NFL Nation: Green Bay Packers

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- If the Seattle Seahawks think they have the Green Bay Packers' no-huddle offense figured out from watching Aaron Rodgers run it last Saturday at the St. Louis Rams, they should think again.

According to several Packers' players and coaches, the hand signals they are using in the preseason are nothing like what they will use to combat the noise when the regular season opens in the Pacific Northwest on Sept. 4.

"It's really geared towards our first game," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "So you don't want to show a whole lot. I think our players, particularly, on offense have done a great job with communication. No-huddle is a big part of what we do. To have a set of signals for preseason and a whole different set for the regular season, this is really the first year we've done that. So, we just have a lot more going on."

The reason for the different hand signals is two-fold:

1. The Packers want to keep the Seahawks guessing.

2. They believe several of the players they cut in their roster reduction at the end of camp may be picked up by other teams on their schedule.

"It's tough, especially when you play in a no-huddle situation," quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt said. "You have 90 guys in camp but 53 are going to be around so, obviously, some people aren't going to be here. You try to have the second group of signals ready to go. Use the ones we use in camp then say, 'All right, guys, let's wipe the slate and here's the new set.' That's part of dealing with crowd noise is having the ability to change signals. Maybe one week the signal is 'this,' and the next week the same signal becomes the double move off of that. Just try to keep the defense guessing."

While much of the talk this offseason has been about what new wrinkles defensive coordinator Dom Capers may throw at the Seahawks that they have never seen from the Packers before, there's also plenty McCarthy wants to be a surprise from Rodgers & Co. That's why at the start of practice, when the defense is outside going through its pre-practice walk-through, the offense works behind the closed doors of the Don Hutson Center.

"It's the same offense; it's just different plays," receiver Jordy Nelson said. "It's nothing difficult. It's just plays that, as I said, us older guys have seen every play in the book. There's just plays that we'll probably run more throughout the season than what we'll run in the preseason. Preseason games are very vanilla and watered down. We're just getting more into those plays that might be deeper in the playbook. It's nothing difficult."
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Josh Sitton is no longer an unknown commodity around the NFL.

Last season, the Green Bay Packers left guard was named to the Associated Press' All-Pro second team.

And now the seventh-year veteran has cracked the ESPN #NFLRank project, which picks the top 100 players on each side of the ball. When players 71-80 were revealed on Wednesday, Sitton popped up at No. 77.

He's the third Packers’ player to show up in the rankings so far, but the first on the offensive side of the ball.

ESPN Stats & Information has come up with nuggets about each player selected and had this to say about Sitton:

"Sitton and the Packers' offensive line allowed their running game to average 2.9 yards before contact per rush last season, fifth best in the NFL. Sitton played more offensive snaps than any other Packer last season.”

Packers in the rankings so far:

Defense
No. 95: CB Sam Shields
No. 81: DT B.J. Raji

Offense
No. 77: G Josh Sitton

Packers Camp Report: Day 17

August, 19, 2014
Aug 19
7:45
PM ET
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Green Bay Packers training camp:
  • Most people think the Packers signed Julius Peppers to rush the quarterback, and they did. But don't underestimate his worth to the run defense. That was on display during Tuesday's full-pads practice during the half-line running drill. Peppers tossed aside fullback Ina Liaina like a ragdoll and almost immediately was in the backfield, where he hogtied running back Michael Hill for a loss. On the next snap, he beat tackle John Fullington to force the ball carrier to turn inside and into traffic. Peppers also had a tackle for loss in Saturday’s preseason game against the Rams.
  • In a sign that undrafted rookie outside linebacker Jayrone Elliott has moved up the depth chart after his three-sack performance against the Rams, he was on the No. 1 punt team in practice on Tuesday. He lined up at right tackle, a spot that had been occupied by tight end Brandon Bostick before his injury. That’s the first time Elliott has appeared on a top special teams unit. Elliott also was working outside with the regular defense during the early portion of practice. In the past, he had been relegated to scout-team work inside the Hutson Center during that time.
  • Bostick had no clearer of an idea about whether he can return from his leg injury in time for the season opener at Seattle on Sept. 4 than coach Mike McCarthy did a day earlier. However, Bostick on Tuesday confirmed that his injury is to his right leg (although he declined to give specifics other than to say it will not require surgery) and had nothing to do with his broken foot that ended his 2013 season. That injury was to his left foot, which required surgery to place a screw in the broken bone. "I still have time before the season starts," Bostick said. "So hopefully I'll be pretty good."
  • Mason Crosby made 5 of 6 field goals with his only miss from 44 yards (wide right). He was good from 33, 38, 42, 46 and 53 yards to run his training camp-long mark to 43-of-48 (89.6 percent). He is 3-for-3 in preseason games.
  • For the first time all camp, rookie center Corey Linsley took some team reps at guard during team periods. If Linsley is going to make the team, which looks likely, the fifth-round pick will need to show he can back up more than one position in order to be active on game day.
  • Cornerback Casey Hayward, who missed all but three games last season because of a hamstring injury but has participated fully in training camp this year, was limited on Tuesday. McCarthy said it was precautionary "just because of his history." He said guard T.J. Lang banged his shoulder late in the two hour and 16-minute practice. Otherwise, there were no new injuries.
  • There is no practice on Wednesday but the players will have their regular schedule of meetings, film work and walk-through sessions at Lambeau Field. The next open practice is Thursday at 10:30 a.m. local time.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Mike McCarthy has not named a starting center, tight end or free safety.

