ESPN Wisconsin Blogs - Jason Wilde
GREEN BAY – Andrew Quarless’ offseason had his quarterback and his coaches – as well as the Green Bay Packers veteran tight end himself – talking big. Now, after Quarless’ arrest on a charge of firing a gun in the South Beach area of Miami, he’s being talked about for another reason.
Quarless, who drew significant praise from quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the offensive coaches during the team’s minicamp in June, was arrested early Saturday morning in Miami Beach, Fla., and charged with a misdemeanor of discharging a firearm in public. No one was injured in the incident.
The Miami New Times first reported the arrest.
According to a police report obtained by the New Times, Quarless and another man got into an argument with a group of women near a parking garage. That led Quarless to allegedly pull out his .45-caliber handgun and fire two shots. When police later interviewed a woman in Quarless' car, she said he'd fired "in an attempt to emphasize his dominance and manhood."
Quarless allegedly attempted to hide from police and hid the gun in a potted plant outside a nearby bar. Police arrested Quarless, recovered the gun and matched rounds from the gun to those found near the parking garage.
A Packers spokesman released a statement Saturday, which read: "We are aware of the matter involving Andrew Quarless and are in the process of gathering more information. We will withhold further comment."
Quarless, 26, caught 29 passes for 323 yards and three touchdowns last season – including the game-winning touchdown from Rodgers in the Packers’ victory over the Miami Dolphins in October. He is entering his sixth NFL season and impressed Rodgers with his offseason improvement.
“I think Andrew’s had a great camp,” Rodgers said on June 16. “He really made some jumps last year. Not enough targets for him, but I think if he keeps playing the way that he’s playing right now [that will change]. He’s playing very fast, he’s really been detailing his routes and he’s been one of the top guys that’s showed out in the offseason program.”
The Packers are thin at tight end, where second-year man Richard Rodgers and Quarless are atop the depth chart.
“As I watch film every week, I see what’s out there. I know myself and my potential,” Quarless said on June 18. “I’ve just been working hard and really just keeping that in the back of my mind and staying hungry and just trying to be the best and take this team back to the Super Bowl.”
Earlier in the offseason, Quarless had said that he wanted to be considered on par with the league’s top tight ends. His arrest means he will subject to punishment under the NFL’s personal conduct policy, and it’s unclear how the Packers will respond to the incident. The Packers open training camp July 30.
Before players were dismissed from minicamp last month, coach Mike McCarthy said players were reminded of the perils of being off for five weeks.
“The message wasn’t just delivered out on the field when you finish up. It’s really been delivered throughout the offseason program,” McCarthy said. “We’ve known since schedule came out that players were going to be off for five weeks.”
GREEN BAY – According to City of Green Bay Municipal Court records, Green Bay Packers defensive end Datone Jones was ticketed for marijuana possession on Jan. 19 – the day after the Packers’ loss to the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC Championship Game – and paid an $880 fine a month later.
That would explain why Jones received a one-game suspension from the NFL on Thursday for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy, meaning the third-year defensive end will miss the Packers’ Sept. 13 regular-season opener against the Chicago Bears.
According to the Green Bay Municipal Court website, Jones pleaded guilty to possession of THC and paid his fine on Feb. 10, and the case was then closed. The case is considered a civil ordinance violation, not a misdemeanor or criminal conviction.
There was confusion as to why Jones received just a one-game suspension, given that the NFL substance-abuse policy does not specifically mention what ground there would be for a one-game penalty. As pointed out by Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio Friday, St. Louis Rams running back Isaiah Pead received a one-game suspension two years ago, and it was later learned that he’d been arrested for marijuana possession.
A league source had said Thursday that a one-game suspension would indicate a violation of the policy without a positive test. An NFL spokesman did not return an email Thursday, with the Fourth of July weekend coming.
GREEN BAY – Just a few weeks ago, during minicamp, Datone Jones acknowledged that he needed to show this season just what he’s capable of.
