NFC North: Letroy Guion

Packers trying to lock up Letroy Guion

December, 31, 2014
12/31/14
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GREEN BAY, Wis. – Dom Capers didn't even want to think about where the Green Bay Packers would be without defensive tackle Letroy Guion.

At first, he chuckled at the suggestion, and then he turned serious.

Guion
"I'm just glad he filled a real need for us," the Packers defensive coordinator said this week. "One of the things about this game is you can run out of big guys that can make plays in there pretty quick. It becomes tough sledding if you don't have those guys."

Nine months after the Packers signed him with little or no fanfare, Guion is one of the centerpieces of a much-improved defense that is preparing for the playoffs.

The Packers have more than gotten their money's worth on the one-year, $1 million contract Guion signed on March 18 as a street free agent who had been cast aside by the Minnesota Vikings. The 6-foot-4, 315-pound former fifth-round pick had career-highs in tackles (62) and sacks (3.5) this season.

"Letroy has been everything we thought he was going to be," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "I've always had a lot of respect for Letroy in Minnesota. I think he's come over to us, and I think he's taken his game up a notch. He's an excellent fit in the locker room; teammates love him. He's an excellent teammate and he's a damn good football player.”

Now, they’re looking to bring back the 27-year-old for next season and perhaps beyond.

His agent, Seth Katz, said Wednesday that negotiations on a new contract have begun.

"We've had some very, very early conversations," Katz said. "The Packers are obviously focused on the postseason, but we know how they feel about him, and they know he wants to be back. We're not making it a secret that he wants to stay in Green Bay."

When asked this week whether this season was the start of a long-term relationship with the Packers, Guion said: "I sure hope so."

No one knew exactly how Guion would fit in with the Packers or whether he would even make the team. But his importance became clear after B.J. Raji tore his right biceps tendon in the second-to-last preseason game and was lost for the season. At that point, however, Guion had yet to even participate in a training camp practice because of a hamstring injury. He made his practice debut two days after Raji's season-ending injury.

"You were starting to get a little concerned in training camp because we couldn't get him on the field," Capers said. "We had liked what we had seen in OTAs. You could see a big guy that had some quickness and athletic ability, but especially when coming into a new system because there's a lot of little things you kind of have to learn those on the run, but I think that's why you've seen him settle in during the second half of the season."

Guion started all 16 games at the nose tackle position the Packers had carved out for Raji, who returned on a one-year deal that will expire in March.

"I knew I was going to come in here and play some type of role," Guion said. "I didn't know what it was."

Packers not done with defensive tweaks

December, 31, 2014
12/31/14
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GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Green Bay Packers used their bye week in November to fix their defense, so what will they do during their playoff bye?

"I'm excited about some of the new wrinkles that we may move forward with and what we'll be able to do in the playoffs," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said.

That defensive coordinator Dom Capers can spend this week cooking up something new rather than fixing the old shows just how much progress his unit made since the halfway point of the season.


The Packers' defense was in shambles when they reached their bye in Week 9. Capers' unit had just allowed the New Orleans Saints to ring up 495 yards of total offense, including 193 on the ground in the Packers’ 44-23 loss.

McCarthy put it as bluntly as possible when he said at the time that the Packers "need to be more than a football team that just has to rely on winning the turnover ratio."

If that was his way of putting Capers and the defense on notice, he has to be pleased with the response in the second half of the season. A team that could not stop the run – it ranked dead last in the NFL through eight games, when all eight opponents rushed for at least 100 yards – was one of the best run-stopping units in the second half of the season.

Outside of one troubling half against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 14, when the Packers allowed 304 yards in the second half alone and let Julio Jones catch 11 passes for 259 yards (the most ever against the Packers) for the game, there was little to quibble with in the second half of the season, except that perhaps it wasn't against a murders' row of powerhouse offenses. Of their eight second-half opponents, four finished 21st or lower in total offense and just two (the Philadelphia Eagles and Falcons) ranked in the top 10.

"I think it's not how you start, it's how you finish," defensive tackle Letroy Guion said. "That's probably the best way I can sum that up. Some teams have to get going. Some teams come out [fast]. Some teams can't finish strong. You have all different types of ways that teams come together or break apart."

