Packers put two on IR, add cornerback

Roughly 24 hours after setting his 53-man roster, Green Bay Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst made some changes to it.

The team announced it had placed rookie linebacker Kamal Martin and cornerback Kabion Ento on injured reserve.

Martin had been in contention for a starting spot at inside linebacker before suffering a knee injury during practice at Lambeau Field. The fifth-round pick out of Minnesota will reportedly miss at least six weeks.

Ento was playing well, too, before a foot injury in the final week of training camp. The undrafted free agent spent all of 2019 on the Packers’ practice squad.

Both guys are eligible to return after the first three weeks of the season.

Gutekunst also added cornerback Parry Nickerson to the active roster. A sixth-round pick of the New York Jets in 2018, Nickerson played in all 16 games as a rookie. He was traded to Seattle last August and spent last year on the Seahawks and Jacksonville practice squads. Late in the season, the 5-foot-10, 182-pound saw action in four games for the Jaguars.

Green Bay still has one open spot on its roster.

The Packers will get the 2020 season underway Sunday when they travel to Minnesota to take on the Vikings.

Bucks keep season alive with OT win

The Milwaukee Bucks season is still alive.

Khris Middleton scored 36 points as the Bucks overcame the loss of Giannis Antetokounmpo with a 118-115 win over Miami in Game 4 Sunday afternoon. It left the Heat up 3-1 in the best-of-seven series.

Antetokounmpo had 19 points when he re-injured his ankle early in the second quarter and Milwaukee trailing by two. Without the presumptive NBA MVP, the rest of the Bucks roster stepped up and no one more than Middleton.

The veteran had 21 points in the third quarter — a team-record for a playoff game. Then, in overtime, he scored nine points, including drilling a huge 3-pointer with 6.9 seconds left to give Milwaukee a 116-112 lead. Middleton closed the game with two clutch free throws with 2.2 seconds left to fend off the Heat and keep the Bucks season going.

A big fourth quarter from Brook Lopez and Eric Bledsoe played a significant role in helping things get to overtime. The duo combined for 28 points, 15 rebounds and eight assists. When they were on the court, the Bucks outscored Miami by 24 points.

Milwaukee’s bench also gave them a lift, too. The five subs combined for 32 points, highlighted by George Hill’s 12 points and Donte DiVincenzo’s 10. The latter hit 1 of 2 from the free throw line in the final seconds of regulation to get the game to OT.

Miami was paced by Bam Adebayo’s 26 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists, while Duncan Robinson had 20 points (6-for-12 on 3-pointers).

The Bucks will look to keep the series going Tuesday in Game 5.

Jake Kumerow, Alex Light among those cut as Packers get roster down to 53

Following an unprecedented offseason and training camp, the Green Bay Packers have their roster in place — for now.

All NFL teams had to have their rosters down to the 53-man roster limit by 3 p.m. Saturday. Though names were reported throughout the day by various beat writers, the Packers finally sent out the official list at 4:33 p.m.

Among the notable names were wide receiver Jake Kumerow, tackle Alex Light and center Jake Hanson.

Kumerow, a local favorite having played his college football at UW-Whitewater, played in 19 games over the last two years for the Packers. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers talked him up earlier in the week, going as far as to say he was among the guys that he felt were locks to make the team. Kumerow had 20 catches for 322 yards and two scores in his time with the club.

The Packers ended up keeping five wide receivers, with the new addition being former Division II standout Malik Taylor. He had a strong camp after spending last year on the team’s practice squad.

Hanson was the only healthy member of Green Bay’s 2020 draft class not to make the team. A sixth-round draft choice out of Oregon, Hanson struggled at times just snapping the ball with the quarterback under center after spending his entire college career in the shotgun. The Packers felt comfortable with Lucas Patrick backing up starter Corey Linsley, as he did a year ago.

Light spent the past two years with the club after signing as an undrafted free agent. He played in 13 games last season, though most of that was on the field goal unit.

Instead of Light, the Packers kept Yosh Nijman. An undrafted free agent the team signed in 2019, he spent the first 12 weeks of the season on injured reserve. He was activated in late November but never played and ended up going back on injured reserve. The 6-foot-7, 314-pound Nijman missed the first few weeks of training camp this year but the team clearly has high future hopes for him.