The Green Bay Packers’ third-year defensive end and 2013 first-round draft pick has now made that slightly harder on himself, as the NFL suspended Jones for the Packers’ Sept. 13 regular-season opener at Chicago for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy.
Jones is suspended without pay for that game, and he will be eligible to return to the Packers’ active roster on Monday, Sept. 14. He is eligible to participate in all offseason and preseason practices and games.
Jones’ base salary for 2015 is $1,106,509, meaning a one-game suspension will cost him $65,088.76.
The Packers had no comment on Jones’ suspension. The NFL only announces such suspensions after all the appeals have been exhausted, so Jones' suspension will stand. It's unclear why his suspension is just one game.
Jones finished last season with 30 tackles, 1.5 sacks and one interception, then had a half-sack and four tackles and recovered a fumble in the playoffs.
“I felt like when I was healthy and I was at full-go, I was able to show guys this is what Datone Jones could provide. This is what he could do. This is how effective he could be,” Jones said during minicamp in mid-June. “You’re watching a really good guy in the making, but there’s one point where I’m down, I had to regain everything.
“I’m not really worried about any of that stuff. My biggest thing is putting that behind me now and moving forward in my career to better myself. I’ve been doing so many things to help me out with yoga, pilates. All this different stuff to keep me healthy and keep me bending and keep me flexible. I’m just as strong as I was when I was a rookie or my second year. And I’m ready to go.”
Asked about Jones’ development, defensive line coach Mike Trgovac replied, “When I look at ‘Tone, you look at the end of last year, ‘Tone made two, three, four really big plays for us. I’m really keeping my fingers crossed, because I think the kid, once he starts developing, hopefully he can stay healthy because football means a lot to him.”
GREEN BAY – For all the hard feelings there were after Brett Favre’s ugly divorce from the Green Bay Packers and subsequent two-year stretch with the archrival Minnesota Vikings, the future Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback got a couple of interesting text messages after he beat his former team twice during the 2009 season.
In a lengthy feature by Greg Bishop in this week’s edition of Sports Illustrated, Favre says he received congratulatory text messages from Packers general manager Ted Thompson – the same man who traded him to the New York Jets during the summer of 2008, and whom Favre railed against in an interview with FOX News’ Greta Van Susteren in the wake of Favre’s unretirement.
The story is not yet available online, but can be read in the print edition of the iconic magazine, which hit subscribers’ mailboxes Wednesday.
After both of the Vikings’ victories over the Packers in 2009 – a 30-23 victory at the Metrodome on Oct. 5 and a 38-26 triumph at Lambeau Field on Nov. 1 – Favre said he received text messages from Thompson, congratulating him.
“Great job,” one read. “You played outstanding,” read another.
Favre told Bishop that the texts were “positive, whereas when I left, I felt like [the Packers] did this media bash to make their decision look right and mine look wrong.”
Bishop also writes in the story that Favre and Thompson used to go out for beers together during the early part of Favre’s career in Green Bay at the Fifty Yard Line, a bar across Ridge Rd. from Lambeau Field that has since been razed. Thompson was general manager Ron Wolf’s right-hand man during much of Favre's career in Green Bay.
In fact, in a 2005 interview with the Wisconsin State Journal, Thompson revealed that he played a small role – sort of – in Wolf’s decision to acquire Favre in a trade with the Atlanta Falcons: Wolf had Thompson, who had been working in finance after his playing career had ended, watch film of Favre shortly after hiring him as a scout.
“I had been here about 10 days when (Wolf) came in with three game tapes from the preseason of the Atlanta Falcons, and he said, ‘I want you to look at this quarterback – his jersey number is 4, he'll probably play just in the second half – and tell me what you think,’” Thompson recalled. “I had not been involved in football for several years, so (all) I knew was his name was Brett Favre.
