better get a good night sleep on Friday, because he’s going to be a busy man on Saturday.
With the Packers set to kick off the preseason on Saturday night against Cleveland, Green Bay figures to be short-handed at outside linebacker. The two players projected to battle for the starting job at right outside linebacker, Jeremy Thompson (groin) and Clay Matthews III (hamstring), are “probably pretty far away” from playing, coach Mike McCarthy said, and seventh-round pick Brad Jones (back) still hasn’t been activated off of the PUP list.
Until signing Stryker Sulak and moving utilityman Spencer Havner to bolster that position on Thursday, the Packers had been getting by with only Aaron Kampman, Brady Poppinga and the undrafted Obiozor.
With the starters traditionally only playing one quarter or so during the first preseason game, with Poppinga being a valuable veteran and with Sulak and Havner not exactly comfortable with the playbook, Obiozor figures to get a long look.
“KG (outside linebackers coach Kevin Greene) told me I’m going to play the whole game,” Obiozor said.
McCarthy also pointed to Justin Harrell (back) as someone else who likely will be held out on Saturday. No decisions have been made, though.
In all, 19 players sat out Thursday morning’s shorts-and-helmets practice. One of those, tight end Tory Humphrey, was placed on injured reserve with the signing of Sulak. Cornerback Pat Lee (back), linebacker Nick Barnett (knee; PUP), receiver Patrick Williams (hamstring) and defensive end Johnny Jolly (ankle) join the aforementioned Thompson, Matthews, Jones and Harrell as players who have missed a lot of practice time and figure to spend Saturday on the sideline.
Given the morning off, either because they’re on a one-a-day schedule or because they are a veteran, were center Scott Wells, left tackle Chad Clifton, receiver Donald Driver, tight end Donald Lee, cornerbacks Charles Woodson and Al Harris, safety Atari Bigby, defensive end Cullen Jenkins, nose tackle Ryan Pickett and Kampman.
“It's all built in to what we do in that practice, who we're trying to tailor the reps to,” McCarthy said of giving the veterans the morning off. “It's an opportunity to give the players that have reached a certain criteria some time off for the body, but it the biggest part of it for us as a football team, we're able to really tailor the reps to our younger players.”
Receiver Ruvell Martin, who had been out with a groin injury, entered late in practice with the blessing of the training staff. Running back DeShawn Wynn (knee) was limited. B.J. Raji remains unsigned.
Packers sign Sulak, put Humphrey on IR
The Packers put tight end Tory Humphrey on injured reserve with a broken forearm and signed outside linebacker Stryker Sulak, a sixth-round pick by Oakland who was released in mid-July before signing a contract.
He bolsters a position that's running thin without Thompson, Matthews and Jones. He had 10.5 sacks and forced a nation-leading six fumbles as a senior at Missouri.
— Mason Crosby hit 2-of-2 field goals, from 53 yards with No. 1 holder Matt Flynn and 48 yards with No. 2 holder Durant Brooks.
— The special teams period was dedicated to onside kickoffs and defending against onside kicks. Some interesting stuff from coach Shawn Slocum that’s probably top secret, so you won’t read it here. Let’s just say that Jermichael Finley is one of the main characters — as he is on offense and all of the other special-teams units.
— With the veterans taking the day off and the injuries, the starting ends were sixth-round pick Jarius Wynn (for Jenkins) and veteran Michael Montgomery (for Raji) and the nose tackle was Anthony Toribio (for Pickett). Tramon Williams and Will Blackmon replaced Harris and Woodson and Aaron Rouse replaced Atari Bigby. Jarrett Bush, who has spent most of the offseason and camp at safety, was the third corner.
On offense, Tony Moll replaced Clifton, Finley replaced Lee and James Jones joined Greg Jennings as the starting receivers. With Driver out and when Martin was absent, the top receivers were Jennings, Jones and Brett Swain. Swain is listed behind Jake Allen on the official depth chart.
— The Packers practice at 6:30 p.m. tonight. That’s the fans’ last chance until Monday’s 2 p.m. workout. Friday’s practice is closed to fans and reporters, the game is Saturday and there’s no practice on Sunday.
— Jarius Wynn and rookie lineman T.J. Lang got into a brief scuffle. Both lost their helmets.
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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 email@example.com, 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.