[+] EnlargeB.J. Raji
AP Photo/Tom DiPaceB.J. Raji signed a one-year, $4 million deal with Green Bay this offseason.

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Green Bay Packers nose tackle B.J. Raji is out for the season after sustaining a torn right biceps in Friday's preseason game against the Oakland Raiders, a league source confirmed.

Raji did not speak to reporters after the game but was seen leaving Lambeau Field with a large ice bag on his right arm.

"You have an initial exam," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said after the game. "He's pretty confident about it. That's why you do the tests. We'll see what the tests say."

Raji is the first starter the Packers have lost to an injury this preseason. They had three players sustain season-ending knee injuries -- receiver Jared Abbrederis, offensive lineman Don Barclay and tight end Colt Lyerla -- but all were backups.

NFL Network earlier reported the news of the biceps tear.

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Ranking contenders by QB dependence 

August, 23, 2014
Aug 23
Tarvaris JacksonJoe Nicholson/USA TODAY SportsIf Russell Wilson can't play, the Seahawks remain confident with Tarvaris Jackson at quarterback.
The days when the San Francisco 49ers could switch quarterbacks at midseason and still reach the Super Bowl feel increasingly distant with each Blaine Gabbert misfire during the 2014 preseason. Gabbert averaged 2.4 yards per attempt on 25 passes through two preseason games, making the stat line for fellow backup Josh Johnson appear dynamic by comparison.

Gabbert's struggles, compounded by dropped passes, provide an opportunity to size up where the 49ers fit among other contending teams in perceived ability to win without their starter. Conversations with two NFL general managers, one coordinator and a position coach produced a range of opinions. I've drawn from those conversations in putting together a 1-10 ranking for the teams Las Vegas has assigned the best odds for winning the Super Bowl this season.

1. Seattle Seahawks (6-1 Super Bowl odds)
Starter: Russell Wilson
Backups: Tarvaris Jackson, Terrelle Pryor

Teams can win while minimizing the QB position if they play great defense and/or run the ball effectively. The Seahawks can do both as well as any team. Jackson grew up in the offensive system while playing under current Seattle coordinator Darrell Bevell in Minnesota. He went 7-7 as the Seahawks' starter in 2011, when the team had less of a supporting cast.

"Seattle has a great supporting cast with playmakers on both sides of the ball," one GM said.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Coach Mike McCarthy should just go ahead and call off the competition for the Green Bay Packers' backup quarterback job and demand that general manager Ted Thompson keep both Matt Flynn and Scott Tolzien on the roster.

Maybe Thompson will feel as though he cannot afford to use three roster spots on quarterbacks. After all, he hasn't done so since 2008, and even then it was only because he wasn't ready to give up on second-round pick Brian Brohm.

But he also hasn’t had three worth keeping like he does now.

Given how close the competition is behind Aaron Rodgers, the safe thing to do would be to find a place for Flynn and Tolzien, especially after what the Packers went through last season when Rodgers broke his collarbone and missed seven starts.

The Packers need three quarterbacks to practice anyway, and since Tolzien has run out of practice squad eligibility, it’s the roster or bust for both backups.

Rodgers won’t play in Thursday’s preseason finale against the Kansas City Chiefs, so expect Flynn and Tolzien to get a long look. But even McCarthy would not go so far as to say it’s a winner-take-all situation for the backup job.

“Well, we’ll see,” McCarthy said after Friday’s preseason game against the Oakland Raiders. “I’m not going to make statements like that.”

Based on game production alone, Tolzien might have closed the gap on -- and possibly even overtaken -- Flynn. Against the Raiders, Tolzien threw the ball with the kind of zip that Flynn does not always show, and he completed 8 of 11 passes for 107 yards and a touchdown. But he also was the beneficiary of a diving catch by Chris Harper for a 27-yard gain and a juggling catch by Alex Gillett for a 15-yard touchdown.

“I’ve been in games where all of those have been incompletions, and tonight, guys were making plays on the ball,” Tolzien said. “The line was protecting, so there were a lot of guys doing good things.”

