NFL Nation: Aaron Rodgers

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Green Bay Packers are leaning heavily toward keeping just two quarterbacks, according to a source familiar with their thinking.

Tolzien
Flynn
Flynn
That means general manager Ted Thompson and coach Mike McCarthy will have to decide between Matt Flynn and Scott Tolzien as Aaron Rodgers' backup.

Despite much better preseason numbers by Tolzien, the decision is not that clear-cut.

In fact, the Packers could be leaning toward Flynn because he has proven he can win games in the regular season as a backup.

Tolzien was winless in three games last season, including two starts. He was pulled in the Nov. 24 game against the Vikings, and Flynn rallied the Packers from behind to a tie. Flynn then went 2-2 as a fill-in starter before Rodgers returned from his collarbone injury.

However, with a full offseason to develop, Tolzien made huge gains. For the preseason, he completed 38 of 56 passes (67.9 percent) for 477 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions, which equates to a passer rating of 112.0. Flynn was 18-of-38 (47.4 percent) for 232 yards with three touchdowns and one interception for a passer rating of 82.3.

The Packers need three quarterbacks to run practice so if they keep just two on the 53-man roster, they will need to sign one to the practice squad. Tolzien still has practice-squad eligibility but would have to clear waivers first. It's a chance the Packers might be willing to take.

The Packers have begun making cuts. The following players have been released already, according to their agents, other league sources and media reports (this will be updated throughout the day):
  • T Aaron Adams (to injured reserve, knee).
  • T John Fullington
  • CB Ryan White
  • LB Jake Doughty
  • RB Michael Hill
  • RB LaDarius Perkins
  • S Tanner Miller
  • WR Alex Gillett
  • C/G Jordan McCray
  • S Jumal Rolle
GREEN BAY, Wis. – Aaron Rodgers fell from atop the ESPN #NFLRank list.

But he's still the highest-ranked quarterback.

The Green Bay Packers star slipped to No. 2 in the second annual offensive player list, flip-flopping spots with Detroit Lions receiver Calvin Johnson, but Rodgers remained on top of the quarterback class. He edged out Denver's Peyton Manning (No. 3 overall).

Other quarterbacks in the top 10 were New Orleans' Drew Brees (No. 6) and New England's Tom Brady (No. 7).

According to ESPN Stats & Information, since Rodgers became the Packers' starting QB in 2008, his 3.67 touchdown-to-interception ratio is the best in the NFL. His Total QBR of 74 during that span is second only to Peyton Manning (80).

The Packers finished with nine players in the top 100 combined on offense and defense. Only four teams – San Francisco (15 players), Seattle (13), New England (10) and Denver (10) – placed more players on the lists.

Here are the Packers in the rankings:

Defense
No. 95: CB Sam Shields
No. 81: DT B.J. Raji
No. 50: OLB Julius Peppers
No. 14: Clay Matthews

Offense
No. 77: G Josh Sitton
No. 66: WR Randall Cobb
No. 60: RB Eddie Lacy
No. 34: WR Jordy Nelson
No. 2: QB Aaron Rodgers
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Things will be much different next week in Seattle. For starters, there will be 68,000-plus trying to break the sound barrier at CenturyLink Field.

And in the middle of it all, rookie Corey Linsley will be trying to snap the ball to Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers -- something he has never done in a game.

If two series in the preseason finale were any sign -- and it might not be -- then the Packers believe Linsley will handle it without complications. In his first action since starting center JC Tretter sustained a knee injury that will keep him out for up to six weeks, Linsley played 22 snaps of near mistake-free football alongside a collection of second-stringers in Thursday's preseason finale against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Linsley made all of the line adjustments that the Packers center normally would make -- "He had the controls of it, and he was making all the calls," said left guard Lane Taylor, who started next to Linsley -- and by his count had only one missed assignment, a wrong step on an outside zone run.

"He did a really nice job," said quarterback Matt Flynn, who took both series with Linsley. "We weren't getting a lot of exotic looks or anything but he did a nice job of setting the huddle, getting to the line of scrimmage, making a quick declaration and getting us in the right spot. He's been impressive to me since I've been kind of working with him since the beginning of OTAs. I've been with him first-hand, and he's done a nice job."

