NFL Nation: Jake Stoneburner

Packers Camp Report: Day 12

August, 11, 2014
8/11/14
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GREEN BAY, Wis. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Green Bay Packers training camp:
  • As training camp practices go in Green Bay, Monday was a bit unusual. It was one of only a handful of summer sessions that was closed to the public. Reporters were allowed to watch, but it was made perfectly clear that any scheme or personnel-related activities were off limits. Clearly working on things coach Mike McCarthy did not want anyone to see, likely in preparation for the season opener against the Seattle Seahawks on Sept. 4, the Packers went for one-hour and 55 minutes with tarps pinned to the fence that surrounds Ray Nitschke Field. "It was exactly what we wanted," McCarthy said. "That's an in-season Wednesday practice for us, and I thought it was a very good practice."
  • Quarterback Aaron Rodgers used every bit of the 57 seconds the coaches gave him to run the 2-minute drill, but he capped a nine-play drive with a 20-yard touchdown pass to Randall Cobb. Rodgers completed 5 of 8 passes for 60 yards. He hit tight end Brandon Bostick for gains of 7, 8 and 5 yards on three of the first five snaps. He kept the drive going by converting a fourth-and-5 on a scramble in which he avoided a sack by Mike Neal.
  • Scott Tolzien and Matt Flynn alternated taking the No. 2 quarterback reps until the 2-minute period, when Flynn got a turn but Tolzien did not. He took the offense into the red zone but ran out of time. On his final play, on first down from the 15-yard line, Flynn missed tight end Jake Stoneburner in the end zone.
  • Starting left guard Josh Sitton had taken only one rep in the one-on-one pass blocking drill in camp before Monday. It came on July 31, a loss to Mike Daniels. Sitton, who said it was to give his sore back a chance to rest, was back in the drill on Monday and blocked rookie defensive tackle Carlos Gray in his only turn. Julius Peppers, who had split four reps during the first two weeks, won his only turn on Monday. He beat starting left tackle David Bakhtiari to the inside.
  • Apparently, Saturday's preseason opener at Tennessee wasn't enough to satisfy the players' desire to hit someone because there were at least three separate scuffles during Monday's practice.
  • Safety Morgan Burnett returned to practice after missing Saturday's games against the Titans because of an oblique strain, but the Packers still had their largest injury list to date. Those who did not practice were: receiver Davante Adams (wrist), running back Rajion Neal (knee), safety Tanner Miller (ankle), tight end Colt Lyerla (knee), linebacker Joe Thomas (knee), guard/tackle Don Barclay (knee), receiver Jared Abbrederis (knee), receiver Jordy Nelson (hamstring), defensive tackle Josh Boyd (ribs), defensive tackle Letroy Guion (hamstring) and defensive end Jerel Worthy (back).
  • The first of two open practices this week is Tuesday at noon local time.

Packers Camp Report: Day 9

August, 5, 2014
8/05/14
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GREEN BAY, Wis. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Green Bay Packers training camp:
  • For the second time in camp, first-round pick Ha Ha Clinton-Dix got extended work with the starters on Tuesday in place of strong safety Morgan Burnett. And unlike last time, when Burnett returned from an ankle injury the next day, this stint could last longer. Burnett has a strained oblique muscle that could keep him out for multiple days. Playing in Burnett's spot had Clinton-Dix near the line of scrimmage more than if he were playing alongside at free safety. At Alabama, Clinton-Dix said he played both spots so it's not a major adjustment. When the Packers picked Clinton-Dix at No. 21 overall, the thinking was he would be an immediate starter at free safety, but the Packers have instead stuck with Micah Hyde throughout camp. "Nothing is given to you," Clinton-Dix said. "You have to earn it."
  • Burnett's absence also meant more work for second-year safety Chris Banjo, who had a pass breakup on a crossing route by tight end Ryan Taylor from Matt Flynn. Banjo also should have had an interception on a Scott Tolzien pass thrown over tight end Jake Stoneburner, but the Banjo did not get his hands up in time and allowed the ball to hit him in the helmet.
  • In the first eight camp practices, the Packers installed a different part of their offense and defense in each session. With that process complete, coach Mike McCarthy switched to an in-season practice format which featured almost no competitive team periods. The starting offense worked against a scout-team defense and vice versa to prepare for Saturday’s preseason opener at Tennessee. "We started that process today of starting to have periods look and conducted the way they will be during game plan week," McCarthy said. It resulted in the shortest regular practice of camp, just one hour and 41 minutes. The only shorter session was the 90-minute practice portion of the Family Night event on Saturday.
  • Aaron Rodgers does not throw many interceptions in practice, but veteran cornerback Jarrett Bush got him during a team period. He stepped in front of a pass intended for Jarrett Boykin, which brought a huge cheer for the defensive sideline.
  • A day after an impressive 4-0 performance in the one-on-one pass rushing drill, rookie outside linebacker Jayrone Elliott did not fare as well. He lost both of his reps, getting blocked by tackles Bryan Bulaga and Jeremy Vujnovich. ... Datone Jones handed T.J. Lang his first loss in six one-on-one reps this camp. ... Fourth-round pick Carl Bradford has not gotten much done in the one-on-ones. He lost a pair of turns Tuesday to fall to 0-4. ... For the first time in camp, Lang did not appear to be limited at all by his sore shoulder. He took his regular share of reps in every period.
  • In addition to the knee injury that took out backup offensive lineman Don Barclay, others who missed practice were: Burnett (oblique), running back Michael Hill (concussion), safety Tanner Miller (ankle), tight end Colt Lyerla (knee), receiver Jared Abbrederis (knee), defensive tackle Letroy Guion (hamstring) and defensive end Jerel Worthy (back).
  • Wednesday's 11:45 a.m. practice is the last open session of the week prior to the preseason opener against the Titans.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Julius Peppers, all 6-foot-7 and 287 pounds of him, strikes an impressive pose on the practice field.

