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Packers could place Tretter on IR with designation to return

Sep 02, 2014 -- 2:55pm
 
Photo/Getty Images 
JC Tretter’s knee injury might sideline him for long enough that using the designation to return for injured reserve might make sense for the Packers.
 

GREEN BAY – If the Green Bay Packers want to put center JC Tretter on injured reserve with the designation to return, they can do so starting at 3 p.m. Tuesday.

Tretter suffered an impaction fracture in his left knee during the team’s Aug. 22 preseason game against Oakland. An NFL source said Tretter was told by the medical staff that he was likely to miss up to six weeks because of the injury.

According to the NFL’s IR-DTR rule, if Tretter is placed on the list, he wouldn’t be able to practice for six weeks and could not play until eight weeks had passed. That would take him to the team’s Nov. 2 bye week and mean he’d be eligible to return for the Packers’ No. 9 game against the Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field. With Tretter sidelined, rookie fifth-round pick Corey Linsley will start at center in Thursday’s regular-season opener at Seattle.

Placing Tretter on IR would also allow the Packers to add a player to the roster in the meantime. They could add practice-squad center Garth Gerhart or another offensive lineman, given their lack of depth on the line following No. 6 offensive lineman Don Barclay’s season-ending knee injury in training camp.

Last year, the Packers used the IR-DTR tag on wide receiver Randall Cobb, who suffered a small fracture in the tibia bone in his lower leg just below the knee on a hit against Baltimore on Oct. 13. Cobb wound up missing 10 games before returning for the regular-season finale against the Bears and catching the game-winning touchdown pass from quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

On Monday, coach Mike McCarthy said the team did not have a plan for what to do with Tretter. If the Packers think he could return sooner than in eight games, they could merely carry him on the 53-man roster and making him a weekly game-day inactive.

Tretter began last season on the physically unable to perform list after fracturing his ankle in organized team activity practices. He was eventually activated and able to practice but never saw any game action.

Fearless Packers plan to use Cobb, Hyde on returns

Sep 02, 2014 -- 9:57am
 
Photo/Getty Images 
Randall Cobb remains one of the Packers’ punt return options – and, apparently, is their No. 1 option.
 

GREEN BAY – Shawn Slocum wasn’t playing it coy, and he wasn’t running a misdirection. The Green Bay Packers special teams coordinator was merely telling the truth:

Clearly, Mike McCarthy isn’t kidding when he has said time and again that he has no problem playing starters on special teams: Slocum said Monday that Randall Cobb is No. 1 on the depth chart at punt returner.

Micah Hyde, Slocum said, is second. On kickoff, it’s No. 3 running back DuJuan Harris, with Hyde as the next option. Slocum said rookie wide receiver Jeff Janis is “in the picture” on both, too. Cobb, who missed 10 games last season with a fracture in his leg, is a starting wide receiver, while Hyde is starting at safety over first-round pick Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.

“Right now, [Cobb] is No. 1 on the depth chart and we’ll go forward from there,” Slocum said. “He’s a playmaker.”

That’s consistent with McCarthy’s statement earlier in camp that he was not going to be careful and conservative with starters on special teams. Ironically, Cobb was injured on an offensive play last season, not a return. For his career, Cobb has averaged 26.2 yards per kickoff return (with one touchdown, in the 2011 kickoff game) and 10.2 yards on punt returns (with two touchdowns, including one in the 2012 season opener).

“I’ve got to get away from that thinking. I think it’s dangerous to get into limitations and trying to be too cautious,” McCarthy said midway through camp about being afraid to use starters on special teams. “When you get cautious and worry, negative things happen. So we’re going to put our best players out there. We need to be better on special teams and a good returner makes any return unit better.”

The Packers aren’t alone in that position, however. They expect the Seahawks to use Percy Harvin on kickoff returns and All-Pro safety Earl Thomas on punt returns. Thomas had a 59-yard punt return in preseason against Chicago.

“If they go a different direction then they do, but that’s what I think,” Slocum said. “They play a number of their starters on special teams. A lot of them.

“I mean, it’s come to battle with your best guys.”

That’s exactly what the Packers are doing, too.

Packers-Seahawks Monday injury report

Sep 01, 2014 -- 6:10pm
 
Photo/ESPNWisconsin.com 
Wide receivers coach Edgar Bennett works on a drill with his guys Monday.
 

GREEN BAY – Things do not look promising for Brandon Bostick.