But things will be different next week on the road against the Seahawks. Coach Mike McCarthy likely will want to run more of the no-huddle offense, a task that will be more difficult in the crowd noise. Against the Chiefs, they used it for just three of Linsley's 22 snaps.

Linsley was the only presumed Week 1 starting offensive lineman that suited up against the Chiefs, so the upcoming week of practice will be critical for him to fine-tune things with Rodgers and his fellow linemen. But there were no red flags that would cause the Packers to look for other options between now and the opener.

"I actually felt mentally and in terms of the intangible aspect of the game, I actually felt the most comfortable out there," said Linsley, a fifth-round pick from Ohio State. "They've been telling me to get the line and make the call quicker, and I felt that I did that better today than I ever have before, so I feel like I got better there."

The Packers gave Linsley some help. Several times, he and Taylor used combination blocks to secure Chiefs defensive linemen. However, on one play -- a 10-yard rush by DuJuan Harris on the second series -- Linsley got to the second-level and blocked linebacker James-Michael Johnson.

"I watched Corey and Lane early," McCarthy said. "I thought they did some really good things. I thought they were really composed, just managed the huddle. From what I did see I thought they played well."
Three takeaways from ESPN's #NFLRank reveal of the top 100 offensive and top 100 defensive players in the league. Today: 11-20.

1. QB shuffle: Everyone loves a quarterback ranking, and #NFLRankers brought a unique take to the traditional top four. For the second consecutive year, the panel tapped Green Bay Packers ace Aaron Rodgers as the best quarterback in football. If anything, the 2013 season shook loose anyone who might have grown numb to Rodgers' skills and value. The Packers won only two of eight games he either didn't play in or couldn't finish because of a fractured collarbone, but he returned in Week 17 to lead the team to a division-clinching victory at the Chicago Bears. Meanwhile, the panel reacted to Tom Brady's down season for the New England Patriots by pushing him down to No. 4 after Rodgers, the Denver Broncos' Peyton Manning and the New Orleans Saints' Drew Brees. Brady is still considered the seventh-best offensive player in the game, but you'll find no argument here about his standing among other elite quarterbacks.

2. Burying the lede: In a quarterback-driven league, it's fascinating that a receiver was named the best offensive player in the game. Yes, in 2014, Rodgers and Detroit Lions receiver Calvin Johnson have swapped positions. Quarterback is the game's most important position, but the prime of Johnson's career is proving to be historically productive even in the NFL's age of passing. In 46 games over three seasons, Johnson has caught 302 passes for 5,137 yards and 33 touchdowns. That means in his average game -- average! -- Johnson catches 6.6 passes for 111.7 yards. Johnson has accounted 1,120 more yards over that period than the NFL's next-most productive receiver, Brandon Marshall. There is no other player in the NFL who has outperformed his peers at that level in recent years.

3. Anonymously elite: You could probably name the NFL sack leader over the past two seasons. The Houston Texans' J.J. Watt has 31 since the start of the 2012 season, and for that and other reasons, he's the No. 1 defensive player in this year' #NFLRank. But can you identify the player who totaled the second-most sacks over that period? Robert Quinn of the St. Louis Rams might be the least known player on the #NFLRank lists of the top 10 offensive and top 10 defensive players, but he grew into an unblockable force during last season's 19-sack campaign. (He has 29.5 since the start of 2012.) One linebacker and four defensive backs separated Watt and Quinn in this ranking, and at this point he has to be considered the top "edge" rusher in the NFL. You'll be hearing more about him.

