Banged up Packers get ready to meet Redskins

WASHINGTON — The Green Bay Packers will be shorthanded Saturday night when they meet the Washington Redskins for preseason game No. 2.

With running back Ty Montgomery nursing a lower leg injury and Davon House (hamstring) and Damarious Randall (concussion) sitting out in the secondary, Saturday’s matchup will be a true test of Green Bay’s depth.

Its backfield will consist of rookies Jamaal Williams, Aaron Jones, and Devante Mays, while Quinten Rollins and Kevin King figure to be the starting corners. Josh Hawkins could also be in the mix. The Packers’ run game wasn’t very effective against the Eagles in the preseason opener, carrying the ball just 18 times for 47 yards.

The offense will be tested in the passing game, as well. With Aaron Rodgers unlikely to play, it’ll be Brett Hundley under center, backed up by Joe Callahan and Taysom Hill, who will battle for the No. 3 job. But their targets will be few and far between, with receivers DeAngelo Yancey dealing with a groin strain and Malachi Dupre still in the concussion protocol. That should leave plenty of reps for Geronimo Allison, Michael Clark, Trevor Davis, Jeff Janis, and Max McCaffrey to make their cases to make the 53-man roster.

Other areas the Green Bay coaching staff will be focused on include tackling (16 missed tackles vs Philadelphia), turnovers (two fumbles lost, one interception vs Philadelphia), and backup center (Don Barclay out indefinitely with an ankle injury).

Kickoff time from FedEx Field is set for 6:30 p.m. CT. on WKOW | TV.

Ted Thompson on anthem protests: ‘Free people can do what they like’

The Green Bay Packers haven’t yet been forced to react to one of their players not standing for the national anthem, but we now know what general manager Ted Thompson thinks about it.

At his weekly press conference on Thursday, the 64-year-old was asked about the form of protest that has seen former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett and others not stand during the anthem as a way to bring attention to what they believe is the oppression of people of color in the United States.

“If you’re asking me from a personal standpoint, [it’s] not what I would,” Thompson said. “[But] this is a free country in my opinion. Free people can do what they like.”

Coach Mike McCarthy has put an emphasis on teaching his team each year what the national anthem is about, going so far as to give a Powerpoint presentation.

“Our approach has always been to give the history and the understanding of what the national anthem means and why it’s played before any [NFL] game,” McCarthy said Wednesday. “I go through the whole history and the importance of what it means to you personally.

“That’s something we did right before Family Night, which is the norm.”

Bennett’s brother, Martellus, plays for the Packers, and he told reporters this week he backs Michael’s stance, but stopped short of saying he’d follow suit.

“I’m more of an in-the-moment type guy,” Bennett said Tuesday. “I don’t pre-plan anything like that. If it happens, it happens.”

Green Bay plays its second preseason game on Saturday night at Washington.

Ty Montgomery, Josh Jones left Tuesday’s practice with injuries

GREEN BAY, Wis. — Two key members of the Green Bay Packers left Tuesday’s practice with lower leg injuries — running back Ty Montgomery and safety Josh Jones.

Montgomery was looking ahead to his first full season as a running back after making the position change from wide receiver midway through the 2016 campaign. Instead, he’s now focused on his health after coming up gimp with a lower leg injury. As Acme Packing Company writer Paul Noonan writes, the vague description of that injury could be cause for concern. But Packers beat writer Ryan Wood offered a bit of good news for Packer fans:

Montgomery endured a complicated ankle injury his rookie year in 2015 which required major surgery, cutting his season short.

Rookie safety Josh Jones was also injured in Tuesday’s practice, leaving on a cart while nursing his ankle.

The injury to Jones adds to a banged up secondary. Damarious Randall and Marwin Evans were both treated for concussions in Thursday’s preseason win over the Eagles. Randall has since been ruled out for Saturday’s preseason game with the Redskins.

Receiver Malachi Dupre (concussion) and center Don Barclay (ankle) have also been ruled out for the game in Washington, D.C.

Packers’ Martellus Bennett backs his brother, says athletes have a right to speak up

Michael and Martellus Bennett are very similar people in the way in which they express themselves. So it was no surprise to see the latter show his support for the former’s decision to remain seated during the national anthem prior to the Seattle Seahawks preseason opener on Sunday.

“I think he’s very well educated on what he wants to happen in the world and what he’s trying to communicate,” Martellus Bennett said Tuesday of his brother, a defensive end for the Seahawks. “I think he does an awesome job and I love him to death. I think he’s very courageous in the position he’s in and the things he says.”

