ESPN Wisconsin Blogs - Jason Wilde
GREEN BAY – Center Evan Dietrich-Smith missed his second straight day of practice with the sprained ankle he suffered on Wednesday, meaning the Green Bay Packers could be forced to shuffle their offensive line Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons.
Dietrich-Smith injured his right knee – the same knee he originally hurt Nov. 10 against Philadelphia – during the Packers’ Thanksgiving Day loss at Detroit. But coach Mike McCarthy said it’s his ankle, which Dietrich-Smith injured in practice Wednesday, that has his status in doubt.
Dietrich-Smith is officially listed as questionable on the injury report.
If Dietrich-Smith cannot go against the Falcons, right guard T.J. Lang would shift to center, just as he did against the Eagles and Lions. But to this point, Lang hasn’t had to start a game there.
With Lang at center, the Packers’ options would be to move right tackle Don Barclay to right guard and bring either Marshall Newhouse or Derek Sherrod off the bench to start at right tackle; put Newhouse at right guard as they did against the Lions when Dietrich-Smith went out; or start undrafted rookie free agent Lane Taylor at right guard. Taylor replaced an ineffective Newhouse in the fourth quarter against the Lions.
Here’s the full, official injury report from Friday:
Dietrich-Smith did not stay in the locker room during the media access period. Coach Mike McCarthy said he would be tested Saturday and that a decision would not be taken up to game time.
“We’re going to test (him) I think tomorrow,” McCarthy said after Friday’s practice. “We’re not very big on testing on game day. You don’t get an accurate read. He’s not ready as of today so we’ll see where he is.”
Asked how he feels about the line without Dietrich-Smith, McCarthy replied, “We’ve been able to practice the last two days. I feel we’re ready to go.”
McCarthy said he liked the team’s attitude throughout the week, despite its five-game winless streak while Rodgers has been sidelined.
“I’m very pleased – and I’m not trying to get too high here – but I’m very, very pleased with this week of preparation,” said McCarthy, whose team hasn’t played since a 40-10 whipping at the hands of the Detroit Lions on Nov. 28. “For as poorly as we played on Thanksgiving Day, this break has been very good for our football team.
“I knew it would be physically but I think it’s definitely been mentally. We’ve definitely been recharged. More importantly, we’ve got to show up and express that on Sunday. That’s what we’re set out to do.”
GREEN BAY – Randall Cobb hasn’t given up hope of playing again this season, but the Green Bay Packers wide receiver said still hasn’t gotten clearance to start running – a less-than-encouraging sign for his hopes of returning to action.
“I thought I was going to be cleared to run two weeks ago, and I still haven’t been,” Cobb said in the Packers’ locker room Friday.
But perhaps Cobb, who fractured his right leg against Baltimore on Oct. 13, will get that go-ahead next Tuesday, when coach Mike McCarthy said he will be tested again.
“I got to see Randall a little bit, some of his workout today,” McCarthy said after practice Friday. “Obviously, he’s not ready this week, and Tuesday will be a big day because that’s kind of the week we’ve always looked at for his availability. So we’ll see how that sorts out on Tuesday.”
That Tuesday is a key day for him came as a surprise to Cobb. Told McCarthy had said Tuesday would be a big day for him, Cobb replied, “Did he? You broke some news to me.”
Cobb was placed on injured reserve on Oct. 15 with the designation for return. Per the NFL’s rules for being designated for return, the first game Cobb could play would be Dec. 15 at Dallas, although that appears unlikely. He said he met with Dr. Pat McKenzie on Friday.
“I feel pretty good, but until I’m able to run and able to test out, I won’t know exactly where I’m at. It’s kind of hard to tell where I’m at without running,” Cobb said. “I talked to the doctor this morning, and after the scan that I had right before Thanksgiving, from what that scan showed, he still wasn’t ready to let me run yet.
“So until he gives the OK, I just continue to do the things I’ve been told I can do.”
Cobb’s return, despite the designation, has never been a sure thing. Last year, running back Cedric Benson suffered a Lisfranc foot injury on Oct. 7 at Indianapolis and was given the IR return designation but never played another snap.