The Green Bay Packers tight end was walking unaided through the locker room and at practice Monday, but later in the day en route to meetings, he was back on crutches nursing his still-healing leg injury. And after missing Sunday’s and Monday’s practice, he is unlikely to play in Thursday night’s regular-season opener against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field in Seattle.

Here’s a look at the official injury report from Monday:

Packers

Out: C JC Tretter (knee).

Did not participate:  TE Brandon Bostick (fibula), CB Demetri Goodson (concussion).

Limited partipation:  ILB Brad Jones (quadriceps).

 

Seahawks

Did not participate: TE Cooper Helfet (knee), G Jeanpierre Lemuel (neck), LB Kevin Pierre Louis (hamstring), RB Christine Michael (hamstring), CB Tharold Simon (knee).

Limited participation:  LB Bruce Irvin (hip), WR Kevin Norwood (ankle), CB Jeremy Lane (groin). 

 

Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Bostick would have to practice Wednesday – the Packers don’t practice two days before the game anymore, so Tuesday’s work will be walkthrough work in the CRIC facility – in order to play. When asked if he was holding out hope for Bostick, McCarthy replied, “No.”

Goodson has been in the locker room throughout the week during media availability periods but has yet to return to practice after his concussion against Oakland on Aug. 23.

Jones, meanwhile, was listed as a limited participant but took most of the reps with the starters during practice.

“He got the work done that he needed,” McCarthy said.

Abbrederis focuses on learning, healing

Sep 01, 2014 -- 1:44pm
 
Photo/ESPNWisconsin.com 
Jared Abbrederis suffered a season-ending knee injury during the first week of training camp.
 

GREEN BAY – Jared Abbrederis is doing OK, all things considered. He’d much rather be prepping for Thursday night’s regular-season opener – and what would have been his NFL debut – in Seattle against the defending Super Bowl-champion Seahawks, but the Green Bay Packers rookie wide receiver is doing exactly what he’s supposed to be doing in the wake of his season-ending knee injury.

Three weeks removed from surgery, Abbrederis, who tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee July 30, is doing all his rehabilitation work and is confident he’ll stay on schedule.

He’s also trying to be as productive as he can, given the circumstances. He was off to a strong start in camp and likely would have made the team – the Packers didn’t cut anyone from their nine-man draft class – as the fifth or sixth receiver. The team ended up keeping five receivers on the 53-man roster, with seventh-round pick Jeff Janis getting the final spot.

“I’m doing good. Right now, I get to be at the meetings and all that stuff, so I still get to learn,” Abbrederis said. “I’m just working on getting better each day with the motion, the strength, all that stuff. I’m able to get in the weight room a little bit, able to start doing that. I think as I get to do more stuff, it’ll be a lot easier.”

Not that it’s easy, of course. But at least Packers team orthopedic surgeon Dr. Pat McKenzie didn’t find anything unexpected during the procedure, and the ACL was the only ligament that required repair.

That Abbrederis had to come back from a fractured femur in high school and went on to develop from walk-on to NFL wide receiver prospect at the University of Wisconsin would be proof that he knows how to handle a comeback.

“I think just going through something similar [helps],” Abbrederis said. “Just trying to get the motion back, the strength, learning to trust it again, that’ll all help as I go through the process.”

Packers keep 10 homegrown players on practice squad

Aug 31, 2014 -- 4:59pm
 
Photo/ESPNWisconsin.com 
Chris Banjo, who was on the 53-man roster all of last season, is now on the practice squad. 
 

GREEN BAY – The Green Bay Packers’ practice squad has a decidedly homegrown feel.

Much to the delight of coach Mike McCarthy, all 10 players signed to the practice squad were with the team in training camp. Historically, the team has gone outside its own cuts to add a player or two to the practice squad from elsewhere, but that wasn’t the case Sunday.

Signed to the practice squad were safety Chris Banjo, wide receiver Kevin Dorsey, center Garth Gerhart, wide receiver Alex Gillett, running back Michael Hill, linebacker Adrian Hubbard, tight end Justin Perillo, defensive end Luther Robinson, offensive tackle Jeremy Vujnovich and wide receiver Myles White. Cornerback Jumal Rolle, who was expected to be signed to the practice squad, was not one of the 10 players, but multiple reports indicated that he would be added to the group on Monday. The Packers would have to cut a player from the practice squad to make room for Rolle.

McCarthy said the fact that all 10 players were in camp with the Packers is indicative of the quality of the 90-man roster the team had this summer.

“It was clearly one of our best camps, if not the best camp,” McCarthy said. “A number of players really deserved the opportunity to be on the 53. Obviously you can only keep 53, and I feel very blessed and fortunate that we have 63 of our own guys.

