NFC North: Kevin Dorsey

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Between now and when the Green Bay Packers report to training camp on July 25, we will spend considerable time looking at the roster from a variety of angles.

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

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

First up is the offense:

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

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

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

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

Fullbacks: John Kuhn, Ina Liaina.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Center: JC Tretter, Garth Gerhart, Corey Linsley.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

8. Roll call, part 2: The following players attended practice but did not participate: receiver Chris Harper, cornerback Jumal Rolle, linebacker Nick Perry, tight end Andrew Quarless and defensive end Jerel Worthy. Running back Johnathan Franklin, who will be waived/injured on Friday because of a career-ending neck injury, was not present.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Here's a look at what stood out from the Green Bay Packers' 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. -- Let's get this out of the way from the top: We know Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson does not draft for need -- or so he says.

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

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

We will define them this way:

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

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

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

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

On Monday, we looked at the negligible needs, Nos. 10-12. On Tuesday, it was the non-essential needs, Nos. 7-9.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Possible players of interest: Cyrus Kouandjio, Alabama; Ja'Wuan James, Tennessee; Morgan Moses, Virginia; Jack Mewhort, Ohio State; Billy Turner, North Dakota State.
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.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Less than three hours after his woeful performance in practice, kicker Zach Ramirez was released by the Green Bay Packers.

Ramirez, who missed 10-of-16 kicks during Tuesday’s practice, was the only cut among the Packers’ nine roster moves that got them down to 75 players. Their remaining moves were injury related.

Just two days earlier, the Packers had three kickers on their roster. But after releasing Giorgio Tavecchio on Monday and Ramirez on Tuesday, they had only veteran Mason Crosby.

I’ll have more on whether Crosby nailed down the job or not in my practice report, which will be posted shortly.

To get down to the NFL-mandated 75 players by 4 p.m., the Packers placed four players on season-ending injured reserve: tackle Bryan Bulaga (knee), receiver Kevin Dorsey (toe), running back DuJuan Harris (knee) and linebacker Jarvis Reed (ankle). And they moved four players to reserve/physically unable to perform: safety Sean Richardson (neck), tackle Derek Sherrod (leg), tackle JC Tretter (ankle) and defensive end Jerel Worthy (knee).

Players on PUP can begin practicing after Week 6 of the regular season and then have a five-week window during which they can return to practice. Once they begin practicing, teams have three weeks to decide whether to activate them. ESPN's Mike Sando has the full explanation of the PUP rules.

UPDATE: Per the NFL’s official transaction wire, both Dorsey and Reed were waived/injured. That means the team will eventually work out injury settlements with both players, which would pay them for a portion of the regular season that they would have missed due to their injuries. While it’s possible the Packers could re-sign them, injury settlements often mean the end of a player’s career with that team.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Green Bay Packers needed some good news in their secondary, and it came on Monday in the form of cornerback Tramon Williams’ return to practice after missing nearly a month because of a knee injury.

For the first time since July 30, the fourth practice of training camp, Williams was back in action, clearing the way for him to be ready for the Sept. 8 regular-season opener at San Francisco.

It was not a full-pads practice, so Williams couldn’t put his knee through a complete test. But he took part in most of the practice drills and even took a few reps as a punt returner. Williams described his injury as a bone bruise, and he wore a protective wrap on his knee.

“Coaches limited my reps, obviously, but it felt good for the most part, moving around against different guys,” Williams said. “I wondered how that would feel. It held up.”

With only one more practice remaining before Thursday’s preseason finale at Kansas City, it looks like Williams won’t get any exhibition snaps before the opener.

“I still don’t want to go out and say that I will be there Week 1,” Williams said. “But for me to be out there now, I think it’s definitely a possibility.”

Even with Williams back, the Packers were still missing two key players in the secondary -- safety Morgan Burnett and cornerback Casey Hayward. Both sustained hamstring injuries on Friday against Seattle and have been ruled out against the Chiefs.

In other developments on Monday:
  • Tight end Brandon Bostick saw his role increase on special teams. He was on the No. 1 punt return, the No. 1 kickoff return and No. 1 punt coverage units. If a player is on several of the top special teams units, it can be a sign he’s in good shape to make the roster. However, on the final play of practice, Bostick dropped a touchdown pass from Aaron Rodgers. It came on the same day in which ESPN’s Ed Werder reported the Packers are fielding trade calls about their tight ends, including Bostick.
  • Rookie linebacker Nate Palmer made one of his best plays of training camp, when he broke up a deep pass to tight end Jermichael Finley. Palmer, a sixth-round pick from Illinois State who is on the bubble to make the roster, had good coverage on Finley’s seam route and knocked the ball away.
  • Vince Young threw a pair of interceptions, one by safety M.D. Jennings and one by cornerback Micah Hyde.
  • Receiver Tyrone Walker had perhaps the catch of the day on a back-shoulder fade from Rodgers.
  • Heavy rain forced the Packers indoors for the first time during training camp.
Medical report: Rookie receiver Kevin Dorsey was back on the sidelines because of a toe injury. Dorsey missed 10 practices and two preseason games earlier this summer because of a leg injury.

