Datone Jones sour over transition from Packers to Vikings

MINNEAPOLIS — New Minnesota Vikings defensive lineman Datone Jones says the Green Bay Packers didn’t show serious interest in re-signing him until they learned he was meeting with the Vikings.

That was the crux of Jones’ explanation of his transition from Titletown to a city that hasn’t won a championship in the four major sports since 1991 (Minnesota Twins). He tells the Associated Press that as soon as he met with coach Mike Zimmer and rest of Minnesota’s staff, he was convinced he should sign with the Packers’ rival.

“I don’t think they really made a strong effort until I took a visit to Minnesota,” he said. “I think once I came to Minnesota, my mind was actually made up. Once I sat down with Coach Patterson, I think my mind was made up right then and there.

“Once I sat down with Coach Zimmer [and] the rest of the coaching staff, I think my mind was pretty much made up. I had some of the best years I could ever have in Green Bay, and I thank the Packers organization for those great years, but you know, I think it was just time for me to move on with my life and come somewhere new and get a new start.”

We may never know what offers Green Bay had on the table for Jones, but he signed with Minnesota on a one-year, $3.75 million deal after a productive “contract year” with the Packers. He logged 17 tackles, a sack, and two passes defensed in 2016. Much of that had to do with converting to more of a hybrid or “elephant” role that year, where he started a career-high four games.

But he’ll be reverting back to a familiar role once he arrives in Minnesota. Zimmer anticipates Jones will be moved to an interior lineman position in their 4-3 scheme, similar to what he ran in UCLA before being drafted in the first round by the Packers in 2013.

Thompson on RBs: “We need some more guys”

PHOENIX — Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson touched on a variety of topics during Monday’s NFL Owners Meetings, including a need for more bodies in the backfield.

“We need some more guys,” Thompson said in reference to adding running backs. “We’re a little short in a couple of areas. So from a personnel standpoint, we’ve got to get some more bodies, but we like the guys that we have. It’s just that we’d like to get some more.”

The departure of Eddie Lacy and the release of James Starks leaves just three running backs on roster, none of which have carried the workload a full season would entail. Ty Montgomery, who switched from wide receiver to running back last season, carried the ball 77 times for 457 yards and three touchdowns.

Reports from over the weekend indicated Thompson and the Packers were considering a meeting with former Vikings running back Adrian Peterson but that his asking price was too steep. Those reports also stated that Green Bay may address Peterson after the NFL Draft next month if their needs aren’t met. But when Thompson was asked about Peterson on Monday, he became tight-lipped.

“Let’s all together answer that question,” Thompson told a group of reporters. “We don’t talk about players that are not on our team. We never have, we never will. It doesn’t serve a purpose, I don’t think.”

Thompson and the Packers have roughly $24 million in cap space remaining for this offseason, and while he admitted it’s possible another player is added, that money might be saved for a future contract extension for quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

No injuries as Vikings plane slides off runway

APPLETON, Wis. — The Minnesota Vikings team airplane got stuck in the snow for several hours after landing at Appleton International Airport Friday evening.

The plan slid off the runway in the snowy conditions, getting stuck in the grass for roughly three hours as workers lifted them to safety ahead of their Saturday meeting with the Green Bay Packers. Difficulty removing the players and staff members came when crew members at the airport realized they didn’t have a staircase tall enough to reach the door of the stranded aircraft. Fire trucks had to be called to remove personnel from the situation.

The plane landed in Appleton at about 5:15 p.m. but the Vikings players and staff weren’t on their way to their hotel for the night until 10:15 p.m.

The Neighborhood: Packers 2015 struggles have carried into 2016

Many were willing to write off the Packers’ week one offensive struggles as a fluke, getting past an improving Jaguars team on the road. Upon closer inspection though, some of the things that plagued Green Bay’s offense in a disappointing 2015 season have carried over to 2016.

The return of receiver Jordy Nelson looked like it would be a cure-all for what ailed Green Bay in 2015, but the numbers for Aaron Rodgers have actually gotten worse. His completion percentage went from 60.7 to 57.1 and the yardage per game has dropped from 218.9 to 189.5. While not significant differences, an indication of Rodgers’ inconsistencies can be summed up by his passer rating. Based on a maximum score of 158.3, Rodgers has now gone 14 straight games without eclipsing the 100-point mark, dating to last season. His previous longest streak was four games (three times).

