgers is still leading the Packers.
    QB Aaron Rodgers: Threw for 304 yards and three touchdowns on the way to winning the Super Bowl XLV MVP, then won the NFL MVP award the next season. Signed a five-year, $110 million contract extension last April.
  • G Josh Sitton: Started Super Bowl XLV at right guard, but moved to left guard in 2013 and was a second-team, All-Pro selection. Signed a five-year contract extension on Sept. 2, 2011 that averages $6.75 million per season.
  • T Bryan Bulaga: Started at right tackle, but moved to left tackle last offseason. A training camp knee injury ended his 2013 season, and he now enters the final year of his rookie contract.
  • G: T.J. Lang: Served as a backup, but became the starting left guard the next season. Signed a four-year contract extension on Aug. 14, 2012 that averages $5.2 million per season. Moved to right guard last season.
  • WR Jordy Nelson: Caught nine passes for 140 yards and a touchdown in the Super Bowl, and went on to post 1,000-yard receiving seasons in two of the next three years. Entering the final year of his contract in 2014.
  • OLB Clay Matthews: Forced a fumble in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl that the Packers recovered and turned into a touchdown to pad the lead. Four-time Pro Bowler signed a five-year, $66 million contract extension last April.
  • LB A.J. Hawk: Started and made seven tackles in the Super Bowl. Was released two months later, only to re-sign a more salary-cap friendly deal. Is under contract through 2015.
  • CB Tramon Williams: Broke up three passes in the Super Bowl, including the one that sealed the game on fourth-and-5 from the Steelers’ 33-yard line in the final minute. Entering the final year of his contract. Scheduled to make $7.5 million in 2014, and could be a candidate to be released or restructured despite a strong finish to last season.
  • K Mason Crosby: Made a 23-yard field goal in the game and signed a five-year, $14.75 million contract on July 29, 2011. Struggled in 2012, but bounced back last year to post his best season.
  • P Tim Masthay: Capped his first season with the Packers by averaging 40.5 yards and allowing the Steelers just 5 yards on punt returns in the game. Signed a four-year, $5.465 million contract extension on July 26, 2012.
  • LS Brett Goode: Has been the long snapper since 2008 and signed a three-year, $2.715 million contract extension on Oct. 13, 2012.
  • CB Jarrett Bush: Special teams player who was pressed into defensive duty in the game after injuries to Sam Shields and Charles Woodson, and intercepted a Ben Roethlisberger pass in the second quarter. Signed a three-year, $5.25 million contract on March 26, 2012.
Headed for free agency next month

  • RB James Starks: Started the Super Bowl and rushed for 52 yards on 11 carries. Battled injuries most of his career, and might not be re-signed.
  • WR James Jones: Caught five passes for 50 yards in the game, and signed a three-year, $9.6 million contract on Aug. 2, 2011. Caught 59 passes for a career-high 817 yards in 2013, and could be a re-signed despite his age (will turn 30 next month).
  • DT Ryan Pickett: Started the game, made two tackles and was in on the play in which Matthews forced Rashard Mendehall's fourth-quarter fumble. Played in all 16 games last season with a base salary of $5.4 million, but might be at the age (34) where the Packers let him walk.
  • DT B.J. Raji: Capped a strong 2010 postseason with a pair of tackles in the game. Finished his rookie contract in 2013, and reportedly turned down an $8 million-per-year offer last season.
  • DE C.J. Wilson: Started the game, but played only 14 snaps. Biggest impact came the night before the game, when he kept things loose in the team hotel by playing piano and leading a team sign-along. Finished his rookie contract in 2013.
  • FB John Kuhn: Played on both offense and special teams in the game. Signed a three-year, $7.5 million contract on Aug. 1, 2011.
  • CB Sam Shields: Suffered a shoulder injury in the second quarter of the game. Had his best season in 2013 while playing under the restricted free agent tender of $2.023 million. Will command a big contract either from the Packers or another team in free agency.
  • LB Robert Francois: Went back and forth from the practice squad to the active roster throughout the 2010 season, and played on special teams in the game. Played last season under a one-year, $725,000 deal, but tore his Achilles tendon on Oct. 6.
  • TE Andrew Quarless: Caught one pass for 5 yards in the game. Suffered a major knee injury the next season and missed all of 2012. Returned last season to catch 32 passes for 312 yards (both career highs) in the final year of his rookie deal.
  • QB Matt Flynn: Served as Rodgers’ backup but did not play in the Super Bowl. Left after the 2011 season as a free agent, and after stints with Seattle, Oakland and Buffalo, he returned to the Packers last season for a one-year minimum deal and played in five games after Rodgers broke his collarbone.
  • C Evan Dietrich-Smith: Was inactive for the Super Bowl. Became a starter late in 2012 and for all of 2013, when he played under the restricted free agent tender of $1.323 million deal.
With other teams