He stands – literally in some cases – a head above his new Green Bay Packers teammates.

That was unmistakable even in shorts and helmets during the offseason practices.

Put the pads on, like the Packers Monday did for the first time in training camp, and the full-frame image of Peppers was even more impressive.

He looks the part of a pass-rusher worth the $7.5 million signing bonus the Packers forked over as part of the three-year, $26 million free-agent contract he signed in March. He split four reps in his first go-around in the one-on-one pass-rushing drill on Monday, registering two victories.

[+] EnlargeJulius Peppers
AP Photo/Morry GashJulius Peppers is excited about his role with the Packers.
But it looks like the Packers are going to ask him to do more than just rush the quarterback.

And that's fine with him.

He's an outside linebacker now in a 3-4 base scheme after playing the last four years as a defensive end in the Chicago Bears' 4-3 system and before that in Carolina for eight seasons.

There he was on Monday, dropping into coverage against tight end Jake Stoneburner on a crossing route.

Although Peppers would not concede that he needed a change to revitalize his career, which he does not believe needs revitalization, there's reason to think the 34-year-old who is entering his 13th NFL season has a renewed sense of purpose on the field.

"It's fun. It's fun," he repeated. "I'm actually having a lot of fun. I'm enjoying it. It's a little different than what I've been used to in the past. I actually think it fits my skill set better than just being down every play. I'm having fun doing it. I'm just enjoying it."

All that might be fun for Peppers and a way for defensive coordinator Dom Capers to disguise him, but the Packers signed Peppers for one overriding reason: his 119 career sacks, which rank third on the active list.

"He's here to go towards the quarterback; we all understand that," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "But when he does drop, he has great ability and range. And you look at his ball skills, we do a lot of ball skills with the whole team by design, I want everybody to handle the football. He handles the football like an offensive player."

Peppers had only 7.5 sacks last season -- his lowest output since 2007 -- and he chuckled at those who use the word "only."

"You look at my last year, was it one of my better years?" Peppers said. "Probably not, you know, statistically. But if you compare it to a lot of the guys who played last year, it was better than a lot of guys. So I don't really think I need to revitalize anything, just improve upon what I did last year. That's not going to be easy to do. I should be able to do it."

Even if Peppers was only able to replicate his sack total from last season, it would be better than any Packers player not named Clay Matthews since Aaron Kampman had 9.5 in 2008.

"It’s not about really proving anybody wrong," Peppers said. "It's about accomplishing some personal goals, one of which being is winning a world championship. That's the main thing. That's the main motivation. All that other stuff, it's there, but it's not as big as coming in here and helping this team hoist that trophy at the end."

If there's pressure on Peppers to improve the Packers' defense from its 25th overall ranking last season, it might not be even close to what the Bears placed on him last season before they cut him because they felt he wasn't worth the $18 million salary-cap charge.

"You look at our defense right now, there's a lot of high expectations for those guys," Packers guard T.J. Lang said. "The talent that they have, all across our D-line, the linebackers, the defensive backs. It's a group that you look out at, it's impressive to look at 'em. Just the physical stature that Julius has. I mean that alone is intimidating enough for an offense. We've played him eight or nine, 10 times since I've been here. Every time you look at the guy, you're just as equally impressed as the first time you've seen him. He's just a freak. And then you go to Clay out there, who's also proven to be one of the best pass-rushers in the game. It's just an impressive group to look at."
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Re-signing Andrew Quarless on Thursday gave the Green Bay Packers some security at the tight end position.