But Green Bay Packers training camp is in its fourth week, and the coach has not made changes at any of those positions where there was a new starter to be found.

For that matter, there has not been a single starting job that has changed hands since practice began on July 26 -- something that has to be a first in McCarthy's nine training camps as head coach.

[+] EnlargeRichard Rodgers
AP Photo/Mark ZaleskiRookie TE Richard Rodgers has been a part of the Packers' process in building continuity this preseason.
With half the preseason gone, if a starting lineup change was coming, it probably would have happened in practice this week.

But the same players who have taken the regular starter's reps since camp opened were in their usual spots as the Packers began preparation for the third preseason game, at home against the Oakland Raiders on Friday, when the starters likely will see their most extensive action of the preseason. Some of them will then sit out the preseason finale in preparation for the season opener at the Seattle Seahawks.

That likely means that barring injury between now and Sept. 4, the Packers will open the regular season with JC Tretter as their starting center, rookie Richard Rodgers as their starting tight end and Micah Hyde at free safety. All three have started each of the first two preseason games, and all three were in those same spots on Monday and Tuesday.

"Teams that play together, particularly practice together every day, get better," McCarthy said. "That's always been my experience. The opportunity to grow takes time on the practice field. Obviously, once you start getting into the games, you have the opportunity to grow there. The continuity's been good."

That does not mean there won't be some variety from play to play or series to series. McCarthy has multiple personnel groups on offense just as coordinator Dom Capers does with his defense. For example, the Packers will use more than one tight end. And on defense, first-round pick Ha Ha Clinton-Dix will play some safety when Hyde moves to the slot cornerback in some sub packages.

"We're still trying to play as many different combinations of players as we move forward," McCarthy said. "You'll see some of those changes as we get ready for Oakland and the way we go about it Friday night against Oakland. We have targets that we're trying to hit based on schemes we’re trying to run [with] different combinations of players. The biggest thing is the same guys are practicing every day together. It's been good that way."

Perhaps that's why when the No. 1 offense took the field for the first time as a complete unit on Saturday at St. Louis, quarterback Aaron Rodgers and Co. put together a pair of 12-play drives that resulted in a touchdown and a field goal in their only action of the preseason so far.

"It's really important," Rodgers said of the continuity. "Although there were some questions early on about the center position, I think JC definitely separated himself, and we were really able to operate as a No. 1 offense with really, other than the tight end position, not many of those spots where there's a gray area on who was going to be the guy."

There has not even been much turnover at the bottom of the roster. General manager Ted Thompson claimed receiver Gerrard Sheppard off waivers on July 30 and that's the only other roster move the Packers have made since was last week's trade of defensive end Jerel Worthy to the New England Patriots for a conditional seventh-round draft pick.

"Sometimes you keep adding to the mix, it gets too salty," Thompson said. "Sometimes you have to stop and say, 'OK, let's try to figure this out.' And quite frankly it's just a reflection of where you are, if you've gotten somebody nicked up. When we claimed Sheppard, we had just had a couple of receivers with a bump or two and you don't want to get too light at those running positions, especially early in training camp."
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Maybe you've seen the picture from Super Bowl I, when Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Len Dawson was photographed in full uniform, sitting on a chair in the locker room and taking a drag off a cigarette during halftime of the game against the Green Bay Packers.

Or perhaps you've heard the story of Packers defensive end Ezra Johnson scarfing down a hot dog on the sideline during a preseason game in 1980.

That is not the NFL that Chip Kelly and Mike McCarthy believe in.

"Not to say that stuff didn’t work," Packers outside linebacker Clay Matthews joked.

