Hand injury ends Vince Biegel’s day early

GREEN BAY — Vince Biegel’s first practice as a member of the Green Bay Packers came to end early on Friday, as the former Wisconsin outside linebacker left midway through the session with what turned out to be a minor injury to a finger on his left hand.

“It’s not too much of a concern. It’s not a season-ending injury by any means,” said Biegel, who underwent X-rays and was still being evaluated by the team’s medical staff. “This is a finger here. My whole body is ready to go. This is football. You get nicks and bruises. I’m not concerned at all about this moving forward.”

Being forced out of practice early was frustrating for Biegel, but he remained upbeat.

“[I’m] disappointed, obviously, that I didn’t get to finish my first practice as a Green Bay Packer,” Biegel said. “Obviously, I was really looking forward to this moment. [But]listen, this is going to be a bumpy road. There’s ups and downs in this journey.”

The injury has been the lone negative for the Wisconsin Rapids native since being selected with the first pick of the fourth round of the NFL draft on Saturday. A fan of the Packers for his entire life, the week has been one memorable moment after another.

“Given my situation, being from Wisconsin, it was really kind of a surreal moment to check out the locker room…check out the indoor facility, the weight room, the training tables [and the] training room,” Biegel said. “It was a really cool experience. I’m extremely blessed.”

When Biegel walked into the locker room, he found his nameplate and quickly noticed the two players on either side of him in veterans Nick Perry and Clay Matthews, the latter of which has been an inspiration for Biegel throughout his football life and stopped by to welcome him to the team.

“Clay approached me, and it was kind of fun to shake hands with Clay, see him, talk with him,” Biegel said. “It was a guy I looked up to. I’ve taken parts of his game and tried to include it in mine.”

Biegel felt that his locker placement was intentional, placing him between the team’s two best pass rushers and that it meant the coaching staff has high expectations for him. Though the three-year starter for the Badgers is likely reading too much into it, he’ll chase those perceived expectations anyways, and do so with a passion few others possess. That intensity won’t be reserved for the field either, as coach Mike McCarthy and the rest of the staff have learned in just a few days of being around him.

“He drove here. He was the first one here. He sat in the front row [in the first team meeting],” McCarthy said. “He’s off to a great start.”

Clay Matthews wants T.J. Watt in a Packers uniform

GREEN BAY | It’s not often NFL veterans mention specific players they want their teams to draft. But Clay Matthews doesn’t mind letting everyone know that he wants to see former Wisconsin Badger T.J. Watt in a Packers uniform this season.

“I know mock draft boards have him potentially coming here which would be great!” said Matthews on Tuesday afternoon inside Lambeau Field.

The Packers started their offseason workout program in Green Bay on Tuesday. Matthews, who is beginning his 9th NFL season all with the Packers, said “it would be great if (T.J.) is even half the player his brother was.”  Matthews referring to NFL star and former Badger J.J. Watt.

Matthews knows a little something about following in the footsteps of former NFL greats. His father, Clay Matthews Jr., was a four-time Pro Bowler with the Cleveland Browns. Matthews admits it will be tough for T.J. to follow in his brother’s footsteps. “I’m sure there’s pressure on him but if he’s anything like his brother he’ll have a drive and work ethic that can’t be matched.”

The NFL Draft begins on Thursday April 27, 2017 in Philadelphia. Matthews was drafted in round one of the 2009 Draft by the Packers with the 26th overall pick. He says his mom didn’t know he was a Packer until an hour or so after he was selected. “My mom actually thought it was the Patriots who drafted me so for about an hour and a half she thought I was going to New England,” said Matthews. “She was disappointed to find out I was going to Green Bay. But I think she’s come around.”

New England originally had the 26th overall pick in 2009. The Packers made a trade with the Patriots to acquire Matthews.


Packers’ QB Aaron Rodgers (calf) unlikely to practice the next two days

GREEN BAY — Aaron Rodgers might not practice before Saturday, but the Green Bay Packers are preparing like he’ll be able to play when they travel to Chicago to take on the Bears this Sunday.

“He’ll be with the rehab group (Wednesday),” coach Mike McCarthy told reporters. “He won’t practice (Wednesday) and I’ll probably do the same thing (Thursday). We have a plan.”

The quarterback had been dealing with a hamstring injury suffered against the Philadelphia Eagles last month, and then injured his right calf on the third snap of the Packers win over the Seattle Seahawks. With a big lead, Rodgers was removed from the game in the fourth quarter but said afterwards he didn’t expect to miss any time.

“Game plan-wise, his comments were just don’t hold anything back,” McCarthy said of Rodgers. “We’re approaching this game no different than we did last week.”

