For the first time this training camp, defensive lineman Mike Neal participated in practice without restrictions, taking part in 11-on-11 drills. "The presence of big No. 96 was noticeable during one of the first team periods of the night, a run-heavy drill in which defensive coordinator Dom Capers used his 'Okie,' or base, personnel," writes Rob Demovsky of the Green Bay Press-Gazette. "There was Neal on the three-man front line with B.J. Raji and Ryan Pickett." I wouldn't be surprised if the Packers continue to limit him, perhaps even holding him out of a preseason game or two as a precautionary measure.
Offensive lineman Mark Tauscher spoke with the media for the first time since being released, noting that a return to the Packers––while not out of the question––doesn't appear likely at this point. "Many fans want to know if there's a chance that Tauscher would return to the Packers when he's healthy, but there was no talk of that in his discussion with (Ted) Thompson," writes Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel of Tauscher's meeting with the general manager. "The Packers are loaded with young linemen, and Thompson needs to find out whether they can play."
In a blog post at JSOnline, Mark Tauscher revealed that he didn't pass his physical. "I failed my physical and before I make that decision I 've got to get healthy and then I’ll make that decision," Tauscher said. "As of right now, I’ll try to rehab and deal with passing the physical." I wonder why that information didn't appear in the Journal Sentinel's other version of the story, presumably the one that appeared in their print edition. Seems to be central to the story.
Free-agents signed by the Packers practiced for the first time on Thursday. "With news that the new collective bargaining agreement between NFL owners and the NFL Players Association was ratified by both sides Thursday, the five players the Packers re-signed in free agency – wide receiver James Jones, fullback John Kuhn, kicker Mason Crosby, tight end/linebacker Spencer Havner and wide receiver Brett Swain – are officially eligible to begin practicing," writes Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com. Add newly signed linebacker K.C. Asiodu to that list as well.
A feature on offensive lineman Marshall Newhouse is written by Lori Nickel of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel about how he visited and volunteered in Haiti this past offseason and how it helped his football as a result. "Newhouse's enlightenment began in May as he built homes for children and orphans," writes Nickel. "He painted houses, chipping in wherever possible. When he returned, the lineman's view of his profession changed. He wasn't nearly as nervous." Thus far, he's one of the pleasant surprises of training camp. Hopefully he keeps it up.
Plenty about the return specialists was published in the past 24 hours. Rob Demovsky asked about the use of running back Alex Green on kick returns, which has come as a bit of surprise given the Packers drafted Randall Cobb in the second round. "(Special teams coordinator Shawn) Slocum likes using running backs on kickoff returns because the fundamentals are similar to what a halfback uses from scrimmage, running through blocking schemes and breaking arm tackles," writes Demovsky. "In the postseason last year, running back James Starks became the primary kickoff returner, although during the regular season Shields got another shot and so did receiver Jordy Nelson, who has a history fumbling problems on returns. The Packers ranked 26th in the NFL in kickoff return average (20.1 yards) and 22nd in punt return average (7.9)."
The guy Alex Green is competing with for a kick return spot, Randall Cobb, interestingly has some school work to wrap up at the University of Kentucky. "Tonight, after his work is done at Ray Nitschke Field, he’ll fire up his computer, connect to the University of Kentucky’s system and take a political science final exam," writes Rob Demovsky in a blog post at PackersNews.com. "That’s right, the rookie not only has been taking a crash course in football, he’s also studying for his American government class." The full-length article appears at PackersNews.com.
More on Randall Cobb's college studies comes from Tyler Dunne at JSOnline.
Another kick return specialist, Shaky Smithson, has a story a lot of Packers fans have not heard about yet. "Smithson got legal custody of his brother, Anthony, in June of 2009," writes Vic Ketchman at Packers.com. "Smith was heading into his junior year at Utah, where he was on his way to becoming a college football star, but instead of separating himself from added responsibility and using the free time to enjoy college life and the fame football had afforded him, Smithson accepted the ultimate responsibility. He accepted responsibility for a young life." It's a heart-warming story, and one most Packers fans will enjoy reading.
Edgar Bennett's new role as wide receivers coach is covered by Pete Dougherty of the Press-Gazette. "(Mike) McCarthy undoubtedly felt good about moving Bennett because of his conscientious and detailed work with running backs the past five years on McCarthy’s staff and the season before that for former coach Mike Sherman," writes Dougherty. "Bennett appeared to take it personally when one of his players fumbled, and his relentless emphasis on ball security produced an exemplary performance last season." Now the challenge is making the receivers just as good at ball security as the running backs.
Tight end Jermichael Finley's lower weight of 240 pounds is okay by tight ends coach Ben McAdoo. “I’m not worried about his weight. In the past, he would show up at a weight, and trim it down by the end of camp, and then about mid-October it would start creeping up. The weight he’s carrying now is all good weight,” McAdoo told Jason Wilde. “He’s a young man, he’s going to get dense, he’s going to get thicker, and it’s all going to be good weight and that’s all I’m concerned about. I’m not worried about it.”
Jermichael Finley's weight is also noted by Pete Dougherty.
Sticking with the topic of weight, two defensive linemen, Howard Green and Ryan Pickett, are in good shape, weight wise. "While defensive end Howard Green – whom the New York Jets cut because of his weight, leading to Green joining the Packers for their Super Bowl XLV run – definitely gained weight during the lockout, he didn’t let himself go to the point of not being ready for the regular season," writes Jason Wilde. "The same goes for fellow defensive end Ryan Pickett."
Defensive coordinator Dom Capers was asked by Bill Huber of Packer Report if this would be his last job. "You never know. They might not want me here in a year or two,” Capers said with a laugh. “Hopefully, we do well enough that the Green Bay Packers want to keep me around.”
Rookie cornerback Davon House has made a good first impression thus far at training camp.
The blitz got the better of quarterback Aaron Rodgers during a drill at last night's practice. Good for the defense, bad for the offense.
Jarrett Bush gets a "thumbs up" from Tom Silverstein at last night's practice.
Fuzzy Thurston's Super Bowl ring was auctioned for more than $50,000.
Tickets to the Chargers game this season come with a catch.
Audio from an interview with Clay Matthews on ESPN Radio appears at ESPN.com.
Mike McCarthy explains why there will be no live tackling at Family Night on Saturday.
The Family Night schedule of events are posted at the Packers official website.
Former Packer Matt Bowen writes a column on the Packers and free agency at the National Football Post.
Mike McCarthy's press conference transcript is up at PackersNews.com.
An article on Derrek Sherrod comes from the Associated Press.
Tape-delayed coverage of Family Night on the NFL Network is detailed at Acme Packing Company.
A quote from Marshall Newhouse appears at WBAY.com.
Video: Family Night plans are shared by WLUK-TV...
Brian Carriveau is the editor of the Maple Street Press Packers Annual. To contact Brian, email [email protected].
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