Linebacker Dezman Moses dropped out of practice halfway through because of a toe injury.

The Packers were still waiting for the results of more tests on running back DuJuan Harris’ knee injury.

Linebacker Brad Jones (hamstring) was added to the list of players who would not play against the Chiefs.

A total of 12 players did not suit up for practice. They were CB Jarrett Bush (ankle), CB James Nixon (ankle, knee), S Sean Richardson (neck), LB Jarvis Reed (ankle), OL J.C. Tretter (ankle), T Bryan Bulaga (knee), T Derek Sherrod (leg), DE Jerel Worthy (knee) Hayward, Harris, Burnett and Jones.

What’s next: The final practice of training camp is Tuesday at 11 a.m. local time.

What to watch for: Packers-Seahawks

August, 23, 2013
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GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Expect to see replay after replay of Golden Tate and M.D. Jennings fighting for the ball on the final play of last year’s Week 3 game between the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks during the television broadcast of Friday night’s preseason game at Lambeau Field.

But that’s old news, at least to the Packers, who have two preseason games and just three more practices remaining before final roster cuts are due Aug. 31.

Here are five things to watch for from the Packers’ perspective:

1. Playing time for the starters: Coach Mike McCarthy has typically used the third preseason game as a dress rehearsal for the regular-season opener, playing his starters at least the full first half and resting them in the exhibition finale. This year could be different. McCarthy and general manager Ted Thompson still have a long list of young players they want to see in extended game action to get a better evaluation. To do so, they might have to cut back on playing time for some of the starters. “I talked to Ted about some things, so once again we’re trying to get as much information as we can,” McCarthy said. “We want to play very well, we want to win the game, but we’ve got guys who have been injured the whole camp. We have guys who have been injured from the spring all the way through camp that are finally maybe playing.”

2. Young receivers: Among the players McCarthy was referring to are rookie receivers Kevin Dorsey and Charles Johnson. Both missed most of training camp and the offseason program. Dorsey returned last week from a hamstring injury but did not play in Saturday’s game at St. Louis. Johnson returned this week from a knee injury. The seventh-round draft picks were expected to challenge for the Nos. 4 and 5 receiver spots but have fallen way behind. “I think they have a good grasp of our offense, our concepts, what we do,” receivers coach Edgar Bennett said this week. “But unfortunately, a big part of what we do is taking it from the classroom and going out on the practice field and working our fundamentals to improve, and that’s the area that, unfortunately due to injury, they haven’t been able to take full advantage of. Will they get some opportunities in these next two preseason games? We’ll see.”

3. Cornerback carousel: Casey Hayward was arguably the biggest playmaker for the Packers defense last season. As a rookie, he intercepted six passes while playing the slot position in the nickel package. He missed the first month of training camp because of a pulled hamstring he sustained while working out over the summer. During his absence, rookie Micah Hyde has played well in the slot position. Sam Shields and Davon House have manned the outside spots while Tramon Williams remains out with a knee injury. Hayward returned to practice this week and could see some action against the Seahawks. “You have Sam and House outside, Micah is right there, so [Hayward] is fourth right now,” cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt said. “So until Casey moves either him or House out of the way, he’s not going to get as many reps. You have to be deserving of your reps, and really what you did last year is last year.”

4. Harris’ return: Despite the emergence of rookie Eddie Lacy, McCarthy insists that DuJuan Harris remains his starting running back. Harris might get one chance to prove that. He will make his preseason debut after finally returning from a knee injury he sustained in the offseason. Harris, who was signed to the practice squad in October and wasn’t promoted to the roster until Dec. 1, finished last season as the starter and averaged 4.6 yards per carry over the final four regular-season games. “He did great things for us, I thought, down the stretch in the last part of the season,” running backs coach Alex Van Pelt said. “Unfortunately, he had the injury there in OTAs that kept him out of the first part of training camp, but all that being said, he did his job when he was asked to do it last year and he’s going to continue to get the first chances to do it now that he’s back.”