Rodgers injured his other calf late in the 2014 season, and it limited him significantly down the stretch and in the playoffs, but he didn’t miss a game.

Meanwhile, McCarthy believes that tight end Jared Cook, who left the game on Sunday with a chest injury, should be available.

“I think we’re going to have him, but practice will dictate that,” McCarthy said. “The medical staff wants to see him go and see how he comes through.”

The coach also said linebacker Clay Matthews (shoulder) came out of the game better than he did a week ago, while outside linebacker Nick Perry, who missed the game after undergoing surgery to repair several broken fingers, won’t practice before Saturday.

McCarthy: Lang, Tretter making progress

Making progress.

That’s how Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy described the status of a pair of his starting offensive linemen when he addressed the media Friday morning.

Right guard T.J. Lang and center J.C. Tretter each practiced on a limited basis yesterday, and McCarthy is feeling encouraged by the work they did.

“He’s improving. He felt good coming off the field,” McCarthy said of Lang’s practice on Thursday.” J.C. Tretter also had a really good day. Did some really good things. He felt good coming off the field.

“I think those guys are progressing. That’s a very good sign.”

Lang suffered a broken foot early in the Packers loss to Tennessee on Nov. 13, and he’s has missed the last three games, while Tretter injured his knee in the Oct. 30 loss at Atlanta. Rookie Jason Spriggs has filled in nicely for Lang, while veteran Corey Linsley, who started at center for Green Bay much of the last two years, has stepped in for Tretter.

McCarthy also liked the progress of outside linebacker Clay Matthews. He’s dealing with a shoulder injury that clearly limited him in the win over Houston last week.

“He’s just working on his strength,” McCarthy said. “He did all the individual stuff, hit the sleds and did all the things to get better. He’s improving.”

At times last week, Matthews was unable to raise his right arm and was a virtual non-factor in the game. But he played through it, and will likely need to do so again this week as fellow outside linebacker, Nick Perry, is out after undergoing surgery to repair several broken fingers.

Weather a factor?

McCarthy doesn’t trust his weather man any more than you trust yours. Asked about the potential for another snow game this Sunday against Seattle, McCarthy said they’ll wait and see what things look like twenty-four hours before kickoff.

“We watch the weather,’ McCarthy said. “Whether it’s going to snow, how much snow, rain, wind.

“You look at the elements and you adjust accordingly. I don’t really talk about the weather until the team meeting (Saturday) because it can change. (Assistant) Matt Klein is our weather man and he’s kind of like your weather man. It changes every day.”

As of Friday morning, forecasters were calling for 3 to 5 inches of snow to fall in Green Bay on Sunday.

Packers say guard T.J. Lang and linebacker Jake Ryan won’t play this Sunday

Green Bay will be without at least a few starters when it looks to snap a three-game losing streak this Sunday at Washington.

Coach Mike McCarthy told reporters Friday morning that right guard T.J. Lang (foot) and inside linebacker Jake Ryan (ankle) will not play.

In Lang’s absence, Don Barclay will get the start, while it remains to be seen who will replace Ryan. Joe Thomas struggled against Tennessee after Ryan went down and is better suited to be a situational guy, but the Packers don’t have many other choices.

On the good side of things, linebacker Clay Matthews, tight end Jared Cook and left tackle David Bakhtiari were deemed good to go against the Redskins barring any kind of setback during practice on Saturday.

Matthews has missed the last three games with a hamstring injury, while Cook hasn’t played since suffering an ankle injury in Week 3. Bakhtiari left the game against Tennessee with a knee injury.

A full injury report is expected to be released Friday afternoon.

Packers’ LB Clay Matthews won’t play vs Tennessee, other injury updates

A hamstring injury will keep linebacker Clay Matthews from playing in Green Bay’s matchup with Tennessee on Sunday.

That was the word from Packers coach Mike McCarthy when he met with the media Friday morning.

“We’re going to list Clay as out this week,” McCarthy said. “(He’s) making progress, (but) he won’t be available this week.”

This will be the third-straight game Matthews has missed due to the injury. He’ll be replaced by veteran Julius Peppers.

Also, McCarthy said running back James Starks and tight end Jared Cook have looked good this week, but it’s still unclear if either will play against the Titans.

Starks has missed the last month following knee surgery, while Cook hasn’t played since Week 3 when he suffered a high ankle sprain.

“James is very close,” McCarthy said. “We’ll see how Jared is coming Saturday.”

McCarthy believes that cornerback Damarious Randall has a chance to play after missing the last three games with a leg injury, while he anticipates wide receiver Randall Cobb not being limited at all after being used sparingly a week ago in a loss to the Colts because of a hamstring injury.

