NFC North: Johnathan Franklin

GREEN BAY, Wis. – The Green Bay Packers have been holding a roster spot open ever since the end of the June minicamp, when they released injured running back Johnathan Franklin.

And even after signing first-year linebacker Korey Jones on Wednesday, they still have a roster spot available with two days remaining before players report to training camp. That's because they also waived rookie linebacker Shaun Lewis, an undrafted free agent they signed from Oklahoma State.

NFL teams are allowed to carry 90 players on their training camp roster.

Jones went to camp with the Arizona Cardinals last summer as an undrafted rookie but was released in the first round of roster cuts last August. He then signed with the B.C. Lions’ practice roster before being activated for the final two regular-season games plus the CFL playoffs.

The Cardinals listed him at 6-foot-2 and 233 pounds, although he was measured at 6-0.5, 230 at the combine and in his pro day workout before the 2013 draft. He played mostly inside linebacker in college at Wyoming, although he did play some snaps at defensive end.
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.

Camp preview: Green Bay Packers

July, 17, 2014
7/17/14
10:00
AM ET
» NFC Preview: East | West | North | South » AFC: East | West | North | South

NFL Nation's Rob Demovsky examines the three biggest issues facing the Green Bay Packers heading into training camp:

Replacing Finley: The longer tight end Jermichael Finley remains unsigned, the more likely it appears his time in Green Bay -- and perhaps in the NFL -- is over, despite his desire to continue to play. The team's reluctance to clear Finley after last season's neck injury falls in line with its philosophy on similar injuries. Just last month, it cut ties with another player who suffered a neck injury last season, running back Johnathan Franklin. The Packers re-signed Andrew Quarless to a two-year, $3 million contract in March, but that's hardly starter's money. The door is open for rookie third-round draft pick Richard Rodgers, who performed well enough during the organized team activities and minicamp practices (which Quarless missed because of injury) to move into the starting spot. Rodgers has the kind of dynamic athletic ability that Finley brought to the position. The wild card there is Colt Lyerla, the undrafted but talented rookie from Oregon. Had Lyerla not left the Ducks' program and run into trouble subsequently last year, he might have been a high draft pick. The Packers also will have to assess whether Brandon Bostick can make a bigger impact than he did last season.

The safeties: We know the Packers used their first-round pick on safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. Now what? It's time to see whether the former Alabama standout can make an immediate impact. One thing was clear based on the offseason practices: Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers is not going to hand the rookie a starting job. Unlike Morgan Burnett, who lined up as a starting safety from his first practice as a rookie in 2010, Clinton-Dix played mostly with the second-string defense in OTAs and minicamp. At some point, perhaps even when training camp opens, Capers will insert Clinton-Dix with the starters, and he may never relinquish that role. But the Packers believe they have options in case Clinton-Dix is not ready to start from the outset. Converted cornerback Micah Hyde took almost all of the reps alongside Burnett with the No. 1 defense this offseason, and coach Mike McCarthy would like to get Hyde on the field more often than just sub packages. Using him at safety, at the very least in the base defense, would be one way to accomplish that. The Packers also like third-year pro Sean Richardson, who has shown some playmaking ability.

Capers on the hot seat: With so much of the offseason focus on improving the defense -- from tweaks to the scheme, to changes on the coaching staff, to the addition of high-priced free-agent pass-rusher Julius Peppers, to another first-round pick on that side of the ball -- it's worth wondering what might happen if none of that equates to significant improvement on Capers' side of the ball. McCarthy spent more time than usual this offseason working with Capers on changes to the scheme. At the very least, that was an indication McCarthy was not happy with the direction the defense was headed, although it was not problematic enough for McCarthy to make a change at the position. He trusts Capers and his scheme, but clearly there were issues that troubled him. The Packers slipped from 11th overall in yards allowed in 2012 to 25th last season. Injuries hit Capers' unit hard last season, but McCarthy is not willing to use that as an excuse. Rather, he charged Capers with adjusting his scheme so that it will be more adaptable to plugging in players if injuries strike again.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Between now and when the Green Bay Packers report to training camp on July 25, we will spend considerable time looking at the roster from a variety of angles.

