NFL Nation: Donte Savage

Green Bay Packers cut-down analysis

August, 31, 2013
Most significant move: After the Packers released Graham Harrell on Aug. 24, the backup quarterback job was Vince Young’s to lose. The former first-round draft pick on the Tennessee Titans lost it. After an unimpressive performance in the preseason finale at Kansas City on Thursday, when Young led only two field goal drives in 11 possessions, the Packers released him on Saturday.

Perhaps he was fighting a losing battle from the start, considering he wasn’t signed until Aug. 5. That was 11 days after the Packers opened training camp. He missed the first seven practices and a scrimmage.

It leaves an unsettled situation behind starter Aaron Rodgers. For now, the only other quarterback on the roster is B.J. Coleman, who spent all of last season on the practice squad. Coleman opened training camp as the No. 3 quarterback but slipped to fourth string after Young was signed and before Harrell was released. In the preseason, Coleman completed just 14 of 34 passes (41.2 percent) for 128 yards with one touchdown and one interception. It’s hard to imagine the Packers won’t explore other options over the weekend.

2011 revisited: With running back Alex Green and tight end D.J. Williams among the most surprising cuts on Saturday, it made a strong statement about the 2011 draft class. Packers general manager Ted Thompson drafted 10 players in April of that year. Only three of them – receiver Randall Cobb (second round), cornerback Davon House (fourth round) and tight end Ryan Taylor (seventh round) – remain on the roster. Tackle Derek Sherrod (first round) will start the season on the physically unable to perform list. He still has not returned from the broken leg he sustained on Dec. 18, 2011. Green was a third-round pick, while Williams was taken in the fifth round.

What’s next: Like all teams, the Packers will scour the waiver wire and free-agent lists. Their focus likely will be on the quarterbacks. Even if they find one they like, they might have to use Coleman as the No. 2 early in the season while the newcomer gets acclimated to the offense. The Packers haven’t carried three quarterbacks on their active roster since late in the 2011 season. They also can begin signing players to their eight-man practice squad on Sunday afternoon. Thompson is scheduled to meet with reporters on Sunday afternoon.

Players cut: QB: Vince Young. RB: Alex Green. FB: Jonathan Amosa. TE: Matthew Mulligan, Jake Stoneburner, D.J. Williams. WR: Charles Johnson, Tyrone Walker, Myles White. OL: Andrew Datko, Garth Gerhart, Kevin Hughes, Patrick Lewis. DL: Jordan Miller. LB: Terrell Manning, Dezman Moses, Donte Savage. CB: Loyce Means, Brandon Smith, James Nixon. S: David Fulton, Chaz Powell.

Midafternoon Packers cuts update

August, 31, 2013
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The biggest name among the Green Bay Packers' cuts so far clearly was quarterback Vince Young, who was released on Saturday morning.

But they also have cut a couple of players who saw significant playing time last season in running back Alex Green and tight end D.J. Williams.

Green was their leading rusher last season with 464 yards, and Williams played in 14 of 18 games last season (including playoffs).

With a few hours left before teams have to trim their rosters to 53 players, here’s the latest list of the players who have been released.

Note: This list is a compilation of our own reporting here at ESPN plus reports from the Green Bay Press-Gazette, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Packer Report, and players with verified Twitter accounts. With 18 cuts already confirmed, the Packers will have to make four more roster moves to reach the 53-man limit.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- If you’re going to play running back for Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy, there’s one thing you better learn in a hurry: pass protection ranks high on the job description list.

As impressive as fourth-round draft pick Johnathan Franklin of UCLA has looked carrying the ball -- his speed and shiftiness have been on display daily -- he appeared overmatched on Tuesday morning during a one-on-one drill that called for the running back to block a blitzing linebacker.

[+] EnlargeJohnathan Franklin
AP Photo/Morry GashIf Tuesday's workout was any indication, blocking drills will likely be in the future for Packers rookie RB Johnathan Franklin.
Franklin had all kinds of trouble with outside linebacker Nick Perry. To be sure, Perry has a 60-pound advantage over the 205-pound Franklin, but the Packers expect the running back to at least slow down the blitzer’s path to the quarterback. Instead, Franklin allowed Perry to overpower him. Later in the same drill, Franklin fared no better against rookie outside linebacker Donte Savage.

“I felt like the outside linebackers clearly got the best of the running backs today,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said after practice. “We were too high. We weren’t sitting down. We didn’t have our head up. So it’ll be good tape to watch. So that’s a drill I’m sure we’ll do again.”

During a team (11-on-11) blitz period later in practice, Franklin proved adept in picking up a blitz by cornerback Jarrett Bush, giving quarterback Aaron Rodgers time to stay in the pocket.

New special-teams ace?: It’s rare for the Packers to line up a first-round draft pick on special teams. It’s even rarer when that first-round pick is a defensive end, and he’s on the kickoff coverage team.

But there was Datone Jones, the 26th overall pick in the draft, lined up at one of the middle positions and running down to cover a kickoff on Tuesday.

“He can run,” McCarthy said. “He’s a major matchup problem. But we’ll work him as a backup. I don’t see that as a primary role for Datone, but he has a unique skill set, and it’s important for our young guys to come in and make sure they’re ready to go on special teams.”

Bits and pieces: Jones also showed his athletic ability by dropping into coverage and breaking up a pass intended for running back James Starks during a team period. … First-year cornerback Loyce Means flashed his impressive speed by returning an interception of quarterback B.J. Coleman for a touchdown in a 7-on-7 drill. … Second-year pro Mike Daniels has been one of the top defensive performers in the 1-on-1 pass-rushing/pass-blocking drill. He won a pair of reps on Tuesday after scoring two wins in the previous practice on Sunday.

Medical report: Though the Packers have avoided any major injuries to starters through the first four practices of training camp, they will be without starting cornerback Tramon Williams indefinitely. Williams dropped out of Sunday’s practice with a knee injury.

McCarthy said Williams may miss a couple of weeks. The cornerback position is especially thin because Casey Hayward (hamstring) remains out. Davon House practiced for the first time on Tuesday after missing the first three practices because of an illness. It was his first time on the field following offseason shoulder surgery. Rookie Micah Hyde lined up with the starters in place of Williams and Hayward and continued to impress.

Others who did not practice were: receivers Sederrick Cunningham (wrist), Kevin Dorsey (leg), Charles Johnson (knee), RB DuJuan Harris (knee), S Sean Richardson (neck), T Kevin Hughes (headaches), OL JC Tretter (ankle), DE Mike Neal (abdominal), T Derek Sherrod (leg) and DE Jerel Worthy (knee).
CB James Nixon (knee) and OLB Dezman Moses (foot) appeared to drop out of practice.
It was the first practice for WR Omarius Hines and S Chris Banjo, a pair of rookies signed on Monday.

What’s next: The Packers return to the practice field at 9:20 a.m. Wednesday for another full-pads practice.