Report: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix expected at Packers minicamp

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix hasn’t been at any of the Green Bay Packers OTA sessions this spring. But the former first-round pick will reportedly in town for the team’s mandatory minicamp that starts Tuesday.

According to the Wisconsin State Journal’s Jason Wilde, the safety has missed the sessions for a personal matter, though he would not divulge what it was when asked. Wilde reports Clinton Dix’s godmother passed away in May just before he graduated from the University of Alabama.

Clinton-Dix is entering the final year of his rookie contract and some took his absence as his displeasure over not getting a long-term contract. That led to backlash from a portion of the fanbase, who pointed to a 2017 season where Clinton-Dix didn’t appear to be as impactful as he had been when he went to the Pro Bowl in 2016. He finished with three interceptions after grabbing five the year before, though all his other numbers are nearly identical.
Clinton-Dix took to Twitter Thursday night to seemingly address those voices.

At the end of last season and into the offseason, Clinton-Dix said he believed his role in former defensive coordinator Dom Capers’ scheme was to cover for issues elsewhere in the secondary. The Packers were so worried about the play at cornerback that Clinton-Dix was used as somewhat of a safety valve to protect against big plays. That’s expected to change with new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine.

With Clinton-Dix missing OTAs, the Packers were going with Kentrell Brice and Jermaine Whitehead as their starting safeties, while Josh Jones was in his hybrid safety/inside linebacker spot that was held by Morgan Burnett last season.

Packers have no long-term concern with Clay Matthews’ injury

It appears Clay Matthews has escaped serious injury after being hit in the face with a softball on Saturday.

The Green Bay Packers linebacker was pitching in the Green and Gold Softball Charity Game when a liner off the bat of Lucas Patrick drilled him in the face. Matthews immediately covered his face with his glove, though blood could be seen pouring from his noise as he walked off the field.

Matthews later tweeted he would be OK, that he had a broken nose and would be undergoing surgery. Packers’ coach Mike McCarthy confirmed that Monday morning.

“Most importantly, we don’t have any long-term concerns,” McCarthy said before the Packers took the field for practice. “We’re talking about scheduling surgery probably mid-week.

“It’s unfortunate, but it’s for a good cause. I’m just glad he’s OK.”

McCarthy also had a critique of Matthews’ skills on the mound.

“I think he needs to work on his off-hand, mitt-side,” McCarthy joked. “That’s what the tape showed me.”

Packers: LB Clay Matthews injured at charity softball game

The Green Bay Packers got a bit of a scare Saturday during the Green and Gold Charity Softball Game in Appleton.

While pitching, linebacker Clay Matthews took a liner to the face. He quickly put his glove over his face and walked off the field. The public address announcer later reported that Matthews would be OK.

Here is the video of the incident.

Meanwhile, the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport tweeted that Matthews was being taken to a local hospital to be checked out, though it’s believed that the veteran defender suffered only a broken nose and no other significant injuries.

Matthews and wide receiver Davante Adams captained the teams, taking over as the hosts of the event that had been run by Jordy Nelson before he was cut this offseason.

Packers add veteran tackle

The Green Bay Packers have added some competition to their offensive line.

Veteran tackle Byron Bell posted on his Instagram Tuesday night he had agreed to a deal with team.

An undrafted free agent from New Mexico, Bell originally signed with Carolina in 2011. The 29-year-old went on to start 56 of 62 games with the Panthers at right tackle. Bell then signed with Tennessee in 2015 where played three different positions, starting all 16 games. An offseason injury kept him off the field in 2016, and then he spent 2017 in Dallas, where he played in 12 games, including two starts at left tackle.

Bell visited Green Bay last year before signing with the Cowboys. He joins a Packers’ line that still has some questions, namely who will be the starting right tackle. It’s a spot held by Bryan Bulaga for much of the last seven seasons. But the veteran suffered a torn ACL last year, playing in just five games and he likely won’t be able to practice until training camp at the earliest. There was a point in the offseason where it speculated that Bulaga would be cut. That didn’t happen, and during the draft last month general manager Brian Gutekunst and coach Mike McCarthy both indicated Bulaga was part of their plans.

As for other options, former second-round pick Jason Spriggs was lining up with the first-team offense during OTAs last week, but is coming off a major knee injury. 2016 sixth-round pick Kyle Murphy, who also ended last year on the injured reserve, got reps as well.

It’s unlikely the team would have signed Bell if it was comfortable with what was on the roster, meaning it wouldn’t be a total shock if he ended up being the starter at right tackle when the Packers open the season against Chicago in September.

Packers add veteran tight end

The Green Bay Packers have dipped back into the free agent market for another tight end.

Veteran Marcedes Lewis posted a picture of him signing his contract with Green Bay early Thursday night.