“So I'm flipping through ... and I go back and (Wolf) goes, ‘What do you think?’ And I said, ‘He looks like a guy who's a little bit raw but has a tremendous arm.’ And he goes, ‘I'm going to give up a first-round pick for him. Do you think that's a good idea?’ And I said, ‘Well, do you think it's a pretty good idea?’ And he goes, ‘Yeah. I do.’ And I said, ‘Well, then I do, too.’
“As long as I was here, you could always look over to Ron and say, ‘What do you think?’ He was a nice guy to have as a security blanket. Now, (I) become kind of that security blanket. I think time has helped me a lot. I think I'm more prepared now than I've ever been.”
Favre is set to have his No. 4 retired on July 18, during his induction into the Packers Hall of Fame. His name and number will be unveiled on the Lambeau Field façade at halftime of the team’s Thanksgiving game against the Chicago Bears.
GREEN BAY – Green Bay Packers fans will have 17 opportunities – including the annual Family Night event at Lambeau Field on Aug. 8 – to see their team practice before the regular season begins Sept. 13 at Chicago.
Beginning with an 8:20 a.m. practice on Thursday, July 30, the Packers will hold seven morning practices in the first nine days of training camp – on July 30 and 31, and Aug. 1, 3, 4, 6 and 7. There are no practices set for Aug. 2 or Aug. 5.
After the Family Night event – which will again be a regular practice instead of a scrimmage – on Aug. 8, Packers coach Mike McCarthy will shift to a modified in-season schedule with midday practices for the rest of camp.
The Packers will practice at 12:15 p.m. on Aug. 10, 11:45 a.m. on Aug. 11 and, after the preseason opener at New England on Aug. 13, return to practice with a 12:45 p.m. practice on Aug. 15.
After that, the Packers will have six more open-to-the-public practices amid the preseason games: Aug. 17 (12:15 p.m.); Aug. 19 (12:15 p.m.); Aug. 20 (11:45 a.m.); Aug. 25 912:15 p.m.); Aug. 26 (11:45 a.m.) and Aug. 31 (11:45 a.m.).
The Packers’ four preseason games are at New England on Aug. 13, at Pittsburgh on Aug. 23, home against Philadelphia on Aug. 29 and home against New Orleans on Sept. 3.
Other than the Family Night practice, there are no night practices scheduled for this year’s training camp.
Players report to St. Norbert College on July 29, and McCarthy will hold his annual pre-camp press conference that day as well.
Before that, legendary quarterback Brett Favre will have his No. 4 retired and be inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame on July 18, and the annual Packers shareholders meeting will be held on July 28.
GREEN BAY – No one knows for sure if Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer was thinking of Mike McCarthy and the Green Bay Packers when he said it Thursday, but the Packers head coach agrees with his NFC North colleague on this much: Ping-pong is not a good team-building exercise.
In an interview with Paul Allen on Twin Cities radio station KFAN Thursday, Zimmer said he didn’t have his players do a non-football team-building event the way some other NFL teams – including the Packers – do during minicamp because he felt his guys needed the on-field work more.
“Everybody keeps coming up to me and saying “Hey Coach, do you want to have some team-building? Are we going to have a team building day?”” Zimmer told Allen. “I said “No, we’re going to work.’ I said, ‘We’ve got a lot of work to do. We need to get better. We’re not into the team-building thing.’ In my opinion, you don’t get better by playing ping-pong. You get better by winning. And that’s how we’re going to team-build. We’re going to win.”
In his press conference after practice, Zimmer addressed the topic a second time, saying, "The thing I like about this team, not only do they work, but they have fun out here. We come out here and work. We could have team-building day and we could go play ping-pong, but we need to work and get better. Team-building by winning."