[+] EnlargeClay Matthews
Cary Edmondson/USA TODAY Sports"There was a point where you'd smoke cigarettes and eat hot dogs at halftime," Clay Matthews said. "Now, we have specifically designed drinks for us and stuff that gets you up and going."
There has been much written of late about how Kelly, the Philadelphia Eagles' second-year coach, has brought an element of science to the NFL game. An ESPN the Magazine profile of Kelly by Seth Wickersham detailed how the Eagles players "wear mandated heart monitors and GPS devices. Trainers carry water bottles labeled with each player's name and after practice ask the players to pee into a cup, part of Kelly's plan to track hydration. A monitor on a wall in the facility ranks the most hydrated players. Drinking water is now a drinking game."

In a recent Grantland.com story, Chris B. Brown devoted a part of his Kelly profile to explaining how the Eagles take part in a full-speed practice the day before games "rather than the leisurely walk-throughs run by essentially every other team in the league."

If much of this sounds familiar, it's because in preparing for his ninth season as Packers coach, McCarthy has adopted some of the same practices in Green Bay.

This offseason, the Packers hired Catapult Sports, an Australian-based company that uses GPS technology to compile live data on athletic exertion and help determine how injuries can be prevented.

Nearly a month into training camp, and the Packers, who have been crushed by injuries in recent years, had just seven players who sat out of practice on Monday. Only one of them, defensive tackle Letroy Guion, had a muscle pull.

"I don't want to really talk about it, honestly," McCarthy said Monday of the relatively low injury totals. "We have a lot of football left."

McCarthy also altered his weekly routine that will put the players through a practice the day before a game. Previously, all of the Packers' on-field work was completed about 48 hours before kickoff.

"Here we are now getting it going on Saturday," Matthews said. "It's a fast, crisp practice. The next thing you know [the game is] the following day. So it doesn't feel like there's a lull. It doesn't feel like there's a wait until the game. You just kind of roll right into it."

And then this summer, the Packers hired nutritionist Adam Korzun, who previously worked at the University of Oregon, where it just so happens Kelly coached before jumping to the NFL in 2013. Korzun has been working closely with strength and conditioning coach Mark Lovat.

"These are … discussions that have been going on for some time," McCarthy said when asked about the comparisons to Kelly's program. "Mark Lovat does a great job staying on the front end of the research and the stuff that's out there. We've done a pretty good job around here training our players and winning games.

"We're about winning championships. Anything we feel we can do better, we're going to do our due diligence, go through it. Never want to just do something because someone else did it. But if they're doing something that's better than what we're doing, then we're going to do it. This is the Green Bay Packers. We have tremendous resources and our organization gives us that each and every year, and we feel the changes we made have been for the best."

Matthews' younger brother Casey is a linebacker for the Eagles, but he said the two have not spent much time discussing the similarities of their respective team’s use of sports science. Clay Matthews said he has done some reading about what the Eagles are doing, and it sounds a lot like what's going in Green Bay. Matthews said the Packers are monitoring players' hydration levels by checking urine samples on a regular basis just like the Eagles do.

"Seeing this change, I'm able to buy into it," Matthews said. "And I think the other players are too just because of the science behind it."

Receiver Randall Cobb, who said he has changed his eating habits and has not eaten red meat in three months, said the team has done sleep studies to give players more information about their health and conditioning.

"Now it's on us as pros to go out and do those things," Cobb said. "They're giving us the education and helping us understand that what we can be doing to help ourselves."

This is not the NFL of Dawson and Johnson, of halftime smoke breaks and sideline sausages.

"I just think it's the natural progression of the league," Matthews said. "There was a point where you'd smoke cigarettes and eat hot dogs at halftime. Now, we have specifically designed drinks for us and stuff that gets you up and going."

Packers Camp Report: Day 16

August, 18, 2014
Aug 18
9:30
PM ET
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.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- To many around the Green Bay Packers locker room, rookie outside linebacker Jayrone Elliott was known not by his name, which, by the way is pronounced JAY-rone.

"Usually you walk around, and they'd be like, "What's up 91?' or something like that," Elliott said, referring to his jersey number.

That was before Saturday in St. Louis.

[+] EnlargeGreen Bay's Jayrone Elliott
AP Photo/Tom GannamJayrone Elliott had three sacks during the Packers' exhibition against the Rams.
In a span of four snaps in the fourth quarter, Elliott sacked Rams third-string quarterback Austin Davis three times, the third of which caused a fumble. It will go down as perhaps the most productive short stint in recent Packers' preseason history.

