GREEN BAY – If only that really had been a Detroit Lions player that cornerback Tramon Williams swatted away late in the Green Bay Packers’ Thanksgiving Day loss.
Instead, it was back judge Dino Paganelli, and Williams’ contact with the official resulted in the NFL fining him $26,250.
Williams said he intends to appeal.
"(I) didn't mean any harm by it at all," Williams said after practice Thursday, when he confirmed to a group of reporters that he’d indeed been notified of the fine. "(I) wouldn't do that if I knew who it was. Hopefully they give me some money back."
Unlike Minnesota Vikings cornerback Chris Cook, who also made contact with an official during Sunday’s game against the Chicago Bears and was ejected for doing so, Williams was not kicked out of the game. But he and Cook did get similar fines.
“I mean, c'mon man, the referee's on the field just like us. I didn't think Chris Cook's was actually that bad for him to get thrown out,” Williams said.
The incident happened in the fourth quarter of the Packers’ 40-10 loss, following a 1-yard touchdown run by Lions running back Joique Bell. On Thursday, Williams said Lions center Dominic Raiola – an acclaimed instigator who infamously got into it with the University of Wisconsin band during their performance at the Oct. 6 Packers-Lions game at Lambeau Field – pushed him at the end of the play. Williams was on his way to confront Raiola when Paganelli stepped in. Williams then swatted his hands away and the flag was thrown.
"I don't think I initiated the contact, but I did finish the contact, I guess," Williams said. “I mean, there's a lot of emotion going on at that point in time. Really, you’re not paying attention to what you're doing, not even paying attention to who it was at that point in time. And I just saw a guy walk out in front of me, maybe trying to make contact with me, and (I) just kind of knock his arm out my way because he put it out at me.”
GREEN BAY – Aaron Rodgers took another step toward returning to game action Thursday. It’s too bad the Green Bay Packers quarterback’s teammates took a step backward in the injury department.
While Rodgers donned pads for the first time since he fractured his left collarbone against Chicago on Nov. 4, center Evan Dietrich-Smith was unable to practice after rolling his ankle Wednesday, left tackle David Bakhtiari missed practice with an illness and veteran defensive tackle Ryan Pickett was added to the injury report with a knee injury after not practicing.
Here’s the full, official injury report from Thursday:
After saying Wednesday that Rodgers would not undergo any bone scans before Sunday’s game – thereby making it seemingly impossible to gain the medical clearance he needs to play – McCarthy was asked again Thursday if Rodgers would undergo any more scans.
“I’m not going to sit here and get into specifics of Aaron’s injury, just like I’ve stood up here for eight years. Aaron Rodgers has not been cleared by the medical staff. If Aaron would like to share the details of his injury and the steps of his protocol, that’s the player’s option,” McCarthy replied. “Until he’s been cleared by the medical staff he will not be able to play. We’re making progress. He feels better, he’s doing more in the weight room, he’s a step closer. But how far away, time will answer that question.”
Rodgers experienced significant pain the last time he tried to put on shoulder pads – the night of Nov. 4, when he broke his collarbone against the Bears, took off his pads to be examined and then put them back on in hopes of returning to the game.
“Aaron did a little more today in the individual work, was able to wear shoulder pads and things like that,” McCarthy said. “I thought he made a little bit of progress today.”
Meanwhile, McCarthy isn’t sure whether Dietrich-Smith, who began the week nursing a knee injury suffered on Thanksgiving, will make it back for the game Sunday after sustaining the ankle injury in practice Wednesday.
“I’m hopeful he can do something (Friday). But getting injured on Wednesday is never a good thing,” McCarthy said. “I guess it’s better than getting injured on Thursday. We’ll just take it day to day.”
GREEN BAY – Evan Dietrich-Smith limped over to the trash can, threw his ankle tape in the receptacle and limped back to his locker.
“(Expletive) happens,” the Green Bay Packers center said.
Indeed it has to Dietrich-Smith, who injured his knee against Philadelphia on Nov. 10, reinjured it last Thursday during the Packers’ Thanksgiving Day loss to the Detroit Lions and then topped it off by rolling his ankle in practice Wednesday.
As a result of the ankle injury, Dietrich-Smith wasn’t able to finish practice. He didn’t sound like he expected to miss Sunday’s game against Atlanta, however.
