NFL Nation: Josh Boyd

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Sam Shields still has time to make it through the concussion protocol, so the Green Bay Packers have not ruled their starting cornerback out of Monday night's game against the Atlanta Falcons.

Officially, the Packers listed him as questionable on Saturday's injury report.

Shields
"The medical staff has told me he still has a chance to play," coach Mike McCarthy said Saturday. "He'll be given the opportunity to play in the game if everything goes right."

The Packers did not practice on Saturday, but if they did, Shields would not have taken part. They will hold their final practice of the week on Sunday morning.

"Sam Shields is a starter, so I'm going to give him every opportunity to play," McCarthy said.

Shields was injured in the first half of last Sunday's win against the New England Patriots. Davon House replaced him and finished the game. He would start along with Tramon Williams if Shields isn’t cleared. Cornerback is perhaps the Packers' deepest position on defense, which bodes well against Falcons receivers Julio Jones and Roddy White.

White, however, was listed as questionable on the Falcons injury report, although he insisted he will play.

Safety Micah Hyde has been a fixture into the nickel spot, and cornerback Casey Hayward has been settled into the dime spot.

"It's definitely a very good receiving group," McCarthy said. "We've been practicing all week without Sam, so Davon, Casey and Tramon, they'll be ready to go."

Defensive tackle Mike Daniels, who hasn't practiced all week because of a sore back, looks on track to play.

Here's the full injury report:

Out
LB Jamari Lattimore (ankle)
DE Luther Robinson (calf)

Questionable
CB Shields (concussion)

Probable
DT Josh Boyd (knee)
DT Daniels (back)
G T.J. Lang (ankle)
OLB Nick Perry (shoulder)
G Josh Sitton (toe)
G Lane Taylor (illness)

Packers will be without Datone Jones

October, 12, 2014
Oct 12
12:15
PM ET
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- Late last week, Datone Jones was optimistic about his chances of playing in Sunday's game at the Miami Dolphins, but the ankle injury the Green Bay Packers defensive end sustained 10 days ago against the Minnesota Vikings apparently did not allow for that.

Jones was among the Packers' seven inactives.

It's unclear whether Jones took part in the Packers' light practice Saturday, but on Friday -- a day the Packers did not practice -- coach Mike McCarthy said: "I would hope if we were practicing today, he would've been out there in some form or fashion."

Second-year pro Josh Boyd, who missed the Vikings game because of a knee injury, will start in Jones' place, but it also could mean another sizeable role for Luther Robinson, who was promoted from the practice squad the day of the Vikings game and played 35 snaps.

Receiver Kevin Dorsey, who was promoted from the practice Monday, is active.

There were no other surprises among the inactives.

Here's the full list:
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The long weekend off was not long enough for receiver Jarrett Boykin and defensive end Datone Jones.

Neither was able to return to practice Wednesday, when the Green Bay Packers hit the field for the first time since last Thursday's 42-10 win over the Minnesota Vikings, leaving their status in doubt for Sunday's game at the Miami Dolphins.

Boykin has missed the last two games because of a groin injury, and the fact that the Packers promoted receiver Kevin Dorsey from the practice squad Monday could be an indication Boykin is no closer to returning.

Jones sustained a sprained ankle in the first half against the Vikings and did not return.

They were the only two players not practicing Wednesday during the portion that was open to reporters.

Defensive end Josh Boyd (knee) and linebacker Sam Barrington (hamstring) both returned to practice after missing the Vikings game.

The full injury report will be available following practice.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Coaches and players alike say it all the time, that the bye week comes at just the right time.

They usually say so because of their injury situation.

This past weekend wasn't the Green Bay Packers' bye -- that comes Nov. 2 -- but they had what coach Mike McCarthy called a "mini bye" after playing last Thursday against the Minnesota Vikings.

And given the Packers' relatively low injury count at this point, maybe the mini bye was not even needed.

"I don't know why we've got to talk about that,” said McCarthy, ever leery of discussing injuries.