Cobb had caught a team-leading 29 passes this season for 378 yards (second to Jordy Nelson’s 484) and two touchdowns at the time of his injury. it has been seven weeks and five days since the injury.
“When it happened, they said best-case was six to eight weeks,” Cobb said. “Worst case, I wouldn’t play the rest of the season. I’d be ready for next season, obviously, with a full year of recovery, but … that’s just where we’re at.”
Much like quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who’ll miss his sixth straight game Sunday against Atlanta with the broken collarbone he suffered Nov. 4 against Chicago, Cobb has struggled with being a spectator while the Packers’ season has spiraled downward.
“I try to stay positive. In the end, this injury that occurred is best-case scenario to what I thought it could have been. So that’s just how I look at it,” Cobb said. “I try to keep that in the back of my head as I go day to day and try to stay as positive as I can. But it’s been tough. It’s frustrating, not being able to be on the field, not being able to be of any help whatsoever. It’s hard for me.”
GREEN BAY – Aaron Rodgers is officially out for Sunday’s game against the Atlanta Falcons.
The Green Bay Packers quarterback will miss his fifth straight start after practicing on a limited basis all three days this week. The Packers are 0-4-1 since Rodgers fractured his left collarbone on the opening offensive series of the team’s Nov. 4 loss to the Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field.
“Aaron Rodgers is not ready to go,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said after Friday’s practice, when backup Matt Flynn again took the starter’s reps. “He’s out for the game.”
Asked how Rodgers, who did not speak to reporters Friday, is handling being sidelined, McCarthy replied, “Aaron’s frustrated. But we’re in meetings all day together. There’s a conversation each and every day. He’s like every other player that’s fighting to get back on the field. He has a rehab program, and how he feels going through it is obviously expressed every day. He’s frustrated.”
McCarthy essentially ruled Rodgers out on Wednesday when he said the quarterback would not have his collarbone scanned again during the week. It has been made clear by both Rodgers and McCarthy that he cannot play until he is medically cleared to do so.
The one positive for Flynn was that the coaches made sure he got as many snaps as possible with the No. 1 offense. In advance of the team’s Thanksgiving Day loss to Detroit, the Packers basically held glorified jog-through practices, which weren’t overly helpful to Flynn, who left as a free agent in March 2012 after serving as Rodgers’ primary backup from 2008 through 2011.
“It was good just to be able to call the plays. Now I feel like I’m calling the plays and not really thinking about where guys are lined up or what they’re running,” said Flynn, who took over for Scott Tolzien Nov. 24 against Minnesota and rallied the Packers from a 16-point fourth-quarter deficit to tie the Vikings, 26-26. “I feel more fluid with everybody, and I feel like we were able to get a little chemistry going.”
GREEN BAY – If only that really had been a Detroit Lions player that cornerback Tramon Williams swatted away late in the Green Bay Packers’ Thanksgiving Day loss.
Instead, it was back judge Dino Paganelli, and Williams’ contact with the official resulted in the NFL fining him $26,250.
Williams said he intends to appeal.
"(I) didn't mean any harm by it at all," Williams said after practice Thursday, when he confirmed to a group of reporters that he’d indeed been notified of the fine. "(I) wouldn't do that if I knew who it was. Hopefully they give me some money back."
Unlike Minnesota Vikings cornerback Chris Cook, who also made contact with an official during Sunday’s game against the Chicago Bears and was ejected for doing so, Williams was not kicked out of the game. But he and Cook did get similar fines.
“I mean, c'mon man, the referee's on the field just like us. I didn't think Chris Cook's was actually that bad for him to get thrown out,” Williams said.
The incident happened in the fourth quarter of the Packers’ 40-10 loss, following a 1-yard touchdown run by Lions running back Joique Bell. On Thursday, Williams said Lions center Dominic Raiola – an acclaimed instigator who infamously got into it with the University of Wisconsin band during their performance at the Oct. 6 Packers-Lions game at Lambeau Field – pushed him at the end of the play. Williams was on his way to confront Raiola when Paganelli stepped in. Williams then swatted his hands away and the flag was thrown.