For the entire preseason so far, the undrafted free agent from the University of Toledo has played just 14 game snaps, yet is the only NFL player with three sacks. That's three more that Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers have combined.

"Then they started calling me by name and calling me 'Sackmaster,'" Elliott said. "So it's just fun to joke around with Clay and Pep, because you know Peppers never really talks to anybody, so it's fun to hear him talk."

Not only did Matthews talk to Elliott, he talked about him on Monday.

"I heard he's starting this weekend in front of me," Matthews joked.

That won't happen this week, when the Packers likely will play their defensive starters for at least the first half of Friday's preseason game against the Oakland Raiders. But it could happen in the preseason finale against the Kansas City Chiefs on Aug. 28, when general manager Ted Thompson and coach Mike McCarthy will get their last chance to look at the rookies.

"He's just a young man that's really taken advantage of pretty much every opportunity he’s been given," McCarthy said. "I was excited to see him have success."

If Elliott was unknown to most in the locker room, that wasn't the case in Thompson's office. His scouts identified Elliott as a prospect coming out of the Mid-American Conference and brought him in for a pre-draft visit.

Green Bay was the only NFL visit Elliott had before the draft. He said he connected with linebackers coach Winston Moss and two members of the Packers' personnel department, Danny Mock and Chad Brinker, during his visit and even though a few other teams called him after the draft, including the San Francisco 49ers and New Orleans Saints, he chose the Packers' offer, which included just a $5,000 signing bonus.

At Toledo, the 6-foot-3, 255-pound Elliott played defensive end for three years in a 4-3 scheme. Before his final year, the Rockets switched to a 3-4. In that scheme, Elliott played outside linebacker in the base scheme but moved inside on third downs.

The next step for Elliott is to show he can beat someone other than Rams backup left tackle Sean Hooey, who gave up five sacks on Saturday.

Despite playing in the MAC, Elliott has rushed against NFL-caliber tackles. As a junior, he said he beat Central Michigan's Eric Fisher for a couple of pressures in one game. Fisher went on to become the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 draft.

On Monday, Elliott stood in the auxiliary locker room at Lambeau Field, where the undrafted rookies and practice-squad players change, and appeared to be taking his sudden success in stride. He said he received dozens of messages after Saturday's game, including some from family members who he said were "going crazy thinking I'm freakin' Clay Matthews."

Matthews, he isn't. But at least the Packers' All-Pro linebacker now knows Elliott's name.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Green Bay Packers cornerback Sam Shields broke in to the top 100 on ESPN's #NFLRank project, but just barely.

It remains to be seen how many cornerbacks will check in higher than Shields as the rest of the list is unveiled over the next two weeks. The fifth-year cornerback was No. 95 on the list of top defensive players in the league as polled by 85 ESPN NFL contributors, including all 32 NFL Nation reporters.

But the four-year, $39 million contract he signed as a free agent in March suggests the Packers expect him to be even better than that.

Based on average per year, Shields' $9.75 million pay ranks tied for sixth among all NFL cornerbacks behind Darrelle Revis ($16 million), Richard Sherman ($14 million), Patrick Peterson ($14.01 million), Joe Haden ($13.5 million) and Brandon Carr ($10.02 million).

According to ESPN Stats & Information, since Shields' rookie season of 2010, no player has more postseason interceptions than he does (four).

This is the second year of this ESPN project, and Shields did not make the top 100 last year. Over the next two weeks, the list of players will be revealed 10 at a time. The Packers did not have any players in the 91-100 category on the offensive side of the ball.
Examining the Green Bay Packers' roster:

QUARTERBACKS (3)
This might be the hardest call of them all, whether to keep both Flynn and Tolzien. And if the answer is no, then which to keep? Flynn is a proven winner as a backup, although he lacks some of Tolzien's physical attributes. There's just something about the Flynn-Packers marriage that seems to work, but Tolzien is making it a tough call. Both got some things done on Saturday against the Rams. Tolzien threw the ball more often and better, but Flynn directed drives that led to points. This one is going right down to the end.

RUNNING BACKS (4)

If the Packers keep only two quarterbacks, then it could open up a spot for another halfback. Rajion Neal of Tennessee opened some eyes on his 12-yard touchdown run against the Titans before he left with a knee injury. He did not play against the Rams. LaDarius Perkins of Mississippi State also has shown flashes, but then Michael Hill emerged as a contender with a strong showing in St. Louis. But if they keep only four backs, then all of that is moot.