In the days leading up to camp, we will break things down by position group. And before that, we will look at several players who need to give the Packers more than they did last year.

But before we do any of that, let's reset the depth chart as it likely stands heading into training camp. This is an unofficial assessment, but it is based on observations during organized team activities and minicamp practices combined with interviews with assistant coaches and scouts.

First up is the offense:

Quarterbacks: Aaron Rodgers, Matt Flynn, Scott Tolzien, Chase Rettig.

Notes: Expect a legitimate battle for the No. 2 job between Flynn and Tolzien in the preseason. Coach Mike McCarthy noted several times how much Tolzien improved thanks to a full offseason with the Packers. The biggest question here is whether the Packers will keep three quarterbacks rather than only two. Rettig looks like a camp arm, at best.

Running backs: Eddie Lacy, James Starks, DuJuan Harris, Michael Hill, Rajion Neal, LaDarius Perkins.

Notes: The loss of Johnathan Franklin to a career-ending neck injury struck a blow to what appeared to be a deep position. But it also sorted out things somewhat, although Harris still needs to show that he can be productive like he was late in the 2012 season. The knee injury that cost him all of last season does not appear to be an issue. Neal and Perkins, a pair of undrafted rookies, both are slashing backs similar to Harris with Perkins (5-foot-7, 195 pounds) also being similar in stature.

Fullbacks: John Kuhn, Ina Liaina.

Notes: There's no reason to think the veteran Kuhn won't be around for another season.

Receivers: Outside -- Jordy Nelson, Jarrett Boykin, Davante Adams, Jeff Janis, Kevin Dorsey, Chris Harper. Slot -- Randall Cobb, Jared Abbrederis, Myles White, Alex Gillett.

Notes: Adams, the rookie from Fresno State, may eventually supplant Boykin, but he will have to catch the ball more cleanly than he did in the offseason. He battled drop issues at times during the OTAs and minicamp. Fellow rookie Janis showed up regularly during team periods. Harper was off to a strong start until a hamstring injury knocked him out. In the slot, Abbrederis looks like a natural fit. White bulked up after contributing some as a rookie last season and should not be ignored.

Tight ends: Richard Rodgers, Andrew Quarless, Brandon Bostick, Ryan Taylor, Jake Stoneburner, Colt Lyerla, Justin Perillo.

Notes: Even if Quarless is healthy for the start of camp, Rodgers might still have the edge for the starting job after a strong offseason. He's more dynamic as a receiver than Quarless, who missed the entire offseason because of an undisclosed injury. Bostick came back late in the offseason from foot surgery. While there are high expectations for Lyerla, the undrafted rookie did not flash often enough during offseason practices.

Tackles: Right side -- Bryan Bulaga, Don Barclay, Aaron Adams, John Fullington. Left side -- David Bakhtiari, Derek Sherrod, Jeremy Vujnovich.

Notes: Bulaga practiced with a large brace on his surgically repaired left knee and has something to prove after missing all of last season, but the fact that he's back at right tackle shows how much the Packers believe in Bakhtiari on the left side. Sherrod made it through the full offseason program for the first time, which is something of an accomplishment considering his injury history. But he's running out of time to show he can play like the first-round pick that he was in 2011. Barclay, who started 18 regular-season games the last two seasons, has split his time between right tackle and guard and looks like the No. 6 offensive lineman.

Guard: Right side -- T.J. Lang, Barclay, Lane Taylor. Left side -- Josh Sitton, Barclay, Andrew Tiller, Jordan McCray.

Notes: Barclay likely would be the top back up at both guard spots, although Taylor worked at right guard with the No. 2 offensive line while Barclay played right tackle or left guard.

Center: JC Tretter, Garth Gerhart, Corey Linsley.