Meanwhile, Flynn completed just 4 of 10 passes for 37 yards and had a screen pass go terribly wrong and turn into an interception.

However, Flynn was undone by scores of mental errors and fundamental mistakes.

“We had one decent drive, one when I was in there, and it was OK,” said Flynn of the 12-play, 34-yard drive that led to a field goal. “But we’ve got to clean up the mistakes. We’re having some missed opportunities.”

For the preseason, Tolzien has blown away Flynn in nearly every statistical category. His passer rating is 104.9 to Flynn’s 61.9. His completion percentage is 68.4 percent to Flynn’s 47.8. His yards per attempt is 8.9 to Flynn’s 5.7, which supports the argument that Tolzien has a stronger arm and therefore is better throwing the ball down the field.

But Flynn’s history cannot be discounted.

Tolzien did not produce a single victory in three appearances last season, and after Flynn scratched out a tie after McCarthy pulled Tolzien against the Vikings, the veteran backup went 2-2 before Rodgers returned. He also spent his first four NFL seasons (2008-11) as Rodgers' primary backup before leaving in free agency.

And even if Flynn's numbers and production have not translated into preseason-game success, his practice-field performance has not slipped.

"Every year, you've got to prove to the coaches that you deserve a spot and you've earned a spot," Flynn said. "I don't think they just give out spots or anything like that because of what you've done. But I feel really good about what I've done this camp. I think I've had one of, if not the, best camps that I've had since I've been a professional. That entails a lot of things besides just what's going on out there. I'm proud of what I've done. I don't have any regrets."

Maybe Thompson won't be able to part with his 10th linebacker or sixth receiver or fifth tight end, therefore making it impossible to keep three quarterbacks.

But it would be a mistake to let one of them walk away, because if something happened to Rodgers again this season, they might need both of them again.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- James Jones and Charles Woodson have seen the Green Bay Packers' offense at its finest.

Both played on the 2007 team that reached the NFC title game with Brett Favre at the helm.

Both played on the 2010 Super Bowl-winning team with Aaron Rodgers at quarterback.

And both played here in 2011, when Rodgers set an NFL single-season record for passer rating (122.5) and set franchise records for touchdowns passes (45), passing yards (4,643) and won the league's MVP award.

Even they came away impressed with what they saw on Friday at Lambeau Field.

Playing for the visiting Oakland Raiders, the two former Packers watched in person as Rodgers and his offense put the final touches on their preparation for the Sept. 4 season opener at the Seattle Seahawks.

In six series against the Raiders, Rodgers led three touchdown drives -- two of which were capped by touchdown passes -- that laid the groundwork for a 31-21 preseason victory.

"Man, they looked goooooood," said Jones, who signed with the Raiders this offseason. "They looked like they were in midseason form. A-Rod is the man in that offense. They're doing a lot of quick games, giving the receivers a chance to get the ball in their hands, make some plays for Aaron. But they looked good. They looked real explosive."

Running the no-huddle, Rodgers and the No. 1 offense got off 39 plays before exiting with 5:58 left in the second quarter. If they managed to keep up that pace for an entire game, it would equate to 97.5 offensive plays. For comparison’s sake, the Denver Broncos led the NFL last season, averaging 72.3 plays per game.

The Packers' goal for this season is to run 75 plays per game. The way things looked on Friday, they might just achieve that.

"The no-huddle is a beast," said Woodson, who won the NFL defensive player of the year award as a member of the Packers in 2009. "It keeps a defense on its heels. When you have a quarterback as smart as he is, he's able to pick up what you're trying to do. They kept us off balance that first drive and went down and scored very easily."

What stood out to both Jones and Woodson was the fact that the Packers have a running game to go with Rodgers' arm. Reigning NFL offensive rookie of the year Eddie Lacy and DuJuan Harris combined for 92 yards on just 18 carries (an average of 5.1 yards per carry).

"They finally brought in a running back who can do some damage," Woodson said, referring to Lacy. "It's going to be tough for some people."

