GREEN BAY, Wis. – Receivers, running backs and tight ends lined up in front of the JUGS machines at practice on Wednesday and Thursday this week and waited for footballs to fly at them.

It wasn't because the Green Bay Packers had passes bouncing off their hands like Super Balls in Sunday's loss at the Buffalo Bills.

"That's something we do every week," Packers receivers coach Edgar Bennett said Thursday.

Surely, after seven drops – the most by one team in an NFL game since 2008 – that has to be a great emphasis this week.

"That's something we emphasize every week," Bennett said.

Clearly, it’s not something the Packers wanted to spend much time talking about this week. In fact, several players said they have been instructed not to talk about the Bills' game at all but rather speak only about Sunday’s game at Tampa Bay.

Dropped passes must not have been on the list of approved topics for Bennett.

“I’m going to defer all of that to coach Mike [McCarthy],” Bennett said.

So how do the players react after a case of the drops?

"Move on," said receiver Jordy Nelson, when asked about his drop that would have been a 94-yard touchdown. "That's all you can do."

And that's all he was willing to say.

The Packers haven't had to address the matter much this season. Before Sunday's game, they had the fifth-lowest drop percentage in the NFL at 3.1 percent, according to ESPN Stats & Information, which had charged them with just 13 drops through the first 13 games. Only five teams had fewer to that point.

After Sunday's game, they ranked tied for 20th in drop percentage (4.4) and only 11 teams had more drops than their 20.

"We'll stay the course," McCarthy said. "We're really focused on the things, really the same every week, in the areas of fundamentals, and definitely handling the ball is an emphasis this week."
GREEN BAY, Wis. – No offense to Eric Dickerson, but Eddie Lacy would rather not wear goggles on Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Green Bay Packers running back has an irritated left eye that he said was from his contact lens. He's had to go with just one contact this week but hopes to be able to wear both for Sunday's game. He said Thursday that there's no way he's wearing goggles.

"I refuse," Lacy said before backtracking slightly. "I don't want to say I refuse because I might, because I think it will be better than wearing contacts, but that's kind of old school."

And when Lacy thinks of goggles …

"That's what I get, Eric Dickerson," he said.

Lacy needs something to help his vision. As he leaned against a table in the middle of the Packers' locker room, he closed his right eye and tried to make out quarterback Scott Tolzien's nameplate across the way.

"Let's just say I'm very blind," Lacy said. "I can't see Scott's name over there."

Lacy needs just 60 yards to top the 1,000-yard mark for the second straight season. He's coming off a 15-carry, 97-yard game in Sunday's loss at the Buffalo Bills, a game in which he touched the ball only five times in the second half.

When asked whether he thought coach Mike McCarthy should have stuck with the running game more, Lacy said: "That ain't none of my business, bro. I do what's called."

Here's the full injury report from Thursday:
IRVING, Texas -- When it was learned DeMarco Murray would need surgery to repair a broken left hand, the immediate thought was that he could not play Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts.

Emmitt Smith and Terrell Owens had similar surgeries when they played for the Dallas Cowboys and they needed a week to recover.

Murray said he spoke briefly with Smith this week about playing through the injury and he planned to reach out to Green Bay Packers running back Eddie Lacy.

While at Alabama, Lacy played two games with the same injury before undergoing surgery prior to the Crimson Tide's BCS Championship Game against Notre Dame. Murray and Lacy are represented by the same agency, Sportstrust Advisors, with Pat Dye and Bill Johnson.

"I'll probably talk to him here today and see what he did and things of that nature, see what information he can give me about it," Murray said. "I'm not overthinking it. I'm just going out there and trying to work hard today and do what I can."

Lacy had 312 yards and four touchdowns in wins against Auburn and Georgia before the surgery. He had 140 yards and a touchdown against Notre Dame in the championship game.

"You talking about this?" Lacy said today, holding up his scarred left hand as he talked to reporters.

Like Murray, Lacy carried the ball predominantly in his right hand, "so it wasn't that big of a deal."

While he said he was not sure if he could have played one week after surgery, he said he was not afraid to use his left hand.

"Unconsciously I guess you could say," Lacy said.

NFL Nation Packers reporter Rob Demovsky contributed to this report.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Randall Cobb talked more about his contract situation at his locker on Thursday than he has with the Green Bay Packers, apparently.

Three months away from hitting free agency, the fourth-year receiver said he's no closer to getting a long-term deal done with the Packers than he was back in July, when he said he had not done enough to warrant an extension -- or at least not the kind of extension he wanted.

Here he is now, just four days after he surpassed the 1,000-yard receiving mark for the first time in a season, and little has changed for Cobb.