5. Crosby … again: It wouldn’t be a Packers preseason game if there wasn’t some drama surrounding the kickers. Just when Mason Crosby looked like his struggles were behind him after he made all three of his kicks against the Rams, he had a horrible practice Wednesday. He missed three straight field goals before finally knocking a fourth through the uprights. Crosby was scheduled to kick only one or two balls, but special-teams coach Shawn Slocum made him keep kicking until he finally made one. Just one day earlier, Slocum had praised Crosby. “I thought Mason kicked the ball well all week, and he did it in the game and did it again yesterday,” Slocum said Tuesday. All eyes will be on Crosby to see if he falters again and re-opens the door for challenger Giorgio Tavecchio to beat him out.

Packers' 53-man roster projection

August, 22, 2013
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GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Green Bay Packers have two preseason games and three training camp practices left to evaluate their roster before final cuts are due on Aug. 31.

Here’s a position-by-position projection of how the 53-man roster would look if the final cuts were made today. It is based on camp-long conversations with coaches and NFL scouts and could easily change in the next nine days.

[+] EnlargeVince Young
Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesVince Young could be tabbed to be Aaron Rodgers' backup.
Quarterbacks (2): Aaron Rodgers, Vince Young

Analysis: Keeping three quarterbacks is unlikely, so the Packers have to decide between Young and Graham Harrell. There’s a growing sense within the organization that they need a better backup than Harrell. Young might not have a firm grasp of the offense for several more weeks or even months, but it’s a risk they may be willing to take.

Running backs (5): DuJuan Harris, Eddie Lacy, Johnathan Franklin, Alex Green, John Kuhn

Analysis: James Starks looks like the odd man out. He plummeted down the depth chart after his fumble on Saturday at St. Louis. The Packers could see if there’s any possibility of trading Starks or Green, but they haven’t received any offers yet. Kuhn still has value as the lone fullback because of his blocking, leadership and special teams contributions.

Receivers (5): Randall Cobb, James Jones, Jordy Nelson, Jarrett Boykin, Tyrone Walker

Analysis: Given the injuries to Cobb (biceps) and Nelson (knee), they may have to consider keeping a sixth receiver. That could bring Jeremy Ross, Kevin Dorsey or Charles Johnson back into play. But for now, the undrafted rookie Walker has the edge for the final spot. The Packers had hoped Ross would show more as a receiver so that they could also make him their kick returner. Rookies Dorsey and Johnson, both seventh-round picks, missed so much time because of injuries that there’s not enough information to go on. At this point, they look like practice-squad candidates if they clear waivers.

Tight ends (4): Jermichael Finley, Ryan Taylor, Brandon Bostick, Jake Stoneburner

Analysis: This is perhaps the most muddled position after the starter, Finley. There’s no clear-cut No. 2. Taylor is on most of the top special teams units but so is D.J. Williams. The problem with Williams is his inconsistency. He practices well but doesn’t carry it over to the games. Bostick may have the most upside because at 6-foot-3, 250 pounds, he’s built like Finley. Stoneburner, an undrafted rookie, has made a strong impression of late. Veteran Andrew Quarless can’t stay healthy and hasn’t played in nearly two years. Meanwhile, veteran free agent Matthew Mulligan, another blocking tight end with special teams ability, has an elbow injury that may have derailed his chances.

Offensive line (8): David Bakhtiari, Josh Sitton, Evan Dietrich-Smith, T.J. Lang, Don Barclay, Marshall Newhouse, Greg Van Roten, Lane Taylor

Analysis: Last year, the Packers kept only seven but would prefer to keep eight. If Barclay holds on to the starting right tackle job, Newhouse would be the swing tackle. Van Roten can back up all three interior positions and has even played a little tackle. Taylor, an undrafted rookie, has impressed at guard. Derek Sherrod (leg) and JC Tretter (ankle) will likely start the season on PUP, while Bryan Bulaga (knee) will go on IR.

Defensive line (6): Ryan Pickett, B.J. Raji, C.J. Wilson, Datone Jones, Mike Daniels, Johnny Jolly

Analysis: Despite coach Mike McCarthy’s insistence that Mike Neal is a defensive end, he’s going to count as an outside linebacker, where he has seen more practice time. Jolly has been impressive in short stints and has overcome long odds after missing the last three seasons because of a suspension. If the Packers keep a seventh defensive lineman, it will be rookie fifth-rounder Josh Boyd, who is big and athletic but might not be ready to play right away. Jerel Worthy (knee) will likely start the season on PUP.