Said Jones: "They're going to put that pressure on defenses to line up and be able to get in the right coverage to stop A-Rod, and they can run it now, too, with Lacy and DuJuan and James [Starks]. They've got a good ballclub. I'm happy for them."

Rodgers almost certainly won’t play in Thursday’s preseason finale against the Kansas City Chiefs, so this was the final rehearsal before they take on the defending Super Bowl champs in the NFL’s opening game.

"I think we're ready," Rodgers said. "I think it's been a good preseason. We scored some points, moved the ball. We saw what we wanted to see out of our skill players and the offensive line. We have 13 days to the game."
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- B.J. Raji seems to think the arm injury he sustained in Friday's preseason game against the Oakland Raiders is not serious.

At least that's what he conveyed to Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy.

"He's pretty confident about it," McCarthy said after the Packers’ 31-21 victory.

But even McCarthy did not sound sure.

Raji is scheduled to undergo more tests on Saturday.

"That's why you do the tests," McCarthy said. "We'll see what the tests say tomorrow."

Raji played parts of the first two defensive series and then did not return. The nose tackle's last play was a 1-yard run by Raiders running back Darren McFadden, and Raji did not appear to injury himself on that play. He was replaced by second-year pro Josh Boyd.

Raji remained on the sideline for the remainder of the first half and had a long, protective sleeve on his right arm, which he did not use during the game. He had ice on his upper arm after the game.

If Raji's injury is serious, the Packers could turn to Ryan Pickett, who played for the Packers from 2006 to 2013. He was not re-signed this offseason and remains unemployed. So does Johnny Jolly, who returned to the Packers last season after serving a three-year NFL suspension, but Jolly plays defensive end and not nose tackle.

The only other injury the Packers announced was to rookie cornerback Demetri Goodson, who sustained a concussion.

Observation Deck: Green Bay Packers

August, 22, 2014
Aug 22
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Aaron Rodgers' preseason was significantly more productive this summer than last -- not that the Green Bay Packers quarterback needs it to get ready for the regular season.

But a year after he played just five series and 45 plays without scoring a touchdown in the preseason, Rodgers and the starting offense looked regular-season ready for the most part in Friday's 31-21 win over the Oakland Raiders at Lambeau Field.

In six series, Rodgers led three touchdown drives, throwing a pair of touchdown passes. The only black mark was a pair of three-and-out series in which there were offensive-line breakdowns. Although he completed just 9 of 20 passes, Rodgers threw for 139 yards and had touchdown passes to Jordy Nelson (12 yards) and Andrew Quarless (6 yards). There was one troubling stretch in the first quarter during which Rodgers got hit on four out of five dropbacks, including a sack by Raiders defensive end LaMarr Woodley.

With Rodgers almost certain not to play in Thursday's preseason finale against the Kansas City Chiefs, his preseason will consist of eight series that went for four touchdowns, one field goal and three punts. In two preseason games, Rodgers combined to complete 20 of 33 passes for 267 yards and three touchdowns without an interception. That's a passer rating of 116.6.

