NFL Nation: Aaron Rodgers

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The way Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy sees it, Seattle is the perfect place for Bryan Bulaga's first game in nearly 22 months.

And he might be right.

Bulaga
The last time Bulaga played against the Seahawks at CenturyLink Field, it was perhaps the low point of his career. The right tackle was responsible for two of the eight first-half sacks of quarterback Aaron Rodgers in the Packers' 14-12 loss to Seattle in Week 3 of the 2012 season on Monday Night Football.

Bulaga had allowed just one sack in 12 starts the previous season and didn't have another game in which he allowed more than one sack the rest of the 2012 season.

Several demons from that night in the Seattle still torment the Packers (see Mary, Fail), and Bulaga's uncharacteristic performance remains one of them, in part because of what he went through in the two years that have followed.

"I think Bryan needs to go back to Seattle, just like we all do," McCarthy said Tuesday, two days before the Packers open the season against the Seahawks.

Seemingly on the way to becoming one of the premier right tackles in the NFC, Bulaga's career path changed significantly shortly thereafter. He has not played in a regular-season game since Nov. 4, 2012, when he sustained a season-ending hip injury that was followed by a knee blowout the following summer that cost him the entire 2013 season.

Although he insisted this week that he has not given the last Seattle game much thought, it's hard to forget just what the Seahawks did to Bulaga and the rest of the Packers' offense in the din of the boisterous crowd at CenturyLink Field. The problems started almost immediately. On the Packers' third play from scrimmage, then-rookie Bruce Irvin tossed Bulaga aside like it was nothing and sacked Rodgers 2.5 seconds after the ball was snapped.

As if to show it was no fluke, Irvin beat Bulaga on the next series with an up-and-under move and got to Rodgers in 3.4 seconds for his second sack.

When the night was over, Bulaga had been charged not only with the two sacks but also with another quarterback hit and eight hurries allowed, according to ProFootballFocus.com.

"I really don't go back [two] years and look at game tapes, I really don't," Bulaga said. "Obviously it needs to be better than what it is; I knew that after the game, but I really don't compare years to years, especially single games. But yeah, overall individually, I definitely do [need to protect better] and as a group, we just need to be more solid. The more time we can give Aaron the better."

Against the Seahawks, even that might not be enough given how well their secondary covers. On four of the sacks in that game two years ago, Rodgers held the ball longer than 3.5 seconds (including longer than 4.8 on two of them).

Bulaga wasn't responsible for any of the four sacks Chris Clemons had that day, and Clemons has now moved on to the Jacksonville Jaguars, but there's still plenty of motivation for Bulaga -- and the rest of the Packers' offensive line. The environment will be just as difficult, as loud or louder than it was in 2012, and the opponent just as capable. The Seahawks fielded the league's top-ranked defense last season on the way to their Super Bowl title.

"That game is a great example of getting out of your fundamentals, and when those things happen, it can snowball on you," Packers offensive line coach James Campen said. "That's certainly a lesson learned."

This is the start of an important season for Bulaga, the 25-year-old, fifth-year tackle. The former first-round pick is in the final year of his contract. According to McCarthy, Bulaga has come back in better shape than ever -- "He's 15 pounds heavier," McCarthy said -- while Campen insists Bulaga's level of play is back to where it was before the injury.

"He looks better than he did," Campen said.

And what better place to show it than in Seattle.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- There was a time not too long ago when the Green Bay Packers were perennially the NFL's youngest team.

They held that distinction in each of coach Mike McCarthy's first four seasons (2006-09).

Not anymore.

Peppers
Although the NFL waits until after Week 1 to calculate official ages of opening-day rosters because transactions will continue throughout this week, Philly.com did its own calculations after last weekend's final roster cuts, and the Packers came in as the sixth-youngest team in the NFL with an average age of 25.62. In those same rankings, the Packers also were the sixth-youngest team last season and the fifth-youngest in 2012.

The Rams were the youngest team this season with an average age of 25.01, and the Raiders were the oldest at 27.0.