Here's a look at the few lingering injury issues the Packers are dealing with heading into Sunday's game at the Miami Dolphins:
  • Datone Jones: The starting defensive end left the game against the Vikings with a sprained ankle and did not return. After the game, Jones appeared to be walking fine on his way out of the locker room. He said someone rolled on his ankle during a second-quarter screen pass. "Obviously you can see I'm not hurt, so it was just one of those scary situations," Jones said after the game. "I don't really know what happened, but I'm OK." However, on Friday, McCarthy said he was unsure whether Jones would be able to practice when on-field preparation for the Dolphins begins Wednesday.
  • Josh Boyd: The defensive end was inactive against the Vikings after he sustained a knee injury against the Chicago Bears Sept. 28. His injury prompted the Packers to promote rookie Luther Robinson from the practice squad the day of the Vikings game. McCarthy said he was hopeful Boyd would be able to practice Wednesday.
  • Brad Jones: The inside linebacker actually returned against the Vikings but did not reclaim his starting spot from Jamari Lattimore. Jones, who missed three games because of a quadriceps injury, played just nine snaps on defense, and all but one came during the late stages of the blowout victory. Said McCarthy: "We're going to need more than 11 [players on defense]. It's good to have Brad back out there, and Jamari's doing an excellent job."
  • Jarrett Boykin: McCarthy was less optimistic about the No. 3 receiver's chances of practicing Wednesday. Boykin missed the last two games because of a groin injury he sustained in practice leading up to the Bears game. Boykin also had been listed on the injury report with a knee injury that week. Rookie Davante Adams has taken over as the No. 3 receiver, and in those two games he has three catches for 39 yards and one touchdown (the first of his career).
  • Sam Barrington: The backup linebacker missed Thursday's game because of a hamstring injury, which is especially concerning because his rookie season last year ended because of the same injury in Week 9.
  • JC Tretter: The projected starting center remains on the temporary injured reserve list but is eligible to begin practicing Oct. 13 and could return to play following the bye week. Tretter sustained a fracture in his knee during the Aug. 22 preseason game against the Oakland Raiders. However, it's not a given that Tretter would get his starting job back considering how well rookie Corey Linsley has performed.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The official NFL statistics will charge the Green Bay Packers with 46 points allowed over the past three games -- still a respectable number at 15.3 per game -- but Dom Capers' unit was truly responsible for only 37.

In the 19-7 loss to the Detroit Lions in Week 3, running back Eddie Lacy lost a fumble that was returned for a touchdown and also was stuffed for a safety, which accounts for the nine-point differential.

McCarthy
McCarthy
Coach Mike McCarthy will take that anywhere, anytime -- especially in a run of three straight NFC North games, which concluded with Thursday's 42-10 win against the Minnesota Vikings that left the Packers at 3-2 and with a weekend off.

"We're averaging about 12 points a game in your division games," McCarthy said Friday. "That's what you're looking for."

Entering Thursday's game, the Packers ranked tied for 17th in the NFL in scoring defense, which takes into account all points scored by opponents. They jumped to ninth (at 21.2 points per game allowed) after the game.

But just as quarterback Aaron Rodgers said less than 24 hours earlier, when he called the offense "a little stagnant," McCarthy is by no means ready to proclaim his defense fixed, not after some of the problems they had stopping the run in the first four games.

"We can get better there," McCarthy said. "I think the flow of how we're using our players, it's come together and our substitution patterns are where they need to be. I think we have definitely gotten better on defense the last three weeks."

With the players off for a three-day weekend, McCarthy and his coaching staff spent Friday reviewing both Thursday's win against the Vikings and last Sunday's victory in Chicago, then turned their attention toward the Oct. 12 game in Miami.

"I like Thursday night games for a number of different reasons," McCarthy said. "More importantly, you're going to play in at least one a year now. I've always enjoyed the Thanksgiving game. I always felt it served as kind of a mini bye week for your football team, so just really after what we've been through [the first] five weeks, in particular the last three weeks to have these three division games, this is a perfect time for a mini bye, so this came at the right time."