Here is the full list of the players cut and other roster moves to get down to the 53-man limit:

• CB DaShaun Amos 
• LB Krys Barnes
• TE Evan Baylis
• WR Reggie Begelton
• S Henry Black
• T Cody Conway
• RB Damarea Crockett
• LB Tipa Galeai
• C Jake Hanson
• G Zack Johnson
• WR Jake Kumerow
• T John Leglue
• T/G Alex Light
• FB John Lovett 
• DL Willington Previlon 
• LB Greg Roberts
• CB Stanford Samuels
• LB Delontae Scott
• WR Darrius Shepherd
• WR Malik Turner
• RB Dexter Williams
• LB Tim Williams
 
The team has placed LB Curtis Bolton on reserve/physically unable to perform, placed G Simon Stepaniak and RB Patrick Taylor on reserve/non-football injury, and waived/injured DL Treyvon Hester and CB Will Sunderland.

Packers’ OL Billy Turner will reportedly miss time with a knee injury

Sunday’s scrimmage was costly to the Green Bay Packers.

In addition to rookie linebacker Kamal Martin suffering a knee injury that needed surgery, the team has also lost offensive lineman Billy Turner for at least a little bit.

According to ESPN’s Rob Demovsky, Turner injured his knee during 11-on-11 work inside Lambeau Field. After being looked at by trainers, he was able to return to action. However, he was not able to go Wednesday when the Packers returned to the practice field.

After starting all 16 games last season at right guard, Turner opened camp in a competition at the right guard and right tackle spot. His main competitor at the tackle spot, Rick Wagner, missed a week with an injury. That allowed Lane Taylor to grab hold of the right guard job and he is likely to be the starter, with Turner slotting in at right tackle. With Turner’s injury, it leaves Wagner, who returned to action last week.

“It’s slightly unsettled. I would say strong to quite strong on the unsettled department. It’s just what we’ve got to figure out at this point,” quarterback Aaron Rodgers said Wednesday of the right tackle spot. “I’m sure those guys have a plan for whatever situation comes up. It is what it is as this point. We’ve got to figure this out. It might be just trial by fire come Week 1.”

The Packers will face Minnesota’s dangerous pass rushing duo of Danielle Hunter and Yannick Ngakoue in the first game of the season.

Packers: Impressive rookie LB Kamal Martin reportedly undergoes knee surgery

Green Bay will be without its most impressive rookie for at least a few weeks.

According to Rob Demovsky of ESPN, linebacker Kamal Martin will undergo knee surgery.

A further report from NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport said Martin had surgery on his meniscus Tuesday and will miss 6-to-8 weeks.

Martin dropped out late in Sunday’s practice and trainers were working with him on the sideline. He appeared to be trying to stretch out his left leg but he was unable to return.

A fifth-round pick, Martin was a standout during the practices open to the media over the last two weeks. He was routinely in the opposing backfield, shooting through the line to make a tackle for loss. His play had him in position to play a big role for Mike Pettine’s defense in his first year.

Martin played much of his senior season at Minnesota with an injured right knee. He eventually had surgery and missed the Gophers bowl game and was unable to take part in the NFL combine. When COVID-19 hit, it also wiped out his pro day, so he sent a video of him working out to all 32 teams.

With Martin out, and third-year linebacker Oren Burks also missing practice on Sunday, the Packers are thin at inside linebacker. 2019 seventh-round pick Ty Summers figures to get an opportunity next to free agent addition Christian Kirskey with the top unit.

Green Bay is back on the practice field Wednesday morning. The team must have its roster down to 53 by Saturday at 3 p.m. The Packers open the season Sept. 13 at Minnesota.

Murphy: ‘Fighting racism is not an issue the Packers will shy away from’

When Billy Turner spoke with reporters Friday the Green Bay Packers offensive lineman said it would go a long way if the 32 NFL owners took a stand for social justice and made their voice heard in the movement. On Saturday, the closest thing to an owner the Packers have, team president/CEO Mark Murphy, did just that.

In a video message posted on the team’s website, Murphy put the Packers stance on social justice efforts on full display.

“We feel this is an issue that obviously impacts the Black community, but it’s not up to just the Black community to solve this issue. It’s on all of us,” Murphy said. “I often hear from fans that we should just stick to sports. I have to respectfully disagree.”

Murphy said that they have had good talks with Wisconsin governor Tony Evers and Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke on a number of issues and added that players will be meeting with them in the future. He made a point of saying there is a hope to get body cameras on all police officers. The cost of the cameras is prohibitive and it’s one of the reasons why the officers in Kenosha that shot Jacob Blake last weekend were not wearing them.

Getting people registered to vote is also among the key initiatives listed by Murphy. To that point, they are going to make the Johnsonville Tailgate Village a polling station for the election in November. Murphy said the team will be making a $250,000 social justice impact grant, which will be in addition to the $500,000 it had given already this year.