RECEIVERS (5)

There's no way the Packers can cut Janis now, not after the potential the seventh-round pick flashed on his 34-yard catch-and-run touchdown against the Rams. He's still a raw, former small-college receiver but if the Packers were to try to sneak him through the practice squad, another team would snatch him off waivers for his speed and athleticism. If a sixth receiver sticks, it will be Kevin Dorsey. He has the potential to be a core special teams player. It may come down to the third quarterback or the sixth receiver.

TIGHT ENDS (4)

The only question is what to do with Colt Lyerla? His knee injury will prevent him from coming back before the regular-season opener. Injured reserve is the best option if they want to keep him and develop him.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (8)

The loss of Don Barclay to a season-ending knee injury might cause the Packers to keep one fewer offensive linemen. The Packers can get away with it because they typically only activate seven offensive linemen on game day. Without Barclay, Sherrod is the backup at both tackle spots, and Taylor would handle either guard spot.

DEFENSIVE LINE (6)

Pennel, a rookie free agent from Colorado State-Pueblo, probably solidified his roster spot with a second straight strong preseason performance against the Rams. The Packers like his size (6-foot-4, 332 pounds) in the middle of their defensive line, and they need a backup nose tackle. They thought veteran free agent Letroy Guion (hamstring) might be that guy, but he can't get on the field. He probably needs to return this week to have any chance.

LINEBACKERS (10)

The way rookie outside linebacker Carl Bradford has played, there's little reason to keep him on the roster unless Thompson decides he just can't cut a fourth-round pick this soon. The Packers haven't cut a fourth-rounder coming out of camp since receiver Cory Rodgers in 2006. Another rookie, undrafted free agent Jayrone Elliott of Toledo, deserves a spot more than Bradford. In just eight snaps against the Rams, Elliott had three sacks (including one that forced a fumble). But it came in garbage time against a backup tackle who may not make the Rams. He needs to show that wasn't a fluke. Undrafted rookie Joe Thomas' chances took a blow when he sustained a knee injury against the Titans and did not play against St. Louis. That puts Mulumba back in play. He has consistently been paired with Palmer as the No. 3 outside linebacker combination.

CORNERBACKS (5)

Rookie Demetri Goodson is another draft pick who looks like he won't make it. The Packers can afford to keep only five cornerbacks because safety Micah Hyde will play as a slot cornerback in the dime package. If they keep another one, look at Jumal Rolle, who got a late-season promotion from the practice squad last year.

SAFETIES (5)

Banjo had an interception taken away by a penalty on another Packers' defender against the Rams. He keeps showing up on several of the number one special teams units, which is a good sign.

SPECIALISTS (3)

Unlike last year, when Crosby was under the microscope, there's no competition here.
Halfway through the preseason schedule, the Green Bay Packers' roster and depth chart is starting to take shape.

Here's a look at who hurt their chances during Saturday’s 21-7 victory at the St. Louis Rams:

1. Derek Sherrod: A week ago, the Packers were raving about the return of the former first-round draft pick, who saw his first extensive playing time since he broke his leg late in his rookie season of 2011. A week later, they have reason to be concerned about whether he can be the backup swing tackle they need without Don Barclay (who was lost for the season to knee injury early in camp). Sherrod had all kinds of trouble with a pair of Rams backups. On his very first snap at left tackle, Sherrod got smoked by defensive end Eugene Sims, who drilled quarterback Scott Tolzien just as he released the ball. Later on the same drive, Sims beat Sherrod again to pressure Tolzien into an incompletion. "I thought Scott had some tough situations," coach Mike McCarthy said, referring to the protection problems. Sherrod also got some time at right tackle late in the game, but he did not fare much better. He got beat by rookie Michael Sam, who then sacked Matt Flynn. Although Flynn held the ball for 3.5 seconds (one full second longer than McCarthy wants), the responsibility for the sack should sit with Sherrod.

2. Aaron Adams: See above. Sherrod's running mate at tackle with the No. 2 offensive line had troubles of his own. Playing right tackle on the first series with Tolzien, Adams allowed rookie defensive end Ethan Westbrooks to beat him and then hit Tolzien as he threw. On the next series, Adams gave up a sack to Westbrooks on third down. Adams spent all of last season on the practice squad and had impressed the coaches during the early part of the training camp.

3. Corey Linsley: If the Packers were to lose center JC Tretter during a game, they might be more likely to move one of their starting guards rather than go with rookie Corey Linsley in the middle. Although the fifth-round pick has worked as the No. 2 center throughout camp, his performance against the Rams likely gave the Packers reason to believe he's not ready for regular-season game action. Linsley committed a pair of penalties, including one that wiped out a Tolzien touchdown pass to Myles White. Perhaps it was just a bad day in his first NFL game in a dome because Linsley has been solid in practice.

