ESPN Wisconsin Blogs - Jason Wilde
GREEN BAY – Jordy Nelson was almost as elusive Thursday about his offseason hip surgery as he was for opposing cornerbacks trying to cover him last season.
The Green Bay Packers Pro Bowl wide receiver was a little light on details about his surgery – he wouldn’t even confirm that it was on his hip, even though Packers coach Mike McCarthy said so earlier this offseason – but insisted it’s not cause for concern, even though he did not take part in Thursday’s first open-to-the-public practice of organized team activities.
“It was something that hopefully will come out in about 10 years what we had done,” Nelson said.
Later, he added: “I got things cleaned up but everything’s going well. We’re excited where we’re at and continuing to move forward. Everything’s good.”
Nelson set a single-season franchise record for receiving yards last year, catching 98 passes for 1.519 yards and admitted toward the end of it was an issue for him.
“Obviously, if it didn’t bother me, I probably wouldn’t have had the surgery. But nothing major,” Nelson said. “I had an opportunity to get some things cleaned up. We did it, and I think it was a good move and feel good about where we’re at moving forward.”
GREEN BAY – Casey Hayward isn’t worried. Joe Whitt isn’t worried.
Nevertheless, the fact that Hayward – the leading candidate to replace departed free agent Tramon Williams as one of the Green Bay Packers’ starting cornerbacks this season – isn’t practicing during organized team activity workouts isn’t exactly ideal.
Hayward said he suffered a foot injury is “minor” and promised he’ll be ready when training camp kicks off in late July, but that means he will be on the sideline for the rest of OTAs and the team’s June 16-18 mandatory minicamp.
“It’ll hold me out for a little bit, but I’ll be full go for camp, and I’ll be ready,” said Hayward, who missed virtually all of his second NFL season with hamstring injury. “I don’t think it’s setting me back at all. I know what type of player I am. They know what type of player I am. When I’m on the field, I make tons of plays. So whenever I’m healthy and on the field, I’m going to be full go and I’m going to be ready to compete and not just be a starting corner, be the No. 1 corner.”
The Packers need a starter opposite Sam Shields, who is considered their No. 1 cornerback, after Williams signed with the Cleveland Browns. Williams had missed just one game since ascending to the starting job late in the 2009 season.
Whitt, the Packers’ cornerbacks coach, dismissed any concerns that Hayward, who has spent most of his snaps playing in the slot, would have any trouble being an every-down outside corner.
“I really don’t understand all the questions about Casey playing outside,” Whitt said. “He plays outside. I have no worries about Casey. Not one concern. At all.”
Then again, Whitt said, he also doesn’t care if Hayward winds up being one of the top two cornerbacks playing every down or gets beaten out by one of the team’s rookie draft picks.
“I don’t care if he’s one of those guys or not,” Whitt said. “There’s going to be two guys that are going to be ready to play. I’m confident of that. If he’s one of them, that’s outstanding. If he’s not, somebody will play at a high level. I’m confident of that.”
Hayward, though, believes that somebody will be him.
“I want to be one of those elite guys and be able to guard the No. 1s,” Hayward said. “I think the good thing about me and Sam and the rest of these guys, and we push each other. HE wants to be that No. 1 corner. I want to be that No. 1 corner and we push each other. Why not have two No. 1 corners that can stay on each side? I think that’s the ultimate goal.”
GREEN BAY – In the hours after his Feb. 3 arrest in his native Florida, Letroy Guion wasn’t only worried about his freedom or the money and property that the Starke, Fla. police had seized.
He was also concerned that he might have cost himself any chance of returning to the Green Bay Packers, the team where he’d felt so at home during his first year with them in 2014. An unrestricted free agent, Guion had been in talks with the Packers on a multi-year extension during the final weeks of the regular season, but he knew his arrest for felony marijuana and gun possession might very well put that in jeopardy.
“At the sign of trouble, you always have worries,” Guion said after taking part in the team’s first open-to-the-public organized team activity practice of the offseason Thursday. “But I’m glad they stood by me. I’m glad they stuck behind me and helped me get through this.”
That they did, re-signing him to a one-year, $2.75 million deal with a base salary of $1.5 million, a per-game a roster bonus of $1.15 million and a workout bonus of $100,000. Guion is still subject to potential discipline from the NFL for his arrest, although Packers coach Mike McCarthy did not seem overly concerned about that possibility when repeatedly publicly supporting Guion during the offseason.
Guion was arrested in his hometown of Starke, Fla., on Feb. 3 with roughly 3/4 pound of marijuana, an unloaded handgun and over $190,000 in cash, but charges were later dismissed after he paid a $5,000 fine.
Guion started all 18 games (including playoffs) last year for the Packers after starting nose tackle B.J. Raji suffered a ruptured biceps tendon in preseason.