“I stepped on someone’s foot,” Dietrich-Smith said. “It’s fun, huh? I love this sport. Good thing we get paid money. I remember when I used to play this for free.”
Here’s the full, official injury report from Wednesday:
Other than Dietrich-Smith – and of course Rodgers, who is expected to miss his fifth straight game Sunday – the players on the Packers’ active 53-man roster appear to be in reasonably good health. Neal has been bothered by a pulled abdominal muscle for weeks but has played through it; Wilson is the only player who seems doubtful for Sunday.
“I think it’s clearly physical,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy replied when asked how his team might improve after the quasi-bye week. “Obviously mentally we have to get ready to play. No one feels good about where we are, but we still have great opportunities in front of us. Based on today’s energy on the field, we definitely benefitted from this break.”
GREEN BAY – Charles Woodson knows a thing or two about breaking your collarbone. He did it twice, including in Super Bowl XLV.
The Oakland Raiders safety also knows a little bit about his friend and ex-teammate Aaron Rodgers’ personality, and how much the quarterback would hate being shut down for the remainder of the season because of his own fractured collarbone.
Nevertheless, if the Green Bay Packers are out of contention, Woodson suggested in an interview on NFL Network Wednesday night that Rodgers not return if the Packers lose Sunday to the Atlanta Falcons and are essentially eliminated from playoff contention.
“With having a guy that you’re going to pay over $100 million, [if] you’re out of the playoffs, I would shut him down,” Woodson said. “I know Aaron and if he’s healthy, it depends on what his scans are telling him, (but) I know he’s kicking and scratching trying to get back in the game. But having your franchise guy go out there and there is no chance at making the playoffs and you’re not really sure what’s going on with that shoulder (is a mistake).”
Last year, Woodson broke his collarbone a second time and missed nine games before finally returning for the playoffs.
“(If) you don’t have the confidence or the doctors’ don’t have that confidence in that shoulder that you can go out there and the same thing is not going to happen again, I think you shut him down,” Woodson said. “I went through the same thing last year and I wanted to come back Week 12, 13, 14. But the scans never gave us that confidence, so I didn’t come back until the playoffs. So if they don’t have the confidence in those scans, you shut him down.”
GREEN BAY – Kahlil Bell was happy to lose Twitter followers to gain a job.
The Green Bay Packers’ newest running back, having worked out for the team Monday and officially signed Tuesday, broke the news himself on his Twitter account (@KahlilBell32) Monday evening that he was joining the Packers. That news did not go over well for some of the folks who were following Bell, who played 24 games for the Chicago Bears from 2009 through 2012,
“I lost like 500 followers,” Bell said after his first practice with his new team Wednesday. “Honestly, it’s the NFC North. I’m very familiar with the teams in this division and it’s icing on the cake that we get a chance to play Chicago (in the Dec. 29 regular-season finale). I’m just happy and I’m grateful and I’m humbled to be here.”
Bell, who entered the league with Minnesota as an undrafted free agent from UCLA, replaces another ex-UCLA running back, Johnathan Franklin, in the Packers’ backfield. Franklin was placed on injured reserve last week after suffering a concussion and a neck injury against the Vikings on Nov. 24.
Bell was with the New York Jets in the preseason but had been out of football until the Packers called. He joins starter Eddie Lacy, backup James Starks and fullback John Kuhn on the depth chart and could also chip in on special teams.
“I just got here so I’m just trying to learn the offense, trying to learn the special-teams roles and find my place,” Bell said. “I don’t know what they’re going to ask of me just yet but whatever they do I’m going to do to the best of my ability.
“I did multiple special teams today. I don’t know all the schemes and things yet. I’m just trying to figure out what they want me to do. Once I know my role, I can embrace it a little bit better.”
Asked if he’d be open to returning kickoffs, Bell replied, “I’d be open to mowing the lawn if they wanted me to do that. I’ve been out of football for 11 weeks now. Whatever they want me to do, I’m going to do. I’m not going to complain, I’m not going to mope about it. I want to be here and I want to help this team in any way I can.”
Bell said he workouts with Dallas, Cleveland and Carolina this year but didn’t get an offer until the Packers’.
GREEN BAY – Tim Connolly, the Green Bay Packers’ vice president of sales and marketing for the past four seasons, will resign on Feb. 1, the team announced Wednesday.