  • [+] EnlargeMcCarthy
    Matthew Emmons/USA TODAY SportsCoach Mike McCarthy and the Packers have seen a lot of roster turnover since winning Super Bowl XLV.
    WR Greg Jennings: Started and became just the third player in team history to catch multiple touchdowns in a Super Bowl by recording touchdowns of 21 and 8 yards. Signed a five-year, $45 million contract with the Vikings last March.
  • G Daryn Colledge: Started at left guard, but left in free agency a few months later to sign a five-year, $27.5 million contract with the Cardinals. Has started every game for the Cardinals since.
  • C Scott Wells: Started at center and remained with the Packers through the 2011 season before signing a four-year, $24 million contract with the Rams. Has missed 13 games over the past two seasons because of injuries.
  • LB Desmond Bishop: Became a starter earlier in 2010 after Nick Barnett's wrist injury and made nine tackles in the Super Bowl. Also recovered the fumble that Matthews forced. Signed a four-year, $19 million contract in 2011, but was released after missing the entire 2012 season because of a hamstring injury. Signed with the Vikings last offseason, but appeared in only four games.
  • OLB Frank Zombo: Started the game and had the Packers’ only sack of Roethlisberger but battled injuries the next two years and was released. Signed with the Chiefs last year and appeared in all 16 games.
  • CB Charles Woodson: Started at cornerback, but broke his collarbone late in the second quarter and missed the remainder of the game. Played two more seasons with the Packers, who released him last year. Returned to his old team, the Raiders, and played in all 16 games last season.
  • DE Cullen Jenkins: Played 36 snaps and had a pair of quarterback pressures. Left in free agency the following year and signed a five-year, $25 million contract with the Eagles, who released him after two years. Signed a three-year, $8 million contract with the Giants last season.
  • TE Tom Crabtree: Played on both offense and special teams in the Super Bowl, catching one pass. Left last year to sign with the Buccaneers as an unrestricted free agent, but was limited to seven games because of injuries.
  • CB Josh Gordy: Was inactive for the game, and the next season was signed off the practice squad the by the Rams. Spent the past two seasons with the Colts.
  • G Nick McDonald: Was inactive for the game, like he was for every game that season. Was released in training camp the next year, and spent parts of the next two seasons with the Patriots. Did not play in 2013, but was recently signed by the Chargers.
  • OLB Erik Walden: Was inactive after suffering an ankle injury in the NFC Championship Game. Played the next two seasons before signing a four-year, $16 million contract with the Colts last year.
  • DE: Jarius Wynn: Was active but did not play. Played in Green Bay through 2011, and with the Titans and Chargers before landing with the Cowboys last season.
  • FB Quinn Johnson: Inactive for the game. Was traded to the Titans in 2011. Has played in 24 games for the Titans over the past three years.
Out of football