Entering his fifth season, Quarless might be on the cusp of a breakout, so it was a wise move to bring him back.

He showed signs late last season of being the player they liked as a fifth-round pick in 2010 coming out of Penn State. He took over as the starting tight end midway through last season after Jermichael Finley's season-ending neck injury on Oct. 20 against the Cleveland Browns.

Given his size (6-foot-4, 252 pounds), the Packers like Quarless as both a blocker and a receiver. He caught 32 passes for 312 yards and two touchdowns last season and is a more natural blocker than Finley.

They also are high on Brandon Bostick, an athletic receiving tight end who resembles Finley in terms of body type and skill level more so than Quarless does. In a limited role last season, Bostick averaged 17.1 yards per catch before a foot injury ended his season on Dec. 15.

But the tight end position is hardly settled.

That won't begin to happen until a determination is made about Finley. It's unclear whether the Packers have had a chance recently to examine his surgically repaired neck. Finley underwent surgery last November to fuse his C-3 and C-4 vertebra.

Finley visited the Seattle Seahawks on Tuesday and Wednesday and was scheduled to meet with their team doctors. However, no deal has been completed, meaning Finley remains on the market.

Even if the Packers already have decided not to bring back Finley, that doesn't mean they will stand pat with Quarless, Bostick and their other returning tight ends (Ryan Taylor, Jake Stoneburner and Raymond Webber). They had Owen Daniels, formerly of the Houston Texans, in for a visit on Wednesday. Daniels is scheduled to visit the Washington Redskins next.

This is a tight-end-rich draft class. In fact, ESPN's Todd McShay had the Packers taking North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron with the 21st overall pick in his latest mock draft. Insider
INDIANAPOLIS – The Green Bay Packers' contingent of coaches, doctors, executives and personnel evaluators is on the ground at the NFL combine – and so is ESPN's NFL Nation – and therefore we have come to the conclusion of our countdown.

The first three parts focused on the Packers many defensive needs, from safety to defensive line to linebacker.

The final part before we turn our attention to the events at Lucas Oil Stadium for the remainder of the week will focus on what could be the biggest need on the offensive side of the ball for the Packers: tight end, a position group that will meet with reporters here on Thursday.

Why the Packers need help: It all hinges on the Packers' plans for Jermichael Finley, who has said he expects to be cleared soon from his neck fusion surgery. But that doesn't mean the Packers -- or other NFL teams -- will clear him. With Finley headed toward free agency next month, the Packers could simply decide not to re-sign him, regardless of the medical report. But they would be walking away from their most athletic, big-bodied tight end, and therefore would need to find a replacement. Andrew Quarless, who also is scheduled to be a free agent, probably didn't show enough in the second half of the season after Finley's injury to convince anyone that he can be that guy. He's a serviceable player who could return for a modest contract, but he's not a potential difference-maker like Finley. Of the Packers' three other young tight ends, Brandon Bostick has the most potential because of his athleticism and receiving skills, but he remains raw. Ryan Taylor is a solid blocker and top special teams player, and Jake Stoneburner has a ways to go. They also signed street free agent Raymond Webber this offseason. The Packers struggled in the red zone last season, ranking 25th in the touchdown percentage (50.8 percent), and missing a big target like Finley was one of the reasons.

Tight ends the Packers should be watching:

Eric Ebron, North Carolina: In his first mock draft Insider back in December, ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay had the Packers taking the 6-foot-4, 231-pound Ebron, who caught 62 passes for 973 yards last season. At that time, the Packers were projected to have the 18th pick in the draft. Now that they're locked into No. 21, it appears Ebron could be gone before the Packers pick.

Jace Amaro, Texas Tech: The 6-5, 260-pound Amaro caught 103 passes last season. He lined up in the slot position most of the time, much like Finley did for the Packers.

Troy Niklas, Notre Dame: More of a pure blocker than Ebron or Amaro, but the 6-7, 270-pounder has the potential to grow into a split-out role. He averaged 15.6 yards per catch on 32 receptions last season.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- In 16 regular-season games plus the NFC wild-card playoff loss to the San Francisco 49ers, the Green Bay Packers were on the field for 1,185 offensive snaps, according to playing time totals kept by the NFL.

Only one player took them all.