Notes: Tretter took all the snaps with the number one offensive line this offseason. It is his job to lose, but his lack of experience makes him something short of a sure thing. Gerhart worked ahead of Linsley, a fifth-round pick, but if anyone is going to challenge Tretter it might be Linsley.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Here's a look at what stood out from the Green Bay Packers' minicamp practice on Thursday:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

8. Roll call, part 2: The following players attended practice but did not participate: receiver Chris Harper, cornerback Jumal Rolle, linebacker Nick Perry, tight end Andrew Quarless and defensive end Jerel Worthy. Running back Johnathan Franklin, who will be waived/injured on Friday because of a career-ending neck injury, was not present.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The last day of minicamp typically has a last-day-of-school feeling, with players eager to begin their summer break, but spirits were dampened in the Green Bay Packers' locker room on Thursday after receiving word that running back Johnathan Franklin's neck injury will end his career with the team and most likely in the NFL.

At one end of the locker room was fellow running back DuJuan Harris, whose only concern for Franklin was his future health.

"It's not about football; it's way beyond football," Harris said. "Damn football. This is his life. I'm not thinking about football."

[+] EnlargeJohnathan Franklin
AP Photo/Morry GashRunning back Johnathan Franklin had 19 carries for 107 yards and one touchdown last season.
At the other end of the locker room was defensive end Datone Jones. No one with the Packers goes back further with Franklin than Jones. They grew up near each other in Los Angeles and committed to UCLA on the same day.

"To see him work so hard to actually make his dream come true and make it to the NFL, man, it's tough to see it end this way, because I knew how hard he worked," Jones said. "He's a special guy. He was a special guy at UCLA, and not only on the field but off the field. He was very involved off the field. One thing I do know: he has a calling outside of football to lift people and bring people's spirits up. Hopefully he can pursue his dream to become the mayor of L.A."

In the middle of the room was running back Eddie Lacy, Franklin's roommate in training camp last season. The Packers picked Lacy and Franklin in the same draft last year, two rounds apart. The two expected to be tied together for years to come.

"He shot everybody in the running back group a text, and it just makes you cherish the moments that you get to play," Lacy said. "We came in together. We got to know each other real good and we spent a lot of time together. He was just starting [his career], and just like that, as fast as you get it, it can be taken away. But from talking to him and still being around him, he has a great personality. He's going to be down a little bit, but that's just any player. He's definitely going to remain positive and keep his faith, so I know no matter what he does after this, he's going to give his all and his personality is great."

Franklin was one of three Packers' players to suffer a serious neck injury last season. The other two players -- tight end Jermichael Finley and defensive tackle Johnny Jolly -- are currently out of football.

Since 2000, the Packers have had at least nine players suffer significant neck injuries. Of that group -- safety Gary Berry, receiver Terrence Murphy, offensive lineman Tony Palmer, defensive end/outside linebacker Jeremy Thompson, safety Nick Collins, safety Sean Richardson, Finley, Jolly and Franklin -- only Richardson has returned to play.

Like Franklin, Murphy, a second-round pick in 2005, suffered a neck injury as a rookie.

Franklin missed the entire offseason program and did not attend the final minicamp practice.

Word that the Packers were concerned that Franklin would not be able to return first came on Wednesday, when two sources told ESPN.com that Franklin's football future was in jeopardy.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- It's one thing for a proven player like Clay Matthews to miss the entire offseason program while recovering from his twice broken thumb.

Matthews has turned in Pro Bowl seasons before while missing major parts of the offseason and training camp because of hamstring injuries.

Perry
But for a player like Nick Perry, the Green Bay Packers outside linebacker who has yet to perform like the first-round pick that he was in 2012, the fact that he has been unable to participate in any on-field activities this offseason could prove to be another detriment to his development.

"I don't think it helps any player to miss a whole offseason," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Tuesday following the first practice of minicamp. "I talked about it last week with the staff. I told the team about it today. Our coaching staff took a different approach. You're accustomed to being a 15-week program. Obviously we're in a nine-week program going on here in Year 4 [of the new CBA]. To get all that work done, nothing changes. You have a season to get ready for. You have this much work. And to do it all in a nine-week period, and for a player to miss all of it, obviously it's not a good situation to be in.