But not all of the offensive woes can be pointed at Rodgers. After management decided to release three-time Pro Bowl guard Josh Sitton, the offensive line hasn’t been able to keep Rodgers upright. He’s been sacked six times this season, tied with the Browns for the fourth-most in the NFL. The inability to convert talent on the field into yardage and points is highlighted when comparing against other NFL teams. Green Bay ranks 28th in total yardage and 30th in total passing yardage.

Whether it’s a rift in the locker room or something happening in their personal lives, the Packers can’t seem to get clicking on offense. If they can’t figure out their issues, fans will look back on this era as a waste of great talent. During the Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers era, Green Bay has just two Super Bowl rings to show for it.

Aaron Rodgers struggles as Packers fall to Vikings 17-14

MINNEAPOLIS | One quarterback played outstanding on Sunday night in Minnesota. It was not Aaron Rodgers. Instead it was Minnesota Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford who had a spectacular debut in front of the home Vikings as the team opened its new $1.1 billion stadium. Bradford completed 22 of 30 passes for 286 yards, two touchdowns and no turnovers to lead the Vikings to a 17-14 victory over the Green Bay Packers just 15 days after he arrived in a trade.

The Minnesota defense did its part too, sacking Aaron Rodgers five times and forcing two fourth-quarter turnovers.  After the game Rodgers tried to downplay the loss.

“I don’t think this is anything to get super crazy about,” Rodgers said. “It’s a tough opponent, a division opponent. They’re a good football team. They’ve still got to come to our place later in the season. Hopefully we’re in a position to play for something then.”

The Packers held running back Adrian Peterson to just 19 yards on 12 carries before he limped off in the third quarter with a right knee injury. Peterson, who was on crutches after the game and wearing a brace on his right leg, will have an MRI exam on Monday. Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said he was told the injury had already “calmed down” afterward and that he might miss a week.

But the Vikings got it done through the air as Bradford connected with wide Stefon Diggs nine times for 182 yards a touchdown. The Vikings (2-0) held the Packers (1-1) to 65 total yards in the first half, withstanding an early touchdown pass by Rodgers to Jordy Nelson on a drive aided by two penalties by cornerback Terence Newman.

Trae Waynes, who had two penalties himself, intercepted Rodgers’ pass in Vikings territory in the closing minutes to seal the victory. The previous drive was killed when Brian Robison knocked the ball out of the hands of Rodgers, who ran for 29 yards and a touchdown. He began to find a groove throwing the ball late, but Bradford was the better quarterback on this night.
The Vikings, who scored two defensive touchdowns in their season opener at Tennessee , could have had more takeaways. Rodgers fumbled at his own 12 on the last play from scrimmage of the first quarter, but J.C. Tretter fell on it. Everson Griffen knocked the ball out the hand of a scrambling Rodgers in the third quarter, but Captain Munnerlyn whiffed on his pickup attempt. Newman dropped an interception at the goal line in the fourth quarter, two plays before Rodgers ran in for the score.

The Packers scored first when Aaron Rodgers connected with Jordy Nelson for Nelson’s second touchdown in as many weeks. On 2nd and goal from the one, Rodgers rolled to his left and hit Nelson in the left corner of the end zone. But Sam Bradford connected with Kyle Rudolph on an 8-yard score and led Minnesota on a late 2nd uarter field goal drive. The Vikings took a 10-7 lead into the locker room and now have a ten point lead at the start of the 4th quarter.

The Packers could have tied the game at 10 but elected to go for it on 4th and 2 from the 13. James Starks was stuffed after one yard as the Packers turned it over on downs. After the game Packers head coach Mike McCarthy defended his decision to go for it. “We were on a 12 play drive,” said McCarthy. “Felt the advantage was to the offense in that situation. That’s my decision.”

After playing their first two games on the road the Packers now return to Lambeau Field for four straight games starting next Sunday against the Lions at noon.

As for Packers injuries, DT Letroy Guion hurt his knee in the second quarter and didn’t return. Safety Morgan Burnett also had a hamstring injury and did not return.

Brett Favre gives his thoughts a day before induction ceremony in Canton

CANTON, Ohio – In front of a large gathering of reporters and photographers, Brett Favre calmly took his seat to answer questions for 45 minutes inside McKinley High School on Friday afternoon. It was the only media availability for Favre and the entire 2016 Pro Football Hall of Fame class before Saturday night’s induction ceremony.