Linebackers (10): A.J. Hawk, Brad Jones, Clay Matthews, Nick Perry, Robert Francois, Jamari Lattimore, Sam Barrington, Terrell Manning, Mike Neal, Andy Mulumba

Analysis: The inside spots are fairly clear cut behind the starters, Hawk and Jones. Francois, Lattimore, Barrington and Manning will play on special teams. Behind Matthews and Perry on the outside, Neal might be the next-best option. Mulumba, an undrafted rookie, has shown more than sixth-round pick Nate Palmer or second-year pro Dezman Moses. However, Mulumba’s knee injury this week could slow him down.

Defensive backs (10): Sam Shields, Tramon Williams, Casey Hayward, Micah Hyde, Davon House, Jarrett Bush, Morgan Burnett, M.D. Jennings, Jerron McMillian, Chris Banjo

Analysis: There’s concern that Williams’ knee injury may prevent him from being ready for the opener, so that could force the Packers to keep another cornerback, likely Loyce Means or James Nixon. Banjo, who was signed off the street on July 29, has a hold on the No. 4 safety position but that could be a spot that’s addressed via the waiver wire. Hyde also could be the punt returner.

Specialists (3): Brett Goode (long snapper), Tim Masthay (punter), Mason Crosby (kicker).

Analysis: Crosby's spot is most tenuous. He could ease some of the concerns about him if he makes a few long field goals on Friday against Seattle. Those concerns were heightened on Wednesday, when he missed three straight kicks from 42, 42 and 44 yards in practice. His competitor, Giorgio Tavecchio, didn’t do himself any favors by missing a 49-yarder at St. Louis on Saturday. Whereas Crosby is a power kicker, Tavecchio is a form kicker. If the Packers went with Tavecchio, they would be sacrificing distance. The Packers reached out to former Miami Dolphins kicker Dan Carpenter, who decided he had a better chance to win the job in Arizona, so it’s possible their opening-day kicker isn’t currently on the roster.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Ryan Longwell had to know the question would come: What if his old team, the Green Bay Packers, called him back for a tryout?

“I’m done,” Longwell said Tuesday when he returned to Green Bay to retire as a member of the Packers. “I’m done kicking.”

But that doesn’t mean he won’t help the team he played for from 1997-2005 with their kicking situation. Longwell stuck around long enough after his retirement news conference to watch practice and talk with veteran kicker Mason Crosby and his challenger for the job, Giorgio Tavecchio.

[+] EnlargeRyan Longwell
Sporting News/Sporting News/Getty ImagesKicker Ryan Longwell retired from the NFL on Tuesday as a member of the Green Bay Packers.
Longwell has connections to both kickers. He befriended Crosby after he left Green Bay and signed with the Minnesota Vikings in 2006. The two have kept in regular contact, and Longwell has been a public supporter of Crosby even throughout Crosby’s struggles last season, when he made a league-worst 63.6 percent of his field goals. Meanwhile, Longwell and Tavecchio share the same alma mater, the University of California.

“I’ve been fortunate to be able to talk to Ryan throughout my career and obviously followed him before I got here,” Crosby said. “It’s awesome today that he got to retire as a Packer. … I pick his brain sometimes on different things, but at the same time today was really awesome for him.”

When asked if he had any advice for Crosby, Longwell said: “I think as long as his rhythm is fine, he’s one of the best in the league.”

Longwell saw the Packers’ kickers at their best. Both went 8-for-8 in practice, converting field goals of 33, 34, 39, 43, 45, 48, 50 and 54 yards. Crosby got off to a horrible start in camp, missing five of eight field goals during the Family Night scrimmage but has gone 15-for-16 the past two days in practice and is 30-of-39 this summer. Tavecchio went 16-for-16 the past two days to improve to 35-of-39.

Crosby’s problems have been described as mental, and Longwell agreed.

“Kicking is, I’ve always said, 10 percent physical and 90 percent mental,” Longwell said. “I think the good Lord gave me an above average ability to swing my right leg and a really, really strong mind and faith. That’s what it takes to kick in this league. I think [Crosby and Tavecchio] need live kicks, and they need the live situation. As long as they both have the right mindset, I see it working out the way it should.”

Here were some other developments from Tuesday’s practice:

  • Rookie receiver Kevin Dorsey practiced for the first time since July 27, when he dropped out because of a hamstring injury. It was the first time in full pads for the seventh-round pick from Maryland, but he did not take any snaps during team (11-on-11) periods. Dorsey also missed most of the offseason workouts because of injuries and is facing an uphill battle to make the team. “There’s a lot of football left,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. “We have three [preseason] games left. There have been no decisions that have been made this week. We tell our players all the time your most important ability is availability. It’s something we need to do a better job [of as] a football team. I’m just glad to see him back out there.”
  • With Ryan Pickett attending to a family matter, Mike Daniels worked at left defensive end in the base defense with the starters.
  • Running backs DuJuan Harris (knee) and Eddie Lacy (hamstring) both were limited to individual drills.
Medical report: Cornerback Casey Hayward, who led all NFL rookies last season with six interceptions, will miss at least another week of training camp. Hayward remains on the physically unable to perform list because of the hamstring injury he sustained while working out prior to camp.