"I think any of the players who did not take advantage of this nine-week opportunity or due to injury is definitely something they're going to have to work harder to catch up once training camp starts."

McCarthy would not specify the reason for Perry’s absence, but Perry missed five games last season because of foot and ankle injuries.

"I mean, he's injured, so. ..." McCarthy said.

There is frustration throughout the organization about Perry's inability to get on the field. He missed nearly half (15) of the 32 regular-season games in his two NFL seasons.

When asked what Perry is missing by being unable to practice, linebackers coach Winston Moss said: "Everything. Everything."

"It's unfortunate," Moss said. "It's disappointing."

In addition to Matthews and Perry, three other former draft picks have been unable to participate this offseason: defensive end Jerel Worthy, tight end Andrew Quarless and running back Johnathan Franklin.

Perhaps the biggest concern is about Franklin, the fourth-round pick from UCLA who finished his rookie season last year on injured reserve following a neck injury. The Packers are worried that Franklin's neck injury might be career-threatening. According to two people with knowledge of his situation, the Packers are putting Franklin through more tests to determine whether it's safe for him to continue playing.

Worthy, who last season played in only two games after coming off a torn ACL in the 2012 regular-season finale, missed the first two weeks of OTAs following the accidental shooting death of his grandmother in Ohio, but he also is dealing with an unspecified injury that is not believed to be related to his knee.

Quarless, who signed a two-year, $3 million contract to return to the Packers, also has not practiced. He missed all of the 2012 season because of a knee injury in 2011 but returned to play in every game last season, including 10 starts.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Here's a look at what stood out from the Green Bay Packers' third open organized team activity of the offseason on Tuesday:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Packers' next offseason session that is open to fans (weather permitting) and the media is June 17, the first of a three-day mandatory minicamp.
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. -- Here's a look at what stood out from the Green Bay Packers' second open OTA session of the offseason Tuesday:

1. Rookie catch up: Second-round receiver Davante Adams and third-round defensive tackle Khyri Thornton returned after missing last week's OTA sessions to attend the NFL Players Association Rookie Premier event. Adams said he stayed in his playbook during the trip to and from Los Angeles. "When I was out there, I was studying my playbook," Adams said. "When I was on the flight, I was studying my playbook. That's pretty much all it was."

Boykin
2. Boykin, Harper shine: Receivers Jarrett Boykin and Chris Harper had big days during team and 7-on-7 passing periods Tuesday. Both stood out during the team blitz period, catching hot reads from quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers and Matt Flynn. Boykin has been working as the No. 3 receiver despite the arrival of Adams and fellow draft picks Jared Abbrederis and Jeff Janis. Harper, a fourth-round pick of the Seattle Seahawks last year, was claimed off waivers last Oct. 18 and is an intriguing prospect with good size (6-foot-1, 228 pounds). "Chris has really improved," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said after practice. "I mean, I think you saw the first snap there in the team period, I mean, he runs a great post and Aaron hits him right in stride. I mean, that's the kind of explosiveness that he has."

3. Barclay's versatility: Third-year pro Don Barclay is making a case for being the team's most versatile offensive lineman. He worked with the starters at left guard Tuesday, when Josh Sitton appeared to be limited. Last week, Barclay worked at right tackle behind Bryan Bulaga. He also could take reps at center. At this point, Barclay looks like he might be the team's top backup linemen at several positions. "Donny has the ability to potentially play five positions on the offensive line," McCarthy said. "I don't know how many guys you can say that about."

4. Inside pass-rush combination: It looks like defensive coordinator Dom Capers is going to give Datone Jones and Mike Daniels every chance to be his primary interior pass rushers in the sub packages. The Packers hope Jones can make the kind of jump Daniels made last year, when he increased his sack total from 2 to 6.5.

5. Another new guy: With B.J. Raji absent from Tuesday's practice, Letroy Guion took most of the reps at nose tackle with the starters. Guion, the former Minnesota Vikings defensive lineman who signed a one-year deal with the Packers this offseason, gives the Packers a taller option at the spot. He has two inches on the 6-2 Raji.