One thing McCarthy should not have to worry too much about is the health of his defense. He said defensive end Josh Boyd, who missed Thursday's game because of a knee injury, could return to practice on Wednesday. Defensive end Datone Jones, who sprained his ankle in the first half against the Vikings, said after the game that he expects to be fine for next week.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Green Bay Packers had Clay Matthews on a limited snap count in Sunday’s game at the Chicago Bears.

Matthews
And it would have been that way even if the Packers did not have a Thursday game against the Minnesota Vikings to follow this week.

"I'm not saving players for anyone," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Monday. "That's not the way we operate."

But the fact Matthews came out of the victory over the Bears without any lingering issues from the groin injury that limited him to 52 of the 78 defensive plays worked out well for this week.

Although the Packers did not practice on Monday, they still had to submit an official injury report for Thursday's game against the Vikings. Here's the full report:

Here’s the full injury report*:
*Participation levels were estimates because the Packers did not practice.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- It often takes an injury or an unusually poor preseason showing for a Green Bay Packers draft pick to get cut at the end of his rookie training camp.

Take last year's class as an example. Of the 11 players picked, eight made the opening-day roster.

The three who did not – fourth-round pick JC Tretter plus seventh-rounders Charles Johnson and Kevin Dorsey – all had injury issues. Tretter missed all of camp because of a broken ankle that forced him to start the season on the physically unable to perform list, while Johnson and Dorsey battled injuries throughout the offseason. Johnson played in only two preseason games, while Dorsey played in only one. Johnson landed on the practice squad before the Cleveland Browns signed him, and Dorsey spent the season on injured reserve.

With that in mind, here's a look at where things stand for each member of general manager Ted Thompson's 2014 draft class heading into Thursday's preseason finale against the Kansas City Chiefs, plus the undrafted rookies who could be on the verge of winning a roster spot:

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S (first round): After a slow start to training camp, Clinton-Dix has found himself around the ball more often of late. He has three interceptions during practices this summer, which ties safety Sean Richardson for the camp lead. However, it looks like he won't unseat second-year pro Micah Hyde for a starting job. That means Clinton-Dix likely will play only in the dime (six defensive back) package to start the season.

Davante Adams, WR (second round): Early in camp, Adams was pushing Jarrett Boykin for the No. 3 receiver spot but inconsistent play derailed that. Meanwhile, Boykin has overcome a slow start to secure that spot. If Adams can refine his route running and shore up his hands, he could still make a push for more playing time as the year goes on.

[+] EnlargeRichard Rodgers
Benny Sieu/USA TODAY SportsRookie Richard Rodgers is in line to be the Packers' starting tight end.
Khyri Thornton, DE (third round): Much like fifth-round defensive end Josh Boyd last season as a rookie, it's been a big adjustment for Thornton. Thompson has never cut a third-round pick coming out of his first training camp, but Thornton might have trouble getting on the field early in the season. Playing mostly against second- and third-stringers in preseason games, Thornton has just one quarterback hurry and no sacks or hits in 81 snaps, according to ProFootballFocus.com. Boyd was inactive for six of the first eight games last season. Thornton could follow a similar path.

Richard Rodgers, TE (third round): Without much fanfare, Rodgers appears to have won the starting job over veteran Andrew Quarless and up-and-comer Brandon Bostick (who went down with a foot injury in the second preseason game). However, Bostick almost certainly would have been the tight end in two-minute situations and likely will be when he returns next month. Rodgers' blocking has to catch up to his pass-catching ability.

Carl Bradford, LB (fourth round): It doesn't matter how the Packers spin the last-minute decision to switch Bradford from outside to inside linebacker this week, that's a tell-tale sign that they're concerned he may never be able to be a productive pass-rusher off the edge. Thompson has not cut a fourth-round rookie since receiver Cory Rodgers in 2006, but Bradford has been just as disappointing. If he makes it, it's solely because they're not ready to give up on him yet.

Corey Linsley, C (fifth round): This was supposed to be a redshirt season for him, but the knee injury to Tretter last week means Linsley might be the most important rookie on the team when the Packers open the regular season in Seattle. His responsibility as the starting center, even if it's only until Tretter returns, is far greater than what any other member of this draft class faces. Physically, he looks the part, but his mental errors have hampered him.