Sitton
Josh Sitton played every snap at his new position, left guard, on the way to the best season of his six-year pro career. Sitton made the switch from right guard and was a second-team All-Pro selection.

A total of 30 players took at least one snap on offense (including a pair of defensive linemen -- Mike Daniels and B.J. Raji). In 2012, the Packers used 29 players on offense.

Six players -- Sitton, right guard T.J. Lang, left tackle David Bakhtiari, center Evan Dietrich-Smith, receiver Jordy Nelson and tight end Andrew Quarless -- played on offense in every game.

Here are the total snap counts on offense with playing-time percentages in parenthesis (the defense and special teams breakdowns are coming):

Quarterbacks: Offensive line:
  • Josh Sitton 1,185 (100 percent)
  • David Bakthtiari 1,171 (98.8 percent)
  • T.J. Lang 1,156 (97.6 percent)
  • Evan Dietrich-Smith 1,118 (94.3 percent)
  • Don Barclay 1,027 (86.7 percent)
  • Marshall Newhouse 256 (21.6 percent)
  • Lane Taylor 14 (1.2 percent)
  • Derek Sherrod 6 (0.5 percent)
Receivers: Running backs: Tight ends:

Injury report: Looks good for Lacy

December, 27, 2013
12/27/13
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GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The routine for Green Bay Packers running back Eddie Lacy has been the same the last three weeks: Spend Monday through Thursday in a walking boot, practice lightly on Friday and gut it out on his sprained right ankle on Sunday.

That's the plan again this week.

Lacy
The Packers listed him as probable for Sunday's game against the Chicago Bears even though he couldn't finish last Sunday's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Lacy did not play in the fourth quarter.

"It's sore, but it's nothing it hasn't been in the past," Lacy said Friday.

Lacy was originally injured Dec. 8 against the Atlanta Falcons. The next week, he rushed for 141 yards on 21 carries against the Dallas Cowboys and followed that up with 84 yards on 15 carries in three quarters against the Steelers. He also has three rushing touchdowns in the last two games combined.

Lacy, who leads all NFL rookies with 1,112 rushing yards, said he has not had to receive any injections to combat the pain or swelling.

"Obviously the more I keep playing, the sorer it becomes," Lacy said. "But I've been doing a great job of staying in the training room and trying to get as much of it out as I can to be as good as I can be in the game this weekend."

In this season's first meeting with the Bears, Lacy rushed for a season-high 150 yards on 22 carries. The Bears don't just have the NFL's worst run defense, it's the worst by a significant margin. The Bears have allowed an average of 161.5 rushing yards per game, 25.6 more than the 31st-ranked Atlanta Falcons.

In other injury-related news, the Packers increased receiver Randall Cobb's workload in practice Friday in order to see if he's ready to come off the injured/reserve designated to return list. He has not played since he fractured his right tibia just below the knee Oct. 13.

"Like I told Randall before practice, 'Let's push it today and see how it feels tomorrow,'" Packers coach Mike McCarthy said.

The Packers would need to add Cobb to the roster Saturday in order to play him Sunday. They have room to do so because they have only 52 players -- one short of the limit -- on the roster. There were at 51 until they promoted rookie cornerback Jumal Rolle from the practice squad Friday.

Here's the full injury report:

Out -- OLB Clay Matthews (thumb)

Probable -- LB Brad Jones (ankle, limited participation in practice), RB Eddie Lacy (ankle, limited participation), OLB Mike Neal (abdomen, did not practice), LB Nick Perry (foot, did not practice), DT Ryan Pickett (knee, limited participation), TE Andrew Quarless (ankle, limited participation), QB Aaron Rodgers (collarbone, full participation), TE Jake Stoneburner (illness, did not practice), TE Ryan Taylor (illness, full participation).

Practice report: No issues for Rodgers

December, 27, 2013
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GREEN BAY, Wis. -- For the first time in a month, this should be a low-stress Friday in terms of the Green Bay Packers’ quarterback situation.

Rodgers
Aaron Rodgers took all the first team reps during the portion of practice that was open to reporters, meaning there were no setbacks after it was announced on Thursday that he would return from his broken collarbone to start Sunday’s game against the Chicago Bears.

Will running back Eddie Lacy (ankle) and receiver Randall Cobb (tibia) join him?

Both were on the practice field Friday, although Lacy appeared limited. Cobb’s reps appeared to increase for the second straight day, and there’s a chance he could be activated off the injured reserve/designated to return list.

Linebacker Brad Jones (ankle) and tight end Ryan Taylor (illness) returned to practice.