What led to the turnaround? Consider these factors:
Still, there's one question that looms about the defense as the Packers head into the postseason: Is it good enough to succeed where the previous three incarnations failed? In the 2011 playoff loss to the New York Giants and the consecutive postseason losses to the San Francisco 49ers in 2012 and 2013, the defense failed to do enough to win the game.

Not since the run to Super Bowl XLV has Capers' unit delivered with a big game in the playoffs (and the 2012 wild-card win over the Minnesota Vikings with backup Joe Webb as the quarterback doesn't count).

"I think our health is better and I think our confidence level is good," Capers said. "I think those two things are important. Momentum, you've heard me say that you want to keep that arrow pointing up, and the only little bump in the road we had was that second half of the Atlanta game where you didn't feel good coming out of that.

"You want confidence and guys feeling good about where you are and carry that into this time of the year. It's a big part of it. We all know this is a game of momentum."

Said McCarthy: "You want momentum built throughout your whole football team, and I think our defense has played exceptional football really since the bye week."

The new normal for the Packers' defense

November, 16, 2014
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GREEN BAY, Wis. -- You have seen this before from Aaron Rodgers, Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson and Eddie Lacy.

It's nothing new -- these 341-yard, three-touchdown, no-interception games from the Green Bay Packers quarterback, and the 129-yard and 109-yard receiving games from Cobb and Nelson, respectively, and tackle-breaking touchdown runs by Lacy. Breaking records and reaching milestones has become the norm for Rodgers and his crew of playmakers.

But what you saw from the Packers' defense in Sunday's 53-20 dismantling of the Philadelphia Eagles at Lambeau Field might be the new normal. Since their meltdown in the 44-23 loss at New Orleans before the bye, defensive coordinator Dom Capers' unit has turned in a pair of dominant performances in blowout home victories over the Eagles and Chicago Bears.

It has coincided with the new, hybrid role for outside linebacker/inside linebacker Clay Matthews, an idea that was launched during the bye, but it's about much more than that.

"It just shows that we have a very talented defense," said Matthews, who registered a sack for the second straight game. "And it's all about deciding which defense wants to show up."

[+] EnlargeJulius Peppers
AP Photo/Mike RoemerThe Packers' Julius Peppers gets away from Eagles receiver Jordan Matthews for a 52-yard interception return for a touchdown.
If it's the one that foiled Jay Cutler last week and Mark Sanchez on Sunday, then the Packers (7-3) might have the kind of complete team capable of a long playoff run.

Sacks by defensive tackle Letroy Guion on the Eagles' opening series and outside linebacker Mike Neal on the second series set a tone of aggressiveness from the start. Guion beat right guard Matt Tobin on a second-and-6 and dumped Sanchez for a 7-yard loss, which set up a much easier third-and-long situation for the defense and ultimately led to a punt. Neal then dumped Sanchez for a 9-yard loss on third-and-6 to force another punt.

By the time the Eagles got the ball back the next time, they were down 17-0.

"Defensively, you're just seeing a unit that's playing faster," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "The personnel groups that we're getting in and out of, I think it's happening seamlessly. You're getting used to playing together in combinations that we kind of set for the second half. With that, our playmakers are making plays, and we've got a lot of playmakers on defense."

Eagles coach Chip Kelly's fast-paced, high-powered offense looked no different than the Bears offense in their futile performance a week earlier. For the second straight week, the game was over by halftime. This time, the Packers led 30-6 at the break, and even though they gave up 429 yards, it was empty yardage in the end.

"Against an offense like that, to do what they did tonight, that was very impressive," Packers right tackle Bryan Bulaga said. "They're the reason ... yeah, we scored points in the first half, but they kept it to six points. That was huge."

What followed the early sacks was this: a pair of fumble recoveries, one by Nick Perry and another by Casey Hayward, who returned it 49 yards for a touchdown. Then two interceptions, one by Tramon Williams and another by Julius Peppers, who returned it 52 yards for a touchdown.

This against a team that, though it was missing starting quarterback Nick Foles, brought the NFL's fifth ranked offense to town.

The Packers' run defense that was so awful the first half of the season -- it ranked dead last and gave up 155 yards per game -- all of a sudden is more than respectable. They have nearly cut that number in half the past two games and allowed an average of just 82 yards rushing per game.

"We’ve been going out saying that we’re going to get off of the field," Williams said. "[The] offense has been moving the ball unbelievable, and if we can continue doing that throughout the year, then we're going to be where we want to be."
GREEN BAY, Wis. – It goes against everything you probably think run defense is about in the NFL.