Here are some other thoughts on the Packers’ third preseason game of the year:
  • Maybe it was because he was playing against lesser competition in the fourth quarter, but Scott Tolzien was more productive than Matt Flynn. The Packers put up just three points in four possessions with Flynn, who completed just 4 of 10 passes for 37 yards with one interception (an 11.2 passer rating). Tolzien led a touchdown drive on his first possession, capping it with a 15-yard pass to Alex Gillett. Tolzien completed 8 of 11 passes for 107 yards and looked sharp doing so. The backup quarterback competition likely will go down to the end of the preseason.
  • The Packers' tight ends had all kinds of trouble blocking in the running game but made up for it in the passing game. On the first drive, rookie starter Richard Rodgers missed a block that led to a 1-yard loss for Eddie Lacy. However, on the next play, Rodgers ran a post route for a 32-yard completion. On a second-and-goal from the 3 in the second quarter, Quarless couldn't handle first-round pick Khalil Mack, who dumped James Starks for a 3-yard loss. On the next play, Rodgers found Quarless for a 6-yard touchdown pass.
  • Lacy played only one series for the second straight game but was productive once again. He carried six times for 36 yards, including a 1-yard touchdown run. He has carried 11 times for 61 yards in the preseason.
  • DuJuan Harris, the No. 3 running back, does not look like he has lost any of his quickness or elusiveness after missing all of last season because of a knee injury. He rushed for 56 yards on 12 carries and had a pair of receptions for 42 yards.
  • Outside linebacker Julius Peppers has gotten better with each game. Playing almost the entire first half, Peppers recorded one sack and four tackles overall (including one for a loss on a running play).
  • After it gave up 60 yards on the Raiders' opening drive, the only yardage the Packers' No. 1 defense allowed over the next five series came on a pair of pass interference penalties on cornerback Sam Shields. Otherwise, the Raiders gained zero net yards on those drives.
  • Jayrone Elliott did it again. The undrafted rookie outside linebacker, who had three sacks in a four-play stretch the previous week against the Rams, got another one in the third quarter when he beat Raiders backup left tackle Jack Cornell, an undrafted free agent in 2012. He also batted down a pass.
  • The only injury announced was to nose tackle B.J. Raji, who left with an arm injury in the first quarter. Raji remained on the sideline for the rest of the first half but did not return to the game. The Packers got a scare when center JC Tretter appeared to injure his knee, but after getting checked out by Dr. Pat McKenzie, he returned to the game without missing a play.
GREEN BAY, Wis. – After Casey Hayward dropped out of practice on Tuesday, Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy said they were just being smart with their cornerback, given his hamstring problems of a year ago.

Three days later, Hayward remains out. He will not play in Friday's preseason game against the Oakland Raiders.

Hayward had not missed any practice time this summer before Tuesday. Last season, he played in only three games because of recurring hamstring problems that first popped up before training camp opened.

Here's the full list of Packers who will not play Friday:

W2W4: Green Bay Packers

August, 22, 2014
Aug 22
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Green Bay Packers (1-1) play their first of two home preseason games on Friday against the Oakland Raiders (1-1). It will be nationally televised on CBS.

Here are three things to watch:

1.Rodgers' last tuneup: In the third preseason game last year, coach Mike McCarthy pulled quarterback Aaron Rodgers after one series -- a 10-play drive on which Rodgers completed 4 of 7 passes for 41 yards before Mason Crosby kicked a 38-yard field goal. A year earlier, Rodgers played the entire first half in preseason game No. 3. All McCarthy would say this year is that Rodgers will play more than one series against the Raiders. After sitting out the preseason opener, Rodgers played two series last Saturday at St. Louis and put up 10 points while completing 11 of 13 passes for 128 yards and one touchdown. Rodgers almost certainly won't play in next week's preseason finale against Kansas City so this will be his final tuneup before the season opener at Seattle on Sept. 4.

2. Rookie encores: Perhaps the biggest standouts against the Rams were rookies Jeff Janis and Jayrone Elliott. Janis, a seventh-round pick, caught one pass in his preseason debut, but it was a 34-yard touchdown on which he caught a short crossing route and showed off his 4.42-second 40-yard dash speed to outrun the St. Louis secondary. Meanwhile, Elliott, an undrafted free agent outside linebacker, had three sacks in a four-play stretch. Both earned increased playing time in practice this week and likely will get more opportunities to prove themselves against the Raiders.

3. Ex-Packers return: Two years ago, the Packers cut veteran safety Charles Woodson even after he offered to take a pay cut. This past offseason, they let veteran receiver James Jones walk in free agency. Both ended up with the Raiders. Granted, it's just a preseason game, but it will be interesting to see how much they have left in the tank, especially in Woodson's case. The Packers struggled to replace his playmaking in the back end of their defense last season and were forced to use their first-round pick this year to draft a safety.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- It did not take Eddie Lacy long to enter into the NFL's consciousness.