“It’s a long process. We like our team and once again I’m very happy that all 63 of the guys are our own.”

Packers release 18, keep both Flynn and Tolzien

Aug 30, 2014 -- 6:15pm
 
Photo/Getty Images 
Matt Flynn (above) and Scott Tolzien each made the Packers’ 53-man roster on Saturday.
 

GREEN BAY – The Green Bay Packers released 18 players on Saturday – but none of them was a quarterback.

For the first time since 2008, general manager Ted Thompson kept three quarterbacks on his 53-man roster coming out of camp, as both Matt Flynn and Scott Tolzien were on the roster after 22 moves were made to get the Packers down to the NFL-mandated 53-man limit.

The Packers released safety Chris Banjo, wide receiver Kevin Dorsey, linebacker Jake Doughty, tackle John Fullington, center Garth Gerhart, wide receiver Alex Gillett, defensive tackle Carlos Gray, running back Michael Hill, outside linebacker Adrian Hubbard, guard Jordan McCray, safety Tanner Miller, tight end Justin Perillo, running back LaDarius Perkins, defensive end Luther Robinson, cornerback Jumal Rolle, tackle Jeremy Vujnovich, wide receiver Myles White and cornerback Ryan White.

The Packers also announced that four other players – tackle Aaron Adams, linebacker Nate Palmer, tight end Jake Stoneburner and defensive tackle Khyri Thornton – were placed on injured reserve.

In actuality, only two were placed on IR: Thornton, a rookie third-round pick who showed very little in training camp, and Palmer, a 2013 sixth-round pick who moved to inside linebacker during the final week of camp. Stoneburner and Adams were each waived/injured, meaning that if they go through waivers unclaimed, they will revert back to the Packers' IR list until an injury settlement is reached.

Stoneburner indicated on his Twitter account (@STONEYeleven) that he and the team were parting ways. Adams, an undrafted free agent who spent all of last year on the practice squad, had a chance to make the team as the ninth offensive lineman before suffering his knee injury in the preseason finale Thursday night.

The moves meant that all nine members of the Packers’ 2014 draft class remain property of the team. Seven picks made the 53-man roster, while Thornton and fifth-round pick Jared Abbrederis, a wide receiver from Wisconsin, landed on injured reserve. Fourth-round pick Carl Bradford, a linebacker from Arizona State, and sixth-round pick Demetri Goodson, a basketball player-turned-cornerback from Baylor, made the team despite inconspicuous training camps.

Undrafted free agent nose tackle Mike Pennel and undrafted free agent outside linebacker Jayrone Elliott each made the team after impressive camps.

With Flynn and Tolzien behind Rodgers, the Packers have three quarterbacks on the 53-man roster coming out of camp for the first time since 2008, when Rodgers was in his first year as the starter and Flynn was a rookie seventh-round pick who’d beaten out rookie second-round pick Brian Brohm for the No. 2 job.

Harris returns to Lambeau Field a different man

Aug 27, 2014 -- 8:49pm
 
Photo/Kansas City Chiefs  
Former Packers cornerback Al Harris is in his second season as the Kansas City Chiefs’ assistant secondary coach.
 

GREEN BAY – It was time.

The deadline has been set for Dec. 7, Al Harris’ 40th birthday. But midway through his second training camp as the Kansas City Chiefs assistant secondary coach, the former Green Bay Packers two-time Pro Bowl cornerback decided to do it.

“I got a haircut about two weeks ago. All gone,” a laughing Harris said of his signature dreadlocks, which he sported beneath his Packers helmet for eight seasons, from 2003 through 2010. “You’re not even going to recognize me.

“I just felt that it was just time to separate the player, as far as presentation, from the coach. You’ve got to embrace these things fully.”

And Harris is embracing coaching fully. Sitting in the Chiefs’ team hotel in downtown Appleton in advance of Thursday night’s preseason finale against the Packers at Lambeau Field, he said Wednesday evening that while he didn’t initially plan on getting into the business before his 14-year, 194-game playing career was over, he is glad that he did.

Some of his other old teammates have joined the “corporate world” – something he joked he could easily do now with his new ‘do – but that football was simply in his blood.

“I love it. Honestly. Because I’m learning every day,” Harris said. “You play the game, and you think you know the game, but once you get around guys who have studied the game longer than you’ve played it, it puts it all in perspective. I love it. I love it.”