Smaller cannot be better.

Not in a world of 325-pound offensive linemen, 250-pound fullbacks and 230-pound running backs.

But after watching their 1,000 pounds of girth on the defensive line last season fall from a top-five run defense at the midway point of last season all the way to 25th by end of the year, the Green Bay Packers are trying a different approach.

[+] EnlargeGreen Bay Packers
Matt Ludtke/AP ImagesMike Daniels moves into a starting role this season after posting 6.5 sacks in 2013.
With that kind of decline, the Packers could not stand pat. So they let two of their three starters from last year – 338-pound Ryan Pickett and 325-pound Johnny Jolly -- leave after their contracts expired. Both remain out of football. They planned to surround their 337-pound nose tackle B.J. Raji with a pair of lighter, more athletic defensive ends in Datone Jones (285 pounds) and Mike Daniels (305).

And then they lost Raji to a season-ending torn biceps in the preseason.

So the defensive line the Packers will take into Thursday's opener at the Seattle Seahawks has an average weight of 309.4 pounds. Last year's defensive line averaged 314.3 per man. This year, the Packers have just one 330-plus pounder, undrafted rookie backup nose tackle Mike Pennel (332 pounds).

"You look at the type of guys in which we have this year as opposed to years past, it's … I wouldn't say smaller, but I would say it's a more active, faster, more aggressive D-line as well as linebacker group," Packers outside linebacker Clay Matthews said. "So we feel good about it."

The early returns suggest the Packers might be on to something, although it's always dangerous to make any assumptions based on the preseason. However, with the exception of a 40-yard run by Oakland's Maurice Jones-Drew, who broke three tackles on the play, the Packers' defensive starters did not have much trouble shutting down the run when they played in the first three preseason games.

"People have tried to run the ball on us in the preseason, and we've done a nice job against that," Packers defensive line coach Mike Trgovac said. "Some of the teams we played -- Oakland, Tennessee and St. Louis -- they were not fancy. Oakland, especially, was a power team. I think we'll be OK there."

The Seahawks might be the better judge of that.

The defending Super Bowl champs ranked fourth in the NFL in rushing yards per game (136.8) last season, which is nearly what the Packers allowed per game last season. And the Seahawks' featured back, Marshawn Lynch, breaks tackles by the handful.

The Packers go into that game with a new nose tackle -- free-agent pick Letroy Guion (315 pounds) replaces Raji in the starting lineup -- but perhaps defensive coordinator will play even less of his base 3-4 defense than he did last season, when he used it just 24.8 percent of the time.

The alternative would be to use just two down linemen. Either way, the Packers will be smaller and lighter up front than last season.

"It makes me laugh when people say we're smaller," Jones said. "We're not small. Josh Boyd and I are both 6-4, 290 pounds. That's not small at all. Those are two big defensive ends. I wouldn't necessarily say we're smaller. I would just say we went away from the 330-pound defensive linemen and went to a more traditional guy. A lot of people don't see that, but it's not like we're a small defensive line so we can't play the run."
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Green Bay Packers signed Letroy Guion this offseason because they liked what he showed during his six seasons with the Minnesota Vikings.

Guion
If they're going to keep him on their roster, it might have to be for the same reason.

The 6-foot-4, 315-pound defensive tackle finally made his practice debut on Monday after missing nearly the entire training camp because of a hamstring injury he sustained the week before camp opened. His return coincided with the final full-pads practice of camp, and it's not a given he will play in Thursday's preseason finale against the Kansas City Chiefs. Between now and then, the Packers will hold only one more practice -- Wednesday's light, day-before-the-game session.

"We'll take another step further at Wednesday's practice in getting some more reps and keep progressing," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Monday. "It'd be foolish to throw him out there and give him a full load."

The Packers don't have much invested in the 27-year-old, who was a backup in his first four seasons before starting 28 games combined in 2012 and 2013. The only guaranteed money they gave him came in the form of a $100,000 signing bonus.

But with the season-ending injury to nose tackle B.J. Raji, Guion suddenly became a much more important player.

"It's always an urgency when a man goes down," Guion said. "It makes me have to step up, having to be that guy. So I'm going to take all my steps forward to do what I've got to do to get prepared."