4. DuJuan Harris: Last season, running back Eddie Lacy fumbled only once – it came in his regular-season debut – in 15 games. If Harris is going to take some of Lacy's snaps this season, he can't cough up the ball like he did in the third quarter. The Packers like Harris as a change-of-pace back but if ball security is an issue, they have other options. Undrafted rookie Rajion Neal was impressive in Week 1 before he sustained a knee injury. He could return this week. Michael Hill averaged 4.3 yards on four carries and had a 27-yard reception against the Rams.

5. Brandon Bostick: The tight end literally hurt himself in the first quarter, when he left the game because of a lower leg injury and did not return. Although Bostick did not start (rookie Richard Rodgers did), he has been making a push for the job and at the very least would be in line for significant playing time. Injuries have slowed Bostick in the past. He finished last season on injured reserve because of a broken foot.
Jeff JanisJasen Vinlove/USA TODAY SportsJeff Janis turned a short reception into a 34-yard touchdown scamper Saturday.
On the eve of what would be his first NFL game, Saturday's preseason affair against the St. Louis Rams, rookie receiver Jeff Janis could not help but think about his father.

As the Green Bay Packers' seventh-round pick sat in his St. Louis hotel room and prepared for his debut, Janis knew it was the anniversary of his dad's death. Christopher Janis died on that day, four years earlier, of liver cancer.



So forgive the 23-year-old if he got emotional one day later in front of 55,072 people at the Edward Jones Dome.

For it was his father who entered his thoughts as soon as he realized what he had just done the first time he caught the ball in a professional game on Saturday. After Janis grabbed a short crossing route from quarterback Matt Flynn in the third quarter, he flashed the speed that allowed him to run a 4.42-second 40-yard dash at the combine (only three receivers ran faster in Indianapolis this year). He turned down the left sideline and outran safety Christian Bryant to the end zone.

Then, in his words, he "kind of blacked out. It was pretty exciting."

And in an instant, it hit him.

"I think I had a pretty good guardian angel over me today," Janis said. "I'm just glad everything happened the way it did."

For Janis, it may have sealed his spot on the Packers' opening-day roster. After missing the first seven practices because of a case of shingles, which was diagnosed on the eve of training camp, Janis returned to the field with a flurry. On his first day as a full participant, he snagged a one-handed catch for a touchdown over cornerback Sam Shields. From there, not a practice went by that Janis didn't make an eye-catching play.

But he still needed to do it in a game.

Coach Mike McCarthy held out Janis from the preseason opener at Tennessee, so Saturday's game against the Rams was his first chance to show that his small-school success at Saginaw Valley State and practice-field production would translate to a game.

"It was great to get Jeff out there finally," McCarthy said. "It was great experience for him, and he continues to do something every day. That's something that you look for.”

The next step will be to do it with the starters and against an opponent's starters. That chance could come against the Oakland Raiders on Friday, when McCarthy likely will play quarterback Aaron Rodgers for more than just the two series he did against the Rams.

But the 6-foot-3 Janis already has captured his teammates' attention.

"He's made a few plays," Rodgers said. "He's athletic. He's fast. He ran his route, caught a ball and outran everybody today. When you're playing against the first string, you have to run crisp routes and make the plays that are there, so plays like today help him out confidence-wise for sure. He did it in practice last week. Coming back from his ailment, he did a nice job for us."

Said Jordy Nelson: "Janis obviously showed his speed tonight. I was very impressed. He got up the sideline."

Halfway through the preseason, Janis might be the leading contender for the fifth receiver spot behind Nelson, Randall Cobb, Jarrett Boykin and second-round pick Davante Adams, who had two catches for 28 yards against the Rams. Janis also got three chances as a punt returner. He had two fair catches and one return for 9 yards.

But Janis wasn't thinking about roster spots or depth charts after Saturday's game. This was a day for him and his dad.

"He's just probably got a big grin on his face, and he's just as excited as I am," Janis said.
Mike McCarthy wanted to see more big plays from the Green Bay Packers in their second preseason game Saturday at St. Louis.

He came away from the 21-7 victory over the Rams at the Edward Jones Dome feeling like the Packers did that.