Packers Camp Report: Day 21

August, 27, 2014
Aug 27
6:15
PM ET
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Green Bay Packers training camp:
  • For the final practice of camp on Wednesday, the Packers went through their new day-before-the-game practice in helmets and shorts. It lasted 61 minutes. That brought their total time on the practice field for training camp to 35 hours and 30 minutes dating to the first practice on July 26. When told of that number, one former Packers' player from the 1980s said: "We used to practice that much the first week [of camp]." The longest practice of the summer was their fourth one of camp on July 30. It lasted two hours and 36 minutes. The only other practice lasted more than two-and-half hours. It was a two hour-and-31-minute session in July 30. They went longer than two hours and 15 minutes only twice after Aug. 1. The shortest practice of camp was a 58-minute session on Aug. 21, the day before the preseason home opener against the Raiders.
  • As has been their custom following the final practice of training camp, the players thanked the fans for attending practice by going over to the stands and shaking hands with them.
  • Despite not having another kicker to compete with, Mason Crosby got almost the exact same number of training camp field goals as he did last year, when the Packers had two other kickers in camp. Crosby finished camp by making all three of his field goals (33, 38 and 43 yards) in Wednesday's practice to finish camp 53 of 63 (84.1 percent). Last summer, he was 53 of 67 (79.1 percent) in practice.
  • After reducing their roster to 75 on Tuesday by putting six players on injured reserve, there were only four players who did not practice on Wednesday. They were: cornerback Demetri Goodson (concussion), linebacker Brad Jones (quadriceps), center JC Tretter (knee) and tight end Brandon Bostick (leg). None is expected to play in Thursday's preseason finale against the Kansas City Chiefs.
  • Quarterback Aaron Rodgers and several other veteran starters also are not expected to play. Rodgers took mostly scout-team reps in practice this week.
  • Thursday's game against the Chiefs at Lambeau Field kicks off at 6 p.m. local time.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Green Bay Packers spent nearly five months preparing JC Tretter to start at center when the regular-season opens on Sept. 4 at the Seattle Seahawks.

Now they have less than two weeks to prime rookie Corey Linsley for the task.

Tretter
The news that Tretter sustained a knee injury in Friday's preseason game against the Oakland Raiders and will miss up to six weeks struck a bigger blow than the loss of nose tackle B.J. Raji, who sustained a season-ending torn biceps in the game.

Raji is the bigger, more recognizable name, but Tretter is the greater loss.

Tretter is the reason the Packers opted not to re-sign last year's starting center Evan Dietrich-Smith, who went to Tampa Bay in free agency.

The Packers felt so confident in the second-year pro even though he had never played center that they devoted their entire offseason to getting him ready to help Aaron Rodgers run the no-huddle without so much as looking at another option in practice. Rodgers was going to have his fourth different starting center in as many years anyway. Now it will be a center he might not take a game snap with before the opener given that Rodgers does not typically play in the final exhibition game.

"It can be done," said backup quarterback Matt Flynn, who has worked extensively with Linsley this summer. "It's the 10 other guys around him that are key factors in not letting there be a setback. It's a blow for us, spending that much time with a guy getting him ready, getting him prepared. But the thing about training camp is everyone's getting about the same amount of reps. We've also been getting Corey ready. We hope that there's not going to be a drop off there. And he couldn't have any better people surrounding him, whether it's the two guards [Josh Sitton and T.J. Lang] or Aaron behind him, with the mental part of it."

It will be a crash course. The Packers have just two more practices this week before the preseason finale against Kansas City on Thursday and then have a short week to prepare for the Thursday night opener against the defending champs.

"This will be my millionth center, so it's not anything new to us," said Sitton, who also took some snaps at center on Sunday. "I wouldn't say it's difficult; it's just a process. I told JC this morning, 'Right when I got real comfortable with you, now you're gone.' It sucks. It's unfortunate, but we're used to working with a bunch of guys, so it's something you've got to roll with."

Before Sunday's practice, Linsley had not taken a single rep with the No. 1 offensive line since the time he was drafted in the fifth round out of Ohio State in May.

The physical aspect of the game does not look like a problem for him. For example, Linsley's record in the one-on-one pass-blocking drill in training camp is a respectable 8-2. However, offensive line coach James Campen has had to harp on Linsley about mental mistakes and missed assignments in both practice and preseason games.

"It's definitely the mental side of the game that I've been slacking on and that I need to improve on," Linsley said. "It's just the subtleties -- the outside zone step as opposed to the inside zone step, the differences between the aiming point are very subtle -- but they make a difference. That's what I've got to work on."
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Coach Mike McCarthy should just go ahead and call off the competition for the Green Bay Packers' backup quarterback job and demand that general manager Ted Thompson keep both Matt Flynn and Scott Tolzien on the roster.