The Packers were thin on outside linebackers with Clay Matthews (thumb) already ruled out and Mike Neal (abdomen) and Nick Perry (foot) in street clothes. Neal and Perry practiced on Thursday, so it’s possible they were just being held out as a precaution. Tight end Jake Stoneburner, who was not listed on the injury report, also did not practice.

The full injury report with status designations for Sunday's game will be available after practice.
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Green Bay Packers running back Eddie Lacy, who practiced only one day last week because of a sprained right ankle, will play Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys.

So will linebackers Brad Jones (ankle), Jamari Lattimore (knee) and Mike Neal (abdomen).

Like Lacy, the trio of linebackers practiced only on Friday last week. Lacy is expected to start.

In another injury-related pregame development, receiver Randall Cobb went through an on-field workout at AT&T Stadium. He ran routes and caught passes from backup quarterback Scott Tolzien.

It was the first time Cobb has been in seen working out in public since he fractured the tibia in his right leg on Oct. 13. Cobb remains on the injured reserve/designed to return list. He was eligible to come off that list and play against the Cowboys but was not cleared to do so.

There were no major surprises on the Packers' inactive list:

Upon Further Review: Packers Week 8

October, 28, 2013
10/28/13
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A review of four hot issues from the Green Bay Packers' 44-31 win against the Minnesota Vikings:

Rodgers' responsibility: Every time quarterback Aaron Rodgers loses one of his key playmakers, his job gets harder. Consider that within a span of eight days, he lost two of his top three receivers (Randall Cobb and James Jones on Oct. 13 against the Baltimore Ravens) and his top tight end (Jermichael Finley on Oct. 20 against the Cleveland Browns). Yet in the past two games, Rodgers has played some of his finest football. In his past two games, Rodgers has attempted 65 passes and completed 49, or 75.4 percent. He has thrown five touchdowns without an interception in the past two games. That followed a stretch in which Rodgers -- with all of those weapons -- went three straight games without throwing more than one touchdown. “I think this is really shaping up to be one of Aaron’s best years,” coach Mike McCarthy said Sunday night. “Aaron’s had a lot of challenges Monday through Saturday that don’t show up on a stat sheet, just the change, just trying to get on the same page with younger players, trusting the game plan.”

[+] EnlargeAaron Rodgers
AP Photo/Jim MoneThough the talent around him has been depleted by injuries, quarterback Aaron Rodgers is thriving.
Special teams breakdown: The rash of injuries that has hit the Packers this season has impacted them most on special teams. They had six rookies or first-year players -- including two (receiver Chris Harper and tight end Jake Stoneburner) who weren’t on the Week 1 roster -- on their kickoff coverage team who allowed Cordarrelle Patterson's 109-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to open the game. The Packers had several chances to stop Patterson deep in Vikings territory. Jerron McMillian and Sam Barrington both had shots inside the 20-yard line, and Micah Hyde missed a diving attempt at the 23. Special teams coach Shawn Slocum also pulled punter Tim Masthay off of kickoffs after Patterson’s return. Field goal kicker Mason Crosby handled kickoffs the rest of the game, making it a light night for Masthay, because the Packers never had to punt.

An opportunity for Sherrod: As good as Don Barclay is in the running game, where he regularly finishes blocks with an aggressiveness about him, the second-year right tackle has had his struggles in pass protection. Barclay had his hands full with Vikings defensive end Brian Robison. Although Robison did not record a sack, he regularly beat Barclay and forced Rodgers to have to escape the pocket to avoid him. The Packers might have to consider giving Derek Sherrod a chance at right tackle -- if he’s ready, that is. Sherrod, a first-round pick in 2011, returned to practice two weeks ago and can be activated off the physically unable to perform list. The Packers have to decide by the beginning of next week whether to put Sherrod on the 53-man roster. He appears to be fully healed from the broken leg he suffered on Dec. 18, 2011. He has not played in a game since he suffered the injury late in his rookie season.

No new injuries: It’s always possible an injury or two could pop up in the next couple of days, but perhaps the best thing to come out of Sunday’s game was the fact that the Packers did not suffer any more injuries. For a team that has been hit hard by the injury bug, that’s no small matter. All but one of the seven inactive players on Sunday was injury-related. What’s more, linebackers Nick Perry (foot) and Brad Jones (hamstring), along with James Jones (knee), might be able to return for Monday night’s game against the Chicago Bears. And linebacker Clay Matthews, who told ESPN.com on Sunday night that he will have the pins removed from his broken right thumb Nov. 4, could return as soon as the following week against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Finley's injury tough for all involved

October, 24, 2013
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GREEN BAY, Wis. – Jerry Fontenot spent the last five seasons coaching from the press box on game days, far removed from the action. This season, though, the Green Bay Packers' tight-ends coach moved down to the sideline, where he’s able to do more hands-on coaching during games.