In Guion, the Packers have a rare veteran option on a defensive line that without Raji features only one player who has made a start for the Packers. That's third-year pro Mike Daniels, a projected starting defensive end who in his first two years has made one start.

"That's good to have that veteran presence," said Daniels, who also could be an option to move to nose tackle. "[The] guy's been doing this for going into his seventh year; obviously had some success. He's played some very good, tough football. He's a tough, strong guy. We could use that."

Guion and undrafted rookie Mike Pennel are the only two true nose tackles the Packers have without Raji. Second-year pro Josh Boyd, who replaced Raji after his injury against the Oakland Raiders on Friday, played almost exclusively at defensive end last year as a rookie. However, Boyd played nose tackle in college at Mississippi State for two years before moving to end.

"You know, I've always been a guy who could play pretty much all the positions," Boyd said. "So it really doesn't matter. The best place they need me is where I'll play. So I'm very comfortable with anything."

Packers Camp Report: Day 19

August, 24, 2014
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GREEN BAY, Wis. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Green Bay Packers training camp:
  • Before practice began on Sunday, the Packers released seven players. They were: safety Charles Clay, cornerback Antonio Dennard, receiver Chris Harper, linebacker Korey Jones, fullback Ina Liaina, quarterback Chase Rettig and receiver Gerrard Sheppard. That left the Packers with 81 players on their roster. NFL teams must cut down to 75 players by Tuesday, but the Packers might only have to release three more if they place receiver Jared Abbrederis (knee), guard/tackle Don Barclay (knee) and nose tackle B.J. Raji (biceps) on injured reserve. All have been lost for the season but remain on the roster.
  • Cornerback Casey Hayward, who did not play in Friday's preseason game against the Oakland Raiders, returned to practice on Sunday, although he appeared to be on a limited snap count. Hayward also missed two days of practice last week because coach Mike McCarthy said they were just being smart with him given that he missed all but three games last year because of a hamstring injury.
  • In addition to Raji, the Packers also were without another defensive starter, linebacker Brad Jones. McCarthy said Jones sustained a quadriceps injury and won't play in Thursday's preseason finale against Kansas City but should return for the season opener at Seattle.
  • Second-year pro Josh Boyd took most of Raji's snaps at nose tackle with the No. 1 defense on Sunday. Last season, Boyd played almost exclusively at defensive end. "Maybe things happen a little faster because it's got you closer to the ball," Boyd said. "It's a more closer area, more faster reactions, but it's nothing I can't handle."
  • It does not look like rookie running back Rajion Neal will return before the end of the preseason. Neal sustained a knee injury in the preseason opener at Tennessee but impressed the Packers early on with his hard-running style. Others who did not practice were: cornerback Demetri Goodson (concussion), linebacker Joe Thomas (knee), guard Andrew Tiller (calf), center JC Tretter (knee), tight end Brandon Bostick (leg) and defensive tackle Letroy Guion (hamstring).
  • Sunday's practice, which was closed to the public, lasted only one hour and 40 minutes. There will be just two more practices open to the public: Monday at 11:45 a.m. local time and Wednesday at 10:30 a.m.
 

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The immediate reaction when a player gets hurt is to bring back an aged veteran to replace him, but the Green Bay Packers should -- and likely will -- resist that temptation.

Raji
General manager Ted Thompson would have a couple of those options to replace starting nose tackle B.J. Raji, who has a torn right biceps and learned on Saturday that he will miss the entire season.

But don't look for the Packers to bring back Ryan Pickett, who teamed with Raji on the defensive line the past five seasons. The same is likely the case for Johnny Jolly, who was the third member of the starting defensive line in Green Bay last year.

Both Pickett and Jolly are out of work and available, but neither fits what the Packers want to do on defense this season. Defensive coordinator Dom Capers aspires to be quicker across the front line, which means they have to get younger. Pickett will turn 35 in October, while Jolly turned 31 in February. Also, Jolly is coming off a neck injury that required fusion surgery.

A year after the Packers started a three-man defensive line that combined to weigh 1,000 pounds -- with Raji at 337, Pickett at 338 and Jolly at 325 -- this season they planned to pair Raji with Mike Daniels (305) and Datone Jones (285).

The Packers signed former Minnesota Vikings backup Letroy Guion to play behind Raji, but Guion has yet to practice because of a hamstring injury.