Jared Abbrederis, WR (fifth round): The former Wisconsin standout almost certainly would have made a strong push for the No. 5 or 6 receiver spot if not for a torn ACL in the first week of camp. He also would have had a chance at the kick return job but instead will spend his rookie season on injured reserve.

Demetri Goodson, CB (sixth round): The former college basketball player at Gonzaga who then played three years of football at Baylor has struggled mightily in coverage despite obvious athleticism. He sustained a concussion in last Friday's preseason game against the Raiders, leaving his status his doubt.

Jeff Janis, WR (seventh round): Still raw and unschooled in the complexities of the Packers’ offense, Janis' speed can't be ignored, which is why Thompson likely will keep him on the roster. After his impressive 34-yard, catch-and-run touchdown in the second preseason game, it's likely a team would claim him before the Packers could sneak him through to the practice squad.

Undrafted rookies with a chance: Defensive tackle Mike Pennel of Colorado State-Pueblo is a virtual lock to make the roster after B.J. Raji's season-ending injury, while outside linebacker Jayrone Elliott (who is tied for the NFL preseason lead in sacks with four) might be only one more good showing away from joining him on the 53.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Green Bay Packers signed Letroy Guion this offseason because they liked what he showed during his six seasons with the Minnesota Vikings.

Guion
If they're going to keep him on their roster, it might have to be for the same reason.

The 6-foot-4, 315-pound defensive tackle finally made his practice debut on Monday after missing nearly the entire training camp because of a hamstring injury he sustained the week before camp opened. His return coincided with the final full-pads practice of camp, and it's not a given he will play in Thursday's preseason finale against the Kansas City Chiefs. Between now and then, the Packers will hold only one more practice -- Wednesday's light, day-before-the-game session.

"We'll take another step further at Wednesday's practice in getting some more reps and keep progressing," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Monday. "It'd be foolish to throw him out there and give him a full load."

The Packers don't have much invested in the 27-year-old, who was a backup in his first four seasons before starting 28 games combined in 2012 and 2013. The only guaranteed money they gave him came in the form of a $100,000 signing bonus.

But with the season-ending injury to nose tackle B.J. Raji, Guion suddenly became a much more important player.

"It's always an urgency when a man goes down," Guion said. "It makes me have to step up, having to be that guy. So I'm going to take all my steps forward to do what I've got to do to get prepared."

In Guion, the Packers have a rare veteran option on a defensive line that without Raji features only one player who has made a start for the Packers. That's third-year pro Mike Daniels, a projected starting defensive end who in his first two years has made one start.

"That's good to have that veteran presence," said Daniels, who also could be an option to move to nose tackle. "[The] guy's been doing this for going into his seventh year; obviously had some success. He's played some very good, tough football. He's a tough, strong guy. We could use that."

Guion and undrafted rookie Mike Pennel are the only two true nose tackles the Packers have without Raji. Second-year pro Josh Boyd, who replaced Raji after his injury against the Oakland Raiders on Friday, played almost exclusively at defensive end last year as a rookie. However, Boyd played nose tackle in college at Mississippi State for two years before moving to end.

"You know, I've always been a guy who could play pretty much all the positions," Boyd said. "So it really doesn't matter. The best place they need me is where I'll play. So I'm very comfortable with anything."
video 

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The immediate reaction when a player gets hurt is to bring back an aged veteran to replace him, but the Green Bay Packers should -- and likely will -- resist that temptation.

Raji
General manager Ted Thompson would have a couple of those options to replace starting nose tackle B.J. Raji, who has a torn right biceps and learned on Saturday that he will miss the entire season.

But don't look for the Packers to bring back Ryan Pickett, who teamed with Raji on the defensive line the past five seasons. The same is likely the case for Johnny Jolly, who was the third member of the starting defensive line in Green Bay last year.

Both Pickett and Jolly are out of work and available, but neither fits what the Packers want to do on defense this season. Defensive coordinator Dom Capers aspires to be quicker across the front line, which means they have to get younger. Pickett will turn 35 in October, while Jolly turned 31 in February. Also, Jolly is coming off a neck injury that required fusion surgery.