Tolzien
Flynn
Flynn
Maybe Thompson will feel as though he cannot afford to use three roster spots on quarterbacks. After all, he hasn't done so since 2008, and even then it was only because he wasn't ready to give up on second-round pick Brian Brohm.

But he also hasn’t had three worth keeping like he does now.

Given how close the competition is behind Aaron Rodgers, the safe thing to do would be to find a place for Flynn and Tolzien, especially after what the Packers went through last season when Rodgers broke his collarbone and missed seven starts.

The Packers need three quarterbacks to practice anyway, and since Tolzien has run out of practice squad eligibility, it’s the roster or bust for both backups.

Rodgers won’t play in Thursday’s preseason finale against the Kansas City Chiefs, so expect Flynn and Tolzien to get a long look. But even McCarthy would not go so far as to say it’s a winner-take-all situation for the backup job.

“Well, we’ll see,” McCarthy said after Friday’s preseason game against the Oakland Raiders. “I’m not going to make statements like that.”

Based on game production alone, Tolzien might have closed the gap on -- and possibly even overtaken -- Flynn. Against the Raiders, Tolzien threw the ball with the kind of zip that Flynn does not always show, and he completed 8 of 11 passes for 107 yards and a touchdown. But he also was the beneficiary of a diving catch by Chris Harper for a 27-yard gain and a juggling catch by Alex Gillett for a 15-yard touchdown.

“I’ve been in games where all of those have been incompletions, and tonight, guys were making plays on the ball,” Tolzien said. “The line was protecting, so there were a lot of guys doing good things.”

Meanwhile, Flynn completed just 4 of 10 passes for 37 yards and had a screen pass go terribly wrong and turn into an interception.

However, Flynn was undone by scores of mental errors and fundamental mistakes.

“We had one decent drive, one when I was in there, and it was OK,” said Flynn of the 12-play, 34-yard drive that led to a field goal. “But we’ve got to clean up the mistakes. We’re having some missed opportunities.”

For the preseason, Tolzien has blown away Flynn in nearly every statistical category. His passer rating is 104.9 to Flynn’s 61.9. His completion percentage is 68.4 percent to Flynn’s 47.8. His yards per attempt is 8.9 to Flynn’s 5.7, which supports the argument that Tolzien has a stronger arm and therefore is better throwing the ball down the field.

But Flynn’s history cannot be discounted.

Tolzien did not produce a single victory in three appearances last season, and after Flynn scratched out a tie after McCarthy pulled Tolzien against the Vikings, the veteran backup went 2-2 before Rodgers returned. He also spent his first four NFL seasons (2008-11) as Rodgers' primary backup before leaving in free agency.

And even if Flynn's numbers and production have not translated into preseason-game success, his practice-field performance has not slipped.

"Every year, you've got to prove to the coaches that you deserve a spot and you've earned a spot," Flynn said. "I don't think they just give out spots or anything like that because of what you've done. But I feel really good about what I've done this camp. I think I've had one of, if not the, best camps that I've had since I've been a professional. That entails a lot of things besides just what's going on out there. I'm proud of what I've done. I don't have any regrets."

Maybe Thompson won't be able to part with his 10th linebacker or sixth receiver or fifth tight end, therefore making it impossible to keep three quarterbacks.

But it would be a mistake to let one of them walk away, because if something happened to Rodgers again this season, they might need both of them again.

Observation Deck: Green Bay Packers

August, 22, 2014
Aug 22
11:35
PM ET
video
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Aaron Rodgers' preseason was significantly more productive this summer than last -- not that the Green Bay Packers quarterback needs it to get ready for the regular season.

But a year after he played just five series and 45 plays without scoring a touchdown in the preseason, Rodgers and the starting offense looked regular-season ready for the most part in Friday's 31-21 win over the Oakland Raiders at Lambeau Field.

In six series, Rodgers led three touchdown drives, throwing a pair of touchdown passes. The only black mark was a pair of three-and-out series in which there were offensive-line breakdowns. Although he completed just 9 of 20 passes, Rodgers threw for 139 yards and had touchdown passes to Jordy Nelson (12 yards) and Andrew Quarless (6 yards). There was one troubling stretch in the first quarter during which Rodgers got hit on four out of five dropbacks, including a sack by Raiders defensive end LaMarr Woodley.