That leaves former fifth-round pick Josh Boyd, who replaced Raji after his injury on Friday against the Oakland Raiders, as the most likely replacement. It would mean the starting defensive front would feature a pair of second-year players (Boyd and Jones) and a third-year pro (Daniels). The Packers also are high on undrafted rookie Mike Pennel, who likely would have made the team even before Raji’s injury.

While the Packers lose a starter in Raji, he's not a full-time player. Last season, Capers used his base 3-4 defense on just 252 of 1,015 snaps (24.8 percent). Raji was slated to see some playing time in the nickel package, but Daniels and Jones are the primary duo in that package. Raji would not have played at all in the dime defense.

For Raji, the injury comes at the worst possible time. The 28-year-old former first-round pick signed just a one-year, $4 million contract this offseason with the hope that he could improve his stock with a strong season and parlay that into a bigger deal next offseason.
GREEN BAY, Wis. – After Casey Hayward dropped out of practice on Tuesday, Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy said they were just being smart with their cornerback, given his hamstring problems of a year ago.

Three days later, Hayward remains out. He will not play in Friday's preseason game against the Oakland Raiders.

Hayward had not missed any practice time this summer before Tuesday. Last season, he played in only three games because of recurring hamstring problems that first popped up before training camp opened.

Here's the full list of Packers who will not play Friday:

Packers Camp Report: Day 18

August, 21, 2014
8/21/14
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GREEN BAY, Wis. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Green Bay Packers training camp:
  • Fans and reporters got their first look at what coach Mike McCarthy's new day-before-a-game practice looks like under his revamped weekly schedule. The session lasted just 58 minutes and featured 54 plays from scrimmage during designated 11-on-11 team periods. It also included a special teams period and individual drills. The entire practice was conducted without pads or shells -- just helmets, jerseys and shorts. McCarthy plans to continue this practice all season. It's the first time in his nine years as head coach that the Packers have practiced the day before a game. In the past, the final session wrapped up about 48 hours before kickoff. The six periods in the practice were: stretching, ball drills, last eight plays of the game, no-huddle, game situations and a 30-minute team period that was cut short with 8:32 still left on the clock.
  • During the game-situations period, a scenario had the Packers trailing 26-24 with 22 seconds left on third-and-7 at the defense's 35-yard line. After Aaron Rodgers threw an incomplete pass, Mason Crosby came on for a 53-yard field goal that he missed wide left. In all, Crosby was just 2-of-4 in the period. His other miss was from 38 yards wide left. He was good from 33 and 43 yards. After starting camp by making 28 of his first 30 kicks (93.3 percent), Crosby has made 17 of his past 22 (77.3 percent) in practice, giving him a camp-long mark of 45-for-52 (86.5 percent). He also has made all three of his field goals in preseason games.
  • Neither McCarthy nor the players were available to the media after practice, so there were no injury updates. However, cornerback Casey Hayward did not participate for the second straight session. After sitting out Tuesday's practice, a day off on Wednesday apparently was not enough to get him back on the field. All McCarthy has said about Hayward is that the team was being smart with him, given his past injury history. Hayward missed all but three games last season because of recurring hamstring problems.
  • Others who did not practice and appear unlikely to play on Friday against the Oakland Raiders were: running back Rajion Neal (knee), center Jordan McCray (shoulder), linebacker Joe Thomas (knee), guard/tackle Don Barclay (knee), receiver Jared Abbrederis (knee), tight end Brandon Bostick (lower leg) and defensive tackle Letroy Guion (hamstring).
  • Rookie tight end Colt Lyerla, who was placed on injured reserve on Wednesday, had his salary officially reduced to $303,000, according to ESPN Stats & Information salary data. Had Lyela made the team, his salary would have been $420,000, but he had what was called a split salary in his contract that calls for his pay to be reduced in the event he landed on injured reserve. That is common among undrafted rookie contracts.
  • After Friday's game against the Raiders (7 p.m. local time at Lambeau Field), there will be only be only two more training camp practices open to the public. They are Monday (11:45 a.m.) and Wednesday (10:15 a.m.)

