14

October

Packers News: Injury updates on Perry, Jones and Cobb

Packers receiver Randall Cobb will miss "multiple weeks," according to head coach Mike McCarthy. He offered no further details.

Packers receiver Randall Cobb will miss “multiple weeks,” according to head coach Mike McCarthy. He offered no further details.

The Packers left Baltimore with a 19-17 win over the defending Super Bowl champion Ravens, but they lost several core players to injury.

Coming into the game, the team was already shorthanded, as they were without outside linebacker Clay Matthews, who suffered a broken hand last week against the Detroit Lions.

Perry, filling in for the injured Matthews, reportedly suffered a broken foot on his sack of Joe Flacco at the end of the first half. Perry missed the final ten regular season games last season, but prior to his injury, the former first-round pick was coming into his own, as his sack of Flacco was his third in the past two games.

Head coach Mike McCarthy said at Monday’s press conference that Perry would not have a chance to play this week. He wouldn’t go into detail about any of the team’s new injuries.

The injury was first reported by WDUZ’s Chris Havel, via WDUZ’s official Twitter page.

James Jones exited Sunday’s game with a knee injury, but Adam Schefter reported Monday that the injury was merely a sprained PCL. Immediately after leaving the game, Jones returned to the sideline for the second half sporting a full leg brace.

McCarthy confirmed that Jones’ injury was the least severe of the three, saying the wide receiver did, in fact, have a chance to play this week against the Cleveland Browns.

Randall Cobb’s injury, however, sounds like it’s a bit more serious than that of Jones. After being hit low by Ravens safety Matt Elam, Cobb remained on the ground for an extended period of time before being carted into the locker room. McCarthy said Cobb would miss “multiple weeks” with his knee injury but, again, did not go into specifics.

25

September

No reason to panic despite Packers’ 1-2 start

With Aaron Rodgers under center and Randall Cobb in the lineup, the Packers will be just fine, offensively.

With Aaron Rodgers under center and Randall Cobb in the lineup, the Packers will be just fine, offensively.

Through three weeks, the Green Bay Packers sit at 1-2 entering their much-needed bye week.

Coming into the season, the Week 4 bye may have been seen as a disadvantage, but now, the timing could not have worked out better.

After giving up a 16-point lead and losing in dramatic fashion at Cincinnati, the Packers were left in a cloud of dust, wondering what had happened. The loss gives the Packers a much different feeling during their week off than they would have had they held onto their lead.

But coming out of the bye, the Packers figure to be in their best shape of the young 2013 season. And it’s not time for Packers fans to jump off the cliff just yet.

Perhaps the Packers’ biggest individual boost will be from safety Morgan Burnett. Likely the team’s most irreplaceable part of the secondary, Burnett (even without his dreads) is arguably the Packers’ second-most valuable defensive player behind Clay Matthews.

While the team is deep enough at cornerback to recover from losing a player–such as Casey Hayward–the depth at safety is not as strong.

Against the Bengals, Jerron McMillian and M.D. Jennings played pretty well overall. But against top-tier quarterbacks, a Burnett-less back end could spell a field day for the Peyton Mannings and Tom Bradys of the world.

Some are quick to point out that Burnett is not Nick Collins; Burnett may not be the savior for Green Bay’s defense, but there’s a reason why the Packers gave him a healthy long-term contract extension.

Whether it’s in Week 5 against Detroit or shortly after, the secondary will get an added boost from Hayward, who led the team with six interceptions as a rookie last season.

Hayward has been nursing a hamstring injury since training camp. Tramon Williams and Sam Shields have fared well through three games and adding Hayward to the slot–along with Burnett returning at safety–would give the Packers their best possible secondary.

Offensively, the Packers are fine.

That may sound overly optimistic following a disappointing performance in Cincinnati in which Aaron Rodgers threw a pair of interceptions. But there’s no panic going on at 1265 Lombardi; Rodgers remains one of the best in the business, and as long as No. 12 is under center, the Packers are going to be among the league’s top offenses.

16

September

Packers 38, Redskins 20: Game Balls and Lame Calls

Randall Cobb helped Aaron Rodgers tie Matt Flynn's franchise record of 480 passing yards.

Randall Cobb helped Aaron Rodgers tie Matt Flynn’s franchise record of 480 passing yards.

After suffering a close loss to the San Francisco 49ers on opening day, the Green Bay Packers bounced back with a dominant performance against the Washington Redskins in Week 2.

Aaron Rodgers tied a franchise record with 480 passing yards, and James Starks went over 100 rushing yards filling in for a concussed Eddie Lacy. Prior to Sunday, the Packers had never had a 400-yard passer and a 100-yard rusher in the same game.

In front of a new Lambeau Field attendance record of 78,020, the game began under sloppy conditions. Lacy suffered a concussion on his first carry of the game when Redskins forcefully led with the crown of his helmet.

But the guy who many considered to be as good as gone following the draft (Starks) filled in admirably, racking up 168 total yards on 24 touches.

