Packers Practice Notes & Updates

Letroy Guion

The Green Bay Packers practiced again on Monday in preparation for their last preseason game against the Kansas City Chiefs this week Thursday.  They also began to implement some of the changes that will need to take effect from the fallout of a few major injuries from last week’s preseason game against the Oakland Raiders.

Nose tackle B.J. Raji suffered a torn bicep and will reportedly have season-ending surgery soon.  Center J.C. Tretter suffered a significant knee injury, according to head coach Mike McCarthy, and will miss multiple weeks.

On Sunday, it was also reported that Tretter’s injury did not reveal any ligament damage and will not require surgery.  That moves his timetable for return from 6 -10 weeks closer to 4 – 6 weeks.  It also means the Packers don’t have to deal with whether to use the injured reserve – designated to return option on Tretter and can instead save it for another emergency injury that may occur.

Let’s be honest, it’s not a matter of “if” another injury will force a major role player to miss time, it’s “when”.  We have been through this too many times and too many seasons in a row to think that anything will be significantly different in 2014.  Yes, injuries are hard to predict and many are not preventable.  Yes, the Packers have implemented some new practice routines and dietary elements to help reduce injuries.  But it’s still football and we’re talking about the Packers so we almost have to assume that there is more to come, right?

It’s all about depth in today’s NFL with as many injuries as are occurring around the league.  No team has a perfect solution at each position and to replace their starter, but some teams are better prepared than others.  Are they Packers one of those teams this season?

That is still yet to be determined but one thing I can say is that we shouldn’t expect the Packers to panic and start scouring the waiver wire or calling up old friends.  They have enough guys that are currently in camp to make up a solid roster of their own.  Adding anyone in, even a veteran of the system like a Ryan Pickett or Johnny Jolly, would mean having to get a new guy integrated and up to speed.  The Packers don’t have that luxury this late in the game, as we saw with the quarterback situation last year.  In the case of Pickett and Jolly, they’re now obsolete and don’t fit with the quicker and more athletic front that the Packers seem to want to employ.  In a pinch, sure, they could be serviceable options, but that would be a last-ditch effort.

Today began Josh Boyd’s quest to take over at nose tackle and Corey Linsley’s stint as the starting center.

Boyd was with the Packers last season and spent time playing with the defense so he comes in with some experience and knowledge of the system.  He’s not Raji, but Boyd deserves a chance to prove his worth in the middle of the line.

Linsley is a rookie so he has no NFL experience minus the snaps he has taken during the first three preseason games.  He’ll be thrown into the fire now with Tretter out at least the first month of the regular season.  Linsley is saying all of the right things so far, that he’s not anxious about having to assume the starting role because he is preparing well and knows how to play center.  If nothing else, the Packers have to like a guy who exudes confidence and who doesn’t seem phased by the task in front of him.  Linsley was a team captain at Ohio State so there wouldn’t seem to be a lack of confidence.

It’s not so much the confidence factor that has many wondering how the Linsley experiment at center will go.  It’s getting his first NFL start on opening night, on the road, in Seattle where it’s extremely loud, with a quarterback that he has spent virtually no time with in practice and during preseason games.  Silent counts, line calls and the bright lights of a nationally televised game can easily jar even a well-established veteran in those circumstances.

If the Packers want to beat the Seahawks, they will have to play virtually mistake-free.  If they manage to get that type of play from Linsley, who will be handling the ball on every offensive snap, it would be all that the team can hope for against the toughest (at least on paper) opponent on their schedule.

Camp Notes

Some highlights during Monday’s practice:

- Defensive tackle Letroy Guion practiced for the first time since training camp began.  By participating today, Guion became ineligible to be placed on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list, and probably a good thing.  Guion immediately made an impact in individual drills and appeared to be fresh, according to Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.  If the Packers decide to keep Guion, they will likely have a slightly overloaded defensive line group, which is never a bad thing with as many sub packages as they run.

- Quarterback Matt Flynn took all reps with the first team, an indication that Rodgers likely won’t suit up against the Chiefs on Thursday.  Flynn has shown well in practice, but still hasn’t taken a complete hold on the backup quarterback spot.  Barring any major changes, however, Flynn should enter the season as the primary backup to Rodgers.

- DuJuan Harris continued to take the first team reps with the kick return unit, all but solidifying his spot on the roster.  Harris has run well at running back and if the Packers like the possibilities he offers as a returner, he’s a lock for the 53-man roster.

- Jeff Janis also took some reps at kick return and dropped one opportunity deep in the end zone.  The Packers continue to try and work Janis into their special teams units, a sign that they see him as a strong candidate to be on the final roster.  At this point, Janis appears to be the fifth or sixth wide receiver, depending on how many the team keeps.  Myles White or Kevin Dorsey would likely be the fifth or sixth receiver, if six are kept.  White struggled with a few drops during Monday’s session, something that has also been an issue for Dorsey throughout camp.

- Tight end Jake Stoneburner had a strong showing in Monday’s practice with some nice catches on long patterns and a big block on linebacker Adrian Hubbard.  If the Packers opt to keep five tight ends, Stoneburner likely gets the nod over rookie Justin Perillo.

-  Rookie wide receiver Davante Adams had a few touchdown grabs on Monday, one being a nice grab of a low ball in the back of the end zone.  Adams seems to be quietly improving each week, as he grasps more and more of the offense.  With Jarett Boykin having had an up-and-down camp so far, Adams may be called on to contribute sooner than later this season.

