NFC North: Sederrik Cunningham

Packers' rookie WRs still a mystery

August, 2, 2013
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.”