Guion apologized Thursday for “what happened in the offseason” but repeatedly redirected the conversation with reporters when asked about the incident.
“I’m grateful to be here. I’m glad my team stuck behind me, and I’m ready to start a new chapter,” Guion said. “Just move forward and focus on the future and leave the past behind.”
Asked what he learned from the incident, Guion replied, “I learned not to make mistakes in the offseason.”
GREEN BAY – Mike McCarthy is a modern-day coach, so he understands his individual players’ need to maximize their business opportunities. So the Green Bay Packers head coach gets that the NFL Players Association’s annual Rookie Premiere event comes with the territory in the era of personal “branding” and such.
But given the way McCarthy felt last year about wide receiver Davante Adams and defensive lineman Khyri Thornton missing the Packers’ first week of organized team activity practices last spring, the coach is probably less than thrilled with the fact that wide receiver Ty Montgomery, the team’s third-round pick, and quarterback Brett Hundley, the Packers’ fifth-round pick, will miss two of the team’s three OTAs this week for the same reason.
“Do I like that they’re missing practice? No, I don’t like that they’re missing practice,” McCarthy said last year when Adams and Thornton were at the event and not at the technically voluntary OTA practices. “I don’t understand it either, but that’s part of a contract.”
The Packers’ first OTA practice is set for Wednesday, although it is not open to the media or the public. The Rookie Premiere is Thursday through Sunday, so Montgomery and Hundley figure to miss Thursday and Friday’s practices.
The NFLPA bills the Los Angeles event as an opportunity to learn the business of football, as the event’s partners include Nike, EA SPORTS, Pepsi, USA TODAY Sports and Bose.
The three-day event, hosted by NFLPI, the marketing and licensing arm of the NFLPA, also includes photo shoots with trading card companies Panini America and Topps at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
The union’s annual orientation includes seminars focused on financial planning, brand building, group player rights, social media best practices and guest speakers.
The event is separate from the annual NFL rookie symposium, which is held after offseason workouts adjourn with all drafted rookies.
Meanwhile, Montgomery will miss more of OTAs because Stanford is on the quarters system and classes are still in session. NFL rules prevent rookies from participating in team offseason work beyond the post-draft rookie camp until their respective colleges finish classes. According to the Stanford school website, commencement is set for June 14. That should allow Montgomery and undrafted free agent outside linebacker James Vaughters, another Stanford student set to graduate, to be back in time for the team’s June 16-18 mandatory minicamp.
GREEN BAY – For Aaron Rodgers, winning Celebrity Jeopardy! was genuinely a dream come true.
“It was a bucket list deal for me,” the Green Bay Packers quarterback said after his victory over Shark Tank star Kevin O’Leary and astronaut Mark Kelly on the popular syndicated game show aired nationally.
Which, of course, begs the question: What else is on Rodgers’ Bucket List?
Rodgers listed five more items – in no particular order, and he didn’t say it was a comprehensive list – when asked that question following his Jeopardy! appearance.
GREEN BAY – Clearly, all is 4-given.
While some Green Bay Packers fans may still harbor some ill will toward their prodigal, future Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback, that group is evidently in the distinct minority, judging by this remarkable ticket-sale fact: The Packers sold a whopping 67,000 tickets for quarterback Brett Favre’s return to Lambeau Field on July 18, when he’ll be inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame and have his No. 4 officially retired.
Did we mention that those folks will be sitting in the stadium bowl watching Favre’s induction on the scoreboard TundraVision video screens? And that they sold out in less than eight hours?
Yes, Packers fans clearly still love Brett Favre.
Tickets were $4 each with a limit of eight per order. They went on sale at 10 a.m. Tuesday and were gone before 6 p.m.
“We are looking forward to sharing the excitement for Brett Favre’s induction into the Packers Hall of Fame with 67,000 fans viewing the banquet on the video boards in Lambeau Field,” said Packers Hall of Fame Inc. president Perry Kidder. “We are pleased with the enthusiastic response to this viewing opportunity, which will be a special complement to a historic evening.”
Favre will make an appearance in the stadium before dinner at the Hall of Fame induction, which is held inside the Lambeau Field atrium area. Favre is scheduled to return to Lambeau Field on Thanksgiving night, when his name and No. 4 will be unveiled on the north end zone façade.
The induction ceremony will also be carried live by the Packers TV Network and NFL Network. It will also be streamed live on packers.com.
GREEN BAY – Green Bay Packers owners can officially make their pilgrimage plans: The team will hold its annual shareholders meeting on July 28.
The meeting is at 11 a.m. and will be held rain or shine. Packers general manager Ted Thompson has historically delivered the football report, although it's usually light on actual information about the team.