Connolly, a somewhat polarizing figure who rubbed some inside and outside the organization the wrong way according to a lengthy Green Bay Press-Gazette story last year, is forming a sports industry consulting practice, Packers president/CEO Mark Murphy said in a statement.
Connolly, who will be returning to his home in Florida, will consult periodically with the Packers on various programs. His outside future projects will include work with both pro and college teams.
“The Packers are appreciative of Tim’s many contributions,” Murphy said in the statement. “He’s done an excellent job growing our local revenue, establishing record growth for four consecutive years. He also helped move the organization forward in many ways, including the establishment of the Packers Media Group and the completion of the south end zone.
“We wish the best for Tim, including his future consulting practice, as well as the opportunity to spend more time with his family.”
Connolly joined the Packers in May 2010 and oversaw the organization’s overall marketing efforts and revenue-generating operations, including marketing and sponsorships, retail operations, ticketing, food and beverage operations, premium seating sales and service, Packers Hall of Fame and stadium tours, the Packers Media Group, and stadium services.
“I’m incredibly thankful for the experience of working for one of professional sports’ best organizations,” Connolly said in the statement. “Mark Murphy, the executive committee, board of directors and entire staff all have contributed toward a shared vision of success on and off the field. I’m proud to have been a part of such an excellent organization, and my wife and I have loved the experience of living in such a unique football community that is Green Bay, as well as the great, lifelong friends we’ve made.
“We’ve accomplished a lot and our teams are positioned well to serve our world-class football fans. I look forward to contributing in a new way, but also am excited about the next chapter in my life, which includes some exciting new projects. I also look forward to spending more time with my family, including my children and grandchildren.”
GREEN BAY – The Green Bay Packers have ruled out quarterback Aaron Rodgers, without officially ruling him out.
At least, that’s what logic would tell you based on what was said Wednesday, as the team returned to practice in advance of Sunday’s game against the Atlanta Falcons at Lambeau Field.
Rodgers, who broke his collarbone Nov. 4 against Chicago, underwent an x-ray and CT scan on Tuesday. Both he and coach Mike McCarthy then said after those tests that Rodgers had not been medically cleared to play Sunday, but that he would practice on Wednesday on a limited basis – which he did – and would not be officially ruled out.
Then came Wednesday afternoon, when McCarthy was asked if Rodgers would be scanned again later this week.
“No,” McCarthy replied. “We’re not going to continue doing that.”
So if Rodgers hasn’t been medically cleared, and the Packers aren’t going to put him through another CT scan, then how exactly is he going to gain medical clearance to play against the Falcons?
The short answer: He’s not.
Thus, even though Falcons coach Mike Smith said in a conference call with Wisconsin reporters Wednesday that he’s preparing his team to face Rodgers, it’ll be Matt Flynn under center come game day.
"We’re anticipating that he’s going to play this week. I know that there was information that came out (Tuesday) that said that he wasn’t cleared, but he’s not been ruled out. We’re taking that that he’s playing," Smith said. "That’s what our preparation has got to be. He can distribute the ball, he makes everyone around him so much better. He understands Mike’s offense, he gets them into the best play.
"It’s fun to watch him as a coach stand over the ball and look and try to dissect what you’re trying to defensively. Once that ball’s snapped, he’s got the ability to extend plays. He’s got such a quick release. He will be a big challenge for us on Sunday.”
The Packers just aren’t quite ready to tell Smith that it'll be Flynn, although McCarthy came close at the end of his press briefing.
“Really until Aaron Rodgers is cleared medically, we have to be practical about it,” McCarthy said in the final answer of the news conference. “But he wants the opportunity to try to grow as far as each and every day. That’s what we’ll try to do. We’ll try to do a little more each day and we’ll see what happens.”
Asked at his locker what the chances are that he’d be medically cleared this week, Rodgers was evasive, saying, “I don’t want to put any chances on it. I think it’s a collaborative thing where we have to make sure we’re all on the same page and get cleared medically before I can get on the field.”
According to Rodgers, there are three components to him being cleared to play – and the scan didn’t show what he’d hoped it would.
“There were three parts to it: The strength, the range of motion and the evidence that we see on the scan,” Rodgers said. “Two out of three are passed so far."