When the Packers released him during the 2010 season after the catastrophic knee injury he’d suffered the year before, Harris spent three games with the Miami Dolphins before joining the St. Louis Rams for the 2011 season. When he reinjured the knee that year, then-Rams defensive coordinator Steve Spagnolo piqued Harris’ interest in coaching by bringing him to staff meetings while on injured reserve. Harris then interned for the Miami Dolphins in 2012 under head coach (and former Packers assistant Joe Philbin) before signing on with the Chiefs last year, when his old coach in Philadelphia, Andy Reid, came in.

The job does have its drawbacks, though. On Thursday night, while Harris is coaching his cornerbacks, his son, Al Jr., will be making his college football debut for South Carolina against Texas A&M. Like father, like son, he’ll be starting at cornerback – as a true freshman. Dad will have to wait until he gets back to the Chiefs’ facility late Thursday night to see how his son did.

“I’ll watch the tape of the game and then I’ll pull it up at work just so I can see the coaches’ view,” Harris said.

Before that, though, there’s his return to Lambeau Field. He came back once before, with the Rams in 2011, but every trip back is special.

“I’m there to work, of course, but I don’t care who it is, once you’ve been a part of that place and experienced Lambeau Field as a Packer, that never leaves you,” Harris said. “Whenever you come back, you’ll feel something. I have nothing but good memories of Titletown, USA.”

Harris insists that his favorite Lambeau Field memory isn’t his overtime interception return for the game-winning touchdown against Seattle in the 2003 NFC Wild Card Playoffs, in part because the play was too elementary. (“You knew with the all-out pressure we were bringing, there were only certain routes they could run,” he said.) He does remember his second regular-season game at Lambeau Field as a Packer, against Detroit in 2003, when he also had an interception for a touchdown.

Back then, of course, he was the new guy with the long dreadlocks who the Packers had acquired from Philadelphia for a second-round draft pick. With his unique look and his play, he’d go on to become a fan favorite.

Which is why fans might have to look twice to find him on the Chiefs’ sideline.

“I hadn’t cut it since Andy’s first year in Philly (1998), and I grew it right back,” Harris said. “It’s so funny. When I cut it [two weeks ago], Andy, he just laughed and laughed. I was like, ‘Thanks, Coach.’

“I would have never imagined it. You see all these guys nowadays with their hair hanging out of the back of their helmets? I was the first guy. No one’s ever seen me up there without hair.”

Tags: Al Harris

Packers place six on IR

Aug 26, 2014 -- 5:15pm
 
Photo/ESPNWisconsin.com 
Offensive lineman Don Barclay was one of six players put on season-ending injured reserve on Tuesday as the Packers got down to 75 players.
 

GREEN BAY – The Green Bay Packers got down to the 75-man roster limit Tuesday without having to cut anyone.

Instead, the team placed six players on season-ending injured reserve to reach the limit: Wide receiver Jared Abbrederis, offensive lineman Don Barclay, running back Rajion Neal, defensive tackle B.J. Raji, linebacker Joe Thomas and guard Andrew Tiller.

Abbrederis and Barclay each suffered season-ending knee injuries during training camp and both have undergone surgery to repair torn anterior cruciate ligaments, while Neal and Joe Thomas were playing well in the preseason opener at Tennessee before each suffering knee injuries themselves. Raji tore his right biceps during Friday night’s game against Oakland while Tiller suffered a calf injury in that game.

According to the league’s official transaction wire, Neal, Thomas and Tiller were waived/injured and will revert to the Packers’ injured reserve list once they clear waivers. That means they'll likely receive injury settlements and be removed from IR at that point.

On Sunday, the Packers released wide receiver Chris Harper, safety Charles Clay, cornerback Antonio Dennard, linebacker Korey Jones, fullback Ina Liaina, quarterback Chase Rettig and wide receiver Gerrard Sheppard. All seven players made it through waivers unclaimed and are eligible for the 10-man practice squad, which will be established after the final cutdown to 53 players on Aug. 30.

Meanwhile, the Packers reached an injury settlement with tight end Colt Lyerla, whom they had waived/injured last week. Agent Vinnie Porter told ESPN.com’s Rob Demovsky that the injury settlement will take Lyerla through Week 8 of the regular season, meaning the Packers could bring him back after Week 14 if they so choose.

Neal knows time is slipping away

Aug 26, 2014 -- 6:45am
 
Photo/ESPNWisconsin.com 
Rajion Neal was making a good impression before suffering a knee injury that will keep him out for another week.
 

GREEN BAY – Rajion Neal hears the clock ticking. And with only one more practice and one more preseason game left before final cuts, the Green Bay Packers rookie running back realizes he’s out of time.