Pushed by Lacy and fellow rookie Johnathan Franklin, Starks had likely his best training camp as a professional. But Starks, an athletic guy, always looks good in practice. For him, it’s just a matter of staying on the field.

It will be interesting to see how Starks’ big day plays into the running back rotation–if there is one.

I’m making it a rule that I can’t give out more than five Game Balls. And before criticizing me for being too nice and handing out the maximum, just remember that the Packers dominated this game. There was far more good than bad–at least from the Packers’ end.

Game Balls

Mike McCarthy

Anytime an offense threatens the 600-yard mark in total offense, the play-caller deserves a lot of credit. Despite losing his lead back early, McCarthy stayed loyal to the ground game, allowing Starks to crack 100 yards.

But McCarthy is what he is; he loves to throw the football. And as long as the Packers have Rodgers at the helm, they’ll throw the football plenty. The offense was phenomenal against Washington, and McCarthy was the man calling the shots.

Aaron Rodgers

In case anyone forgot, Rodgers is still the best quarterback in football. Last week, Rodgers was almost flawless against the best defense in the NFL, and this week, he was about as close to perfect as a mortal can be, especially when targeting James Jones and Randall Cobb.

9

September

49ers 34, Packers 28: Game Balls and Lame Calls

Packers tight end Jermichael Finley was a positive for the Packers, except for one play that landed him on the Lame Calls list.

Packers tight end Jermichael Finley was a positive for the Packers, except for one play that landed him on the Lame Calls list.

For the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers, the 2013 season opener looked a lot like how the 2012 season ended.

In January, 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick racked up 181 yards on the ground, thanks in part to the read-option. The Packers schemed for Kaepernick’s legs this time around, holding him to just 22 rushing yards, but the rocket-armed quarterback did more than enough damage with his arm, throwing for a personal-best 412 yards and three touchdowns against a shorthanded secondary.

“If intimidation is your game plan, I hope you have a better one,” Kaepernick said after the game.

Losing a close Week 1 game against a team that many consider to be the best in the NFL is no reason to panic. But clearly, the Packers and 49ers don’t like each other.

Mike McCarthy was the offensive coordinator in San Francisco before becoming the head man in Green Bay. Aaron Rodgers, a California native, was once bypassed by the 49ers with the No. 1 overall draft pick in favor of Alex Smith. Rodgers has risen to the NFL elite by playing with a chip on his shoulder and proving people wrong.

But as things currently stand, Rodgers is 2-3 against his hometown team with all three of those losses coming in the past 12 months.

I try really hard to avoid my Twitter timeline during Packers games, or any sporting event, for that matter. It seems like people tweet just to tweet, just like if you’re watching with your friends at a bar, there’s always one guy who talks just to talk.

And after losing three consecutive games to to the same team in one year’s span, much of the Packers’ passionate fan base erupted over Twitter far before the game had even come close to reaching its conclusion. It’s certainly not just Packers fans that do this; I’m a Packers fan myself and will never group everyone into the same group by saying, “Packers fans” are this or that.

But there are, in fact, good players on the other 31 teams, as well. The Packers came close to going undefeated in the 2011 season, but that shouldn’t be the expectation. They’re going to lose games, and opposing players are going to make good plays. It’s football.

4

September

Does Ben McAdoo deserve blame for Packers’ backup QB blunder?

Packers quarterbacks coach Ben McAdoo was appointed to his role in 2012, despite having no prior experience at the position.

Packers quarterbacks coach Ben McAdoo was appointed to his role in 2012, despite having no prior experience at the position.

When the Miami Dolphins hired former Packers offensive coordinator Joe Philbin to be their head coach in 2012, Tom Clements was promoted to offensive coordinator, leaving the team’s quarterbacks coach position vacant.

Ben McAdoo, who served under head coach Mike McCarthy in each of his previous two tenures with New Orleans and San Francisco, had experience coaching various offensive positions at the professional level. But prior to changing roles in 2012, McAdoo had no experience, at any level, working directly with the quarterback position.

Shortly after Philbin’s departure, Aaron Rodgers, who has given Clements a great deal of credit for his ascension to the NFL elite, was asked by Jason Wilde about how their relationship would change if Clements were, in fact, no longer his position coach.

“I don’t see our relationship changing a whole lot. I think if he were to get the coordinator job, he’d still want to spend some time with the quarterbacks,” Rodgers said. “I would guess they would look for someone to be the quarterbacks coach. I know when Tom originally got hired, that one of the names that Mike was interested in was Billy Joe Tolliver.”

Tolliver, whose playing career ended in 2001 after being beaten out by Doug Pederson in a competition to be Brett Favre’s backup, has never coached at the NFL level. However, Rodgers’ assumption that the team would look to a former quarterback to fill Clements’ role as the position coach suggests that he’d prefer to have a coach who has played the position.

Clements quarterbacked Notre Dame to a National Championship in 1973, finished fourth in the Heisman Trophy voting in 1974 and played professionally for more than a decade, bouncing between the CFL and NFL. But with a quarterback-savvy head coach in McCarthy, along with an offensive coordinator (Clements) who had served as the team’s quarterbacks coach for seven seasons, the Packers opted to promote McAdoo to quarterbacks coach.