The Packers canceled Wednesday’s practice to shoot sporting clays together as their annual team-building exercise. McCarthy’s predecessor, Mike Sherman, actually started the tradition of canceling one June practice each year to do a non-football team activity, and in recent years McCarthy has had his players go skeet-shooting, bowling, play dodge ball, have a home-run derby and do other activities in past years. After taking the team clay-pigeon shooting a few years ago, then-Detroit Lions coach Jim Schwartz did take a clear shot at McCarthy for doing so.
The Packers have never done ping-pong as an organized team-building event, although a few players, including wide receiver Randall Cobb, did take part in a charity table tennis tournament recently in Milwaukee.
After the second half of Zimmer’s quote was read to him in his post-practice press briefing, McCarthy was asked why he thinks it’s worth giving up a practice for such events and whether it bugs him that perhaps other coaches disagree with him philosophically.
“It doesn’t bug me. That’s your opinion,” McCarthy replied. Then, he smiled and added, “I don’t think a football team would get better at team-building playing ping-pong. I agree with that. I mean, hell, only four guys can play. Football players, maybe only two.
“Hey, everybody goes about building their program and culturally doing things. Our program, we’re in Year 10, so we’ve had a chance to do some things that we feel worked, and we’ve done some things that we wouldn’t do again. I think that’s part of growing your culture and growing your program.”
GREEN BAY – Bart Starr’s goal is a simple one, and one that he’s willing to go to science for help on: Returning to Lambeau Field.
The Green Bay Packers’ legendary quarterback and Pro Football Hall of Famer, who suffered multiple strokes last autumn and has been working to recover since, is participating in a clinical trial involving stem-cell therapy. According to his family, the 81-year-old Starr underwent the first of two stem-cell treatments last week.
In a statement issued through the Packers public-relations department, the family said, “Following Bart’s strokes, our family began to investigate numerous therapy options. Several months ago we applied for and were accepted into a clinical trial using stem cells. Friday we safely returned home from the first of the two treatments.
“While we welcome everyone’s interest and support of Bart’s health, at this time, we’d like to allow him a chance to fully participate in the clinical trial and let the results, if any, to speak for themselves. At an appropriate time in the future, our family looks forward to sharing the details of Bart’s participation in this most important clinical exploration of what role stem cells may play in the treatment of stroke.
“Until then, we continue to thank you for all of your love and prayers. Your support has given us much strength over the past nine months. Bart joins me in sending our love and appreciation to all our special friends and fans. We are working hard toward the one goal he most cherishes: a return to Green Bay for a Packers game.”
Starr had been set to come to Lambeau Field last fall to accompany Brett Favre upon his return to the stadium where he'd played his home games for 16 of his 20 NFL seasons. After Starr fell ill, Favre canceled his visit.
Before departing on the Packers annual Tailgate Tour this spring, Favre’s former teammate, Jerry Kramer, revealed that he’d done some research on his own on stem-cell treatments after reading about hockey legend Gordie Howe’s family turned to stem cells after Howe suffered a stroke in October, 2014. Howe’s family believes the stem-cell therapy made a significant difference for the 86-year-old.
Kramer said he reached out to Starr’s wife, Cherry, and son, Bart Jr., in hopes of helping his old friend.
“I don’t know if you followed Gordie Howe’s story the last couple months, [but] Gordie had a massive stroke and he went to a stem-cell clinic down in Mexico and made a marvelous recovery, just an incredible recovery,” Kramer said in April. “So I sent Bart Jr. and Cherry all the information I could find on that clinic. Bart was having trouble walking. He was having trouble talking.
“I haven’t talked to Cherry for [awhile], but the last time I talked to her, he was home and he had gone outside by himself, and he walked around the patio by himself, and they were getting ready to go for a ride, so that was very encouraging and very hopeful. But he’s having a tough time.”
GREEN BAY – Nick Perry never once admitted last season just how bad his shoulder injury was. Although it was bad enough to land him on the injury report – and for one of his teammates to privately say that Perry was playing “with one arm” – it only kept him out of one game, so the Green Bay Packers’ 2012 first-round pick sucked it up and kept playing.