“I also call on NFL owners. They are in powerful, privileged positions and can make a huge difference and obviously have close relations with everybody and all their organizations. It’s time to make changes,” Murphy said.

“As an organization, we will continue to find ways to support the Black community because Black lives matter. Fighting racism is not an issue the Packers will shy away from.”

Packers cancel Thursday practice, look for ways to make societal change

The Green By Packers were scheduled to practice Thursday morning but that didn’t happen.

The session that was set to get underway at 10:30 a.m. was postponed and eventually canceled by coach Matt LaFleur following an extensive team meeting to discuss ways they can make an impact in changing society in the wake of Jacob Blake’s shooting by Kenosha police earlier this week.

“Not one guy said that they didn’t want to practice today. That didn’t even come up,” LaFleur told reporters. “It was more or less we were having some really long conversations. I think when you feel that emotion in that room it’s hard to focus on football. It is emotionally draining for everybody in that room. I made the decision that, hey, we’re not going to go today. I just didn’t think it was right and we’ll see where we’re at tomorrow when we reconvene.”

The decision came as six other NFL teams also either canceled or postponed practices. That followed the Milwaukee Bucks decision, and eventually the entire NBA, to not take part in playoff games Wednesday. Six MLB teams also postponed their games, including in Milwaukee with the Brewers.

Bucks’ players spent nearly three hours in the locker room reaching out to Wisconsin officials, including Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes and Attorney General Josh Kaul, in an effort to let them know what they wanted. In a statement read by Sterling Brown and George Hill, the team called for the state legislature to reconvene and “address issues of police accountability, brutality and criminal justice reform.”

The Packers are still formulating their next actions.

“I think it’s no different than when you approach a game,” LaFleur said. “You have to put your plan together before you go play a game. You just don’t go wing it. That’s why I always want to be very cautious about divulging too much. We are in the process of putting our plan together and hopefully we can go out and execute that plan and see some significant changes in our society.”

Following the Packers announcement, a number of players took to social media to express their feelings. That included wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling and safety Adrian Amos.

“What’s so great about our sport and the essence of team is you’ve got a bunch of people from different backgrounds coming together in pursuit of a common goal,” LaFleur said. “If our society could emulate that, or could see how we operate as a team, our world would be a much better place.”

Yes, AJ Dillon has big legs. He’s also got some pretty good hands

Much has been made of AJ Dillon’s legs. They’ve become a bit of a mini-obsession among some members of the media. From pictures, to social media comments to questions asked of coach Matt LaFleur, the legs of the Green Bay Packers rookie running back have somehow, ridiculously, been among the stars of the first week of training camp.

“I think it’s funny. It’s always kind of been a thing,” Dillon said Thursday after practice. “It was more of a controlled joke and now it’s kind of all over. But it’s funny. I enjoy it and embrace it. I got big legs.”

The legs of the former Boston College star were a known commodity when the Packers selected him in the second round of April’s NFL Draft. What wasn’t, were his hands. Over his three years in college, Dillon touched the ball 866 times. Of those, only 21 (or 2.4 percent) came with him catching the ball out of the backfield.

Through five practices, though, the 247-pound Dillon has shown he’s comfortable when the ball is in the air and headed his way. That was on display again Thursday when he caught a bullet up the seam from backup quarterback Tim Boyle and withstood a shot from safety Will Redmond for what would have been a big gain.

“Something I’ve always harped on myself is I never want to be put in just a “big back box.” I think I can help out this team in any way. Legs, arms, hands, whatever it may be, I’m trying to be complete in all aspects of my game,” Dillon said. “Having those reps, going out and catching those passes, something I didn’t have the opportunity to do too much at (Boston College)… . “I’m getting used to it now and trying to help out the offense or wherever I can.”

Dillon worked hard on his hands prior to the NFL Combine in February and then spent time with first-round pick Jordan Love before the team came together for training camp. Now, it’s about taking advantage of the chances he’s being given in the offense.

“The coaches have done a great job getting me those reps out there, kind of putting me in situations I haven’t been exposed to and eventually me getting comfortable there,” Dillon said. “I’m excited. I’m just jumping all-in on the opportunity.”

Packers practice in the stadium, pipe in crowd noise

We know Lambeau Field will not have fans for at least the first two games of the season. We also know the NFL is planning to experiment with allowing teams to have ambient crowd noise to create a little more atmosphere. For those two reasons, the Packers were inside Lambeau Field for practice on Thursday.