Prior to the move, McAdoo had spent the previous six years in Green Bay as the team’s tight ends coach.

The Packers are no strangers to making curious promotions on their coaching staff; wide receivers coach Edgar Bennett played running back in the NFL for eight seasons, running backs coach Alex Van Pelt played 11 seasons as an NFL quarterback, and tight ends coach Jerry Fontenot also coached tight ends in Green Bay despite a 16-year playing career at center.

22

August

Eddie Lacy, Jermichael Finley and the Play-Action pass

Jermichael Finley enjoyed a big day against the Rams, due, in part, to Eddie Lacy.

Jermichael Finley enjoyed a big day against the Rams, due, in part, to Eddie Lacy.

Despite not punching the ball into the endzone, the Packers’ (kinda) first-team offense passed the eye test Saturday night against the St. Louis Rams.

Eddie Lacy continually punished defenders with his smash-mouth, bulldozer-like running style. Jermichael Finley was running free in the Rams’ secondary, four times catching wide-open passes from Aaron Rodgers.

On 18 snaps against the Rams on Saturday, Finley managed to catch four passes for 78 yards. Last season, Finley set a franchise record for receptions by a tight end with 61, but his 78 yards Saturday night would have been his highest single-game total in 2012.

And with Lacy providing the Packers with a newfound physical ground game, totaling Finley’s job may be a little easier in 2013.

The former Alabama running back racked up 40 yards on eight carries despite subpar offensive line play, as outlined earlier this week by Jersey Al. And although it was Lacy’s first game appearance in the NFL, it’s pretty clear that the Rams already respected the 22-year-old bruiser.

Let’s take another look at Lacy’s two best runs of the night.

1st Quarter 14:31 remaining

In a two-tight formation, Lacy gets the handoff as the single back. The line is sliding to the right, but center Evan Dietrich-Smith doesn’t quite have the quickness to cross his man’s face.

But instead of being stopped for negative yards, Lacy uses his well-documented spin move to get upfield. It was only a seven-yard gain, but a runner creating something out of nothing hasn’t been a common occurrence in Green Bay as of late.

1st Quarter 13:23 remaining

Again, Evan Dietrich-Smith is beaten off the line, but Lacy’s power bails him out.

After breaking out of the defensive tackle’s tackle, Lacy sheds another arm tackle from rookie linebacker Alec Ogletree. The 15-yard gain was Lacy’s longest of the night. It was at this point that Packers fans were all like, “Wow.”

On two of Finley’s four catches, Rodgers began the play with a fake handoff to Lacy. Let’s take a look at those two plays.

1st Quarter 14:01 remaining

Finley is lined up in the slot, Lacy is the deep back and the Rams are in zone coverage. Finley has a cornerback lined up across from him, but he’s released into the middle of the field upon his break.

7

August

Wednesday 8/7 Packers practice: Must be a game week

Packers defensive end Datone Jones has been dominant in one-on-one drills.

Packers defensive end Datone Jones has been dominant in one-on-one drills.

During the team run period of Wednesday morning’s practice at Ray Nitschke Field, a handful of scuffles broke out between the offense and defense.

Johnny Jolly was involved in at least a couple scrums, Kevin Greene and Josh Sitton were yapping at one another and Jermichael Finley was throwing haymakers at Jarvis Reed. Needless to say, it was pretty obvious that the Packers were preparing for their first (preseason) game of the 2013 season.

Players are ready to strap on their helmets and, you know, hit somebody.

Datone Jones impressive in drills:

If there was one player that caught my eye on Wednesday morning’s practice, it was rookie defensive end Datone Jones. During a one-on-one period between the defensive and offensive lines, Jones was dominant. And frankly, that’s nothing new.

On Jones’s first rep of the period, he went right through offensive tackle Marshall Newhouse, almost putting the 320-pound tackle on his backside. At 6’4″ 295, Jones is exactly what you want a 3-4 defensive end to look like. But what makes Jones such an intriguing prospect is the fact that he has the skill set of a 4-3 defensive end.

During practice, I was talking to Jacob Westendorf of PackersTalk.com. Jacob suggested that had Jones been drafted by a team that uses a 4-3 scheme, he may be a candidate for Defensive Rookie of the Year. Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt just won the league’s Defensive Player of the Year as a 3-4 defensive end, but that’s obviously a rarity. Expecting Jones to rack up double-digit sacks as a rookie may be unrealistic.

But either way, Jones appears poised to make a serious impact in his first NFL season, one way or another.

Vince Young’s early-camp struggles:

It’s pretty clear that Vince Young is not currently ready for game action. Unless he can pull a Tebow and make plays on game day despite being underwhelming at practice, it’s hard to see Young suiting up against the Arizona Cardinals on Friday.

Getting the snaps as the No. 3 quarterback behind Aaron Rodgers and Graham Harrell, Young made a couple erratic throws in team period. With a wide open D.J. Williams coming across the middle on a deep drag route, Young sailed a ball about eight feet over Williams’ head and into the arms of safety Chaz Powell.