“Casey Hayward’s injury is going to take time,” McCarthy said. “Communication from Casey and the medical staff is he’s made a lot of progress in the last five or six days. As far as a timeline, I think we’ll have a better understanding next week how close he is.”

Others who missed practice were WR Charles Johnson (knee), S Sean Richardson (neck), CB Tramon Williams (knee), G T.J. Lang (back), OL JC Tretter (ankle), T Bryan Bulaga (knee), T Andrew Datko (concussion), T Derek Sherrod (leg), TE Andrew Quarless (quad), TE Ryan Taylor (knee), WR Jordy Nelson (knee), DE Datone Jones (ankle) and DE Jerel Worthy (knee).

What’s next: Wednesday’s practice is at 11:15 a.m. CT.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- In his first eight drafts as the Green Bay Packers general manager, Ted Thompson picked 76 players.

Of those 76, a total of 61 played for the Packers at some point during their rookie seasons, which helps explain why they’re usually one of the youngest teams in the NFL, if not the youngest.

In Thompson’s ninth draft this past spring, he picked 11 more players. Here’s a player-by-player look at how each player has fared so far in training camp:
  • Datone Jones, DE, first round (26th overall): Until an ankle injury in Friday’s preseason opener against Arizona, Jones was on track to be one of the two inside rushers in the nickel package. Through two weeks of camp, Jones’ record of 11-12 in the one-on-one pass-rushing drill was tops among defensive players with five reps or more. Jones has excellent quickness and uses his hands well, two essentials for pass rushers. “Everybody can see the big-play potential that he has,” defensive line coach Mike Trgovac said. “But he’s still making some rookie mistakes out there.” His injury does not appear to be serious, but it limited him to just one snap in his preseason debut and may keep him out of Saturday’s game at St. Louis. If Jones gets back in a timely fashion, he can still push for snaps in the base defense, too.
  • Eddie Lacy, RB, second round (61): After an impressive showing in the Aug. 3 scrimmage, Lacy looked like a good bet to start at running back. He showed the kind of power to fight for extra yards that the Packers lacked last season. Running backs coach Alex Van Pelt said Lacy was “as good as I’ve seen, as good as (any of) our guys” at reading the play and finding a hole. “He can feel where the hole is going to be before it’s there by the flow of the defense,” Van Pelt said. “Very rarely do you see him making the wrong cut.” But a hamstring injury kept him out of the preseason opener and questions remain about his ability to stay healthy.
  • David Bakhtiari, T, fourth round (109): Perhaps the most impressive of the draft picks, Bakhtiari opened camp as a candidate to start at right tackle but was installed as the starting left tackle following the season-ending knee injury to Bryan Bulaga on Aug. 3. Though undersized for a left tackle at just 300 pounds -- he’s the lightest tackle on the roster -- he’s athletic and smart. Through the first two weeks of practice, the coaches noted that he made only one mental error. “He’s a student of the game and the thing about him, he’s very mature,” offensive line coach James Campen said. Bakhtiari had no obvious bad plays in a 38-snap stint against the Cardinals.
  • J.C. Tretter, G/T, fourth round (122): Sustained a broken ankle in the first OTA practice in May and remains on the physically unable to perform list. He likely will stay on PUP and try to make a late-season return. His injury may have opened up a spot for another rookie, undrafted guard Lane Taylor, to make the team.
  • Johnathan Franklin, RB, fourth round (125): Has shown some of the open-field quickness he displayed at UCLA. For example, he turned a short screen pass into a 9-yard gain against the Cardinals, but he has struggled to find a rhythm in the running game. He averaged just 2.3 yards on six carries against Arizona and has to improve his footwork, according to the coaches. “As he becomes more comfortable, finds his niche in our offense, we find how we want to use him, what personnel groupings and what style of plays we use with him, I think he’ll become more comfortable,” running backs coach Alex Van Pelt said. Franklin also has taken reps as a kick returner but doesn’t appear ready for the job.
  • Micah Hyde, CB, fifth round (159): With Tramon Williams and Casey Hayward sidelined because of injuries, Hyde has moved into a starting role at least for now. Although he allowed a touchdown against the Cardinals on a difficult-to-defend fade pattern, Hyde’s physical style of play has been apparent from the beginning. His lack of top-end speed may make him more suited to play in the slot, where Hayward typically plays, but he also has repped at Williams’ spot on the outside. “He still has a ways to go, but he still shows that it’s not too big for him,” cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt said.
  • Josh Boyd, DE, fifth round (167): At 6-foot-3 and 310 pounds, he has good size and moves well enough to be effective inside but has a ways to go in terms of footwork, hand placement and pad level. Questions remain about his ability to play hard on a consistent basis. He hasn’t shown much pass-rush ability, going 4-24 in the one-on-one drill. “He could be a good run player,” Trgovac said. “He’ll put his face and his hands in there and separate. He’s got strong hands where he can just shed a blocker.”
  • Nate Palmer, OLB, sixth round (193): After playing defensive end at Illinois State, Palmer was drafted to play outside linebacker, and it’s been a difficult conversion. In fact, he might even be behind undrafted rookie Andy Mulumba of Eastern Michigan on the depth chart. “Palmer has shown some pass-rush ability and like all those young guys, he’s learning the position,” defensive coordinator Dom Capers said. “It’s new to him with all the dropping (into coverage) and all of that.” Palmer’s best chance to contribute might be on special teams, but he hasn’t cracked many of the top units yet.
  • Charles Johnson, WR, seventh round (216) and Kevin Dorsey, WR, seventh round (224): These two are grouped together because they have yet to put the pads on. Both were hurt on the opening weekend of camp, Dorsey with a leg injury and Johnson with a knee injury, and there’s no timetable for their return. They were drafted to compete for the Nos. 4 and 5 spots behind Randall Cobb, James Jones and Jordy Nelson, but their injuries have all but taken them out of the competition. “These two young men do a good job in the classroom environment, but the most important part after you’re well prepared is to now go out on the practice field and show us,” receivers coach Edgar Bennett said.
  • Sam Barrington, LB, seventh round (232): His ability to locate the ball and run make him an ideal candidate for a core special teams player, which at this point might be his best chance to get on the field. “He’s one of those guys who can make flash plays because he can plant his foot in the ground and go from point A to point B, and I think you’ll see those same things show up with him on special teams,” Capers said.