Michael Bennett’s decision to sit came a year after former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick first drew criticism for sitting during the anthem as a way to protest what he viewed as the oppression of people of color in the United States. And more timely, Bennett’s display came a day after a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia turned violent, resulting in the death of one counter protestor and more than 30 injuries to others in attendance.

On Monday, former Packers tight end Jermichael Finley posted, in a tweet that has since been deleted, that athletes are role models that should leave personal opinions about race and politics alone. Essentially, be quiet and play the game. Martellus Bennett, the Packers current tight end, was not OK with that.

LISTEN: Martellus Bennett addresses the media following Tuesday’s practice

“He says we should be role models, but what role is he modeling? It’s like saying you’re a doctor and have no opinion. You’re a teacher, you have no opinion,” said Bennett, who signed with the Packers in the offseason. “You’re a truck driver. We don’t care what you have to say. Or you’re a reporter, why are you writing something about politics? You should stick to sports. It makes no sense.

“I don’t know what his intentions were, but I think there’s a lot of bad information just programmed [into us]. Guys have been programmed for so long that we have to re-program the youth so that they can think differently.

“I worry about the world and the country and the state we are in, not so much for myself, because I feel liked I’m already (expletive), but more for my daughter and my kids. I want to better the future for her so she doesn’t have to go through what we’re going through. There’s a lot of stuff that is repeating itself that shouldn’t. It’s 2017. I shouldn’t have to worry about guys with lynch mobs in Virginia. I should be flying a (expletive) car right now. What the hell?”

Asked if he might follow in his brother’s footsteps and stay seated on Saturday during the national anthem in Washington D.C., Bennett wasn’t willing to say one way or the other.

“I’m more of an in-the-moment type guy,” he said. “I don’t pre-plan anything like that. If it happens, it happens.”

Josh Jones carted off the practice field, Packers not concerned

According to a report by Green Bay Packers beat writer Rob Demovsky, Josh Jones limped off the practice field Tuesday. It appeared that Jones turned his right ankle on the play and was in pain.

Packers coach Mike McCarthy said that Jones didn’t turn his ankle, but rather had his foot stepped on during yesterday’s practice.

He made it to the cart where he sat and had a large ice pack on his ankle. He stayed at practice long enough to ice his ankle, but ended up leaving practice on a cart shortly there after.

The Packers coaches don’t seem too worried about Josh Jones or his injured ankle. Most likely Jones has a minor ankle sprain. Hopefully the team can stay healthy until their next preseason game on Saturday against the Washington Redskins.

 

Green Bay bringing back long snapper Brett Goode

The Green Bay Packers have brought back veteran long snapper Brett Goode.

The move was announced Saturday afternoon.

Goode has spent the last nine years with Green Bay, but the team didn’t attempt to re-sign him when he hit the market as an unrestricted free agent in March. The Packers entered training camp with only rookie Derek Hart on the roster. However, with concerns about its field goal and extra point operations, the team has brought back someone who is very familiar to kicker Mason Crosby. Goode has played in 142 games since coming to Green Bay in 2008, just a year after Crosby joined the team.

This is the second straight year that Goode has re-signed with the team late in the offseason. Last year, coming off a torn ACL at the end of 2015, he wasn’t brought back until the final cutdown day at the beginning of September. He went on to handle all the snapping duties in 2016, including on Crosby’s game-winning field goal against Dallas in the divisional round of the playoffs.

As of now, Hart remains on the roster. Goode takes the place of nose tackle Letroy Guion, who was cut this past week.

Packers believe hits on Randall, Dupre were illegal

GREEN BAY, Wis. — Packers cornerback Damarious Randall and receiver Malachi Dupre left Thursday night’s preseason game against the Eagles after being aggressively tackled. And now coach Mike McCarthy is challenging the legality of those hits.

During a running play in the first quarter, Randall was hit in the side of the head on a crack block by Eagles receiver Bryce Treggs. That hit did not result in a penalty for Treggs, but Randall was ruled out for the rest of the game with a concussion.

A more serious injury was endured by Dupre, the seventh-round draft pick out of LSU. During the fourth quarter, he was leveled by a hit from Tre Sullivan that resulted in Dupre being carted off the field on a stretcher. He posted his status from a hospital later that night.

Packers coach Mike McCarthy believes those hits were illegal, telling reporters Friday afternoon that tape of the plays have been submitted to the NFL to review their legality.