Packers Camp Report: Day 16

August, 18, 2014
8/18/14
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GREEN BAY, Wis. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Green Bay Packers training camp:
  • Maybe Monday will be remembered as the day the light went on for first-round pick Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. After going 15 straight practices without an interception, the rookie safety picked off two passes during a one-hour and 29-minute session without pads inside the Don Hutson Center. Clinton-Dix's first pick came off fourth-string quarterback Chase Rettig, who badly overthrew receiver Chris Harper. His second one was a little more impressive because it came on the second play of the two-minute drill by the starting offense. Running back James Starks let a dump-off pass from Aaron Rodgers ricochet off his hands and Clinton-Dix plucked it out of the air. You could argue that both interceptions were gift-wrapped to him, but at least he made a couple of plays. "I thought it was great to actually touch the ball again after a while, so that felt good," Clinton-Dix said.
  • The defense won both two-minute drills, although Matt Flynn went a little longer with the No. 2 offense than Rodgers' two-plays-and-out possession. Flynn directed an eight-play drive that ended on fourth-and-10 from the defense's 21-yard line. On the last play, safety Chris Banjo picked off a pass that went off the outstretched hands of tight end Justin Perillo.
  • Other than the two-minute period, it was a stellar day by both Flynn and Scott Tolzien, who remain in a competition for the backup job. Flynn's best throw was on a deep corner route to Alex Gillett. He placed the ball perfectly out of the reach of cornerback Jarrett Bush. Tolzien had a couple of noteworthy throws, a go route down the right sideline that Myles White caught without breaking stride and a 30-yard corner route to Perillo over Clinton-Dix. "I thought they had sharp practices," coach Mike McCarthy said of Flynn and Tolzien. "It was our best tempo of the year. We were done extremely early in every period and the takeaways by the defense in the two-minute drill obviously added to that, so I was very pleased with the energy and the tempo. I think it's going to be a lot of good video. So, I thought both of those guys did a lot of good things."
  • The only new injury was to tight end Brandon Bostick (lower leg). He is expected to miss the rest of the preseason. Others who did not practice were: running back Rajion Neal (knee), tight end Colt Lyerla (knee), offensive lineman Don Barclay (knee), receiver Jared Abbrederis (knee) and defensive tackle Letroy Guion (hamstring). McCarthy would not say whether Abbrederis or Barclay had their ACL reconstruction surgeries yet. Both will eventually be placed on injured reserve.
  • For the first time all camp, rain forced practice inside the Don Hutson Center. That means there are only four open practices left in training camp. The next one is Tuesday at 11:45 a.m. local time.

Packers Camp Report: Day 13

August, 12, 2014
8/12/14
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GREEN BAY, Wis. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Green Bay Packers training camp:
  • Rookie seventh-round receiver Jeff Janis continues to impress. Even though he had his first drop of camp on Tuesday in the two-minute drill, Janis made another eye-catching grab, laying out to catch a deep post from Aaron Rodgers during a team period. It followed a one-handed catch for a touchdown last week and a twisting catch in practice on Monday. It has been a remarkable return from shingles, which caused the seventh-round pick from Saginaw Valley State to miss the first seven training camp practices. "Jeff Janis has made a play every day he's been out there," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said after Tuesday's practice. "He made another big play today. He looks good. Hopefully, we can get him fully cleared by the medical staff for Saturday night [against the St. Louis Rams]. I really like what he's done so far."
  • Another receiver fighting for a roster spot came back after a bad day. Second-year pro Kevin Dorsey, who dropped two passes on Monday, made a difficult catch on a crossing route with cornerback Sam Shields in tight coverage.
  • Quarterback Scott Tolzien got to run the two-minute drill but could not lead a touchdown drive. Trailing by 28-24 with 1:31 on the clock and no timeouts starting at the 35-yard line, Tolzien drove the No. 3 offense to the 9-yard line with 6 seconds left. Tolzien got off two plays but couldn't finish either one. On third down, he went to Chris Harper on a corner route but safety Charles Clay broke it up. On fourth down, he rolled to his right and went to Harper again but could not connect.
  • Receiver Jordy Nelson returned to practice on Tuesday after sitting out Saturday's preseason opener at Tennessee because of a hamstring injury. Nelson did not practice Monday but was cleared to work on a limited basis.
  • Rookie safety Tanner Miller, who has been out since the first week of camp because of an ankle injury, returned to practice. The undrafted free agent from Iowa broke up a Rodgers pass intended for Randall Cobb.
  • Defensive end Josh Boyd (ribs) also returned. He missed only one day.
  • The Packers were not in pads, but McCarthy said that was the plan all along.
  • Those who did not practice were: receiver Davante Adams (wrist), running back Rajion Neal (knee), tight end Colt Lyerla (knee), linebacker Joe Thomas (knee), guard/tackle Don Barclay (knee), receiver Jared Abbrederis (knee), defensive tackle Letroy Guion (hamstring) and defensive end Jerel Worthy (back).
  • Lyerla said the second opinion he got on on his knee last week confirmed what he suspected: that he likely will miss the remainder of the preseason. Although he would not get into details about the injury, the rookie free agent said he will not require surgery but the healing time will make it nearly impossible for him to participate in any of the preseason games. The Packers will have to decide whether to place him on injured reserve or come to an injury settlement if he's not healthy by Week 1. "I don’t think I'll really find anything out until the cut day," he said.
  • The next practice is Wednesday at 11:45 a.m. local time. It is the last open practice of the week.