"There's no contract talks that have been going on right now, so I guess not," Cobb said during a lengthy session with reporters on Thursday. "I guess there's still more to do. So, just continue to put my nose down every day and focus on getting the team into the playoffs and doing everything I can to bring back the Super Bowl."

The Packers are expected to keep the Cobb-Jordy Nelson duo together, so perhaps general manager Ted Thompson is following a similar approach to the negotiations last season with cornerback Sam Shields, who signed a four-year, $39 million contract just a few hours after the negotiating window opened for free agents. Nelson, meanwhile, signed a similar contract extension in July.

Cobb admitted early in the season that the contract weighed on his mind as he got off to a slow start. Since Week 7, when Cobb caught six passes for 121 yards and a touchdown against the Carolina Panthers, he ranks eighth in the NFL in receiving yards and 13th in catches among all receivers. For the season, his 10 touchdowns ranks tied for eighth overall.

Yet he still thinks about his contract.

"I can't say I don't,” Cobb said.

But it doesn't bother him like it did early in the year.

"No, I'm still going to play football," he said.

Cobb has a strong support in his quarterback. On his ESPN Milwaukee radio show this week, Aaron Rodgers lobbied for Cobb's return.

"There's a lot of guys that embody what it means to be a Packer," Rodgers said on the show. "Over the years, there's been a number of guys who really just kind of bought into the Packer way of making it about the team and being a great locker room guy, being a guy you can count on every day to be a great teammate and a great practice player, and great in the community and take ownership of the responsibility to conduct yourself the right way. It's been fun to see a lot of those guys get paid and get second contracts and stick around, and Randall is one of those guys who's exactly what I was just talking about."

It's a sentiment that Cobb said he appreciated.

"You definitely hear from your teammate and friend, your quarterback," Cobb said. "It's a great feeling to hear that. He has that trust in me, and I'm just continuing to work for him and do the best I can for him."

And for himself and his contract.

"I am my biggest critic, I've always been my biggest critic [and] I'll always be my biggest critic," Cobb said. "So I still don't think I've earned what I'm trying to be. I've still got a lot of work to do. So I'm just taking it day by day and doing the best that I can to be the best that I can be for this team."

ESPN NFL Insider Mike Sando delivers stats to help you make a pick for Green Bay at Tampa Bay.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- On Wednesday, he was in the weight room and sat through the team meetings. On Thursday, he attended practice, although he did not participate. Bryan Bulaga appears to be in the final stages of the concussion protocol, which bodes well for the Green Bay Packers right tackle to play Sunday at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.


Bulaga left Sunday's loss at Buffalo in the fourth quarter and was later diagnosed with a concussion. JC Tretter, who had never before played right tackle, finished the game.

The only other players not practicing during the portion that was open to reporters on Thursday were cornerback Davon House (shoulder) and left guard Josh Sitton (toe). Sitton's workload appears to have lessened this week. House is not expected to play.

The full injury report will be available after practice.

Coach Mike McCarthy used his final allotted padded practice of the season on Thursday.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The question came up on our MVP roundtable debate, which can be found here: Will the timing of Aaron Rodgers' bad game -- one he called a "stinker" -- last Sunday in the road loss against the Buffalo Bills hurt his MVP chances?

Apparently not much, at least according to one oddsmaker.

The online sportsbook Bovada.LV still has Rodgers as the favorite. Two weeks ago, the same sportsbook listed Rodgers as a 1-to-2 favorite to win the MVP. This week, Rodgers was listed at 1-to-3. Tom Brady (5/1) was listed second with J.J Watt (7/1) third.

Here are the full odds for MVP this week (with the odds two weeks ago in parenthesis)
A roundup of what's happening on the Green Bay Packers beat.

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The voting is done. No matter what happens in this weekend's game, it can't impact anyone's Pro Bowl selections.

Fan voting was completed Monday. Players and coaches must turn in their ballots by the end of this week, although the Packers have already voted.

The Pro Bowl selections will be announced on Tuesday based on a consensus of the fan voting plus players and coaches selections. Each group's vote counts one-third.

And now we know how the fan voting went.

The NFL released the leading vote-getters at each position, and five Packers made the list. In fact, quarterback Aaron Rodgers topped the voting regardless of position. He received 1,015,004 votes, edging Denver's Peyton Manning (1,013,739). They were the only two players to top one million votes.

Receiver Jordy Nelson was ninth overall and second among receivers behind Pittsburgh's Antonio Brown. Guard Josh Sitton was second at his position behind Cleveland's Joel Bitonio, while Jarrett Bush was second among special teams players behind Cleveland's Johnson Bademosi. John Kuhn was the leading vote-getter at fullback.

