The Packers host the Cleveland Browns in Saturday night’s preseason opener, but they spent most of the 11-on-11 work on Tuesday night preparing for the first four regular season games.
With the Packers opening against Chicago, Cincinnati, St. Louis and Minnesota before the bye week, Green Bay will see a steady diet of 4-3 defenses to start the year.
“We worked a little bit of Browns, a little bit some opponents for early in the season,” coach Mike McCarthy said. “The conversation is really, we’ve gone so much offense against the 3-4, we want to get some four-man line work. You think going back to it would be easy because we’ve seen so much in the past, but frankly, we didn’t handle it very well. So, I’m glad we did it offensively. I thought the defense was pretty sharp.”
What McCarthy saw, for the most part, didn’t please him.
“I’m faking it,” McCarthy said when it was pointed out that he appeared to be in a good mood. “I wasn’t very happy with the practice. I didn’t think it was very good. But there’s days when you walk off the field and you don’t think it’s very good, and you watch the film and it’s better than your thought. That’s what I’m hopeful for.”
One-man punting battle
Durant Brooks didn’t punt with what McCarthy called a tight hip flexor. It’s hard to say whether he lost any ground in his battle with Jeremy Kapinos.
Kapinos got all 10 punts from the defense’s 40-yard line. In all, four were touchbacks, including the first two. Jarrett Bush downed one at the 4, James Jones was unable to prevent a touchback, Will Blackmon downed punts at the 2 and 4, and three were fielded at the 9-, 10- and 7-yard lines.
The injury is the same one that led to Brooks’ demise after six games as a rookie last season in Washington.
Running back Brandon Jackson, who had missed the last eight practices, was back in action, bolstering a group that had been down to three players for the last few practices. The fresh legs were evident as he ran through the defense during a screens-and-deception period early in practice.
“Good to have Brandon back,” McCarthy said. “I thought he did a nice job. Our numbers at the running back and outside linebacker are a little thin, so hopefully we can get healthy tomorrow and get ready for the Browns.”
Also returning were five players who got the morning off: defensive end Cullen Jenkins, nose tackle Ryan Pickett, left tackle Chad Clifton, center Scott Wells and safety Atari Bigby. Still out were outside linebackers Jeremy Thompson (groin and shoulder), Clay Matthews III (hamstring) and Brad Jones (back, PUP), inside linebacker Nick Barnett (knee, PUP), receivers Ruvell Martin (groin) and Patrick Williams (hamstring), defensive ends Justin Harrell (back), Johnny Jolly (ankle) and B.J. Raji (holdout), running back DeShawn Wynn (knee) , tight end Tory Humphrey (broken forearm) and cornerback Pat Lee (back).
Reserve guard-center Duke Preston exited after getting rolled up late in practice but McCarthy said the trainers weren’t concerned.
Raji leaves Green Bay
For the first 11 days, first-round pick B.J. Raji stayed in Green Bay while waiting to sign a contract. Without a contract in hand, Raji reportedly flew out of town on Tuesday night.
With the picks before (No. 8 Eugene Monroe) and after (No. 10 Michael Crabtree) still unsigned, Raji and his representatives no doubt felt like there was no point in hanging around.
"Frustrating for everybody I'm sure. Certainly for us and I'm sure for B.J. and his representatives," general manager Ted Thompson said at a midday news conference. "It's continual dialogue, and it's ongoing."
There is no practice on Wednesday, with the players getting the day off after lifting weights, a couple hours of meetings and lunch. There are two practices on Thursday (8:45 a.m. and 6:30 p.m.). Friday’s practice is closed to fans and reporters ahead of Saturday night’s game against Cleveland.
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.