Packers' rookie WRs still a mystery

August, 2, 2013
8/02/13
11:55
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GREEN BAY, Wis. -- A week into training camp, the Green Bay Packers don’t know much more about rookie receivers Kevin Dorsey and Charles Johnson than they did when they drafted them back in April.

The two seventh-round picks missed most of the offseason program because of injuries, and they dropped out again during the second practice of training camp last Saturday. Neither has returned.

Though there’s plenty of time for them to make a run at the fourth and fifth receiver spots, those positions are no longer as wide open as they first appeared thanks to the play of Jarrett Boykin and Jeremy Ross.

Boykin was the last receiver to make the team last season but was used sparingly. He has caught just about everything thrown his way in the first week of camp. That continued Friday night, when he had perhaps his best practice to date. In a team period early in practice, he stretched out to make a tough catch on a deep ball from Aaron Rodgers. Two plays later, Rodgers hit Boykin on a hitch that he quickly took up the field.

Ross, who was promoted from the practice squad last season but was used primarily on special teams, stood out during the two-minute period that ended practice. On a four-play scoring drive, Ross had catches of 15 yards on consecutive plays.

Boykin and Ross also have been given extensive roles on special teams.

"They’ve definitely created a value for themselves individually and continue to improve and make plays," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said after practice.

Daniels dominates: Defensive tackle Mike Daniels continued to shine in pass-rushing drills. The second-year pro won three of his four reps Friday to improve his camp-long record to 9-8 in a drill that heavily favors the offensive player.

At just 6-foot and 291 pounds, Daniels probably isn’t big enough to be an every-down player, but he might be carving out a significant role in the sub packages. In a limited role last season, he had two sacks.

Odds and ends: Defensive tackle Johnny Jolly, who is attempting to make an NFL roster for the first time since the 2009 season after serving a three-year suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy, stripped the ball from Alex Green during a team run period. It was believed to be the first fumble by a running back in an 11-on-11 period this camp. However, Jolly still hasn’t made much of an impression in the one-on-one drills. He lost all five of his reps in the pass-rushing drill on Friday and only one was against a projected starting offensive lineman. ... Outside linebacker Nick Perry, whose rookie year ended last season after only six games because of surgery on his left wrist, has been practicing with a large protective brace that covers most of his left forearm. ... Practice ended with the most efficient no-huddle period of camp by the offense, which needed just 36 seconds to go 70 yards on four plays. It ended with tight end Jermichael Finley’s best catch of camp, a 15-yard touchdown on a seam route against tight coverage by safety Jerron McMillian. ... Friday’s session was the only night practice of training camp, and it drew perhaps the largest crowd of the summer.