By his fourth game as a pro last season, the Green Bay Packers running back had posted his first 100-yard game. By season's end, he was one of the league's most recognizable – and productive – running backs.

And 1,178 rushing yards later, he finds himself well within the top 100 offensive players in ESPN's #NFLRank project. When the next set of 10 players was unveiled on Friday, there was Lacy at No. 60.

It was Lacy's hard-charging running style that perhaps made him so popular with fans and respected by opposing defenses. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Lacy had the fourth-most yards after contact in the NFL last season with 531. He also was the only rookie with more than 1,000 rushing yards and at least 10 touchdowns in 2013.

The top-50 players on each side of the ball will be announced next week.

Here's a look at the Packers in the rankings so far:

No. 95: CB Sam Shields
No. 81: DT B.J. Raji

No. 77: G Josh Sitton
No. 66: WR Randall Cobb
No. 60: RB Eddie Lacy

MNF moments, No. 17: Moss halts Packers

August, 22, 2014
Aug 22
Randy MossGetty Images
To celebrate the 45th season of "Monday Night Football," a panel of ESPN.com contributors has selected the 45 most memorable moments in MNF history. Follow along as we reveal one per day and count down to this season's MNF debut.

No. 17: Vikings 37, Packers 24 | Oct. 5, 1998

The Green Bay Packers had won 25 straight games at Lambeau Field entering this "Monday Night Football" matchup against the Minnesota Vikings.

That was before the Packers had faced the Vikings' first-round pick, Randy Moss. In just his fifth NFL game, Moss caught five passes for 190 yards and two touchdowns.

Moss' first score wowed fans as he won a jump ball against cornerback Tyrone Williams, stepped over him and then broke through a Darren Sharper tackle.

The 190 yards were the second-most for Moss in a game in his career, and the two touchdowns were the first of 14 he would score against the Packers, his most versus any opponent.
Each week, I will ask for questions via Twitter with the hashtag #PackersMail. Feel free to submit yours at any point during the week.

Demovsky: Jayrone Elliott looked good from the beginning of training camp, but is he three-sacks-in-four-plays good? Of course not. But who is? I asked a scout who watched tape of the game if Elliott was that good or if Rams tackle Sean Hooey was that bad? The scout said: "Both." The Packers will want to see Elliott against better competition, and they still have two preseason games to do so. Keep an eye on No. 91 tonight against the Raiders and next week against the Chiefs and also note who he's going against, and then we'll have a better idea what to make of him. But he has certainly gotten everyone's attention. Demovsky: After what Jeff Janis put on film in St. Louis, there's no way the Packers can cut him and hope to slide him through to the practice squad. He'd get snatched up on waivers in a heartbeat. The one thing you can't teach is speed, and the rookie seventh-round pick has it. He's a lock for the roster after that 34-yard touchdown catch and run against the Rams. Demovsky: He needs to hope the Packers have room for a sixth receiver. It's as simple as that. If the Packers keep six receivers, Kevin Dorsey will be the last one they keep. If they keep only five, Dorsey will be out. He has been showing up more often on the No. 1 special teams units, which also is a good sign. He could have helped himself by catching that ball along the sideline against the Rams, but it might come down to how many quarterbacks the Packers keep. If they keep three, then they might not be able to find room for a sixth receiver. Demovsky: I'm not sure one has anything to do with the other. If the Packers' doctors would clear Jermichael Finley to play football again following his neck injury, I think they would bring him back. But they haven't, so it's a moot point. Demovsky: It's not unusual for a defensive lineman to be a little slower to make an impact. Look at Josh Boyd last season. He did next to nothing in training camp as a rookie last summer and barely got on the field the first half of the season. But by the end of the year, he was getting regular snaps and making an impact. The same could happen for Khyri Thornton. It's a big adjustment going against NFL offensive linemen. Give him some time. 

