Jordy Nelson will return kicks and Williams punts when the season begins at Philadelphia on Sunday, head coach Mike McCarthy indicated yesterday. Of course, there's a risk. "The Packers are likely to have undrafted free-agent Sam Shields, who played one season of cornerback in college, at nickel against the Eagles," writes Greg Bedard of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "Any injury to Williams would further test the Packers at one of their thinnest positions, where they hope for the return of Al Harris." But Williams also has been very effective as a punt returner with a career punt return average over 13 yards.
Monday was the first practice in which punter Tim Masthay had the job all to himself. And as Bill Huber of Packer Report points out, Masthay has his work cut out for him. "Masthay will face perhaps his biggest test of the season this weekend," writes Huber. "The Eagles’ DeSean Jackson averaged 15.2 yards per punt return with two touchdowns last season. He also returned a punt for a touchdown as a rookie in 2008." He and the special teams as a whole will be tested. Shawn Slocum will be under the microscope.
The dirt on new practice squad addition James Johnson was found by Kareem Copeland of the Green Bay Press-Gazette. "Johnson played four games for the Bengals in 2008 and rushed nine times for 29 yards," writes Copeland. "He spent 2009 on the practice squad before signing with Minnesota during the offseason. The Vikings released him before training camp began, but the Bengals brought him back for training camp." Johnson is the only player with the team not to go through training camp with the Packers.
Cheesehead TV has the rest of the practice squad.
Linebackers Clay Matthews and Brad Jones returned to full-time participation at practice on Monday. "Before returning to practice Monday, it had been 29 days since Clay Matthews stood at his left outside linebacker position for the Green Bay Packers," writes Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The same nearly goes for Jones on the right side. I wonder why the Packers didn't give them any practice time at those positions during the OTAs and minicamp this past offseason if they had any inkling they might be moving them around.
Things aren't looking good for cornerback Brandon Underwood and his availability for the regular season opener. "Underwood (shoulder) was the only player who did not take part in Monday’s practice, and while undrafted rookie Sam Shields is in line to be the No. 3 cornerback in the nickel and either Jarrett Bush or Pat Lee will be the No. 4 cornerback in the dime, Underwood figures to be the odd man out at least for this week," writes Jason Wilde of ESPNWisconsin. Despite Underwood's struggles in the preseason, I would still feel more comfortably with him ahead of both Bush and Lee in the secondary.
Jason Spitz acknowledged he's behind in his preparation for the 2010 season after being the subject of trade talks the past month or so. “I missed that second week of camp there, and I think that was a critical week. We obviously had that funny schedule (after that) and obviously had a couple non-padded practices between the games – and there’s another week gone without hitting,” Spitz is quoted as saying by Wilde. “I’m still in that training-camp mode. I’m needed to play multiple positions, so to get back to playing and get my pad level down and getting my pop back.” Spitz will likely be the top backup at center, but whether he's a top backup at either left or right guard remains to be seen.
The Packers led all teams with five players claimed on waivers reports Greg Bedard of the Journal Sentinel. Since that time, punter Chris Bryan was claimed by the Buccaneers pushing that number to six. "There's no doubt having five players claimed shows how talented the Packers' roster was/is," writes Bedard. The question is, did the Packers release too many players that could have contributed this season?
Running back Quinn Porter has been released by the Packers, which came as a surprise. "At least at this point, Porter will not be developed by the Packers," writes Bedard. "Porter did receive an injury settlement according to Saturday's transactions. So he could return sometime down the road." If I'm correct, Porter and any other player that has been waived injured, is eligible to be signed again after six weeks. Will Blackmon would also fall under that category.
The similarity of the career paths of Aaron Rodgers and Kevin Kolb are compared by Chris Lempesis of Ol' Bag of Donuts. "The Philadelphia Eagles decided they had more than enough in place to copy what Green Bay did two years ago," writes Lempesis. "As a result, they replaced aging quarterback Donovan McNabb with Kevin Kolb in an experiment that officially begins Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field against the Packers."
Johnny Jolly is one of 14 NFL players suspended for the start of the season as noted by the Associated Press.
Railbird endorsed video: Get ready for two fences across from Lambeau Field this year...
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