After bursting onto the scene in the preseason opener at Tennessee, where he ran five times for 39 yards and a touchdown, Neal has been shelved since by a knee injury he suffered during the Packers’ loss to the Titans. An undrafted rookie free agent from the University of Tennessee, it looked like he might challenge for a roster spot in the Packers’ deep backfield, but now he will be fortunate to land on the practice squad – if he’s healthy enough to do so.

“It definitely is in the back of my mind that time is dwindling away, but at the same time, it’s almost out of my hands now,” Neal said. “I’m just trying to enjoy the moment, enjoy the process and enjoy being here for the time that I am.”

After the injury, Neal vowed to play the following week at St. Louis, but that didn’t happen. Now, he’s spent every practice as a spectator and hasn’t been able to build on his solid start.

“The initial [reaction] was his excitement and wanting to play and so forth, but it’s going to be a couple weeks,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. “The optimism’s low.”

While the injury has derailed his roster bid, Neal said he believes he’s proven – to himself more than anyone – that he can play at the NFL level.

“I think I’ve done some things that have definitely solidified to myself that I can play here, but I don’t think I’ve done enough just yet to prove to the organization to take a bid on me just yet,” Neal said. “I know I’ve still got some things I need to do and some things I need to show.”

Rodgers on youngsters: 'They need to catch up'

Aug 26, 2014 -- 6:00am
 
Photo/Getty Images 
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers wasn't smiling when he called out his young teammates Monday, saying they need to “step up” as the regular season approaches.
 

GREEN BAY – With the Sept. 4 regular-season opener fast approaching, Aaron Rodgers is apparently worried about the readiness of some of the youngsters the Green Bay Packers will be counting on this season, starting with the NFL Kickoff game against the defending Super Bowl-champion Seattle Seahawks.

Taking the unusual step of speaking out publicly about teammates, Rodgers left very little room for interpretation with his comments Monday. While he didn’t name names, it’s clear that the 10th-year quarterback is ratcheting up the urgency meter with the preseason winding down.

“You know what? They need to catch up,” Rodgers told a large group of reporters at his locker Monday. “I think some of them are playing the right way, and some of them have got to catch up. They’re going to need to if they want to be on the field.”

Although he didn’t say it, Rodgers seemed to be referring to rookie wide receivers Davante Adams and Jeff Janis, who could be counted on to contribute immediately in the Packers’ high-powered up-tempo offense. Neither has exhibited the consistency a young wide receiver like Greg Jennings showed upon his arrival as a rookie in 2006. The Packers also figure to start rookie third-round pick Richard Rodgers at tight end, where Brandon Bostick (leg) is unlikely to play against the Seahawks and veteran Andrew Quarless has shown some rust after missing the entire offseason.

Packers coach Mike McCarthy has made it clear that he wants to increase the speed of the offense and try to manufacture more offensive snaps this season by expanding the use of the no-huddle offense. The Packers ranked 11th in total offensive plays last season with 67.

“We’re going to play the best guys, whether that’s putting an extra tight end on the field or putting an extra receiver on the field or taking a couple of those guys off and going with some two-back stuff with [fullback John] Kuhn out there,” Aaron Rodgers said. “Mike’s done a great job of really putting our best players on the field, regardless of the personnel set, whether it’s three receivers [with] two backs or two tight ends and one back or our zebra personnel (three wide receivers, one tight end, one back) that we run a lot of no-huddle stuff out of, it’s going to be the best players on the field. The best players are going to be the guys who are most prepared and do it in practice every single day.”

Asked to expound on his comments, Rodgers replied, “I think there’s a professionalism that we’re not quite at yet as far as production on the field and preparation. I think production is equal to the preparation that you put in during the week with your film study, with your practice habits, with your practice reps, with the conversations that we have and being able to carry those on the field. There’s walls that the young guys will hit … but you’ve got to push through that. You’ve got to find a way to improve. We’re ready for those walls and we can help the guys out, but at some point you need to start playing like a professional if you want to see significant game time action.”

Asked he was frustrated by the young players entering Thursday’s preseason finale against Kansas City, Rodgers said no.

“There’s no frustration; it’s just an expectation,” he said. “We’re into the last preseason game. We’re less than two weeks from the opener, and things pick up after this final game, after the cut down and guys will feel it. They’ll be less opportunities in practice and the opportunities in the game will be fewer until you make the most of them. It’s just a call to those guys to start stepping up their play because it’s going to start mattering here really quick.”

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