"I don't think I initiated the contact, but I did finish the contact, I guess," Williams said. “I mean, there's a lot of emotion going on at that point in time. Really, you’re not paying attention to what you're doing, not even paying attention to who it was at that point in time. And I just saw a guy walk out in front of me, maybe trying to make contact with me, and (I) just kind of knock his arm out my way because he put it out at me.”
GREEN BAY – Aaron Rodgers took another step toward returning to game action Thursday. It’s too bad the Green Bay Packers quarterback’s teammates took a step backward in the injury department.
While Rodgers donned pads for the first time since he fractured his left collarbone against Chicago on Nov. 4, center Evan Dietrich-Smith was unable to practice after rolling his ankle Wednesday, left tackle David Bakhtiari missed practice with an illness and veteran defensive tackle Ryan Pickett was added to the injury report with a knee injury after not practicing.
Here’s the full, official injury report from Thursday:
After saying Wednesday that Rodgers would not undergo any bone scans before Sunday’s game – thereby making it seemingly impossible to gain the medical clearance he needs to play – McCarthy was asked again Thursday if Rodgers would undergo any more scans.
“I’m not going to sit here and get into specifics of Aaron’s injury, just like I’ve stood up here for eight years. Aaron Rodgers has not been cleared by the medical staff. If Aaron would like to share the details of his injury and the steps of his protocol, that’s the player’s option,” McCarthy replied. “Until he’s been cleared by the medical staff he will not be able to play. We’re making progress. He feels better, he’s doing more in the weight room, he’s a step closer. But how far away, time will answer that question.”
Rodgers experienced significant pain the last time he tried to put on shoulder pads – the night of Nov. 4, when he broke his collarbone against the Bears, took off his pads to be examined and then put them back on in hopes of returning to the game.
“Aaron did a little more today in the individual work, was able to wear shoulder pads and things like that,” McCarthy said. “I thought he made a little bit of progress today.”
Meanwhile, McCarthy isn’t sure whether Dietrich-Smith, who began the week nursing a knee injury suffered on Thanksgiving, will make it back for the game Sunday after sustaining the ankle injury in practice Wednesday.
“I’m hopeful he can do something (Friday). But getting injured on Wednesday is never a good thing,” McCarthy said. “I guess it’s better than getting injured on Thursday. We’ll just take it day to day.”
GREEN BAY – Evan Dietrich-Smith limped over to the trash can, threw his ankle tape in the receptacle and limped back to his locker.
“(Expletive) happens,” the Green Bay Packers center said.
Indeed it has to Dietrich-Smith, who injured his knee against Philadelphia on Nov. 10, reinjured it last Thursday during the Packers’ Thanksgiving Day loss to the Detroit Lions and then topped it off by rolling his ankle in practice Wednesday.
As a result of the ankle injury, Dietrich-Smith wasn’t able to finish practice. He didn’t sound like he expected to miss Sunday’s game against Atlanta, however.
“I stepped on someone’s foot,” Dietrich-Smith said. “It’s fun, huh? I love this sport. Good thing we get paid money. I remember when I used to play this for free.”
Here’s the full, official injury report from Wednesday:
Other than Dietrich-Smith – and of course Rodgers, who is expected to miss his fifth straight game Sunday – the players on the Packers’ active 53-man roster appear to be in reasonably good health. Neal has been bothered by a pulled abdominal muscle for weeks but has played through it; Wilson is the only player who seems doubtful for Sunday.
“I think it’s clearly physical,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy replied when asked how his team might improve after the quasi-bye week. “Obviously mentally we have to get ready to play. No one feels good about where we are, but we still have great opportunities in front of us. Based on today’s energy on the field, we definitely benefitted from this break.”
GREEN BAY – Charles Woodson knows a thing or two about breaking your collarbone. He did it twice, including in Super Bowl XLV.
The Oakland Raiders safety also knows a little bit about his friend and ex-teammate Aaron Rodgers’ personality, and how much the quarterback would hate being shut down for the remainder of the season because of his own fractured collarbone.
Nevertheless, if the Green Bay Packers are out of contention, Woodson suggested in an interview on NFL Network Wednesday night that Rodgers not return if the Packers lose Sunday to the Atlanta Falcons and are essentially eliminated from playoff contention.