A first-round pick in 2006, Lewis had spent his entire 12-year career with the Jacksonville Jaguars before becoming a free agent this offseason. He’s started 157 of 170 games, catching 375 passes for 4,502 yards and 33 touchdowns. Though not the receiver he was earlier in his career, Lewis is still considered among the better blocking tight ends in the league and was a major part of Jacksonville leading the league in rushing.

Lewis joins a unit that was lacking any kind of support behind Jimmy Graham and Lance Kendricks, and he becomes the fifth veteran free agent the team has signed at the position in the last three years.

Green Bay finished its first week of OTAs on Wednesday and will get the second week started next Monday.

Packers hit the field for the first open practice of OTAs

The Green Bay Packers were on the field for the first public practice of OTAs Tuesday afternoon.

Here’s a look at what we saw and heard.

Aaron Rodgers speaks

The biggest news item of the day came courtesy of quarterback Aaron Rodgers. After practice, the two-time NFL MVP was asked about the Packers being connected to former Dallas Cowboys’ wide receiver Dez Bryant and whether he’d like him in Green Bay.

“I’m paid to play quarterback,” Rodgers said, “so I don’t make those decisions.”

Pressed further about a receiving core that lost 33-year-old Jordy Nelson, has two established pieces in Davante Adams and Randall Cobb, a talented but still developing Geronimo Allison and then a lot of young unproven players, Rodgers seemingly made it clear what he thought about the idea of bringing in Bryant, who will turn 30 in November.

“We like young receivers, so I’m assuming that’s the way they are going to keep going,” Rodgers said. “I don’t know why you’d cut Jordy [Nelson] and bring in Dez, but he’s a talented player. He’s going to end up somewhere. If he ends up here, we’ll obviously welcome him with open arms and get him up to speed as quick as possible.”

It’s been reported that Green Bay has no interest in Bryant, so Rodgers comments about him are irrelevant. But his decision to bring Nelson’s name up again, despite saying last month that everyone needed to move on, would suggest he’s still not over losing one of his favorite targets, especially with the uncertainty at the position.

New QB on the field

If there was a thought that DeShone Kizer would come in and be Rodgers’ backup from Day 1 after being traded for from Cleveland, that got shut down pretty quickly on Tuesday. Instead of Kizer following Rodgers in team drills, it was his backup from last year, Brett Hundley, getting the second-team reps.

It’s possible that Kizer is still processing and getting a full grasp of the offense, though everyone is kind of starting over following coach Mike McCarthy’s promise to tear down the playbook and rebuild it with new offensive coordinator Joe Philbin this offseason. Either way, backup quarterback may be one of the more interesting position battles of the summer.

In the backfield

It’s just the second day of OTAs, but the running back rotation gave us a glimpse of what the Packers think of the guys in their backfield right now. Second-year back Jamaal Williams took first-team reps, with last year’s fifth-round pick Aaron Jones following him and veteran Ty Montgomery third.

Some fire on defense

Special teams’ coach Ron Zook uses a sound system with a mic to communicate with his players. No matter where you go on the practice field, you can hear Zook through the speakers. New linebackers coach Patrick Graham needs no microphone or sound system to be heard. Almost from the start of practice, Graham got after his guys, lamenting a mistake or asking for more energy, often in colorful language that didn’t go unnoticed.

“There’s a little bit of yelling at practice,” Rodgers said with a smile. “The linebackers coach does a lot of yelling, actually. That’s new [and] different. It’s energy. It’s yelling energy, but it’s good.”

Jimmy Graham makes his debut

For a third year in a row, Green Bay is introducing a new tight end to the mix. In 2016, it was Jared Cook. Then it was Martellus Bennett last season. This year, it’s five-time Pro Bowl selection Jimmy Graham. At 6-foot-7, 265 pounds, Graham has already started making an impression.

“I thought those guys were big until I saw Jimmy,” said 5-foot-10 Randall Cobb of the previous No. 1 tight ends. “He’s a big dude. I try not to stand by him too often.”

Graham is a physical marvel and should provide a big target for Rodgers. But it wasn’t just his size that left the quarterback impressed.

“The guy is pretty damn talented,” Rodgers said. “He’s got some different elements that we haven’t had around here in a while with his ability to read coverages really quickly. He catches everything with his hands. We’re pretty excited about him.”

Rodgers found Graham several times Tuesday during team drills, including on what turned into a long catch and run for a touchdown off a broken play.

Concern on the edge

Though he didn’t take part in practice, linebacker Clay Matthews met with the media afterwards. And, according to PackersNews.com’s Michael Cohen, expressed significant concern about the depth at outside linebacker.

Matthew certainly has a point. Most thought Green Bay would take an edge rusher early in the draft, but new general manager Brian Gutekunst never did. He didn’t believe it was a very good year for the position. And while that might be true, it’s left the Packers counting on the guys behind Matthews and Perry — Reggie Gilbert, Vince Biegel and Kyler Fackrell — to provide a lift with zero assurances it’ll happen.