The rest of the NFC North checked in this way: Vikings (No. 5, 25.58), Lions (No. 21, 26.34) and Bears (No. 30, 26.72).

The Packers have only six players age 30 or older with Julius Peppers (34) being the oldest, by three years over John Kuhn (31) and Tramon Williams (31). Aaron Rodgers, Jarrett Bush and A.J. Hawk all are 30.

Nine rookies made the Packers’ final cuts, with Davante Adams and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix being the youngest at 21.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- In the simplest terms, here's what the Green Bay Packers face Thursday at Seattle: Aaron Rodgers will try to run the no-huddle offense in the loudest outdoor stadium in the NFL with a center who has never snapped to him in a game.

[+] EnlargeSeahawks
Otto Greule Jr/Getty ImagesAaron Rodgers will juggle a noisy outdoor stadium in Seattle with a rookie center playing in his first regular-season game.
And he will have to do so against the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks, who had the NFL's best defense in 2013.

There are many facets to the 2014 NFL opener, but perhaps none is more important than how the Packers' offense operates at CenturyLink Field.

When last we saw the Seahawks on a national stage, they were thoroughly dismantling the Denver Broncos' top-ranked offense on the way to a 43-8 Super Bowl victory.

The Packers aspire to field a fast-paced offense like the one Peyton Manning quarterbacks. But even Manning couldn't do that against the Seahawks.

And Rodgers was there to see it in person at the Super Bowl, watching from a luxury box.

"They got into a rhythm there with their pass rush and with their coverages [and] made some good plays," Rodgers said. "I think it's about film preparation. Watching in person is one thing, but seeing it on film is different. You get to see two angles and miss, you know you get to see some of the plays you missed while you're having chips and salsa or hot dogs or whatever it might be up in the box -- which was nice and warmer than some of the outdoor seats."

Rodgers has seen first-hand how the Seahawks can disrupt an offense. In the 2012 Fail Mary game, they sacked Rodgers eight times -- all in the first half. The Packers shored up the protection in the second half but still couldn't manage much offense, scoring just 12 points that night.

So enter a rookie center, fifth-round pick Corey Linsley, who inherited the starting center job a week ago after JC Tretter sustained a knee injury. Linsley did not stake a single preseason game snap with Rodgers, who sat out the summer finale. And in Linsley's 22 snaps last Thursday against the Kansas City Chiefs, the Packers ran just three plays of no-huddle offense.

Maybe the Packers' plan is not to use the no-huddle this week in Seattle, where the noise will make it even tougher on Linsley.

Whatever their plan, the Packers expect him to handle the job.

"You know, Corey's a smart guy," Rodgers said. "He's played a lot of center in his time, and he's going to be expected to play well. So we expect him to be able to keep up. I've said it a lot, but he’s got two incredible guards on both sides of him who are going to help him out with the calls and make sure that he's ready. But Corey's going to study hard. He's very well-coached, and he's going to be ready to go."

For his part, Linsley seems at ease with his responsibilities. Backup quarterback Matt Flynn noticed that from the moment Linsley found out he would be the starter.

"They're like, 'All right, you're the starter,' so he just quietly walked up there and started taking reps," Flynn said. "He's been impressive."

He was the same way with the crowd of reporters who surrounded his locker Sunday after the Packers' first day of regular-season practice. Near the end of a 10-minute session with the media, the topic turned to loud stadiums he played in when he was at Ohio State.

He mentioned Nebraska's Memorial Stadium and Wisconsin's Camp Randall Stadium.

But what about Michigan Stadium, which holds 109,101 fans?

Like any Ohio State alum would of his archrival, Linsley calmly said: "Michigan is quiet, really quiet. Probably the quietest stadium in the Big Ten."
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: 1-10.

1. QB shuffle: Everyone loves a quarterback ranking, and #NFLRank 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 the No. 4 QB 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 for 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 is 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 among the #NFLRank top 10s, 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 three defensive backs separated Watt and Quinn in this ranking, and at this point Quinn 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

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."

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