“Obviously, player safety is at the forefront of that,” McCarthy began. “…and when you see things like those two hits last night, they’re definitely of concern in the area of player safety.”

“If I turned them into the league, I don’t think they’re legal hits.”

The NFL could determine Dupre was a defenseless receiver on the play, a penalty that carries a minimum fine of $24,309 if the league finds Sullivan at fault. It’s uncertain how long it will take before the Packers hear back on the result of the review.

Green Bay opens the preseason with a 24-9 win over the Eagles

Brett Hundley threw a touchdown pass and Trevor Davis returned a punt for a score to help the Green Bay Packers beat the Philadelphia Eagles 24-9 in the preseason opener for both teams Thursday night at Lambeau Field.

“We took a step tonight as a football team,” coach Mike McCarthy said. “It’s always important to win. This game is about winning even if it is the preseason.”

Starting in place of Aaron Rodgers at quarterback, Hundley got off to a bit of a rough start, fumbling the first snap of the game. But he got it going in the second quarter, leading a Green Bay scoring drive that he capped off with a pretty 20-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Jeff Janis. Hundley finished the night 8 of 15 for 90 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

The throw to Janis was the second touchdown of the night, though, as Davis had been in the end zone just minutes earlier thanks to a 68-yard punt return for a score.

“Trevor did an outstanding job not only getting vertical but finishing there when he bounced outside and made the punter miss and scored a touchdown,” McCarthy said. “A well executed play and a great return.”

Undrafted rookie Taysom Hill capped the scoring for the night by finding another undrafted rookie, wide receiver Michael Clark, for a 7-yard touchdown late in the fourth quarter.

Defensively, Green Bay forced four turnovers, including a pair of interceptions. But the one series that the entire first-team defense was on the field for, Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz carved them up. The team’s first-round pick in 2016, Wentz was 4 of 4 for 56 yards and tossed a 38-yard touchdown to Mack Hollins.

Unfortunately, the biggest story of the night was injuries. Cornerback Damarious Randall left with a concussion, center Don Barclay was carted off the field with an ankle injury and rookie wide receiver Malachi Dupre was taken off the field on a stretcher after absorbing a big hit in the fourth quarter. He later tweeted he was OK.

Green Bay’s next preseason game is Aug. 19 at Washington.

Jake’s Take: Packers may have to keep WR Michael Clark

GREEN BAY | As the Packers kickoff their preseason opener tonight, one player to keep an eye on is receiver Michael Clark. The 6 foot 6 inch wideout out who admittedly knows very little about football (he played just one year at Marshall after excelling as a basketball player) continues to make eye popping plays in training camp. The Packers quarterbacks have enjoyed just throwing the ball up for grabs and letting him come down with it. Clark had two touchdowns in Tuesday’s practice.

In this week’s edition of Jake’s Take, sports director Jake Zimmermann says the Packers may have no choice but to keep Clark on the roster when the cuts are made the last week in August.

Here’s this week’s Jake’s Take:

Brett Favre thought Aaron Rodgers would have more than one title by now

Count Brett Favre among those surprised Green Bay hasn’t won more than one Super Bowl with quarterback Aaron Rodgers under center.

Speaking at the Lee Remmel Sports Award Banquet in Green Bay Wednesday night, the former Packers quarterback and Pro Football Hall of Fame member told the crowd that he expected the title in 2010 to be followed by more.

“So many factors go into winning and losing other than the individual performance itself. Obviously, Aaron has carried the team for a long time. That’s not going to change. But that in itself is not enough. At least it hasn’t been,” Favre said. “As good as he is, I would have thought they would have won more than one by now, but I don’t know if he can do anything else other than what he’s done up to this point.”

Many said the same thing about Favre’s career. Despite seven division titles and 11 trips to the playoffs during his 16 years in Green Bay, Favre had to settle for the one ring he won in Super Bowl XXXI.

“I don’t think about it as much now,” Favre said. “It’s more directing my focus to something else, because when I was playing there was something I could do about it. ‘Next year there’s a chance. There’s always next year.’ But once you’re done, it’s done.”

Luckily for Rodgers and the Packers, it’s not done yet. And in Favre’s mind, winning a second title this year is definitely within the team’s reach.

“From what I can tell, outside looking in, all the pieces seem to be in place,” Favre said. “A bold prediction would be the Rams win the Super Bowl. A not so bold [pick] would be the Packers. That’s not a [biased] choice, that’s just being realistic. I think they have a good chance.”