Among the things that would fit into the big-play category were:

    [+] EnlargeLacy
    AP Photo/Scott KaneEddie Lacy contributed his share of production Saturday for the Packers, but the team output could've been much greater if not for penalties.
  • A total of 279 yards passing by his top-three quarterbacks -- Aaron Rodgers (11-of-13 for 128 yards), Scott Tolzien (10-of-15 for 107 yards) and Matt Flynn (2-of-3 for 44 yards and a touchdown pass) -- who combined for a 122.9 passer rating.
  • Runs of at least 10 yards by three running backs -- Eddie Lacy (with a long run of 13 yards), DuJuan Harris (10) and LaDarius Perkins (14).
  • Catches of 14 yards or more by seven players -- Andrew Quarless (with long reception of 35 yards), Jeff Janis (34), Michael Hill (27), Randall Cobb (22), Kevin Dorsey (18), Lacy (18) and Davante Adams (14).
  • Seven sacks, including three in a four-play stretch in the fourth quarter by rookie outside linebacker Jayrone Elliott.

"I thought our big-play production as a football team was very high," McCarthy said after the game.

But he also knows his team lost out on several other potential big plays because of penalties. In a game that featured 22 accepted penalties for 171 yards, the Packers committed 12 of them for 95 yards.

Four of those flags nullified potential impact plays. They were:

  • An illegal use of hands on starting left tackle David Bakhtiari in the second quarter on what would have been a 10-yard touchdown pass from Rodgers to Jordy Nelson. Instead, the Packers were forced to replay third down, and Rodgers couldn't connect with Quarless so settled for a field goal.
  • An illegal use of hands on backup center Corey Linsley in the third quarter that wiped out a 4-yard touchdown pass from Tolzien to Myles White. The Packers did not get any points on that drive after McCarthy decided to let the offense try to convert the next two plays. In a meaningful game, McCarthy would have taken the three points.
  • An illegal use of hands on backup defensive Carlos Gray in the fourth quarter that took away an interception by safety Chris Banjo. On his pass rush, Gray knocked off the helmet of a Rams' lineman.
  • A pass interference on starting cornerback Sam Shields in the second quarter on a third-down incompletion that would have forced the Rams to punt. Instead, they continued the drive and turned it into their only touchdown.

The Packers spent three days with an NFL officiating crew during the first week of training camp, so they know what is being emphasized this season. Still, Rodgers called all the flags "way over the top."

"Especially after a big play, you're always looking back to see if there's a penalty out there," Rodgers said. "We don't want to get down that road too far. Hopefully, it's the preseason, and they're working their kinks out as well."
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers wanted to stay healthy, and he wanted to lead a touchdown drive.

He did both in his preseason debut Saturday afternoon in St. Louis.

In fact, Rodgers nearly had two touchdown drives, but his second was wiped out by a penalty.

After sitting out the preseason opener at the Tennessee Titans a week earlier, Rodgers completed 11 of 13 passes for 128 yards and one touchdown (a 3-yarder to Randall Cobb on a classic Rodgers play in which he moved out of the pocket to buy more time). On Rodgers' second -- and final -- series, he thought he had a 10-yard touchdown pass to Jordy Nelson on a comeback route, but it was called back because of a penalty on left tackle David Bakhtiari, forcing the Packers to settle for a field goal.

Rodgers led a pair of 12-play drives and when he came out, the Packers had a 10-0 lead and went on to a 21-7 victory over the St. Louis Rams at the Edward Jones Dome. The Packers evened their preseason record at 1-1 heading into Friday's game against the Oakland Raiders at Lambeau Field.

