NFL Nation: Antonio Dennard

Green Bay Packers cut-down analysis

August, 26, 2014
8/26/14
6:15
PM ET
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Green Bay Packers reached the mandated 75-player roster limit on Tuesday by placing six players on injured reserve. Two days earlier, they waived seven players.

Most surprising move: When the Packers used to hold their offseason practices on the old practice field that bordered Oneida Street, there was a term for players who stood out in helmets and shorts and then faded when the pads came on. They were known as members of the “All-Oneida Team.” Put receiver Chris Harper in that category. The second-year pro drew praise from quarterback Aaron Rodgers and coach Mike McCarthy for his production during the offseason program. After a practice on June 3 during which Harper caught a deep pass, McCarthy said: "That’s the kind of explosiveness that he has." Two and a half months later, Harper did not even make it to the final cuts. He was one of seven players released on Sunday.

Change of plans: So much for tight end Colt Lyerla spending the season learning the Packers’ ways while on injured reserve. On Tuesday, they reached an injury settlement with him, the details of which can be found here. If the Packers truly wanted to develop Lyerla, it would seem logical that they would have kept him on injured reserve to keep a close eye on him.

Packers’ moves: After Sunday's release of seven players -- Harper, safety Charles Clay, cornerback Antonio Dennard, linebacker Korey Jones, fullback Ina Liania, quarterback Chase Rettig and receiver Gerrard Sheppard -- the Packers were at 81 on their roster. On Tuesday, they placed the following six players on injured reserve: receiver Jared Abbrederis (knee), guard/tackle Don Barclay (knee), running back Rajion Neal (knee), nose tackle B.J. Raji (biceps), linebacker Joe Thomas (knee) and guard Andrew Tiller (calf). Abbrederis, Barclay and Raji will remain on injured reserve for the entire season, but Neal, Thomas and Tiller most likely will be given injury settlements and released at a later date.

Packers Camp Report: Day 7

August, 3, 2014
8/03/14
12:40
AM ET
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Green Bay Packers training camp:
  • When Packers coach Mike McCarthy said he was going to treat the annual Family Night event like a regular practice instead of a scrimmage, he meant it. What the Family Night-record crowd of 67,336 at Lambeau Field on Saturday night saw was a near-perfect replication of what takes place across the street every day during camp at Ray Nitschke Field. About the only difference was near-constant music playing over the public address system and a fireworks show that followed. Tickets to the event were $10 and sold out in one week.
  • By the end of the receiver-defensive back one-on-one drill early in the practice, all the defensive players could do was laugh at the amount of penalty flags that flew. Even though they know the officials are placing an emphasis on contact in the passing game, they did not expect what they saw. There were about 20 reps in the drill and by unofficial count, the officials threw flags on 10 of them. Only one was on a receiver. "That was amazing," safety Micah Hyde said. "I've never seen that before in my life. I think they were trying to call every little thing. ... We were literally laughing after a while."
  • Just because the Packers gave cornerback Sam Shields a four-year, $39 million contract this offseason does not mean they're going to be afraid to use him on special teams. The speedy Shields was back at his usual spot as the outside cover man on the kickoff team.
  • Rookie second-round receiver Davante Adams has shown up big in practice more often of late. He made perhaps the best catch of Family Night, when he had to extend himself to haul in a ball on the left sideline from Matt Flynn against tight coverage from cornerback Antonio Dennard.
  • In other odds and ends: A year after he missed five of his eight field goals in Family Night, kicker Mason Crosby was perfect on Saturday. He ended the practice by making kicks of 28, 33, 38, 43, 48 and 50 yards. He is 20-of-22 so far in training camp. ... The two undrafted rookie running backs -- Tennessee’s Rajion Neal and Mississippi State’s LaDarius Perkins -- continue to make some impressive plays. On a fourth-and-1 play, Neal busted a stretch play to the left for a long gain. Even though there was no live tackling, the play appeared to be legitimate because Neal was untouched as he turned it up the field. ... Outside linebacker Mike Neal might struggle to play inside after dropping down to 264 pounds. He got swallowed up by rookie guard Jordan McCray on one play when he lined up at defensive tackle.
  • Rookie center Corey Linsley (shoulder) returned after missing only one day of practice. Those who did not dress on Saturday were: safety Tanner Miller (ankle), receiver Jeff Janis (illness), receiver Jared Abbrederis (ankle), defensive tackle Letroy Guion (hamstring), defensive end Jerel Worthy (back). Nose tackle B.J. Raji (ankle) and tight end Colt Lyerla (leg) dropped out of practice
  • Players are off on Sunday and don't return to the practice field until 5:30 p.m. CT on Monday.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- With the bulk of the free-agent work done, it's a good time to recheck the Green Bay Packers' depth chart leading up to the May 8-10 NFL draft.