6. To the House: Fourth-year cornerback Davon House, who is coming off an inconsistent season, came up with an interception during a team period, when he picked off a corner route thrown by Flynn that was intended for Kevin Dorsey.

Crosby
7. Kicking competition: There's not another kicker on the roster this year, but it's still worth charting all of Mason Crosby's field goals. He went 7-for-8 during a team period on a windy Tuesday. His only miss was wide right from 47 yards. He also missed from 43 yards, but that kick was whistled dead at the snap and therefore did not count. Last year at this time, Crosby was kicking for his job. This year, he's coming off a career-best season in which he made 89.2 percent of his regular-season field goals.

8. Punt return rotation: Randall Cobb, Micah Hyde, Tramon Williams and Abbrederis took turns catching punts during a special teams period.

9. Roll call: Add cornerback Jumal Rolle to the list of those who did not practice. McCarthy does not give injury updates during OTAs, and Rolle was not available for comment. Others who did not practice due to injuries were: running back Johnathan Franklin, linebacker Clay Matthews, linebacker Nick Perry, tight end Andrew Quarless and tight end Brandon Bostick. Those five also missed last week's sessions.

10. Roll call, part II: Rookie tight end Colt Lyerla, defensive end Jerel Worthy and Raji were not in attendance. Lyerla's agent, Vinnie Porter, said the Packers were aware of Lyerla's absence in advance and excused him even though that was not necessary because it is a voluntary workout. McCarthy said he expected Lyerla back Wednesday. Worthy's grandmother died last week after she was accidentally shot.

The Packers' next open OTA session is next Tuesday at 11:30 a.m. local time.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Green Bay Packers will hold their second open practice of their organized team activities on Tuesday at 11:30 a.m. local time.

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

Here are some things to keep an eye on:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We will define them this way:
  • Part 1: Negligible -- positions where there is little or no need.
  • Part 2: Non-essential -- positions where there is a need but it is not paramount to fill.
  • Part 3: Secondary -- positions where there is a need but not at the critical level.
  • Part 4: Pressing -- positions where it is imperative that help be found.

First up are the negligible needs.

10. Defensive line: Whether you count recently signed pass-rusher Julius Peppers here or as an outside linebacker, it's still a deep position with the return of nose tackle B.J. Raji (who signed a one-year contract), a pair of draft picks last season in first-rounder Datone Jones and fifth-rounder Josh Boyd, and an emerging star in Mike Daniels. If the Packers need short-term help, they could re-sign veterans Johnny Jolly and Ryan Pickett. That said, Thompson has never been one to pass up a big-bodied player so it wouldn't be a total shock to see him take a defensive lineman high in the draft if the right one fell into his lap.

Possible players of interest: Ra'Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota; Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame; Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State; Louis Nix III, DT, Notre Dame.

11. Running back: This could be as deep a group as coach Mike McCarthy has had in his nine seasons thanks to reigning offensive rookie of the year Eddie Lacy plus the return of James Starks, DuJuan Harris, Johnathan Franklin and John Kuhn. The only issues here would be if Harris' knee injury that kept him out all of last season and Franklin's neck injury that ended his rookie year in November remain problematic.

Possible players of interest: None.

12. Specialists: The Packers are set at all three spots -- kicker, punter and long-snapper. Mason Crosby's bounce-back year means the Packers may not even bring another kicker to training camp. Crosby is signed through 2015. Punter Tim Masthay is signed through 2016 and snapper Brett Goode through 2015. There are no issues with either one.

Possible players of interest: None.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Green Bay Packers began this offseason with 17 players scheduled for unrestricted free agency.

They have re-signed five of them: outside linebacker/defensive end Mike Neal, tight end Andrew Quarless, defensive tackle B.J. Raji, cornerback Sam Shields and running back James Starks.

Four of them signed with other teams: center Evan Dietrich-Smith (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), receiver James Jones (Oakland Raiders), tackle Marshall Newhouse (Cincinnati Bengals) and defensive end C.J. Wilson (Raiders).