Yet he felt equally helpless on Sunday, when he walked to the middle of Lambeau Field during the fourth quarter of the game against the Cleveland Browns and saw Packers tight end Jermichael Finley unable to move after the hit he took from safety Tashaun Gipson.

“By that point, they had already taken off his facemask, so I knew it probably wasn’t good,” Fontenot said Thursday. “Again, I just tried to console him as best as I could in that moment. Anybody that knows Jermichael, he’s very a competitive and extremely enthusiastic person, and he was a little shaken by the whole thing.”

[+] EnlargeJermichael Finley
Brian Kersey/Getty ImagesJermichael Finley's injury has left the Packers wanting to help him and his family, but also needing to replace him on the field.
Finley, who sustained a spinal contusion and faces an uncertain future, was released from the hospital on Thursday.

Fontenot, who has been Finley’s position coach the last two seasons, played 16 NFL seasons as an offensive lineman. He was in the same draft class (1989) with Dennis Byrd and Mike Utley, both of whom sustained career-ending neck injuries that left them paralyzed. Byrd learned to walk again. Utley did not.

“Unfortunately you get visions of injuries like that occurring and it’s always tough to see,” Fontenot said. “Whenever it’s one of the guys in your family, it’s really hard. We’ll all be here and be supportive, and hopefully there’s a gold pot at the end of the rainbow here. Sometimes through hardships good things come out of it.”

Fontenot might have the toughest job on the Packers’ coaching staff these days. He wants to be around Finley – and he has done that, visiting him in the hospital, where Fontenot said Finley “could laugh and joke and we would break down and cry a little bit” – and Finley’s wife, Courtney, who he said was “obviously very shaken” but “really did a great job; the whole family [did] supporting Jermichael.”

But Fontenot also is charged with preparing the remaining tight ends to play Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings – and beyond.

Fourth-year pro Andrew Quarless likely will step into Finley’s starting role, but the Packers don’t have another tight end on their roster with the kind of dynamic athleticism Finley possesses. The 6-foot-5, 247-pound Finley ranked third on the team with 25 receptions for 300 yards and three touchdowns.

Sunday’s performance against the Browns was one of his most impressive. He caught five passes for 72 yards and a touchdown. On his 10-yard scoring play, he caught a short drag route and broke four tackles on his way to the end zone.

“All week long we talked about the most important thing that we are in control of is yards after the catch and yards after the contact,” Fontenot said. “And you know, obviously he was on pace to do some really big things.”

As for Quarless, he showed some flashes in 2010 after Finley sustained a knee injury. As a rookie that season, Quarless caught 21 passes for 238 yards and a touchdown. His playing time decreased in 2011 before he blew out his knee, an injury that kept him out all of last season.

“I told [Finley] the way he was playing, I was inspired and that was one of the things I told him that night in the hospital, 'the way you’ve been playing the last couple of games really inspired me,'” Quarless said. “All I can really do as far as that is just try to match what he was doing for my teammates, for him, just for everybody, really try to match that intensity. The way he was playing was amazing, so I’m just going to try to match that.”

The remaining tight ends – Quarless, Brandon Bostick, Ryan Taylor and Jake Stoneburner – have combined for six catches and 39 yards this season. Taylor isn’t expected to play this week because he is still recovering from knee surgery.

The 6-3, 250-pound Bostick, a former college receiver, is perhaps most like Finley in terms of body type and athletic ability.

“I view myself as like a younger Jermichael, but I don’t try to mimic him,” Bostick said. “I just try to do the best that I can do. I don’t try to match his game. I just try to be the best Brandon Bostick I can be.”

Assessing the options at tight end

October, 21, 2013
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GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Behind Jermichael Finley, the Green Bay Packers have four other tight ends on their roster.

But none of them comes close to matching the skill set that the 6-foot-5, 247-pound Finley possesses.

Finley has 25 catches (third on the team) for 300 yards (fourth on the team) and three touchdowns (second on the team).

With Finley's future in doubt after the neck injury he sustained in Sunday's 31-13 win over the Cleveland Browns, the Packers will likely have to change how they use their tight ends.

While they may have tight ends who are better blockers than Finley, they don't have one with the natural athleticism and skill to step into his role as a receiver and can cause matchup problems for opposing defenses.