“I thought it was super competitive,” LaFleur said of the nearly two-hour session. “There was definitely some stuff that can be better. No doubt about it, in terms of play. Our guys got to understand and adapt to a new environment. At the end of the day, it’s still football, whether we’re out on Nitschke (practice field) or we’re inside Lambeau, it’s still football.”

LaFleur said the crowd noise the team faced was a prototype of what the NFL is planning to use, though they will adjust it as needed. It’s unclear what the exact decibel level wwas, but LaFleur definitely took notice of it.

“I had our guys lower that decibel level down a little bit because we haven’t done any of our silent cadence,” LaFleur said. “When we first went out there, I thought it was pretty loud. Loud enough where you’d have to use a silent count.”

Some players sit, others return

Two of Green Bay’s most important players did not take part in practice. Outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith was out for a second straight day, while wide receiver Davante Adams sat after suffering an apparent ankle injury in Wednesday’s practice. LaFleur said he is not concerned about either player.

Safety Adrian Amos was not at practice. LaFluer said the veteran had to deal with a personal matter and was excused. He expects Amos to return to the team shortly.

As for guys returning, center Corey Linsley and tackle David Bakhtiari both took part in 11-on-11 drills after not doing so on Wednesday.

The one new injury came to right tackle Rick Wagner. The former Wisconsin standout suffered what appeared to be a left arm injury. After speaking with trainers for several minutes, he exited the field and did not return.

Packers appear to have avoided a serious injury on the first day in pads

The Green Bay Packers appear to have avoided a significant injury on the first day in pads.

Fourth-year defensive tackle Montravius Adams appeared to suffer a lower right leg injury during team drills midway through Tuesday’s practice. After speaking with trainers, Adams was placed on a cart and taken off the field. Despite the optics, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that the injury wasn’t serious.

Adams was running with the first-team defense prior to be sidelined.

Left tackle David Bakhtiari also left practice early. He appeared to injure his lower left leg. He tried to walk it off but had to be replaced by Alex Light. Soon after, the team went into the Don Hutson Center to finish practice and the All-Pro was able to walk — albeit slowly — inside.

Outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith was at practice but left the field at some point. It’s unclear if that was injury related or not.

Meanwhile, center Corey Linsley did not practice. Before the session got started, he was seen talking to coach Matt LaFleur outside while the rest of the team warmed up inside the Hutson Center.

LaFleur didn’t have an update on Adams, Bakhtiari or Smith afterwards, but said Linsley’s absence was precautionary.

The Packers will be back on the field for the fourth practice of camp Wednesday morning.

Packers’ backup QB Tim Boyle on the drafting of Jordan Love: ‘My heart dropped a little bit’

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ reaction to the Green Bay Packers picking Jordan Love in the first round of the NFL Draft in April has been well documented. But nobody knew how Rodgers’ backup last year, Tim Boyle, reacted to the selection until he spoke with reporters after Monday’s practice.

“I can still remember it. It’s honestly a feeling I’ll never forget,” said Boyle, who was watching the draft with friends and family at his home. “Obviously, just seeing the name Jordan Love pop up, my heart dropped a little bit. But at that point it’s out of your control and it’s time to go back to work. That’s how I approached my offseason. I don’t get paid to make those decisions. I’m here to compete and have a good time doing it and bring some smiles to the party and be the best quarterback I can be.”

Boyle is entering his third season with the Packers. He made the team as the third-string quarterback in 2018 after going undrafted. The team cut DeShone Kizer at the end of the 2019 preseason and elevated Boyle to be Rodgers’ backup. He saw action in three games and completed three passes.

Like Rodgers, Boyle said he knows Love didn’t choose to be picked by Green Bay.

“By no means is it Jordan’s fault or anyone’s fault. Jordan’s a great guy and we’re obviously very lucky to have him,” Boyle said. “I think at first it was a little shocking just from a, ‘Oh, man, we got a first round quarterback.’ All those thoughts rushing to your head, but then you kind of settle down and go back to work.”

Through two practices, Boyle has looked more confident in his second year in coach Matt LaFleur’s offense. He’s connected on some big time throws, including a pretty touch pass down the seam during Tuesday’s session. Still, LaFleur wasn’t ready to lavish a ton of praise on the 25-year-old just yet.

“I think, really, everybody that is returning looks more comfortable and more confident,” LaFleur said. “But we’re two days into this thing. As we continue to progress, the installs build upon each other. We’ll see where he’s at then.”