“With having a guy that you’re going to pay over $100 million, [if] you’re out of the playoffs, I would shut him down,” Woodson said. “I know Aaron and if he’s healthy, it depends on what his scans are telling him, (but) I know he’s kicking and scratching trying to get back in the game. But having your franchise guy go out there and there is no chance at making the playoffs and you’re not really sure what’s going on with that shoulder (is a mistake).”
Last year, Woodson broke his collarbone a second time and missed nine games before finally returning for the playoffs.
“(If) you don’t have the confidence or the doctors’ don’t have that confidence in that shoulder that you can go out there and the same thing is not going to happen again, I think you shut him down,” Woodson said. “I went through the same thing last year and I wanted to come back Week 12, 13, 14. But the scans never gave us that confidence, so I didn’t come back until the playoffs. So if they don’t have the confidence in those scans, you shut him down.”
GREEN BAY – Kahlil Bell was happy to lose Twitter followers to gain a job.
The Green Bay Packers’ newest running back, having worked out for the team Monday and officially signed Tuesday, broke the news himself on his Twitter account (@KahlilBell32) Monday evening that he was joining the Packers. That news did not go over well for some of the folks who were following Bell, who played 24 games for the Chicago Bears from 2009 through 2012,
“I lost like 500 followers,” Bell said after his first practice with his new team Wednesday. “Honestly, it’s the NFC North. I’m very familiar with the teams in this division and it’s icing on the cake that we get a chance to play Chicago (in the Dec. 29 regular-season finale). I’m just happy and I’m grateful and I’m humbled to be here.”
Bell, who entered the league with Minnesota as an undrafted free agent from UCLA, replaces another ex-UCLA running back, Johnathan Franklin, in the Packers’ backfield. Franklin was placed on injured reserve last week after suffering a concussion and a neck injury against the Vikings on Nov. 24.
Bell was with the New York Jets in the preseason but had been out of football until the Packers called. He joins starter Eddie Lacy, backup James Starks and fullback John Kuhn on the depth chart and could also chip in on special teams.
“I just got here so I’m just trying to learn the offense, trying to learn the special-teams roles and find my place,” Bell said. “I don’t know what they’re going to ask of me just yet but whatever they do I’m going to do to the best of my ability.
“I did multiple special teams today. I don’t know all the schemes and things yet. I’m just trying to figure out what they want me to do. Once I know my role, I can embrace it a little bit better.”
Asked if he’d be open to returning kickoffs, Bell replied, “I’d be open to mowing the lawn if they wanted me to do that. I’ve been out of football for 11 weeks now. Whatever they want me to do, I’m going to do. I’m not going to complain, I’m not going to mope about it. I want to be here and I want to help this team in any way I can.”
Bell said he workouts with Dallas, Cleveland and Carolina this year but didn’t get an offer until the Packers’.
GREEN BAY – Tim Connolly, the Green Bay Packers’ vice president of sales and marketing for the past four seasons, will resign on Feb. 1, the team announced Wednesday.
Connolly, a somewhat polarizing figure who rubbed some inside and outside the organization the wrong way according to a lengthy Green Bay Press-Gazette story last year, is forming a sports industry consulting practice, Packers president/CEO Mark Murphy said in a statement.
Connolly, who will be returning to his home in Florida, will consult periodically with the Packers on various programs. His outside future projects will include work with both pro and college teams.
“The Packers are appreciative of Tim’s many contributions,” Murphy said in the statement. “He’s done an excellent job growing our local revenue, establishing record growth for four consecutive years. He also helped move the organization forward in many ways, including the establishment of the Packers Media Group and the completion of the south end zone.
“We wish the best for Tim, including his future consulting practice, as well as the opportunity to spend more time with his family.”
Connolly joined the Packers in May 2010 and oversaw the organization’s overall marketing efforts and revenue-generating operations, including marketing and sponsorships, retail operations, ticketing, food and beverage operations, premium seating sales and service, Packers Hall of Fame and stadium tours, the Packers Media Group, and stadium services.
“I’m incredibly thankful for the experience of working for one of professional sports’ best organizations,” Connolly said in the statement. “Mark Murphy, the executive committee, board of directors and entire staff all have contributed toward a shared vision of success on and off the field. I’m proud to have been a part of such an excellent organization, and my wife and I have loved the experience of living in such a unique football community that is Green Bay, as well as the great, lifelong friends we’ve made.