Packers Camp Report: Day 12

August, 11, 2014
8/11/14
8:00
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GREEN BAY, Wis. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Green Bay Packers training camp:
  • As training camp practices go in Green Bay, Monday was a bit unusual. It was one of only a handful of summer sessions that was closed to the public. Reporters were allowed to watch, but it was made perfectly clear that any scheme or personnel-related activities were off limits. Clearly working on things coach Mike McCarthy did not want anyone to see, likely in preparation for the season opener against the Seattle Seahawks on Sept. 4, the Packers went for one-hour and 55 minutes with tarps pinned to the fence that surrounds Ray Nitschke Field. "It was exactly what we wanted," McCarthy said. "That's an in-season Wednesday practice for us, and I thought it was a very good practice."
  • Quarterback Aaron Rodgers used every bit of the 57 seconds the coaches gave him to run the 2-minute drill, but he capped a nine-play drive with a 20-yard touchdown pass to Randall Cobb. Rodgers completed 5 of 8 passes for 60 yards. He hit tight end Brandon Bostick for gains of 7, 8 and 5 yards on three of the first five snaps. He kept the drive going by converting a fourth-and-5 on a scramble in which he avoided a sack by Mike Neal.
  • Scott Tolzien and Matt Flynn alternated taking the No. 2 quarterback reps until the 2-minute period, when Flynn got a turn but Tolzien did not. He took the offense into the red zone but ran out of time. On his final play, on first down from the 15-yard line, Flynn missed tight end Jake Stoneburner in the end zone.
  • Starting left guard Josh Sitton had taken only one rep in the one-on-one pass blocking drill in camp before Monday. It came on July 31, a loss to Mike Daniels. Sitton, who said it was to give his sore back a chance to rest, was back in the drill on Monday and blocked rookie defensive tackle Carlos Gray in his only turn. Julius Peppers, who had split four reps during the first two weeks, won his only turn on Monday. He beat starting left tackle David Bakhtiari to the inside.
  • Apparently, Saturday's preseason opener at Tennessee wasn't enough to satisfy the players' desire to hit someone because there were at least three separate scuffles during Monday's practice.
  • Safety Morgan Burnett returned to practice after missing Saturday's games against the Titans because of an oblique strain, but the Packers still had their largest injury list to date. Those who did not practice were: receiver Davante Adams (wrist), running back Rajion Neal (knee), safety Tanner Miller (ankle), tight end Colt Lyerla (knee), linebacker Joe Thomas (knee), guard/tackle Don Barclay (knee), receiver Jared Abbrederis (knee), receiver Jordy Nelson (hamstring), defensive tackle Josh Boyd (ribs), defensive tackle Letroy Guion (hamstring) and defensive end Jerel Worthy (back).
  • The first of two open practices this week is Tuesday at noon local time.
Aaron Rodgers sat out the preseason finale last summer, and he will do the same for the opener this year.

Nelson
Lacy
Rodgers
The Green Bay Packers quarterback, who said this week that he did not expect his preseason playing time to be any more extensive than it was last August, did not suit up Saturday night for the game against the Tennessee Titans in Nashville, Tennessee.

Rodgers has taken part in every practice so far during training camp.

Two other healthy starters also will sit: running back Eddie Lacy and receiver Jordy Nelson.

Rodgers played in the first three preseason games last year but only took five series in those three games. Only one of those series came in last year's preseason opener against the Arizona Cardinals.

Matt Flynn will start at quarterback. James Starks will get the call for Eddie Lacy, and Jarrett Boykin will start in Nelson's spot.