Why? Having had his first two NFL seasons derailed by injuries – a wrist injury as a rookie and a broken foot in 2013 – Perry wasn’t about to give his critics any more ammunition. So he never admitted publicly how it was limiting him, and he ended up playing in a career-high 17 games (including playoffs), finishing with 4.5 sacks – including 1.5 in the playoffs – while playing 429 total snaps on defense.
On Tuesday, after sitting out the first of two minicamp practices, just as he’d sat out every organized team activity practice, Perry still wouldn’t say just how serious the shoulder injury was, but he acknowledged that he underwent surgery on it after the season ended. It's unclear whether he'll be ready when training camp begins July 30.
“Without a question, [the surgery] was something that had to be done,” Perry said. “We're good now. We're on the right track. So we're looking good."
Packers coach Mike McCarthy defended Perry at the start of offseason practices, saying that those who think Perry is an injury-prone disappointment don’t know the real story.
“I’ll say this: The way people are represented sometimes away from work as opposed to inside the workplace is sometimes different, and I think that’s clearly the case [with Perry],” McCarthy said. “I’m not totally aware of what the outside world thinks, but Nick Perry is a tough, physical football player. Just ask his teammates.
“What he played through this past year, it was significant. I think it says a lot about him. He’s had some tough moments in the first two years of his career, but the guys that practice against him, the guys that he plays with and the guys in the locker room every day, they have a lot of respect for him. And clearly I do.”
Nonetheless, the Packers opted not to pick up the fifth-year option on his contract, meaning Perry will be an unrestricted free agent at season’s end. With Clay Matthews continuing to split his time between inside and outside linebacker, Perry figures to be in line for more playing time as part of the outside linebacker rotation with Matthews, Julius Peppers and Mike Neal again this season. And if he stays healthy and plays to his potential, he could land himself a very good second contract – from the Packers or another NFL team.
“It's pretty frustrating knowing the opportunities [I’ve had], knowing how great I can be and just looking behind me and seeing some of those lagging issues over the past I wish weren't there," Perry said. "But it's football. I don't have any control over it. Freakish stuff happens. You just have to keep playing."
GREEN BAY – Alex Van Pelt and Aaron Rodgers don’t know what head coach Mike McCarthy has planned for the Green Bay Packers’ annual minicamp team-bonding activity. But the Packers quarterbacks/wide receivers coach and the NFL MVP know what the activity won’t be.
“I think dodgeball’s probably out based on some of the things that’s happened the last couple of times we’ve done that,” Rodgers said with a smirk Tuesday.
One of those things that happened in 2013, when rain canceled the Packers’ scheduled skeet-shooting adventure and forced them inside the Lambeau Field gym to play dodgeball: Van Pelt ruptured his Achilles’ during one of the games.
“I told Mike, ‘I’m not running, I’m not jumping, I’m not doing anything,’” Van Pelt, who played nine NFL seasons as a part-time starter and backup quarterback for the Buffalo Bills, said with a laugh. “I’m getting out of here healthy this year. Whatever it is, it’s not going to involve any exercise by me.”
McCarthy wouldn’t divulge what he has planned, and Rodgers said the players don’t know yet, either.
“Mike does a great job of putting these events together to do some bonding. And there’s been some fun stuff,” Rodgers said. “We’ve done some bowling over the years and some skeet shooting. It’s a lot of fun. I don’t know what tomorrow’s going to be. I actually don’t. I wish I did so I could have a little inside info, but we’ll see what it is.”
One thing McCarthy is sure of: That giving up one of the team’s three allotted minicamp practices – even given his frustration with the practice limitations enacted as part of the 2011 collective bargaining agreement with the NFL Players Association – is well worth it. In 2012, after he took the team to shoot sporting clays, then-Detroit Lions coach Jim Schwartz took a shot at him for wasting a practice.