In the announcement, the team wrote that shareholders planning on attending the meeting will be issued four tickets for each shareholder account, including accounts that have a joint or custodial registration. Shareholders receiving meeting materials electronically will be able to access print-at-home tickets upon voting their shares. Shareholders who receive their meeting information via standard mail will receive printed tickets in that same mailing.
The annual shareholders meeting is part meeting, part pep rally and is one of several events the Packers have to celebrate the start of training camp. Players will report to camp on July 29, with the first practice set for July 30. The team will also hold its annual 5K run on Aug. 1.
GREEN BAY – Assuming none of the rookies got mixed up with the 1,700 Boy Scouts who were also touring Lambeau Field, and as long as coach Mike McCarthy’s ribeye was cooked to his liking at dinner at the Brett Favre Steakhouse, the Green Bay Packers 10th-year head coach could not have asked for more from his team’s annual rookie orientation camp, which wrapped up Saturday.
The 59 players who participated – eight draft picks, 17 undrafted free-agent signees, 25 tryout players and nine holdovers who were eligible because they’ve yet to earn a year of credit toward their NFL pension – practiced on Friday and Saturday. While there were certainly moments of confusion amid new surroundings while running new plays with teammates they’d never met, McCarthy liked what he saw.
“I’ve been very pleased with the quality of it, just the way the drills improve from day to day. So I’m looking forward to watching the tape [of practice],” McCarthy said following Saturday’s session. “It’s been an excellent two days.”
Although he didn’t have a rookies-only camp during his first year as coach in 2006, the rookie orientation camp has been in place since 2007. While McCarthy altered the format slightly from year to year – this is the second year under the current format – the basics remain intact: General information, position meetings, roughly 100 plays of the playbook and on-field work. It beings with a gathering on Thursday night, during which McCarthy addresses the draft picks, undrafted signees and tryout players with a message about the opportunity they have earned.
“This is a great time of year. [Thursday] night is definitely one of the top days, I know, for me professionally,” McCarthy said. “When you get all the prospects – you’ve got your draft picks, you’ve got free agents, you’ve got the gentlemen fighting for a tryout – in the team meeting room.
“The energy, you can just feel it. Everything picks up another notch. … [On the field] We do a very, very limited scheme installation. It’s really about getting them to move as much as you possibly can and just continue the evaluation to make sure you have the best 90-man roster you possibly can.”
As of Saturday evening, the Packers’ roster stood at 88 players, meaning they have room for two tryout players to be signed. They could also release players if there are other tryout invitees who merit signing.
In 2012, the Packers had their rookie camp two weeks after the draft, and it allowed them to add wide receiver Jarrett Boykin, who initially signed with Jacksonville after the draft, then was released after the Jaguars’ rookie camp. He came to Green Bay on a tryout basis and earned a deal.
McCarthy said he preferred having the camp right after the draft, as he has the past two years.
“I think definitely our personnel department likes having it this week,” McCarthy said. “Sometimes you would lose a player to a tryout if you were [having your camp] in the second week. This seems to flow better for us.”
GREEN BAY – Even if Jarrett Bush has played his final snap for the Green Bay Packers, coach Mike McCarthy believes it was “premature” for the team to give away Bush’s No. 24.
The Packers issued No. 24 to rookie second-round pick Quinten Rollins, who wore the number during Friday’s rookie orientation camp practice inside the Don Hutson Center. But while Bush, an unrestricted free agent who has spent all nine of his NFL seasons with the Packers, remains unsigned, his stall and nameplate – BUSH 24 – remain intact inside the Packers’ locker room.
The Packers’ other unrestricted free agent, backup quarterback Matt Flynn, no longer has a locker or nameplate.
“Jarrett Bush, he’s obviously out there with his particular situation. I don’t think the 24 really signifies that [his Packers career is over],” McCarthy said after practice. “Jarrett is a nine-year player here. If he did come back to us and things worked out in the future, he’d be wearing 24. I think it’s premature, frankly, that we did that. But Jarrett Bush is still a free agent.”
Packers general manager Ted Thompson is normally in charge of issuing numbers, although it’s unclear exactly how Rollins ended up with No. 24. In past years, some players have been given specific numbers – in 2005, Nick Collins received No. 36, previously worn by LeRoy Butler; last year, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix was given No. 21, previously worn by Charles Woodson – but rookie wide receiver Ty Montgomery, a third-round pick from Stanford, said Friday that he was given several numbers to choose from and picked No. 88 because he wore it in high school and college.
“They gave me some options,” Montgomery said. “And of the options they gave me, I was like, ’[I have to take] 88. This can’t be a coincidence.’”
The Packers didn’t issue No. 88 last season after tight end Jermichael Finley, who’d previously worn it, suffered what apparently has ended up being a career-ending neck injury in October 2013.