The following players didn’t take part in practice due to injury:

WR Davante Adams
LB Clay Matthews
LB Nick Perry
WR Trevor Davis
OL Bryan Bulaga
OL Lane Taylor

Two players — safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and cornerback Tramon Williams — did not attend the voluntary session.

Packers: Brett Favre’s rehab stint in 1996 wasn’t his only one

Brett Favre’s trip to rehab prior to the 1996 season is one that most fans know. The three-time NFL Most Valuable Player announced in May of that year he would be checking himself in to a facility in Kansas to battle his addition to pain killers. Favre exited after 72 days and led Green Bay to its first Super Bowl title in 29 years. What no one had heard of, or at least written about, was the fact Favre actually had three stints in rehab.

This is from Peter King’s final Monday Morning Quarterback:

“A year or two before (1995), I went to a place in Rayville, La., just outside Monroe. It was pills then too. Deanna and [agent] Bus [Cook] talked me into it. I didn’t think I had a problem, but they talked me into it. I went for 28 days. When I got out, I was able to control myself for a while. I wouldn’t take anything for a day or two, and I wouldn’t drink. But I was a binge drinker. When I drank, I drank to excess. So when I went in the second time, to the place in Kansas, I remember vividly fighting them in there. They said drinking was the gateway drug for me, and they were right, absolutely right, but I wouldn’t admit it. I will never forget one of the nurses. I had it all figured out. I fought with the nurse all the time. I would not admit the drinking problem. At the end she said to me, ‘You’ll be back.’

“I was back. 1998. Guess who was waiting there when I walked in—that same nurse. This time it was strictly for drinking. I didn’t go back to the pills. I admitted my problem, I was in there 28 days, and it worked. When I got out, the toughest thing was the first three months, because I had to change my thought process. When I played golf before, I realized the only reason I wanted to play was to drink. After a while, instead of thinking, ‘How many beers can we drink in 18 holes?’ I fell into a pattern of what could I do to get good at golf. I realized with each passing day I really didn’t like drinking.”

Favre’s time in Green Bay came to an end after the 2007 season. After playing three more years — one with the New York Jets and two with the Minnesota Vikings — he retired and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2016.

Packers announce the signing of second-round pick Josh Jackson

The Green Bay Packers are down to just one unsigned draft pick.

The team announced Thursday morning that it had signed second-round pick Josh Jackson to his rookie deal. Thought by some has a first-round pick, the cornerback slid to the Packers at No. 45.

“We were pretty surprised Josh lasted as long as he did,” general manager Brian Gutekunst said on the second night of the draft. “He’s a long corner with excellent balls skills.”

An Iowa product, Jackson started just one year for the Hawkeyes because of a pair of NFL caliber players in front of him. But he made that one year count, grabbing eight interceptions, the most of any player in the country.

Jackson, along with first-round pick Jaire Alexander, figures to battle for a starting spot in a revamped Green Bay secondary.

The only remaining unsigned pick is inside linebacker Oren Burks, who was taken in the third round.

Report: Packers not interested in Dez Bryant

Depending on your opinion of Dez Bryant, this will make your day or really make you upset.

According to the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, despite the Green Bay Packers being a logical landing spot for Bryant, the former Dallas Cowboys’ wide receiver isn’t expected to sign with them.

“They do not seem to be in on him,” Rapoport said of the Packers. “And at this point, [they] aren’t expected to be.”

When Bryant was released earlier this year, many pegged Green Bay as somewhere he could end up, but the lattest round of chatter came courtesy of his former teammate, Jason Witten. The former Cowboys’ tight end, now working for ESPN, said on Adam Shefter’s podcast that he thought Bryant would eventually end up going to Green Bay.

Though he hasn’t had 1,000 yards receiving since 2014, there are some that think Bryant could revive his career with quarterback Aaron Rodgers throwing him the ball, especially with Davante Adams and Randall Cobb the only established wide receivers on the roster. But the Packers spent three draft picks on wide receivers and signed tight end Jimmy Graham in free agency. It appears they will let those moves play out as opposed to bringing in someone else from the outside.

Packers sign first-round pick Jaire Alexander

Green Bay has nine of its 11 draft picks under contract.

First-round pick Jaire Alexander signed his rookie deal Tuesday, according to the Packers.

The 18th pick of the draft, Alexander is expected to battle for a starting spot in a revamped secondary. The Packers traded 2015 first-round pick Damarious Randall to Cleveland and allowed safety Morgan Burnett to walk in free agency. The team then added veteran cornerback Tramon Williams, before drafting Alexander and second-round pick Josh Jackson.

“The competition in the cornerback room, and just the whole defensive back room, is vastly improved [from] where it’s been the last two years,” coach Mike McCarthy said after the draft.

The only remaining unsigned picks are Jackson and linebacker Oren Burks, the team’s third-round pick.