Coach Mike McCarthy also likely will take a long look at Scott Tolzien, who has split reps with Flynn so far in training camp.

On Thursday, McCarthy ruled out seven other players, who did not make the trip: safety Morgan Burnett (oblique strain), receiver Jared Abbrederis (knee), offensive lineman Don Barclay (knee), tight end Colt Lyerla (knee), safety Tanner Miller (ankle), defensive tackle Letroy Guion (hamstring) and defensive end Jerel Worthy (back).

Two other players who have been limited or out of recent practices will suit up: running back Michael Hill and receiver Jeff Janis. Hill sustained a concussion in last Saturday's Family Night practice. Janis returned Monday after missing the first week of practice because of shingles. He was on a rep count for most of the week.

Packers Camp Report: Day 11

August, 7, 2014
8/07/14
6:45
PM ET
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Green Bay Packers training camp:
  • Rookie tight end Colt Lyerla, wearing a large brace on his right knee, hobbled through the locker room Thursday on crutches and with an uncertainty about his future. Lyerla still does not know the full extent of his injury. He is scheduled for more tests on Friday, but there's a chance he might not be cleared before the preseason ends. "If I had to guess, I'd say no," he said. That would make it nearly impossible for the Packers to keep him on the roster, something that was a long shot anyway, but it also could complicate matters as far as the practice squad goes because of waivers/injury settlement rules. He hurt his knee in Saturday's Family Night practice after an ill-advised leap over a defender "I just said, 'Look, even though there's 70,000 people out here, it is still practice, so just be smart,'" tight ends coach Jerry Fontenot said. "And that was really all I said to him. Hopefully, we'll get him back as soon as we can."
  • Thursday marked the beginning of coach Mike McCarthy's new practice schedule leading up to games. As will be the norm two days before a game, the players did not practice. They took part in a walk-through, workouts and meetings. Then on Friday, they will hold a short practice, which is closed to the public, before departing for the airport. In McCarthy's first eight seasons, he has tweaked various parts of his schedule but never wavered from the idea that on-field practice would be wrapped up two days before the game. Until now. "How we've handled the end of the week going into a football game we have stayed consistent with throughout, and this is the change," McCarthy said. "It's really the last 48 hours of how you go into a game."
  • While most of the focus at safety has been on first-round pick Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and second-year pro Micah Hyde, who appears to have made a successful transition from cornerback, another safety has had perhaps the best camp of them all. Third-year pro Sean Richardson leads the group with two interceptions through the first two weeks of camp. That's big for a position group that failed to pick off a single pass last season. McCarthy made special mention of Richardson on Thursday. "I've been impressed with him both defensively and special teams," he said. "I mean he needed to pick it up on special teams, and you know Sean's done a lot of good things." Last year, Richardson missed the first half of the season while recovering from neck fusion surgery.
  • McCarthy ruled out seven players for Saturday's game: Safety Morgan Burnett (oblique strain), receiver Jared Abbrederis (knee), guard/tackle Don Barclay (knee), safety Tanner Miller (ankle), defensive tackle Letroy Guion (hamstring), defensive end Jerel Worthy (back) and Lyerla. None will travel with the team.
  • Looking ahead to next week, the Packers have only two open practices, Tuesday at noon and Wednesday at 11:45 a.m. local time.
GREEN BAY, Wis. – The oblique strain that Green Bay Packers safety Morgan Burnett sustained in practice this week will keep him out of Saturday's preseason opener at the Tennessee Titans.

Coach Mike McCarthy said Thursday the following seven players will not travel to Nashville, Tennessee, for the game:
Burnett said he sustained the injury in Monday night's practice. Although the Packers did not practice on Thursday, he would not have been able to participate.

"You want to be there; as a competitor, you want to be involved," Burnett said. "It's just something we've got to take one day at a time."

That opens the door for first-round pick Ha Ha Clinton-Dix to start alongside Micah Hyde at the two safety spots, although McCarthy spoke highly of Sean Richardson on Thursday, saying he has had "a helluva camp."

The Packers' offensive starters, including quarterback Aaron Rodgers, are not likely to play much against the Titans.

On the other side of the ball, defensive coordinator Dom Capers said the outside linebacker combination of Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers will make its debut, but was noncommittal about playing time for his starters.

"You'll see Clay and Julius," Capers said. "We don't know the definite amount of reps yet."

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