“It's important to define roles for those guys and make sure that we have a clear understanding,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Monday. “You never want to put too much on a young guy's plate.”

With that in mind, here's a look at the other four tight ends on the roster:

Quarless
Andrew Quarless: In terms of size, the 6-4, 252-pound fourth-year pro most resembles Finley.

He almost certainly will take over as the starter.

“That's not even something I really want to think about it,” Quarless said on Sunday. “Playing time is irrelevant right now.”

Quarless is a better blocker than Finley but not as polished or skilled as a receiver. He has four catches for 28 yards this season.

However, he has the most experience even though he missed the entire 2012 season while recovering from his 2011 knee injury. Quarless might be better suited to play on the line of scrimmage rather than in the slot or split out wide -- where Finley combined to play nearly half of his snaps.

Bostick
Brandon Bostick: After spending last season on the practice squad, the former small-college receiver added weight and strength in the offseason and is viewed as a promising prospect at 6-3, 250.

But he has played only 11 snaps on offense all season, and eight of those came on Sunday against the Browns.

The Packers probably won't ask Bostick to do a lot of in-line blocking, but they might try to take advantage of his background as a receiver and perhaps use him on the seam routes that Finley often ran. He comes closest to rivaling Finley in the athleticism department, but he also might be the most raw of the tight ends.

“I feel confident that whatever we're asking him to do, he'll do well,” tight ends coach Jerry Fontenot said last week. “He has made some strides from training camp until now in his run blocking. He's made strides in taking care of his body and holding weight and just being more of a presence out there. To me, he looks a little bit faster than he did last year, when he was lighter, and he looks really solid.”

Taylor
Ryan Taylor: The third-year pro has been almost exclusively a special teams player and a situational blocker.

He's not a strong candidate to pick up much of Finley's production in the passing game.

His status for Sunday's game at the Minnesota Vikings remains uncertain. He underwent arthroscopic knee surgery last Wednesday after he was injured on Oct. 13 against the Baltimore Ravens.

“Ryan Taylor is pushing, coming back strong,” McCarthy said. “So we'll see what he gives us potentially this week.”

Jake Stoneburner: The undrafted rookie from Ohio State was promoted last week from the practice squad and played mostly on special teams against the Browns.

He saw only two snaps on offense.

He looked like a strong candidate to make the roster coming out of training camp until he fumbled during a preseason game.

The 6-3, 249-pounder also has a background as a college receiver before converting to tight end.

“He's a good route runner,” Fontenot said. “He's a smart kid. He knows leverages and coverages. He works at his game, and he's going to do whatever's asked of him. He's got good speed. He can run block. He can pass protect. He's pretty well-rounded.”

Packers keep getting younger

October, 16, 2013
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GREEN BAY, Wis. -- By now, it should be clear this is the how the Green Bay Packers operate under general manager Ted Thompson and coach Mike McCarthy.

A player gets injured. In this case receiver Randall Cobb, who was placed on the temporary injured reserve list with the option to return in eight weeks from a fractured fibula; and tight end Ryan Taylor, who underwent arthroscopic knee surgery on Wednesday and will miss several weeks. Now, what do they do?

They promote a pair of rookies, receiver Myles White and tight end Jake Stoneburner, from the practiced squad. More often than not, that's the way the Packers have handled injuries.

However, the cumulative effect of that is starting to sink in. The Packers will take a roster with 14 rookies on it into Sunday's game against the Cleveland Browns. Counting the two rookies they have on injured reserve -- receivers Sederrick Cunningham and Kevin Dorsey -- only one NFL team has more rookies in house than the Packers, according to ESPN Stats and Information. The New England Patriots top that list with 18, including injured players.

“These guys have gone through camp, they know the system,” McCarthy said Wednesday. “This is the way we operate. This is another example of that, and it's important for them to play, compete and have a winning performance on Sunday.”

To review, here's a breakdown of the Packers' rookies:
The injury to Taylor caught the Packers off guard. The special teams ace made it through Sunday's 19-17 win over the Baltimore Ravens with only minimal knee pain and even went through a weight-lifting session on Tuesday, but an exam showed that he needed to have his knee surgically repaired.

Stoneburner likely will play on special teams. The Packers have three other tight ends -- Jermichael Finley, Andrew Quarless and Brandon Bostick -- who likely would play on offense ahead of Stoneburner.

And White won't be asked to replace Cobb, but he might play some if James Jones' knee injury keeps him out against the Browns. Jordy Nelson and Jarrett Boykin would be the top-two receivers if Jones can't play. His status will be determined later in the week.