For Bush, Nelson and Sitton, it would be their first Pro Bowl selections.

In case you missed it on Best of the rest:
video When: 1 p.m. ET Sunday Where: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Florida TV: Fox

For five straight weeks, the Green Bay Packers looked like they might have been the best team in football.

They seemed to be in cruise control for home-field advantage in the NFC playoffs. Then the Packers went to Buffalo, and a strange thing happened. Playing what might have been their worst game of the season, the Packers lost to the Bills.

Consider that proof that anything is possible in the NFL. Consider that proof that it’s not out of the question that the 2-12 Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a chance against the Packers on Sunday. That may seem like a long shot, but last week showed nothing is guaranteed.

ESPN Buccaneers reporter Pat Yasinskas and ESPN Packers reporter Rob Demovsky break down Sunday's game:

Yasinskas: Rob, what the heck happened to the Packers in Buffalo? I didn't see that one coming.

Demovsky: I don't think anyone did, Pat. But in hindsight, the Bills have just the kind of defense that could give -- and has given -- Aaron Rodgers and Co. trouble. They have a great front four that allows them to drop the maximum number of defenders into coverage. It's the same reason the Seahawks and Lions had been successful against the Packers. But if Rodgers and his receivers had even played an average game, that wouldn't have happened. Sometimes the stats lie, but in this case, they didn't. It was indeed one of the worst games I've ever seen Rodgers play, and I've seen all of them. He was out of sync from the get-go. He would read a play one way and his receivers would read it another. That's a bad recipe for an offense that relies on timing and reading the defense.

With that in mind, Pat, Lovie Smith's defenses gave Rodgers some trouble back in Chicago. Is there any reason to think the Buccaneers can come close to replicating what the Bills did?

Yasinskas: Probably not, especially with defensive tackle Gerald McCoy now out for the rest of the season with a knee injury. But if Tampa Bay does have a bright spot, it's the defense, which has been respectable since the bye week. The pass rush has been decent and the linebackers have played well. The secondary hasn't been great, but it has been better than it was in the first half of the season. This defense is improving steadily, but it still isn't as good as what Smith had in Chicago. The Bucs would have to play a perfect game to stop the Packers, and this defense is far from perfect. I don't think the Bucs have what it takes to pull off what Buffalo did.

Did that one bad game cost Rodgers the MVP award?

Demovsky: It shouldn't, but he probably needs to bounce back with one more of those three-plus-touchdown/no-interception games. It's human nature for the voters to remember what they've seen most recently, and of all the MVP candidates, Rodgers is probably the one whose bad game has come the latest in the season. Nevertheless, his efficiency this season has been off the charts. If 35 touchdowns and only five interceptions isn't an MVP pace, I don't know what is.

I know the Bucs have tried Josh McCown and Mike Glennon at various times this season at quarterback. Have they seen enough to know whether they can count on or rule out either one or both as their starter next season?

Yasinskas: I think the only thing that has been settled is that Glennon is not viewed as the long-term answer by the coaching staff. Although he was referred to as the quarterback of the future, he has been benched in favor of McCown twice -- once upon McCown's arrival and again when McCown returned from a thumb injury. That tells me Glennon has no future here. And McCown is no long-term answer. He's 35 and he hasn't played like the savvy veteran the Bucs expected. He has turned the ball over too much and been inconsistent. Whether it's through the draft or free agency, the Bucs need to make a move at quarterback this offseason.

I read where Packers coach Mike McCarthy was quoted as saying there would be some change on special teams this week. What's that all about?

Demovsky: When you've had six kicks blocked (two punts, two field goals and two extra points), you know you have a problem. And then the Bills returned a punt 75 yards for a touchdown. McCarthy said this week that "the personnel is not right." Fifteen weeks into the season, it was shocking to hear, but it's a sure sign that there will be some new players or old players in different roles on those units this week.

I'm sure plenty of Packers fans are already chalking this one up in the win column, but what's the most likely way the Bucs could pull off an upset Sunday?

Yasinskas: It's a long shot any way you look at it. But the best chance for Tampa Bay would be if the defense plays a great game. That's going to be tough without McCoy, but there still is enough individual talent on this defense to have a good outing. To win, though, the defense has to be more than good. It has to be outstanding, and it would have to produce points, because Tampa Bay's offense isn't explosive enough to stay with the Packers. Like I said, it's a long shot, but you never know what you're going to get with the Bucs.

GREEN BAY, Wis. – Aaron Rodgers has been with Mike McCarthy from the start. He has seen or heard every one of the Green Bay Packers coach's motivational devices.