Here are some of the highlights of Favre’s media session on Friday:

On how this week has gone for his so far: “It’s been amazing. Ron Wolf gave me some hints of what to expect. It’s everything he said. There’s not much breathing room!”

On putting on the gold jacket for the first time: “I don’t know how to explain it. I know it happened last night but it probably won’t sink in for awhile.  I get that I’m about to be a member of this exclusive club but it hasn’t sunk in.”

On not being worthy: “I seriously think I have the most respect for the game. I was a die hard football fan. I was certain at 14 what I was destined to do. I was a die hard Archie Manning fan. I knew all about the Packers and Paul Hornung. I have tremendous respect. That has never wavered. Having said that I can’t believe I’m equal with those guys. Roger Staubach send me a great email. That’s who I was going to be! I don’t know if I will ever feel like an equal to these guys. I understand I’m one of three hundred in this club now. But I hold these guys in the highest regards.”

On where his Hall of Fame bust will sit: “It’ll sit next to Ron Wolf! We just talked about it. He didn’t know where it would end up. I’ve been told that wasn’t on purpose. How incredible is that. Mooch and I talked about the bust. Ron and I don’t have to go too far to talk to each other. He’s not a shouter so he can just whisper to me.”

On the creation of the bust by Blair Buswell: “Blair does one heck of a job. When he came to Mississippi he said he needed eight hours of me sitting still. When he pulled the sheet off of the clay I was absolutely amazed.”

On Hall of Fame locker set up with Vikings and Packers jersey: “It’s pretty cool. Mooch poked fun of Minnesota and Green Bay in same locker. No doubt I’ll be remembered as a Packer and that’s how it should be. I wouldn’t trade my 16 years there for anything. I had a tremendous amount of respect playing there but I didn’t know how difficult it was until I came out of the other tunnel (as a Viking). It was an incredible feeling of awe. I’m thankful I played in Minnesota and witnessed it from the other side. Because I would have taken for granted how special Green Bay is.”

On tomorrow night’s speech: “I’ve gone through this in my mind. I won’t write anything down. My speech will be like I played – who in the hell knows! But it worked out pretty well for my career. There’s a lot of people who are important to my career. No one more than my dad. I want to get that across.”

On original coaching staff he played for in Green Bay and what they meant to his career: “Oh my gosh. Playing 20 years imagine the players and coaches I played with. Who meant the most? It’s no disrespect to any coaches but Mooch and Andy (Reid) meant the most because of the time and place and what I needed the most and working for the best head coach Mike Holmgren. My only regret is Mike and I didn’t play longer. He was demanding. Mooch and Andy worked well with them and me. They told me what I needed to hear. No more rocket balls. That coaching staff.. I’m just thankful the right people were in place. The credit has to go to Ron Wolf. Green Bay would not be what it is today without Ron Wolf.”

On accomplishing everything he wanted: “All my dreams I had as a child were easily achieved and then some. This being one of them. It’s not like I wanted one more touchdown pass or completions. I had my fill of it. And thank goodness. Because I hear guys all the time who say they wish they would have pushed themselves more. I have none of that. I’m truly blessed”

Hall of Fame’s response to Vikings jersey in Favre’s Hall of Fame locker

CANTON, Ohio | I got some clarification tonight on why the Pro Football Hall of Fame has included a Minnesota Vikings jersey in Brett Favre’s Hall of Fame locker. Here’s the reaction from Pete Fierle, the Hall of Fame chief of staff and VP of communications:

“A player is not enshrined in the Hall of Fame as a member of a team, although Brett Favre is clearly a Green Bay Packer. But they are enshrined as either a player, a coach or a contributor. It’s our job to really chart the history of the game and Brett Favre’s impact on that game.

“That Minnesota Vikings jersey is really a significant moment in NFL history — when he set the NFL record for consecutive starts. And that to me, a quarterback doing that, makes it even more remarkable. That jersey represents all those years in Green Bay, season after season, the durability and toughness of what Brett Favre is. If we don’t recognize that type of a record, then we aren’t doing our job.”

Ex-Packer DT Bruce Gaston cut by Vikings

MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Vikings announced they have released former Detroit Lions linebacker Travis Lewis and former Packers defensive tackle Bruce Gaston.

Both players were added during the offseason, but will miss the cut in preparation for training camp. Gaston joined the Vikings in late May after B.J. Dubose suffered a torn ACL. He recorded 12 tackles and one sack during the 2015, splitting time with the Packers and Bears.