  • T Chad Clifton: Started at left tackle, but his long career with the Packers ended when they released him after he played in only six games in 2011. Was never signed by another team.
  • WR Donald Driver: Started the game and caught two passes for 28 yards before leaving with an ankle injury in the second quarter. Retired after the 2012 season as the team’s all-time leading receiver.
  • S Nick Collins: Started and made a key early play when he returned an interception 37 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter. Suffered a neck injury in Week 2 of 2011 and hasn’t played since.
  • DT Howard Green: Claimed off waivers earlier that season and started the game. His hit on Roethlisberger led to Collins’ interception return for a touchdown. Returned in 2011 and played in all 16 games, but has not played since.
  • WR Brett Swain: Posted a team-high four special teams tackles. Was released the following season and played briefly with the 49ers. Was cut in training camp last season by the Seahawks.
  • S Atari Bigby: Played on special teams. Signed with the Seahawks the following season and played in 15 games. Played in eight games with the Chargers in 2012, but did not play in 2013.
  • CB Pat Lee: Special teams player who saw action on defense after injuries to Woodson and Shields. Played one more season in Green Bay before splitting time in 2012 between the Lions and Raiders. Did not play in 2013.
  • RB Brandon Jackson: Played as the third-down back, but did not have any carries in the game. Caught one pass for 14 yards. Signed a two-year, $4.5 million contract with the Browns in 2011, but missed all of that season and played in only two games in 2012.
  • FB Korey Hall: Caught one pass for 2 yards and made one special teams tackle in the game. He played in 13 games with the Saints in 2011, and retired after going to camp with the Cardinals in 2012.
  • S Charlie Peprah: Led the Packers with 10 tackles (including nine solo stops). Returned as a starter in 2011, when he had five interceptions, but was released shortly before training camp in 2012. Played in five games for the Cowboys in 2012.
  • LB Diyral Briggs: Made one special teams tackle in the game, but never played in another NFL game.
  • LB Matt Wilhelm: Made two special teams tackles, but seven-year career ended after that game.
  • G Jason Spitz: Played on special teams. Left in free agency the next year and signed a three-year, $4.05 million contract with the Jaguars, who released him in training camp last summer. He signed with the Seahawks, but was released on Oct. 12.
  • TE Donald Lee: Played in the game, but did not have a catch and was released two months later. Played in nine games for the Bengals in 2001.
  • QB Graham Harrell: Inactive for the game. Remained with the Packers until he was released in training camp last summer. Also spent time briefly with the Jets before being released.
  • RB Dimitri Nance: Inactive for the game. Was released by the Packers the following summer and never played in another NFL game.
  • CB Brandon Underwood: Inactive for the game. Was released in 2011. Went to camp with the Raiders in 2012 and Cowboys in 2013, but did not make either team.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- In another NFL Nation players survey, we asked those around the league who they respect the most.

This was another category in which Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning led the voting, with 26.8 percent.

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was fifth (3.4 percent) in a category in which 78 players received votes.

Respect means different things to different players, which could be why the Packers don't elect season-long captains. Rather, they use three different captains -- one from the offense, one from the defense and one from special teams -- during each regular-season game.

However, league rules require that playoff teams select captains to represent them throughout the postseason. Because of that, we got a look at who some of the most respected players in the Packers' locker room were this past season. The team picked six captains: Rodgers and receiver Jordy Nelson on offense, linebacker A.J. Hawk and safety Morgan Burnett on defense, kicker Mason Crosby and cornerback Jarrett Bush on special teams.

Rodgers has been selected as a playoff captain five times, meaning all five times the Packers have made the playoffs since he became a starter. Bush has been selected four times, while Crosby and Hawk have been picked three teams each. It was the first time for Nelson and Burnett.

The aftermath of the Packers' comeback

December, 16, 2013
12/16/13
7:55
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GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Just as there was no panic in the Green Bay Packers on Sunday when they trailed the Dallas Cowboys 26-3 at halftime, there were no wild celebrations on the way home, either.

By no means were they nonchalant about their 37-36 victory, which tied the franchise record for the largest comeback.

They were just tired.