“It’s better than last week, so that’s an improvement,” McCarthy said of the injury list. “We’re getting healthier and that’s important. But frankly, the focus is on finalizing the preparation for the Titans.”

Packers survive late charge, beat Jaguars 27-23

JACKSONVILLE | It didn’t look pretty and, at times, it looked downright ugly. But the Packers still pulled out a win in the opener over the Jaguars Sunday afternoon in the Florida heat.

With temps in the mid-90’s and the heat index well over 100 throughout the entire game, the Packers had to battle and come from behind against an up-and-coming young Jaguars team.  Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was held in check for much of the first half until a pair of touchdowns to Jordy Nelson and Davante Adams gave Green Bay a 21-17 halftime lead. Rodgers would end his day 20-of-34 for 199 yards and the two scores. Eddie Lacy led the Packers in rushing with 61 yards on 14 carries. That gave Green Bay a total of 294 yards on the day.

Jacksonville was a little more one-dimensional, getting just 39 rushing yards from their lead back, TJ Yeldon, who was a late starter in place of Chris Ivory. Blake Bortles had no trouble through the air, collecting 320 yards on 24-of-39 passing. He ended his day with one touchdown and one interception.

The Packers had a chance to ice the game with about three minutes to go but some confusion helped to put an end to their offensive drive. Green Bay was forced to call a timeout out. After the timeout the Packers were flagged for delay of game. Aaron Rodgers explains: “Miscommunication. The line believed I was saying a certain thing to them that meant pass. Everyone else thought run. That’s probably my fault. Knowing that I would have just passed. Had I known. Which I didn’t. We got to clean that up.”

The Jaguars then trailed 27-23 with no timeouts and less than two minutes to play. Bortles led the team to several fourth-down plays, getting a fresh set of downs after a defensive holding call on fourth down near midfield. Now in Green Bay’s red zone faced with fourth and one, Packers coach Mike McCarthy called timeout. After analyzing Jacksonville’s setup on the previous play, the Packers again dialed up some pressure, stopping receiver Allen Hurns short of the first down marker and sealing the win.

“It means a lot to those (defensive guys) and it means a lot to us,” said Rogers. “They were gassed for sure.”

“It’s huge,” said Clay Matthews. “We had to play for 60 minutes. Really excited about it. We have great expectations about this defense. Lots of key contributors. It will only help us moving forward in the season.”

The Packers head to Minnesota to take on the Vikings at 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 18

Matthews, Peppers cleared in PED investigation

The NFL’s investigation into Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers has concluded, and the pair have been cleared of any wrongdoing.

In a statement released early Wednesday afternoon, the NFL said they had found “no credible evidence” that the Green Bay Packers linebackers, along with the Pittsburgh Steelers’ James Harrison, had taken or been provided with banned substances as had been alleged in a documentary put together by Al-Jazeera America late last year.

The NFL said the investigation included interviews with witnesses, along with a review of “relevant records and other materials, electronic research and laboratory analysis and review.” The league called the investigation comprehensive.

Matthews and Peppers had both denied the accusations made in the documentary that stemmed from a hidden camera interview with Charlie Sly, a pharmacist from Indiana, who has since backtracked on his comments.

Former Packers linebacker Mike Neal is, according ESPN’s Adam Shefter, still under investigation for his connection to Sly.

Green Bay closes out their preseason schedule on Thursday night at Kansas City.

NFL: Matthews & Peppers must talk or get suspended

Green Bay, WISCONSIN | It’s come to this. Packers linebackers Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers must talk to the NFL about the Al Jazeera investigative report before August 25th or be suspended.

The NFL has pursued an investigation into the alleged into the alleged drug use. Former NFL quarterback Peyton Manning was cleared of any wrongdoing after agreeing to interview and open his records to investigators. The league has been pressuring the NFLPA to make the rest of the players available since the spring, but this is the first time it has threatened discipline at the hands of commissioner Roger Goodell.

In the Al Jazeera report, which was released last December, Matthews and Peppers along with former Packer linebacker Mike Neal, were named as having ties to an intern at the Guyer Institute named Charlie Sly, who claimed he had spent six weeks in Green Bay and had been introduced to half the team through Neal. The three vehemently denied any connection to Sly and Sly later recanted his story, staying, “there is no truth to any statement of mine.”




Jake’s Take on Matthews/Peppers investigation

Green Bay, Wisconsin | The Zone’s sports director Jake Zimmermann has spent the week covering Packers training camp in Green Bay. He gives his thoughts on the Al Jazeera report linking Packers players Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers to performance enhancing drugs in this week’s edition of Jake’s Take.