Packers Camp Report: Day 18

August, 21, 2014
Aug 21
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Green Bay Packers training camp:
  • Fans and reporters got their first look at what coach Mike McCarthy's new day-before-a-game practice looks like under his revamped weekly schedule. The session lasted just 58 minutes and featured 54 plays from scrimmage during designated 11-on-11 team periods. It also included a special teams period and individual drills. The entire practice was conducted without pads or shells -- just helmets, jerseys and shorts. McCarthy plans to continue this practice all season. It's the first time in his nine years as head coach that the Packers have practiced the day before a game. In the past, the final session wrapped up about 48 hours before kickoff. The six periods in the practice were: stretching, ball drills, last eight plays of the game, no-huddle, game situations and a 30-minute team period that was cut short with 8:32 still left on the clock.
  • During the game-situations period, a scenario had the Packers trailing 26-24 with 22 seconds left on third-and-7 at the defense's 35-yard line. After Aaron Rodgers threw an incomplete pass, Mason Crosby came on for a 53-yard field goal that he missed wide left. In all, Crosby was just 2-of-4 in the period. His other miss was from 38 yards wide left. He was good from 33 and 43 yards. After starting camp by making 28 of his first 30 kicks (93.3 percent), Crosby has made 17 of his past 22 (77.3 percent) in practice, giving him a camp-long mark of 45-for-52 (86.5 percent). He also has made all three of his field goals in preseason games.
  • Neither McCarthy nor the players were available to the media after practice, so there were no injury updates. However, cornerback Casey Hayward did not participate for the second straight session. After sitting out Tuesday's practice, a day off on Wednesday apparently was not enough to get him back on the field. All McCarthy has said about Hayward is that the team was being smart with him, given his past injury history. Hayward missed all but three games last season because of recurring hamstring problems.
  • Others who did not practice and appear unlikely to play on Friday against the Oakland Raiders were: running back Rajion Neal (knee), center Jordan McCray (shoulder), linebacker Joe Thomas (knee), guard/tackle Don Barclay (knee), receiver Jared Abbrederis (knee), tight end Brandon Bostick (lower leg) and defensive tackle Letroy Guion (hamstring).
  • Rookie tight end Colt Lyerla, who was placed on injured reserve on Wednesday, had his salary officially reduced to $303,000, according to ESPN Stats & Information salary data. Had Lyela made the team, his salary would have been $420,000, but he had what was called a split salary in his contract that calls for his pay to be reduced in the event he landed on injured reserve. That is common among undrafted rookie contracts.
  • After Friday's game against the Raiders (7 p.m. local time at Lambeau Field), there will be only be only two more training camp practices open to the public. They are Monday (11:45 a.m.) and Wednesday (10:15 a.m.)

Packers reveal new food products

August, 21, 2014
Aug 21
[+] EnlargeKielbasa
Courtesy Delaware North Food ServicesThe Packers will be serving a 22-inch horseshoe kielbasa, as well as a hot doughnut ice cream sandwich.

The concessionaire for the Green Bay Packers is stepping up its food game for the upcoming season, unveiling a hot doughnut ice cream sandwich and a 22-inch-long kielbasa called the Horse Collar.

"There's definitely a foodie trend going on," said Heath Barbato, executive chef at Lambeau Field, who is employed by the team's contracted vendor, Delaware North. "People are watching the Food Network and the creative throwdowns. Some fans are good with a standard brat and a beer, but many want something different."

Barbato thought the idea of bringing a doughnut ice cream sandwich to Lambeau would be intriguing, but he said it would only work if the doughnut could be hot, while the ice cream remained cold. That physics issue was solved by a company called PreGel, which makes a panini press of sorts that can do the trick.

Barbato also looked at the trend of teams that were putting their own local spin on nachos and put that twist into "Bratchos," which will be sold for $12 at Lambeau this year. The cup of goodness has pieces of brat, cheese and fried chips.

"It's basically Wisconsin in a bucket," Barbato said.

The biggest star, in terms of stomach share, is the Horse Collar Sausage, which fits on a roll made at Lambeau and is drenched in beer cheese and fried sauerkraut ($20).

(Read full post)


John Clayton reveals that the Packers' plans to get in extra plays on offense will help Eddie Lacy's yardage.