A year after the Packers started a three-man defensive line that combined to weigh 1,000 pounds -- with Raji at 337, Pickett at 338 and Jolly at 325 -- this season they planned to pair Raji with Mike Daniels (305) and Datone Jones (285).

The Packers signed former Minnesota Vikings backup Letroy Guion to play behind Raji, but Guion has yet to practice because of a hamstring injury.

That leaves former fifth-round pick Josh Boyd, who replaced Raji after his injury on Friday against the Oakland Raiders, as the most likely replacement. It would mean the starting defensive front would feature a pair of second-year players (Boyd and Jones) and a third-year pro (Daniels). The Packers also are high on undrafted rookie Mike Pennel, who likely would have made the team even before Raji’s injury.

While the Packers lose a starter in Raji, he's not a full-time player. Last season, Capers used his base 3-4 defense on just 252 of 1,015 snaps (24.8 percent). Raji was slated to see some playing time in the nickel package, but Daniels and Jones are the primary duo in that package. Raji would not have played at all in the dime defense.

For Raji, the injury comes at the worst possible time. The 28-year-old former first-round pick signed just a one-year, $4 million contract this offseason with the hope that he could improve his stock with a strong season and parlay that into a bigger deal next offseason.

Packers Camp Report: Day 13

August, 12, 2014
Aug 12
7:30
PM ET
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Green Bay Packers training camp:
  • Rookie seventh-round receiver Jeff Janis continues to impress. Even though he had his first drop of camp on Tuesday in the two-minute drill, Janis made another eye-catching grab, laying out to catch a deep post from Aaron Rodgers during a team period. It followed a one-handed catch for a touchdown last week and a twisting catch in practice on Monday. It has been a remarkable return from shingles, which caused the seventh-round pick from Saginaw Valley State to miss the first seven training camp practices. "Jeff Janis has made a play every day he's been out there," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said after Tuesday's practice. "He made another big play today. He looks good. Hopefully, we can get him fully cleared by the medical staff for Saturday night [against the St. Louis Rams]. I really like what he's done so far."
  • Another receiver fighting for a roster spot came back after a bad day. Second-year pro Kevin Dorsey, who dropped two passes on Monday, made a difficult catch on a crossing route with cornerback Sam Shields in tight coverage.
  • Quarterback Scott Tolzien got to run the two-minute drill but could not lead a touchdown drive. Trailing by 28-24 with 1:31 on the clock and no timeouts starting at the 35-yard line, Tolzien drove the No. 3 offense to the 9-yard line with 6 seconds left. Tolzien got off two plays but couldn't finish either one. On third down, he went to Chris Harper on a corner route but safety Charles Clay broke it up. On fourth down, he rolled to his right and went to Harper again but could not connect.
  • Receiver Jordy Nelson returned to practice on Tuesday after sitting out Saturday's preseason opener at Tennessee because of a hamstring injury. Nelson did not practice Monday but was cleared to work on a limited basis.
  • Rookie safety Tanner Miller, who has been out since the first week of camp because of an ankle injury, returned to practice. The undrafted free agent from Iowa broke up a Rodgers pass intended for Randall Cobb.
  • Defensive end Josh Boyd (ribs) also returned. He missed only one day.
  • The Packers were not in pads, but McCarthy said that was the plan all along.
  • Those who did not practice were: receiver Davante Adams (wrist), running back Rajion Neal (knee), tight end Colt Lyerla (knee), linebacker Joe Thomas (knee), guard/tackle Don Barclay (knee), receiver Jared Abbrederis (knee), defensive tackle Letroy Guion (hamstring) and defensive end Jerel Worthy (back).
  • Lyerla said the second opinion he got on on his knee last week confirmed what he suspected: that he likely will miss the remainder of the preseason. Although he would not get into details about the injury, the rookie free agent said he will not require surgery but the healing time will make it nearly impossible for him to participate in any of the preseason games. The Packers will have to decide whether to place him on injured reserve or come to an injury settlement if he's not healthy by Week 1. "I don’t think I'll really find anything out until the cut day," he said.
  • The next practice is Wednesday at 11:45 a.m. local time. It is the last open practice of the week.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- They're taking water breaks and serving snacks during training camp practices. They're using a GPS system to monitor players' movements.