Here are some other thoughts on the Packers' second preseason game of the season:
  • The game's opening drive was the perfect example of how coach Mike McCarthy wants to play. In the no-huddle offense, McCarthy did not make any substitutions and kept things moving quickly. That meant plenty of touches for running back Eddie Lacy, who had five carries for 25 yards and two catches for 22 yards. He stayed on the field for the only third down on the drive.
  • Outside linebacker Julius Peppers, who admitted he did not get much done in his 10-snap Packers debut against the Titans, had a tackle for loss on Rams running back Zac Stacy for a 2-yard loss and also had a hit on quarterback Sam Bradford in which Peppers beat rookie tackle Greg Robinson, the second overall pick in the draft.
  • After a slow start in large part because of shoddy pass protection by backup tackles Derek Sherrod and Aaron Adams plus a lost fumble by running back DuJuan Harris, backup quarterback Scott Tolzien got into a rhythm and put together a good drive in the third quarter. He hit rookie Davante Adams for a pair of 14-yard completions on a drive that ended after a failed fourth-and-goal play from the 5-yard line. However, Tolzien had a 4-yard touchdown pass to Myles White taken away because of an illegal hands to the face penalty on backup center Corey Linsley. Tolzien, who replaced Rodgers, finished 10-of-15 for 107 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions before giving way to Matt Flynn midway through the third quarter.
  • Sherrod struggled after a solid showing against the Titans. He allowed at least two quarterback hits in the first half and then gave up a sack to Rams rookie Michael Sam in the fourth quarter.
  • In his preseason debut, rookie seventh-round receiver Jeff Janis showed off his 4.42-second 40-yard dash speed. He caught a short crossing route and turned it up the field for a 34-yard touchdown from Flynn in the third quarter.
  • Undrafted rookie defensive tackle Mike Pennel helped his bid for a roster spot. He spun away from a double team in the second quarter and sacked Rams backup quarterback Shaun Hill in the second quarter. Mike Neal slowed down Hill to allow Pennel to make the play.
  • Another undrafted rookie, outside linebacker Jayrone Elliott, made quite the impression with three sacks in a four-play stretch in the fourth quarter. The last one was a strip-sack of quarterback Austin Davis.
  • The only injury announced during the game was to tight end Brandon Bostick (lower leg), who did not return. Bostick finished last season on injured reserve after he broke his foot.

W2W4: Green Bay Packers

August, 16, 2014
Aug 16
12:00
PM ET
The Green Bay Packers (0-1) play their second preseason game Saturday against the St. Louis Rams (0-1) at the Edward Jones Dome. Kickoff is at 4 p.m. ET.

Here are three things to watch:

1. Back in action: After sitting out the preseason opener at Nashville this past Saturday, quarterback Aaron Rodgers will make his preseason debut. He's expected to play a few series in this game and a few more in the third preseason game against the Oakland Raiders on Aug. 22 and then likely won't play in the finale against the Kansas City Chiefs six days later. Running back Eddie Lacy and receiver Jordy Nelson also did not play against the Titans. Lacy was held out as a coach's decision, while Nelson had a hamstring injury. Both appear likely to play against the Rams. When asked whether it was important to get Rodgers playing time with Lacy and Nelson, coach Mike McCarthy said: "You want everybody to play. It's not just two guys."

2. More from Peppers: Julius Peppers admitted he "did not get much done" in his preseason debut with the Packers last week. He played only 10 snaps but did not make any impact plays. He is expected to see more playing against the Rams. The preseason might not seem important to a 34-year-old, 13-year veteran, but given that Peppers is playing a new position (outside linebacker) in a new scheme, surely the Packers would like to see him make a few plays. "It matters, it matters," Peppers said of the preseason. "We all are going to need these reps to get ready for the season, which is going to be upon us pretty soon. It's a chance to get better. We have a couple more opportunities to try to accomplish those goals."

3. Do it for real: McCarthy said it best this week when asked about rookie receiver Jeff Janis, saying he has "made a play every day he's been out there." It's time to see whether the rookie seventh-round pick from Saginaw Valley State can do it in a game. Janis was held out of the preseason opener because he had only a week of practice under his belt after missing the first seven practices because of a case of shingles. However, he has been impressive in practice, catching difficult passes against some of the Packers' top cornerbacks. "The biggest thing for me is just making the play whenever it comes my way," Janis said. "That's what I've been trying to do lately. So that's what's most important to me." Janis is locked in a battle for one of the last receiver spots with the likes of Kevin Dorsey, Alex Gillett, Chris Harper, Gerrard Sheppard and Myles White.

MNF moments, No. 23: Favre faces Packers

August, 16, 2014
Aug 16
9:30
AM ET
Brett Favre & Aaron RodgersAP Photo/Tom Olmscheid
To celebrate the 45th season of "Monday Night Football," a panel of ESPN.com contributors has selected the 45 most memorable moments in MNF history. Follow along as we reveal one per day and count down to this season's MNF debut.

No. 23: Vikings 30, Packers 23 | Oct. 5, 2009


After Brett Favre signed with the Minnesota Vikings in late August 2009, his first game against the Green Bay Packers became must-see TV.

Favre would deliver against the team with whom he became a legend. Just five days shy of his 40th birthday, Favre threw three touchdown passes and did not turn the ball over in a victory that pushed Minnesota to 4-0 overall.

"I don't know how to explain it," Favre said after the game. "I felt right, but I guess I never thought I'd be in that situation."

Minnesota built a 16-point lead early in the fourth quarter and held on for the win. Favre's replacement in Green Bay, Aaron Rodgers, amassed 384 passing yards despite being sacked eight times, including once for a safety.

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