Medical report: Receiver Jordy Nelson missed his first practice of the summer because he had a recurrence of an old knee injury, McCarthy said. Another starter, linebacker Brad Jones, dropped out midway through practice because of a finger injury. Rookie linebacker Nate Palmer returned after missing two practices because of a shoulder injury.

Others who missed practice were WRs Sederrik Cunningham (wrist), Dorsey (leg), Johnson (knee); RB DuJuan Harris (knee); S Sean Richardson (neck); CB Casey Hayward (hamstring); CB Tramon Williams (knee); S David Fulton (knee); OLB Dezman Moses (toe); LB Jamari Lattimore (illness); OL JC Tretter (ankle); DE Mike Neal (abdominal); T Derek Sherrod (leg); TE Andrew Quarless; and DE Jerel Worthy (knee).

What’s next: The annual Family Night scrimmage at Lambeau Field is Saturday at 7:30 p.m. ET.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Green Bay Packers opened training camp with practices on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. And on the fourth day, they are resting.

Before they get back on the field Tuesday morning, it’s a good time to review what we’ve learned about them so far. Let’s start on the offensive side of the ball:

Money changes nothing: Aaron Rodgers’ five-year, $110 million contract extension doesn’t appear to have changed anything about the quarterback. The Super Bowl XLV MVP and 2011 NFL MVP has looked as sharp as ever in practice. He ended each of the first three practices by leading no-huddle drives that resulted in touchdown passes -- a 33-yarder to James Jones on Friday, a 20-yarder to Jarrett Boykin on Saturday and a 10-yarder to Boykin on Sunday. “I thought Aaron probably had clearly one of his best offseasons,” coach Mike McCarthy said when camp opened. “He’s been here throughout the whole offseason. He’s in good shape. He’s ready to go. He really understands his role as far as the leadership and (being) one of the veteran leaders on our football team.”

Running back by committee: When the Packers drafted two running backs -- Alabama’s Eddie Lacy in the second round and UCLA’s Johnathan Franklin in the fourth -- it seemed reasonable to write off the oft-injured duo of Alex Green and James Starks. Not so fast. When camp opened, Green took the first reps with the starters and showed some of the burst he had pre-ACL tear of 2011. On Day 2, Starks, who has missed 26 of a possible 48 games in his first three NFL seasons, ran with power. On Day 3, when the Packers put on the pads for the first time, it was Franklin’s turn to shine. He showed his quickness and ability to change directions. On one carry, Franklin looked bottled up in the middle of the line but bounced outside and to the second level of the defense. Lacy may end up as the best of the bunch but hasn’t done much yet. And last year’s late-season sensation, DuJuan Harris has yet to get on the field. He’s still recovering from an offseason knee injury. McCarthy has stuck to his offseason claim about the running game: “We’ll be better, I promise you.” And now it looks like he has plenty of options with which to do it.

A new big three: For some teams, losing a pair of receivers who combined for 114 career touchdowns and five Pro Bowl appearances would cripple the offense. The Packers haven’t thought twice about it. Randall Cobb, James Jones and Jordy Nelson -- who last season combined for 193 catches and 29 touchdowns in the regular season -- have made Donald Driver (retired) and Greg Jennings (signed with Minnesota) a distant memory by catching pass after pass early in camp. “If there’s anything that I’m excited about, it’s being able to stay on the field the whole game,” said Jones, who last season posted career highs in catches (64), yards (784) and touchdowns (14) in a part-time role. “I know me and Randall and Jordy may move around positions on the field, but it’s a three-receiver offense, and I’m excited to be able to get a lot of snaps.” The only question about this position is who ends up behind the top three. Rookie seventh-round draft picks Kevin Dorsey (lower body) of Maryland and Charles Johnson (knee) of Grand Valley State couldn’t get through the first two days of camp, and undrafted rookie Sederrik Cunningham needed surgery to repair the dislocated wrist he sustained on day one.