They changed their practice plan, flip-flopping their Friday-Saturday in-season schedule, and even within those individual practices they moved drills that used to be at the beginning to the end, and vice versa.

All for one reason: To reduce the injuries that have befallen the Green Bay Packers in recent years.

And what good has it done?

They already have lost two players -- rookie receiver Jared Abbrederis and offensive lineman Don Barclay -- who almost certainly would have been on the opening day roster. Both suffered torn anterior cruciate ligaments within the first two weeks of practice.

Some injuries -- no matter what the training staff does to keep players energized for practice and regardless of how coach Mike McCarthy designs his schedule -- just have to be chalked up to bad luck.

"Watch either one of those things as it happened, it wouldn't give any sort of indication that it was going to be a bad deal," Packers general manger Ted Thompson said. "It's just the way it turned out."

But so far in camp, the number of missed practices due to muscle or fatigue-related injuries has been low. A year after hamstring pulls were the order of camp, the only serious muscle pull in the first two weeks was an oblique strain suffered by starting strong safety Morgan Burnett.

THREE REASONS FOR OPTIMISM

[+] EnlargeAaron Rodgers
Benny Sieu/USA TODAY SportsA rejuvenated Aaron Rodgers is showing no aftereffects -- so far -- of last season's broken collarbone.
1. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers turned 30 in December and is coming off the worst injury of his career (a broken collarbone), but you would never know it by watching him now. He has been humming along in training camp as well as he ever has. His command of the offense is so great that McCarthy has been able to cut several practices short because they have not been forced to repeat plays ruined by mental errors. Rodgers reported to camp about 11 pounds lighter than he was last season, thanks to a combination of workouts (which included yoga) and diet.

2. If there's such a thing as a distraction-free training camp, this has been it. They addressed their No. 1 contract concern by signing receiver Jordy Nelson to a four-year, $39 million extension on the morning camp opened. A few days later, they locked up Thompson with a multiyear extension and said McCarthy would be next. And perhaps they have finally put any bad vibes from Brett Favre behind them when they announced last week that their former quarterback will have his number retired next summer, when he also will be inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame. All of that has allowed the team to focus on its preparation without anything getting in the way.

3. The biggest area of concern last year, the safety position, now may be one their strengths. Micah Hyde's switch from cornerback has gone better than expected, and first-round draft pick Ha Ha Clinton-Dix looks game-ready. Then there's third-year safety Sean Richardson, who has made perhaps more big plays in practice than anyone on defense. If Burnett comes back soon from his oblique strain -- and finally starts to perform like the Pro Bowl-caliber player they thought he was when they gave him a four-year, $24.75 million extension last summer -- then there should not be any concerns.

THREE REASONS FOR PESSIMISM

1. The Packers still do not know -- and may not know for a while -- whether JC Tretter can handle the starting center job. After a rough start to training camp, the second-year pro seemed to settle into the position and was solid in the preseason opener. But given the opener is at the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks in perhaps the loudest stadium in the league, there's probably nothing that can prepare Tretter for what he will have to deal with in Week 1.

2. As good as the Packers feel about Nelson, receiver Randall Cobb and running back Eddie Lacy, they don't have many other proven weapons for Rodgers. No one from the tight end group has emerged as the favorite to replace Jermichael Finley, although Andrew Quarless, Brandon Bostick and rookie Richard Rodgers have had their moments (both good and bad). And among the receivers, Jarrett Boykin has been no better than average in his quest to replace James Jones as the No. 3 receiver. Every time it looks like rookie Davante Adams may take that job from Boykin, he drops a ball.