That includes McCarthy's memorable "we’re nobody's underdog" line late in the 2010 season when they were, indeed, decided underdogs going into a game at the New England Patriots with Matt Flynn as their quarterback because of Rodgers' concussion. And there was the act of getting sized for Super Bowl rings the night before the game, although Rodgers said he actually missed the ring-fitting process on the eve of Super Bowl XLV.

If this season's defining moment was Rodgers' R-E-L-A-X comment after the 1-2 start, then McCarthy's decision to have the team elect postseason captains this week before the team has even clinched a spot could be what carries the Packers forward.

"I don’t think it's anything other than a mindset for him," Rodgers said Wednesday. "He likes to ooze confidence out of himself. It's a toughness from his Pittsburgh roots, but it's a confidence that he trusts the guys that he's going to get it done."

Rodgers, of course, was picked as one of those captains, joining Jordy Nelson, Julius Peppers, Morgan Burnett, Randall Cobb and Jarrett Bush.

"I don't think it was necessarily assuming we were going to make the playoffs," Peppers said. "It's just that time of the year. You want guys that's going to emphasize having that sense of urgency and leading that time of the year. It's the playoff time of the year. We're not assuming we've already made it."

The Packers need a victory on Sunday at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers plus some help from others to clinch a spot this weekend.

This move by McCarthy might not have been about playoff captains as much as it was to refocus the Packers after their five-game winning streak disappeared into the ether with Sunday's loss at the Buffalo Bills.

"Clearly, this is an opportunity to give people more credibility, more opportunities to take the platform," McCarthy said. "I think leadership is something every coach is focused on. I've always looked for ways to create opportunities for leadership. You can't assign it. Leadership has to come from the locker room. Credibility has to come from the locker room. That's why the locker room votes on it.

"This is clearly an opportunity identifying these are the six men we want to lead us down the stretch. And with that, those six men have accepted the responsibility."

The NFL Live crew make their picks for Green Bay at Tampa Bay.
GREEN BAY, Wis. – There were plenty of names – including some big-name players – on the Green Bay Packers injury report, but the concern level remained low about a majority of the eight players on Wednesday's list.

Even right tackle Bryan Bulaga, who remains in the concussion protocol after he dropped out of Sunday's loss at the Buffalo Bills, appears to have a good chance to play this Sunday at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Although Bulaga did not practice Wednesday, he was able to work out and attend meetings, which is a sign he has passed through the early stages of the concussion program.

"Looks great," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Wednesday of Bulaga. "Saw him in the weight room, in the meetings this morning. Making progress."

Outside linebacker Clay Matthews was added to the injury report with a biceps injury and running back Eddie Lacy, who last week had a hip injury, was listed this week with an eye issue.

"Eddie's just a situation he has going on with his eye that's not game-related," McCarthy said. "I think we'll be fine there. I don't think Clay's is of serious nature. I think we'll be OK there."

Both Lacy and Matthews finished Sunday's game against the Bills. Lacy rushed for 97 yards and Matthews had one of his best games of the season with two sacks.

Here's the full injury report:
  • T Bryan Bulaga (concussion, did not practice)
  • CB Davon House (shoulder, did not practice)
  • RB Eddie Lacy (eye, limited participant)
  • G T.J. Lang (ankle, limited participant)
  • LB Clay Matthews (biceps, limited participant)
  • OLB Mike Neal (abdomen, limited participant)
  • OLB Nick Perry (shoulder, limited participant)
  • G Josh Sitton (toe, did not practice)

Packers name playoff captains

December, 17, 2014
Dec 17

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- It's playoff time for the Green Bay Packers. At least it's time for them to start thinking that way.

That's why coach Mike McCarthy announced Wednesday that the Packers have selected their six playoff captains -- something that's normally not done until the postseason begins.

McCarthy put it to a vote, and the players selected quarterback Aaron Rodgers and receiver Jordy Nelson to represent the offense, outside linebacker Julius Peppers and safety Morgan Burnett to represent the defense, and receiver Randall Cobb and cornerback Jarrett Bush to represent the special teams.

"It's almost playoff time, but for us it kind of is," Nelson said Wednesday. "We need to win these games to get into the playoffs and start playing good football. Just trying to be proactive and just making sure guys step up and be those leaders."

The Packers don't have season-long captains; they have different representatives each week during the regular season. But league rules require teams to pick the same captains throughout the postseason.

"I felt the need to give these men the chance to stand up front and take the responsibility that their teammates have placed upon them," McCarthy said. "That's the way we're approaching them. It's time to ramp it up and make sure we're playing our best football this time of year."

The Packers' chance for the No. 1 seed in the NFC took a hit with Sunday's 21-13 loss to the Bills

(Read full post)