“Because to me, people win, people lose,” McCarthy replied Tuesday when asked why the bonding trip is worth the tradeoff. “The opportunity that our players will have tomorrow, they’ll be in groups of four, maybe five, and there’ll be guys that ride in a cart with Aaron Rodgers or with someone they’ve never really had a conversation with.
“This is about culture, it’s about developing the bonding between your players and coaches and support staff. So it’s very important.”
Although the “in a cart” reference would lead one to believe that the Packers are having a team golf outing, that’s apparently not what McCarthy has planned.
GREEN BAY – As proud as Ty Montgomery is of newly minted Stanford degree in political science, the Green Bay Packers rookie wide receiver did not enjoy having to miss most of the offseason program while finishing up school.
“It just sucked. It kind of felt like being grounded. All your other friends get to go play, and you’re grounded,” the Packers third-round draft pick said following Tuesday’s minicamp practice. “But graduation means a lot. Not only to me, but my family. That Stanford degree can never be taken away from you. I’ll get old, I’ll be done playing football, but that Stanford degree is not going anywhere.
“That being said, I did want to be out here. A lot.”
Even had Montgomery dropped out of school in advance of the NFL Scouting Combine in February to focus on his pro career and decided not to finish his final semester, he still wouldn’t have been able to participate in the Packers’ organized team activity practices or offseason strength and conditioning program. NFL rules stipulate that players cannot take part in any work with their new teams – beyond the post-draft rookie camp – until after their school lets out.
Because Stanford is one of a handful of schools on the quarters system, players from there have to wait until classes are over in early June. Montgomery’s college teammate, linebacker James Vaughters, also missed time after the Packers’ rookie camp for the same reason. Montgomery also took part in the annual NFL Players Association Rookie Premiere event in Los Angeles during the first week of OTAs, along with rookie quarterback Brett Hundley, but Montgomery would have missed that practice time even had he not been at that event.
The Packers coaches weren’t too worried about Montgomery falling behind during his time away, and through three practices – Montgomery took part in last Thursday and Friday’s OTAs before practicing on Tuesday – it appears their faith was well-placed.
“I thought Ty looked excellent,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. “He had a very good practice Friday, and I thought he had another good practice today. He does some things very natural. He’s picked it up really quick, especially for someone that hasn’t been here.”
Added wide receiver Randall Cobb: “He’s a smart guy. He’s picked up on things very, very quick. He’s very detailed. You can tell in meetings he asks a lot of questions, which is good. Instead of not knowing what to do and sitting there … he’s asking questions and learning and [that’s] huge for a guy coming in.”
Even Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who attended archrival California-Berkeley, has been impressed.
“It’s only been a couple days, [so] I think you have to temper your expectations, but seems to be a real good kid -- other than his college choice,” Rodgers joked. “Seems to be pretty intelligent. Obviously has the body type to do some things that we like around here. Looks to be athletic, quick, has caught the ball well. But it’s two days. We’re not going to put too high of expectations for him or give up on him too early, either. I think he has a bright future with us.”
While Montgomery has made a good first impression, he didn’t feel that way on Tuesday.
“I still felt behind,” Montgomery said. “I gave myself two goals today – three goals, really: It was to play fast, play with confidence – that meaning if I make a mistake, make it full speed – and then to finish every play. I still fell behind. I think I missed seven OTAs, and I’m trying to learn seven or eight installs in two days. Then, I’ve got a weekend on my own to learn it, because I [was] basically graduating all day Sunday.”
To make sure Montgomery wasn’t at too big a disadvantage, the coaches let him take his iPad playbook with him and sent him content every day.
“I was basically going through about 400 slides of install on my own every day that I could,” Montgomery said. “I did what I could.
“I was actually talking to one of the other receivers today about that, a little bit of that pressure, ‘Oh, you know, he’s a Stanford guy. He knows the plays.’ But thankfully we have the type of guys that we have here that have no issues helping me out if I have any questions.”