O-line issues: The much-discussed revamped offensive line, which saw the starters on the right side (tackle Bryan Bulaga and guard Josh Sitton) switch sides with the starters on the left (tackle Marshall Newhouse and guard T.J. Lang), remains a work in progress. Bulaga, who hadn’t played left tackle since the 2009 season at the University of Iowa, likened the change to a left-handed hitter in baseball learning to hit right-handed. “I think I’d be an idiot to say I’m 100 percent confident (that the changes will work),” Sitton said. “There’s always a tiny bit of doubt.”
NFL players are never healthier than on the first day of training camp, or so goes conventional wisdom. As the first NFC North veterans report to training camp Wednesday -- Chicago Bears players are headed to Bourbonnais, Ill., as we speak -- it's worth revisiting players who spent a significant portion of the offseason injured and project their status for training camp.

We'll take it team by team, of course:

Chicago Bears
Veteran report date: Wednesday
Analysis: Receiver Brandon Marshall missed almost the entire offseason program because of hip surgery, getting on the field for one day of mandatory minicamp. Place-kicker Robbie Gould also missed time as his surgically-repaired calf healed. Receivers Marquess Wilson and Alshon Jeffery also missed time with hamstring injuries, but there are no indications that any of them will be significantly limited when practice begins Friday.

Detroit Lions
Veteran report date: Thursday
Analysis: One of the biggest stories in Detroit this week will be whether safety Louis Delmas is ready to practice, and if so, whether the Lions let him do everything or if he is limited. Delmas missed the entire offseason because of ongoing knee issues, even after signing a contract extension that will pay him $1.715 million if he can't play this season. Receiver Ryan Broyles, meanwhile, is just under eight months removed from tearing his ACL. The Lions could put him on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list, or they could pass him on his physical and let him ease into practice. The assumption is that two other veterans who did little this offseason, place-kicker David Akers (sports hernia/hip) and running back Mikel Leshoure (hamstring) will be ready to practice.

Green Bay Packers
Veteran report date: Thursday
Analysis: Many of you have asked about offensive lineman Derek Sherrod, who hasn't had any football activity since suffering a gruesome leg injury in December 2011. The Packers had hoped he would be in the mix at right tackle this offseason, but that never materialized. If Sherrod still isn't ready to practice when camp opens, you wonder if he ever will be. Meanwhile, it's tough to expect defensive tackle Jerel Worthy to be ready anytime soon after he tore his ACL in Week 17 last season. The same goes for rookie offensive lineman J.C. Tretter (broken ankle). On the other hand, we're assuming that cornerback Davon House (shoulder) and running back DuJuan Harris (cyst) will be ready. The status of rookie receivers Charles Johnson and Kevin Dorsey, both of whom missed the entire offseason, is not clear.

Minnesota Vikings
Veteran report date: Thursday
Analysis: Center John Sullivan sat out the offseason after having microfracture surgery on his knee. Coach Leslie Frazier said at the end of minicamp that Sullivan was on track to be ready when camp opens. There have been no reports of a setback. Linebacker Desmond Bishop (hamstring) didn't participate in the Packers' offseason, but he has said he will be ready for camp. Defensive end Jared Allen did not participate this offseason because of surgery to repair a torn labrum but has said he will be cleared for practice. Receiver Greg Childs was doing light running during the offseason and is now a year removed from tearing both patellar tendons, but he could be a candidate for the PUP list. Linebacker Chad Greenway's minor offseason knee surgery isn't expected to slow him in training camp. Cornerback Jacob Lacey broke his thumb in June, and his status merits observation. Rookie linebacker Michael Mauti (knee) got in some light work late in the offseason, but it's worth watching whether the Vikings deem him ready for contact drills.
We're Black and Blue All Over:

Why is the NFL considering a reorganization of its offseason schedule, as reported by ESPN's Adam Schefter? Naturally, to avoid the kind of quiet period that leaves players, teams and media members fighting over whether someone has broken fingers or simply injured ones.

That about sums up the silly fracas that erupted Monday after Detroit Lions receiver Calvin Johnson seemed to confirm that he played much of last season with broken fingers on his left hand. (He replied, "I had a couple injuries to them, yeah," according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press.) The Lions' website initially reported his comments as confirmation but later updated its story to say: "While Johnson did admit to suffering finger injuries, he did not specifically state that he did suffer a break."

The basic point we made Monday should stand: Johnson set an NFL record for receiving yards in a season with significant injuries to one of the most important body parts on a wide receiver. Whether they were broken, mangled, bruised, cut or any injured in any other way, the revelation adds a layer to his historic season.

Why the fuss over the exact diagnosis? Time. Time. Too much time.

(That and perhaps concern about an injury report violation. Johnson was never listed with a broken finger last season, and this isn't the first time Johnson has seemed to describe an injury that the Lions never listed him with.)

Continuing around the NFC North:

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