3. Outside linebacker Clay Matthews participated in every practice during the first two weeks but still is not ready to proclaim his twice-broken right thumb 100 percent. Perhaps it's more of a mental hurdle for Matthews, but he needs to be able to use his hand without restrictions in order to return to his Pro Bowl level. It's hard to tell if Matthews is babying the injury, but in the first two weeks of practice, he took only two reps in the one-on-one pass-rushing drill and lost both. He played a few snaps early in the preseason opener against the Titans and did not seem to have any issues.

[+] EnlargeB.J. Raji
AP Photo/Morry GashB.J. Raji, back at nose tackle after spending last season at defensive end, has had an impressive camp.
OBSERVATION DECK

  • B.J. Raji looks re-energized after moving back to nose tackle. He signed just a one-year contract (worth $4 million) after the free-agent market proved soft, and might be motivated by another chance to test free agency next offseason.
  • Defensive coordinator Dom Capers is preparing second-year pro Datone Jones for a big role. Last year as a rookie, the first-round pick played almost exclusively in the sub packages and hardly ever played in the base 3-4 defense. Now, Jones has been penciled in as a starting defensive end while also playing as an inside rusher in the nickel and dime defenses.
  • If there's a high draft pick who might struggle to get on the field early in the season, it's perhaps third-round defensive tackle Khyri Thornton. Much like defensive end Josh Boyd last season, Thornton might not be ready for playing time from the get-go. Last season, Boyd was inactive for the first five games and seven of the first nine before he found a role.
  • The same could be said for fourth-round pick Carl Bradford. The outside linebacker from Arizona State has struggled to make many impact plays.
  • Last year, safety Chris Banjo was signed a few days into training camp and made the team. Receiver Gerrard Sheppard has a chance to do something similar. He was claimed off waivers from the Baltimore Ravens five days after camp opened and has made some impressive catches.

Packers Camp Report: Day 12

August, 11, 2014
Aug 11
8:00
PM ET
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.
GREEN BAY, Wis. – If JC Tretter can handle the likes of defensive tackles B.J. Raji and Josh Boyd in practice, Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy thinks his new starting center will be able to handle anything.

But so far in the first two days of full-pads training camp practices, Raji has proven too much for Tretter to handle.

"If you ever want to get a center ready, B.J. Raji and Josh Boyd are your guys because they definitely present a challenge to covering up a center," McCarthy said after Wednesday's practice.

As pleased as the Packers are with Raji's start – assuming it's not simply a product of Tretter's struggles – it means Tretter still has work to do in order to convince them he can handle the giant task of starting at center on opening night against the Seattle Seahawks.

By now, Tretter's backstory has been told time and again. A fourth-round pick in 2013, he broke his ankle during his first OTA practice as a rookie and never played in a game – preseason, regular season or playoffs – last year. He came off PUP and began practicing last November at center after playing his college career at Cornell as a tackle.

He became the favorite to win the starting job – the fourth different starting center the Packers will field in as many seasons – after Evan Dietrich-Smith signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a free agent.

It has been anything but a seamless transition. Tretter has a 3-2 record in the one-on-one pass-rushing drill so far. That's a small sample but in a drill that favors the offense, that's a mediocre winning percentage. He's 2-2 against Raji and 1-0 against Boyd. Raji also manhandled Tretter in the one-on-one run-blocking drill on Wednesday and also during a team period for a tackle for loss on running back Eddie Lacy.

"He's getting a lot better," Boyd said. "He's got a very strong punch, very strong hands. He's getting a lot stronger with his feet, and he's a real quick guy. He's going to be good; he's just got to keep working at it."

The Packers seem inclined to give Tretter the time.

“He needs every rep,” McCarthy said. “I can’t tell you if there is someone in the locker room that’s prepared himself as much as he has, and he’ll continue to do so. It’s not going to look clean; our team isn’t clean. Let’s be honest with you, we’ve missed blocks, we’ve did some wrong things. That's why you practice. Our fundamentals are critical, and that goes from the player to the group all the way through. But JC needs this work."
Examining the Green Bay Packers' roster:

Quarterbacks (3)
The Packers have not kept three quarterbacks on their opening-day roster since 2008, but they might be inclined to do so this season in order to avoid a situation like last year, when Rodgers broke his collarbone. Coach Mike McCarthy is high on Tolzien, who made two starts last season, but Flynn has proved he can win as a backup in Green Bay.