- Mike Neal continued to line up at defensive end, despite having dropped some weight.  His role this season is one to watch as it develops.  That he’s healthy and able to contribute should start to erase any doubt left after early-career injury issues plagued his first two seasons.

- Forgotten linebacker Nate Palmer had a big hit in practice and has been seen projected on several roster predictions thus far.  Can he overtake Nick Perry and get more second-team reps this season?

- With inside linebacker Brad Jones nursing a quad injury, Jamari Lattimore took his place with the first team in the base 3-4.  McCarthy didn’t seem to indicate that Jones’ injury would be long term.

The Packers will not practice on Tuesday and will do their usual walkthrough on Wednesday with the game being on Thursday.  They open their regular season schedule on Thursday, September 4th.  Including today, that is just 11 short days away.

 

 

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Jason Perone is an independent sports blogger writing about the Packers on AllGreenBayPackers.com

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  • Jeff

    I hope Lattimore replaces Hawk actually!!! Hawk is and always will be the weak link in the middle! Jones has played okay but Barrington may be the man for his job. I think they should cut Hawk and Jones and let Lattimore/Barrington take over for now and train Bradford and Thomas for the future MLB and ILB jobs down the road.

    • aaronqb

      Get real. Put two unknown commodities in the middle of the defense for a Super Bowl contending team and two backups who have never played in the NFL??

      • william dickson

        ty aaron

      • Jeff

        Yup its time to move on! It’s a young mans game and Hawk is old news time for him to go plain and simple!

      • cow

        He’s not talking about putting 2 unknows into the middle of a Super Bowl contending team’s defense… he’s talking about putting them into the middle of the PACKERS’ defense.

    • The Marathon Man

      Yeah, great idea to cast aside the team’s leading tackler for the past eight seasons. Hawk is an inside linebacker – he’s not going to get opportunities to make the superhuman plays you all seem to think he needs to be doing to justify his high-1st-round stature. Except when others are injured, Hawk doesn’t play sub packages – that’s just Capers’ system, not a lack of talent on his part. Bradford and Thomas will likely be cut, Lattimore has had his chances, and Barrington needs more time. Leave Hawk alone and let him do his job in the base.

      • Jeff

        Hawk is old and slow its time for him to go plain and simple!!! This is a young mans sport and he is out dated.

      • holmesmmd

        Thomas will not likely be cut. If anything he will be added to the practice squad. The kid has been a pleasant surprise in camp and is a player who can actually run & cover! Hawk & Jones, not so much. It still pisses me off that Shazier didn’t fall to us in the draft. The guy is ripping it up for the Steelers this pre-season. He had 11 tackles and a pick in 1 game!

    • Chad Lundberg

      Brad Jones has graded as the second best linebacker so far this preseason (PFF). Yeah yeah, it’s only preseason, but I’d bet my left arm you would have never guessed he ranked that high.

      Hawk on the other hand… I’m willing to bet this is his last year. Regardless of who we have to replace him, he’s on the wrong side of thirty. It really won’t be long now.

  • Tim

    I like lattimore and Barrington as well, but wouldn’t anticipate a hasty move from hawk and Jones. There seems to be something the packers brass really likes in hawk. To me he’s just ok, so is Jones – I see a lot more upside in the backups. Maybe a slow turnover this year and next.

    • Archie

      Luckiest thing that could happen to Pack’s defense is for Hawk to sustain a career ending injury ASAP. TT sees him as the second coming of himself.

      • sick of BS

        maybe the best thing would be for you to have both of your hands amputated and your eyes burned out so you would not be on the internet ever again.

        • holmesmmd

          Hahahahaha. That’s friggin hilarious

      • Chad Lundberg

        If they are players like Brandon Meriweather or scumbags like Aaron Hernandez, then you have the right to wish harm on NFL players. Otherwise, you should be ashamed of your despicable self for saying that. I’m not Hawk fan, but wishing an injury on someone just because they don’t play well? You would make a great dictator. I hear they torture their soccer players when they don’t play well.

  • Justin

    I don’t get how everyone can hate on hawk so much yah he’s not great certainly shouldn’t have been a top 5 pick but like marathon man said he’s the teams leading tackler he doesn’t make flashy play but he suits up just about every game losing hawk would definatly not be a good thing

    • Chad Lundberg

      We found Desmond Bishop as a late round gem, and he was infinitely better than Hawk, even if he did miss 3 games a year, plus he was much cheaper. Linebackers better than Hawk aren’t that hard to come by, if only TT would put some emphasis on trying to replace him. Hawk got paid like Patrick Willis, but where are the pro-bowl nods??? There aren’t any!

      • Justin

        I wouldn’t say infinitely better he’s not even on the team anymore I’ll admit he’s not great and a liability in coverage but he took a pay cut a couple years ago so he could stay he’s never injured and again kind of hard to argue with being the teams leading tackler I’m not sayin the answer at mlb but I think it could be a lot worse

      • holmesmmd

        Who cares about Pro Bowls? Most would agree that defensive production, consistency, and championships are what is important

  • Chad Lundberg

    For what it’s worth, Corey Linsley has graded as the third best Center in the preseason so far. Again, for what that’s worth.

    Can’t wait until Tretter returns though. The O-line looked downright dominant with him in the mix.