On Thursday, we broke down the way things look on offense.

Next up is the defense:

Defensive end: Datone Jones, Josh Boyd, Jerel Worthy.

[+] EnlargeDatone Jones
AP Photo/Morry GashThe Packers are counting on defensive end Datone Jones to rebound in his second season.
Analysis: The Packers have high hopes for Jones despite a disappointing rookie season in which the former first-round pick was slowed by an ankle injury and recorded just 3.5 sacks (two of which came in one game). "I feel he's one of those second-year players who [can] take a huge jump," coach Mike McCarthy said of Jones earlier this offseason. "That will be my expectations for him." Boyd, a fifth-round pick, actually saw more playing time late last season than Jones. Worthy played in only two games a year after he blew out his knee.

Defensive tackle: B.J. Raji, Mike Daniels, Letroy Guion.

Analysis: Moving Raji back to nose tackle on a full-time basis should help his production, which declined sharply over the last three years following a move to defensive end. Daniels was perhaps the team's most improved player last season, which should lead to an even bigger role this season. Guion, who was cut the Minnesota Vikings, will have to battle for a roster spot.

Elephant: Julius Peppers, Nick Perry, Mike Neal.

Analysis: Elephant is a catch-all term for the multiple positions this trio will play. They will be part outside linebacker, part defensive end and part defensive tackle. The addition of Peppers, who was signed last month after being released by the Chicago Bears, should boost the pass rush. Expect Perry to play more on the right side this season, where he was far more impactful last season. These players will actually be tutored by linebackers coach Winston Moss.

Inside linebacker: A.J. Hawk, Brad Jones, Jamari Lattimore, Sam Barrington, Victor Aiyewa.

Analysis: Hawk had perhaps his best season last year, but Jones was a disappointment after signing a three-year, $11.75 million contract and could be on shaky ground for a starting job. Lattimore, a restricted free agent who has yet to sign his tender, got some playing time last year while Jones was hurt and could push for the starting job. So could Barrington, a promising rookie who missed the second half of the season because of a hamstring injury.

Outside linebacker: Clay Matthews, Andy Mulumba, Nate Palmer, Chase Thomas.

Analysis: Neal and Perry played almost exclusively at outside linebacker last season, so there's a good chance they'll be a big part of this group again. But behind Matthews are a couple of second-year players, Mulumba and Palmer, who played more than anyone expected last year as a rookies. Mulumba, an undrafted free agent, played better than Palmer, a sixth-round pick. Thomas was signed early in the offseason off the street after spending most of last season on the Atlanta Falcons' practice squad.

Safeties: Morgan Burnett, Sean Richardson, Chris Banjo.

Analysis: Easily the thinnest position on the roster, there's still likely to be several additions here, probably via the draft. However, McCarthy said cornerback Micah Hyde will get some work at safety. Whether he's a candidate to start next to Burnett (a strong safety), however, remains to be seen. Burnett needs to bounce back from a disappointing season, but there's little reason to think his job is in jeopardy. Richardson returned late last season from a serious neck injury and showed promise. Banjo played more early in the season than he did late last year.

Cornerbacks: Sam Shields, Tramon Williams, Casey Hayward, Micah Hyde, Jarrett Bush, Davon House, James Nixon, Jumel Rolle, Antonio Dennard.

Analysis: This is among the Packers' deepest positions thanks to the return of Shields, who signed a four-year, $39 million contract, and Hayward, who is expected to be healthy after a hamstring injury limited him to just three games last season. Williams closed the season playing perhaps as well as he did during the Super Bowl season of 2010, which is why they kept him despite a $7.5 million salary. Bush had his best season in coverage last year, while House was a disappointment. Nixon's speed makes him an intriguing prospect. Rolle was promoted from the practice squad late last season, while Dennard joined the practice squad late last season.

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