Asked if he could be a game-time decision, Rodgers said no.
“I don’t think that’s fair to Matt if we do that,” Rodgers said. “I think by Friday or Saturday at the latest there will be a decision.”
Rodgers did participate in all the individual drills during Wednesday’s practice, while Flynn took the starter’s snaps in 11-on-11 and 7-on-7 drills. Rodgers, for instance, took quarterback-center exchanges from JC Tretter and Garth Gerhart in the portion of practice open to the media, while Flynn took them from starting center Evan Dietrich-Smith.
The Packers are 0-4-1 since Rodgers broke his collarbone at the end of the team’s first offensive series against the Bears. That drive ended in a field goal that gave the Packers a 3-0 lead.
“It’s tough not to be out there with the guys. I think that’s where the frustration lies,” Rodgers said. “It’s tough to not see us winning football games, but, you know, I need to take some of my own advice: Worry about the things you can control. I can’t control the healing of my bone. That’s frustrating. But I’ve been preparing as if I was going to play every week and trying to help Matt and Scott (Tolzien) out as much as I possibly can. But it’s been tough to not see us winning football games.”
GREEN BAY – Jerron McMillian went from competing for a starting job in training camp to being unemployed before season’s end.
The Green Bay Packers cut the second-year safety Tuesday, using his roster spot on running back Kahlil Bell, who worked out for the team Monday and agreed to terms after the workout.
McMillian was a fourth-round pick out of the University of Maine last year, but he failed to unseat M.D. Jennings as the starting safety alongside Morgan Burnett. He was playing as the sixth defensive back in the dime defense earlier in the year, but when he made back-to-back mistakes late in the Packers’ Oct. 13 victory at Baltimore than nearly cost them the game.
“Anytime you have a young player you bring into your program, you obviously have expectations, but this is something that we felt we needed to do from a roster standpoint,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Tuesday afternoon. “As far as his individual performance, it just wasn’t quite what it needed to be this year. You never want to give up on a young guy.”
But the Packers did give up on McMillian, who was benched as the dime defensive back after the game at Baltimore. Late in the game, he tripped and fell to allow the Ravens to convert a fourth-and-21 with a 63-yard pass from Joe Flacco to Tandon Doss. McMillian then failed to get the defensive play call on the ensuing play and was beaten by tight end Dallas Clark for an 18-yard touchdown that pulled the Ravens to within two points.
McMillian took responsibility for falling down after the game, but he said on the ensuing touchdown play that the defensive call never got to him. Defensive coordinator Dom Capers said the next day that in situations where the offense is in hurry-up as the Ravens were after the long pass, defensive line coach Mike Trgovac is giving defensive hand signals from the sideline and all 11 players are expected to look over and get the call, rather than relying on one of their teammates to echo the call. McMillian failed to do it and was the closest man to Clark on the TD.
“You don’t ever want confusion in those situations but in the heat of the battle it happens sometimes,” Capers said. “They have to find Trgo on the sideline to get the signal. You try to echo it but you can never count on the communication in that situation. Each guy has to be responsible for seeing that signal.”
For his career, McMillian played in 28 games with two starts. He has 35 career tackles, 14 pass breakups and one interception.
Meanwhile, the Packers also added cornerback Antonio Dennard to the practice squad. A 5-foot-11, 189-pound first-year player out of Langston University (Okla.), Dennard entered the league as an undrafted free agent with Jacksonville in 2012 and spent part of last season on the Jaguars’ practice squad and then the remainder of the season on injured reserve.
GREEN BAY – The Green Bay Packers aren’t ruling Aaron Rodgers out for Sunday’s game against the Atlanta Falcons, but their star quarterback has not yet been medically cleared to play after fracturing his left collarbone on Nov. 4
Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Tuesday afternoon that Rodgers will practice Wednesday in a limited fashion but that backup Matt Flynn would take the starter’s snaps during that practice.
“Aaron wants to play, there's no question about it,” McCarthy said. "But it's a medical situation. He has a clear understanding where he is as far as the process of getting back on the field. He feels good, and we're going to see what he can do tomorrow."
Speaking on his weekly ESPN Wisconsin radio show Tuesday evening, Rodgers confirmed that he underwent an x-ray and CT scan on Tuesday and admitted that the outlook wasn’t as promising as he’d hoped when he met with team physician Dr. Pat McKenzie.