“It was actually a pretty quiet plane,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Monday. “I think everybody was spent. Just the sideline throughout the second half, the energy, the energy in the locker room, I think a lot of guys were just gassed.”

A day later, it's worth looking back on their improbable victory from several perspectives.

The offense

Despite the first-half struggles, McCarthy and offensive coordinator Tom Clements said they never once gave thought to pulling quarterback Matt Flynn and going back to Scott Tolzien, who Flynn had replaced midway through the Nov. 24 tie against the Minnesota Vikings.

“We were focused on trying to get everyone to play better and I think it was a great credit to them that they stuck together, just went out and fought hard and kept fighting and eventually got the win,” Clements said.

[+] EnlargeFlynn
Ron Jenkins/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT via Getty ImagesMatt Flynn led the Packers to a touchdown on their first five drives of the second half.
The turnaround in Flynn's play was remarkable. He led touchdown drives on the first five possessions of the second half -- all five of which were red zone scores, an area where the Packers have struggled most of the season.

McCarthy and Clements ditched the no-huddle offense that Flynn had run so well the week before in the comeback from 11 points down against the Atlanta Falcons. In the second half alone, Flynn completed 16 of 22 passes for 182 yards and four touchdown passes after going 10-of-17 for 117 yards and an interception in the first half.

“That's one of the things he said, he got locked on a receiver sometimes in the first half rather than going to the next option,” Clements said.

The contributions of running back Eddie Lacy also should not be overlooked. His 60-yard run on the first play of the second half set the tone. It was a play that McCarthy had originally scripted in his fist 10 calls of the game.

“I didn't run any trick plays or any deceptives, didn't do anything exotic, just wanted to get after them fundamentally,” McCarthy said. “And that's what we did.”

The defense

Defensive coordinator Dom Capers had been here before -- one week earlier.

But it wasn't quite this bad.

“I told you guys last week, I can remember looking at our guys in the eyes when we were down 21-10 during halftime last week and was like, ‘Hey, we have to go out and play one play at a time and work our way back into this game,'” Capers said. “I pretty much said the same thing to them this week because we were down 26-3. Things weren't looking really good at that point in time. I give them credit. Our guys, I don't think they blinked. We went out. On offense, Eddie had that nice run. I think it kind of picked the guys up and we were able to go out and make a few plays. We played our best when our best was needed.”

To make that happen, they got back on their turnover parade. A week after Mike Neal's strip-sack set up the go-ahead touchdown against the Falcons and Jarrett Bush's interception sealed the game, the Packers picked off Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo twice in the fourth quarter -- and they thought they had a third one but Tramon Williams' attempt at interception was overturned by replay.

Sam Shields' interception of Romo led to the go-ahead touchdown on Sunday, and then Williams finally got his to clinch the game after a replay overturned what was initially ruled an incomplete pass. Credit McCarthy for slowing down the Cowboys so they couldn't run another play before the replay official buzzed down to the field instructing referee Walt Coleman to take another look. When McCarthy saw the Cowboys hurrying up to the line of scrimmage, he called a timeout, which was soon after ruled unnecessary by the replay booth.

“We'll, I'm calling the timeout; I mean I'm not going to get beat by a technicality,” McCarthy said.

The aftermath

Of the Packers' three coordinators -- Clements, Capers and special teams coach Shawn Slocum -- only Clements could remember being part of a game as dramatic as that one.

“On the opposite end I do,” Clements said, recalling a game from his college playing career at Notre Dame.

In 1974, Clements and the Fighting Irish led USC 24-6 at halftime only to lose 55-24.

“Thanks for bringing it up,” Clements said.

Said Capers: “That's probably as dramatic of a turnaround [as he could recall].”

Said Slocum: “I've been through a bunch of games. That one was pretty special.”

The question now is was it just a singular moment in a season or something more monumental?

“Hopefully I'm talking about this a month from now or so,” McCarthy said. “I think these type of games and these types of experiences that we've been through the last five or six weeks are something that you can definitely benefit from as a football team.”

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