Running backs (4)

The return of Harris, who missed all of last season because of a knee injury, gives the Packers insurance behind Lacy and Starks. Kuhn is valuable both as a fullback and on special teams. It's possible they'll keep a fourth halfback, but the loss of Johnathan Franklin to a career-ending neck injury has left them without a strong in-house candidate for that spot.

Receivers (6)

The Packers often keep only five receivers, but given that they drafted three -- Adams (second round), Abbrederis (fifth round) and Janis (seventh round) -- there's a good chance they will keep six. Abbrederis and Janis will not only have to show they're better prospects than second-year pros Myles White and Chris Harper, but they also could help themselves if they can return kicks.

Tight ends (4)

McCarthy likes tight ends (he has kept five before), and the wild card is undrafted rookie Colt Lyerla.

Offensive linemen (8)

The Packers typically only activate seven offensive linemen on game day, so they can get away with keeping just eight on the roster. Barclay's ability to play all five positions also allows them some freedom. Lane Taylor could be the ninth lineman if they go that route.

Defensive line (7)

Worthy and Guion have work to do to make the roster, but there's room for them if you count Julius Peppers and Mike Neal among the outside linebackers, which is where they lined up more often in the offseason.

Linebackers (8)

There will be some tough cuts here. Second-year pros Nate Palmer and Andy Mulumba both played last year as rookie outside linebackers. It also may be tough for highly touted undrafted rookie Adrian Hubbard to make it.

Cornerbacks (6)

Hayward's return from last season's hamstring injury means he likely will return as the slot cornerback in the nickel package, a role played last year by Micah Hyde (who may primarily play safety this year).

Safeties (4)

The major question here is whether Hyde or Clinton-Dix will be the starter alongside Burnett. Chris Banjo, who played primarily on special teams last season, might be the odd man out.

Specialists (3)

There's no competition at any of these spots.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Let's get this out of the way from the top; we know Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson does not draft for need -- or so he says.

But in the months leading up to this week's draft, Thompson and his scouts have spent hundreds of hours not only discussing the prospects who will be available to them but also their current roster and its strengths and weaknesses.

With that in mind, let's break the 12 position groups that make up the roster into four parts based on the following categories of draft needs.

We will define them this way:
  • Part 1: Negligible -- positions where there is little or no need.
  • Part 2: Non-essential -- positions where there is a need but it is not paramount to fill.
  • Part 3: Secondary -- positions where there is a need but not at the critical level.
  • Part 4: Pressing -- positions where it is imperative that help be found.

First up are the negligible needs.

10. Defensive line: Whether you count recently signed pass-rusher Julius Peppers here or as an outside linebacker, it's still a deep position with the return of nose tackle B.J. Raji (who signed a one-year contract), a pair of draft picks last season in first-rounder Datone Jones and fifth-rounder Josh Boyd, and an emerging star in Mike Daniels. If the Packers need short-term help, they could re-sign veterans Johnny Jolly and Ryan Pickett. That said, Thompson has never been one to pass up a big-bodied player so it wouldn't be a total shock to see him take a defensive lineman high in the draft if the right one fell into his lap.

Possible players of interest: Ra'Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota; Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame; Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State; Louis Nix III, DT, Notre Dame.

11. Running back: This could be as deep a group as coach Mike McCarthy has had in his nine seasons thanks to reigning offensive rookie of the year Eddie Lacy plus the return of James Starks, DuJuan Harris, Johnathan Franklin and John Kuhn. The only issues here would be if Harris' knee injury that kept him out all of last season and Franklin's neck injury that ended his rookie year in November remain problematic.

Possible players of interest: None.

12. Specialists: The Packers are set at all three spots -- kicker, punter and long-snapper. Mason Crosby's bounce-back year means the Packers may not even bring another kicker to training camp. Crosby is signed through 2015. Punter Tim Masthay is signed through 2016 and snapper Brett Goode through 2015. There are no issues with either one.

Possible players of interest: None.

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