“We’ve accomplished a lot and our teams are positioned well to serve our world-class football fans. I look forward to contributing in a new way, but also am excited about the next chapter in my life, which includes some exciting new projects. I also look forward to spending more time with my family, including my children and grandchildren.”
GREEN BAY – The Green Bay Packers have ruled out quarterback Aaron Rodgers, without officially ruling him out.
At least, that’s what logic would tell you based on what was said Wednesday, as the team returned to practice in advance of Sunday’s game against the Atlanta Falcons at Lambeau Field.
Rodgers, who broke his collarbone Nov. 4 against Chicago, underwent an x-ray and CT scan on Tuesday. Both he and coach Mike McCarthy then said after those tests that Rodgers had not been medically cleared to play Sunday, but that he would practice on Wednesday on a limited basis – which he did – and would not be officially ruled out.
Then came Wednesday afternoon, when McCarthy was asked if Rodgers would be scanned again later this week.
“No,” McCarthy replied. “We’re not going to continue doing that.”
So if Rodgers hasn’t been medically cleared, and the Packers aren’t going to put him through another CT scan, then how exactly is he going to gain medical clearance to play against the Falcons?
The short answer: He’s not.
Thus, even though Falcons coach Mike Smith said in a conference call with Wisconsin reporters Wednesday that he’s preparing his team to face Rodgers, it’ll be Matt Flynn under center come game day.
"We’re anticipating that he’s going to play this week. I know that there was information that came out (Tuesday) that said that he wasn’t cleared, but he’s not been ruled out. We’re taking that that he’s playing," Smith said. "That’s what our preparation has got to be. He can distribute the ball, he makes everyone around him so much better. He understands Mike’s offense, he gets them into the best play.
"It’s fun to watch him as a coach stand over the ball and look and try to dissect what you’re trying to defensively. Once that ball’s snapped, he’s got the ability to extend plays. He’s got such a quick release. He will be a big challenge for us on Sunday.”
The Packers just aren’t quite ready to tell Smith that it'll be Flynn, although McCarthy came close at the end of his press briefing.
“Really until Aaron Rodgers is cleared medically, we have to be practical about it,” McCarthy said in the final answer of the news conference. “But he wants the opportunity to try to grow as far as each and every day. That’s what we’ll try to do. We’ll try to do a little more each day and we’ll see what happens.”
Asked at his locker what the chances are that he’d be medically cleared this week, Rodgers was evasive, saying, “I don’t want to put any chances on it. I think it’s a collaborative thing where we have to make sure we’re all on the same page and get cleared medically before I can get on the field.”
According to Rodgers, there are three components to him being cleared to play – and the scan didn’t show what he’d hoped it would.
“There were three parts to it: The strength, the range of motion and the evidence that we see on the scan,” Rodgers said. “Two out of three are passed so far."
Asked if he could be a game-time decision, Rodgers said no.
“I don’t think that’s fair to Matt if we do that,” Rodgers said. “I think by Friday or Saturday at the latest there will be a decision.”
Rodgers did participate in all the individual drills during Wednesday’s practice, while Flynn took the starter’s snaps in 11-on-11 and 7-on-7 drills. Rodgers, for instance, took quarterback-center exchanges from JC Tretter and Garth Gerhart in the portion of practice open to the media, while Flynn took them from starting center Evan Dietrich-Smith.
The Packers are 0-4-1 since Rodgers broke his collarbone at the end of the team’s first offensive series against the Bears. That drive ended in a field goal that gave the Packers a 3-0 lead.
“It’s tough not to be out there with the guys. I think that’s where the frustration lies,” Rodgers said. “It’s tough to not see us winning football games, but, you know, I need to take some of my own advice: Worry about the things you can control. I can’t control the healing of my bone. That’s frustrating. But I’ve been preparing as if I was going to play every week and trying to help Matt and Scott (Tolzien) out as much as I possibly can. But it’s been tough to not see us winning football games.”
There are no games scheduled for today.
There are no games scheduled for today.