That leaves eight still on the market. Here's an update on where things stand the Packers’ remaining free agents:

Kahlil Bell, RB: With Starks back on a two-year, $3.165 million deal, it’s unlikely Bell, a late-season pickup last year, will be re-signed. The Packers already have five halfbacks with NFL experience on the roster -- Eddie Lacy, Johnathan Franklin, DuJuan Harris, Michael Hill and Starks -- plus practice-squad member Orwin Smith.

Jermichael Finley, TE: There's no guarantee Finley will receive medical clearance to resume his career following last season's neck injury. Finley reportedly failed a physical during a free-agent visit to the Seattle Seahawks, and the Packers say they are still monitoring his condition. At this point, Finley's career remains on hold.

Matt Flynn, QB: It's all but a lock that the player who kept last season alive while Aaron Rodgers was sidelined with his broken collarbone will return. Coach Mike McCarthy wants Flynn back and would like to keep three quarterbacks on the roster this season. Expect Flynn to be re-signed soon.

Robert Francois, LB: The special-teams player is coming off a torn Achilles tendon. If healed, he could be re-signed for a minimum contract later in free agency.

Johnny Jolly, DT: Like Finley, Jolly underwent neck fusion surgery. But Jolly's injury was not as severe as Finley’s and the fusion took place lower in his neck, which makes it safer for him to resume his career. McCarthy said he liked how Jolly played last season, so expect the Packers to bring back Jolly at some point.

John Kuhn, FB: The Packers remain in talks with the fan favorite who completed a three-year, $7 million contract last season. Kuhn is a valuable special teams player and has been their best pass protector out of the backfield the past several seasons. But it's not a given he will return. And if he does, it likely will be for less money than he received three years ago.

Ryan Pickett, DT: The plan to move Raji back to nose tackle might make Pickett expendable. Or perhaps his age (34) has already done that. McCarthy was non-committal when asked about Pickett's status last week at the NFL annual meetings.

Seneca Wallace, QB: McCarthy would like to bring four quarterbacks to training camp, but don't expect the 33-year-old Wallace to be one of them. He couldn't stay healthy when the Packers needed him after Rodgers' injury. Instead, they would like to add another young, developmental prospect.

More in store for Lacy, other RBs

February, 21, 2014
2/21/14
5:15
PM ET
INDIANAPOLIS -- The Green Bay Packers think Eddie Lacy can do even more in his second season.

From a numbers standpoint, they would probably take a repeat of his production from his offensive rookie of the year season in 2013. The 1,178 yards, 11 rushing touchdowns and 35 receptions likely would be sufficient.

Lacy
But when it comes to playing-time distribution, his role -- and that of the other running backs -- could be altered.

Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Friday that he wants Lacy to become comfortable playing on all three downs, which means increasing his third-down and pass protection responsibilities.

“Eddie Lacy obviously had a heck of a year,” McCarthy said at the NFL scouting combine. “He was a primary player for us, [a] play-maker. Eddie’s focus is on being a three-down player. He has to play all three downs throughout the whole game.”

What that means for fullback John Kuhn, who is scheduled to become a free agent next month, is unclear. Kuhn often was used as the third-down back because of his proficiency as a pass protector.

By keeping the same running back on the field for an extended period of time, it could help the Packers offense operate more efficiently in the no-huddle.

“You want to be able to get players to get into the flow of the game when your offensive philosophy is to get as many plays as possible,” McCarthy said. “Limiting substitutions is obviously an asset to accomplishing that.”

That doesn’t mean the Packers won’t substitute. McCarthy has plans to use DuJuan Harris, who missed all of last season because of a knee injury, and Johnathan Franklin in a similar role. He also has not ruled out bringing back James Starks, who is schedule to be a free agent.

“I think we can get an even better rotation than we had this year with our running back group,” McCarthy said. “I actually thought our running back group rotation-wise has been as good as it’s been in my time in Green Bay. But with Eddie, Johnathan and James Starks -- hopefully we can sign James back -- if all these guys can play three downs it gives your offense the chance to play faster, keeps guys fresher.”
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.

SPONSORED HEADLINES