With Rodgers almost certain not to play in Thursday's preseason finale against the Kansas City Chiefs, his preseason will consist of eight series that went for four touchdowns, one field goal and three punts. In two preseason games, Rodgers combined to complete 20 of 33 passes for 267 yards and three touchdowns without an interception. That's a passer rating of 116.6.

Here are some other thoughts on the Packers’ third preseason game of the year:
  • Maybe it was because he was playing against lesser competition in the fourth quarter, but Scott Tolzien was more productive than Matt Flynn. The Packers put up just three points in four possessions with Flynn, who completed just 4 of 10 passes for 37 yards with one interception (an 11.2 passer rating). Tolzien led a touchdown drive on his first possession, capping it with a 15-yard pass to Alex Gillett. Tolzien completed 8 of 11 passes for 107 yards and looked sharp doing so. The backup quarterback competition likely will go down to the end of the preseason.
  • The Packers' tight ends had all kinds of trouble blocking in the running game but made up for it in the passing game. On the first drive, rookie starter Richard Rodgers missed a block that led to a 1-yard loss for Eddie Lacy. However, on the next play, Rodgers ran a post route for a 32-yard completion. On a second-and-goal from the 3 in the second quarter, Quarless couldn't handle first-round pick Khalil Mack, who dumped James Starks for a 3-yard loss. On the next play, Rodgers found Quarless for a 6-yard touchdown pass.
  • Lacy played only one series for the second straight game but was productive once again. He carried six times for 36 yards, including a 1-yard touchdown run. He has carried 11 times for 61 yards in the preseason.
  • DuJuan Harris, the No. 3 running back, does not look like he has lost any of his quickness or elusiveness after missing all of last season because of a knee injury. He rushed for 56 yards on 12 carries and had a pair of receptions for 42 yards.
  • Outside linebacker Julius Peppers has gotten better with each game. Playing almost the entire first half, Peppers recorded one sack and four tackles overall (including one for a loss on a running play).
  • After it gave up 60 yards on the Raiders' opening drive, the only yardage the Packers' No. 1 defense allowed over the next five series came on a pair of pass interference penalties on cornerback Sam Shields. Otherwise, the Raiders gained zero net yards on those drives.
  • Jayrone Elliott did it again. The undrafted rookie outside linebacker, who had three sacks in a four-play stretch the previous week against the Rams, got another one in the third quarter when he beat Raiders backup left tackle Jack Cornell, an undrafted free agent in 2012. He also batted down a pass.
  • The only injury announced was to nose tackle B.J. Raji, who left with an arm injury in the first quarter. Raji remained on the sideline for the rest of the first half but did not return to the game. The Packers got a scare when center JC Tretter appeared to injure his knee, but after getting checked out by Dr. Pat McKenzie, he returned to the game without missing a play.

Packers Camp Report: Day 18

August, 21, 2014
Aug 21
2:30
PM ET
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.)
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- How good do the voters in ESPN’s #NFLRank feel about Green Bay Packers receiver Randall Cobb?

How's this for a sign: He missed 10 games last season yet slipped only two spots from last year. In our second annual rankings, Cobb checked in at No. 66 among all NFL offensive players when Nos. 61-70 were revealed on Thursday.

Perhaps the lingering memory of Cobb was his game-winning, NFC North-winning 48-yard touchdown catch on fourth down with 46 seconds left in the regular-season finale against the Chicago Bears. It came in Cobb's first game back after breaking his tibia and landing on the temporary injured reserve list.

Cobb was on his way to a big season before his injury.

He has become one of Aaron Rodgers' most reliable receivers. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Cobb caught 78 percent of his targets in 2012, second best among wide receivers (Brandon Stokley, 79 percent) that season.

Cobb is the fourth Packers player to make one of the lists. Nos. 51-60 will be revealed on Friday, followed by the rest next week.

Here's a look at the Packers in the rankings so far:

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

Offense
No. 77: G Josh Sitton
No. 66: WR Randall Cobb
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. -- 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."

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.
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."

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