The Packers began the season as the fifth-youngest team in the NFL, according to ESPN.com's Mike Sando, and they've done nothing but add more youth.

“At this point in the season, age shouldn't be a factor,” veteran defensive tackle B.J. Raji said. “In that situation, you have to be accountable.”

Lacy, the Packers' starting running back, said the veterans have helped ease his transition to the NFL.

“I can't speak for the rookies as a whole because everybody takes pressure different,” said Lacy, the Packers' leading rusher. “But for me personally the guys are doing a great job of keeping me focused and comfortable and if I have a question, I can ask pretty much everybody and they're going to be willing to help me whether it's something we've went over 1,000 times or something I had to learn that day.”

Packers promote rookie tight end

October, 15, 2013
10/15/13
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GREEN BAY, Wis. -- With multiple injuries at receiver, the Green Bay Packers appear to be going heavy at the tight end position this week.

They promoted rookie Jake Stoneburner from the practice squad to the active roster on Tuesday, his agent, Eric Metz said.

The Packers already were at 53 players on their roster, so they will have to clear a spot before the move becomes official. It was not immediately known what corresponding roster move will be made.

With Stoneburner, an undrafted free agent from Ohio State who nearly made the team coming out of training camp, the Packers will have five tight ends on their roster. He joins Jermichael Finley, Andrew Quarless, Ryan Taylor and Brandon Bostick -- unless one of them is released.

An extra tight end could be one way the Packers combat the rash of injuries at receiver, where Randall Cobb is out indefinitely because of a fractured fibula and James Jones’ status for Sunday’s game against the Cleveland Browns remains in doubt.

The 6-foot-3, 249-pound Stoneburner caught 13 touchdowns in 48 games (including 23 starts) over four years at Ohio State. He caught one touchdown pass this preseason.

Taking the blame for Vince Young

September, 1, 2013
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GREEN BAY, Wis. -- After the Green Bay Packers released veteran quarterback Vince Young on Saturday, it was worth discussing -- as we did here -- whether more time in the system would have made a significant difference in his bid to be the team’s backup.

Packers general manager Ted Thompson, the man who waited until Aug. 5 to sign the 30-year-old quarterback, thinks that perhaps it might have done just that.

[+] EnlargeTed Thompson
AP Photo/Morry Gash"I probably should have had him in here earlier," Packers GM Ted Thompson said about Vince Young.
In discussing his roster moves on Sunday, Thompson placed the blame on himself for not acting sooner to bring in the former first-round draft pick.

“Quite frankly, it probably wasn’t fair to Vince,” Thompson said. “We threw a lot on his plate, and the fault is probably mine. I probably should have had him in here earlier.”

Thompson praised Young for being a good teammate and a humble guy.

“If there was fault, it was probably mine,” Thompson said.

The decision to release Young left B.J. Coleman, who spent all of last season on the practice squad, as the only quarterback behind Aaron Rodgers. Coleman’s shaky play early in training camp was one of the reasons Thompson turned to Young in the first place.

The Packers no doubt are exploring all of their options at quarterback, but the list of those available was far from impressive. They were expected to add a quarterback to the practice squad -- Scott Tolzien, the former University of Wisconsin starter who was released by San Francisco last week.

“We’re actively pursuing everything there is in the National Football League at every position,” Thompson said. “I’m not just making this up. At every position, we’re looking to see if we can get better.”

If the Packers stick with Coleman, it wouldn’t be the first time in recent years that they went into the season with an inexperienced backup. They did so last season with Graham Harrell, who like Coleman had previously been on the practice squad. And they did so in 2008 with rookie Matt Flynn.

When asked if Coleman, who completed just 41.2 percent of his passes this preseason, would be an adequate fill-in if something happened to Rodgers, Thompson said: “Well, we think he has a good chance to do that. Again, there’s a lot of things that he hasn’t seen yet. He’s played in preseason games but never played in a regular-season game. We’re getting ready to tee it off, so we’re getting ready to play.”

Note: The Packers have not announced their practice-squad signings yet. But in addition to Tolzien, they are expected to add receivers Charles Johnson and Myles White, tight end Jake Stoneburner and cornerback James Nixon, according to multiple media reports. Those four all were released by the Packers on Saturday. The Packers had hoped to bring back center Patrick Lewis to the practice squad, but he was claimed off waivers by Cleveland. Four others released by the Packers on Saturday were claimed off waivers: running back Alex Green (by the New York Jets), tight end D.J. Williams (Jacksonville), linebacker Dezman Moses (Kansas City) and linebacker Terrell Manning (San Diego).

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