“I saw the X-rays and scan,” Rodgers said. “We're now four weeks and one day from my fracture. I've made a lot of progress. A lot of it is just the bone healing. Bone takes three to six weeks to heal. We all hoped we'd be on the short end of that.
“I trust Doc McKenzie. When I'm ready to play and everyone is on board, then I'm going to play. After we sat down Tuesday, I haven't had that full clearance. I'm not ruling myself out. I know there's a rush to get back out there. I feel it internally, but also externally. I desperately want to be out there, but it has to look good.”
The Packers enter Sunday’s game at 5-6-1 and are 0-4-1 since Rodgers was injured on the opening series of their loss to the Chicago Bears on Nov. 4. They’ve gone from 5-2 and on a four-game winning streak to needing to win their final four games and get some help to qualify for the playoffs for the fifth straight year.
“Ultimately, I’m not going to be able to play if I don’t get medically cleared,” Rodgers said.
Amid reports the team might shut Rodgers down if the team was out of playoff contention, McCarthy denied such a discussion has occurred.
"There has been no internal conversation about shutting Aaron Rodgers down," McCarthy said. "Aaron wants to play. When he's healthy, he'll be given the opportunity to play."
If Rodgers is not medically cleared to face the Falcons, Flynn is set to make his second straight start. In Thursday's 40-10 Thanksgiving Day loss to the Detroit Lions, Flynn completed only 10 of 20 passes for 139 yards with no touchdowns and one interception. He was sacked seven times, including once for a safety. He also lost a fumble on a center exchange.
Flynn took over when McCarthy benched Scott Tolzien during a 26-26 tie with the Minnesota Vikings on Nov. 24, when Flynn rallied the Packers from a 23-7 fourth-quarter deficit.
Asked why he would go with Flynn over Tolzien, who took over for an injured Seneca Wallace against Philadelphia on Nov. 10 and started the team’s Nov. 17 loss to the New York Giants, McCarthy cited Flynn’s experience. While he didn’t sign with the team until Nov. 12, Flynn was Rodgers’ primary backup from 2008 through 2011.
“We just think Matt’s further along as far as game experience and just a little more comfortable in the system,” McCarthy said. “Scott’s worked extremely hard. Frankly for both Scott and Matt, Scott really had one week of full reps to get ready for the Giants game. This will be Matt’s first opportunity to get a full week of reps getting ready for Atlanta game. That’s what you have to look at.
“Talking even with Aaron today about trying to maybe get him ready also, to get him a chance to come back (the question) is how do you balance that out? Because at the end of the day, we have to make sure our quarterback is ready to play.”
GREEN BAY -- The Green Bay Packers added some needed running back help Monday, signing veteran Kahlil Bell on Monday, an NFL source confirmed.
ESPN.com’s Rob Demovsky was the first to report the signing, and Bell also Tweeted that he had joined the Packers.
So greatful for this opportunity to be apart of the Green Bay Packers Its been a long year but kept the faith n kept fighting! Im a Packer!!— Kahlil Bell (@KahlilBell32) December 2, 2013
Playing for the Chicago Bears, the 5-foot-11, 219-pound Bell ran 23 times for 121 yards against the Packers on Dec. 25, 2011, at Lambeau Field. It is Bell’s only career 100-yard rushing game.
After placing rookie Johnathan Franklin on season-ending injured reserve last week with a concussion and a neck injury, the Packers had only three running backs on their 53-man roster: Starter Eddie Lacy, backup James Starks and fullback John Kuhn. The team lost practice-squad running back Michael Hill, who spent a couple weeks on the 53-man roster, to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last month.
Demovsky reported that Bell had worked out for the Packers last season, then worked out for the team again on Monday.
Bell was in training camp with the New York Jets this summer and has been out of football since being cut at the end of camp. For his career, Bell has carried 148 times for 633 yards and no touchdowns. He ran 29 times for 76 yards last season with the Jets.
Bell entered the league with the Minnesota Vikings as an undrafted free agent from UCLA in 2009.
The Packers will have to make a roster move to make room for Bell. They promoted practice squad linebacker Victor Aiyewa to the 53 when Franklin was placed on IR.
There are no games scheduled for today.