NFC North: Green Bay Packers

GREEN BAY, Wis. – The Green Bay Packers could be in the market for another offensive lineman, whether it is through a trade, waiver claim or free agency.

If they were going to keep a fourth offensive tackle, it likely would have been first-year pro Aaron Adams, who spent all of last season on their practice squad. But the knee injury Adams sustained on the Packers' second play from scrimmage in Thursday's preseason finale against the Kansas City Chiefs turned out to be season-ending.

Adams tore both his ACL and MCL on the play, according to a league source. When the Packers make their final cuts on Saturday, Adams will be placed on injured reserve.

The Packers have eight offensive linemen who are locks to make the final cut. One of those eight, projected starting center JC Tretter, won't be able to play for at least the first month of the season because of the knee injury he sustained last week.

That would leave the Packers with only two healthy backups, tackle Derek Sherrod and guard Lane Taylor.

The Packers have at least two other injuries from the preseason finale to consider before Saturday's cuts. Rookie defensive end Khyri Thornton sustained a hamstring injury that his agent, Rodney Edwards, said on Friday could keep the third-round pick out for a few weeks. Also, second-year linebacker Nate Palmer sustained a knee injury, but the severity was not known.
GREEN BAY, Wis. – Aaron Rodgers fell from atop the ESPN #NFLRank list.

But he's still the highest-ranked quarterback.

The Green Bay Packers star slipped to No. 2 in the second annual offensive player list, flip-flopping spots with Detroit Lions receiver Calvin Johnson, but Rodgers remained on top of the quarterback class. He edged out Denver's Peyton Manning (No. 3 overall).

Other quarterbacks in the top 10 were New Orleans' Drew Brees (No. 6) and New England's Tom Brady (No. 7).

According to ESPN Stats & Information, since Rodgers became the Packers' starting QB in 2008, his 3.67 touchdown-to-interception ratio is the best in the NFL. His Total QBR of 74 during that span is second only to Peyton Manning (80).

The Packers finished with nine players in the top 100 combined on offense and defense. Only four teams – San Francisco (15 players), Seattle (13), New England (10) and Denver (10) – placed more players on the lists.

Here are the Packers in the rankings:

Defense
No. 95: CB Sam Shields
No. 81: DT B.J. Raji
No. 50: OLB Julius Peppers
No. 14: Clay Matthews

Offense
No. 77: G Josh Sitton
No. 66: WR Randall Cobb
No. 60: RB Eddie Lacy
No. 34: WR Jordy Nelson
No. 2: QB Aaron Rodgers

Green Bay Packers' projected roster

August, 29, 2014
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Examining the Green Bay Packers' roster:

QUARTERBACKS (3)

If the Packers keep only two quarterbacks, bet on Tolzien being the backup while Flynn would be left out. But the more likely scenario is they keep both, and the proven winner (Flynn) is the backup this year while Tolzien takes another year to develop. Tolzien has shown too much promise to cut loose at this point.

RUNNING BACKS (4)

Undrafted rookie LaDarius Perkins of Mississippi State made a late push, but there's probably not room for a fifth back.

RECEIVERS (5)

Janis solidified his spot with his second touchdown catch of the preseason on Thursday against the Chiefs. If the Packers keep six receivers, it will come down to Kevin Dorsey or Alex Gillett.

TIGHT ENDS (4)

Veteran Andrew Quarless, who received a $350,000 signing bonus last March as part of a two-year deal, never made any kind of push for a starting job and could find himself on the street. If there's a surprise cut this year, it's him.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (8)

This is a spot where the Packers could be in the market for help either via trade or off the waiver wire. They could use another backup on the interior of the line and at tackle. As long as Tretter is out, which could be another month because of a knee injury, there's not another true center available behind Linsley.

DEFENSIVE LINE (5)

It would have been a tough call on whether to keep rookie third-round pick Khyri Thornton, who has been a non-factor in the preseason. But the hamstring injury he sustained against the Chiefs may have bought him a year on injured reserve. It's possible the loss of B.J. Raji to a season-ending torn biceps might force the Packers to go looking for another defensive tackle, but the return of Guion this week from a hamstring injury might be enough to fill the void. Pennel should make it as an undrafted rookie.

LINEBACKERS (11)

The knee injury that Nate Palmer sustained against the Chiefs may have given Bradford new life. If Palmer's injury is long-term, they can't keep him on the roster. It would be hard to give up on Bradford, a fourth-round pick, so soon. His move to inside linebacker last week may have saved him. Elliott, an undrafted rookie, showed too much pass-rushing promise to try to sneak through to the practice squad. Some team would claim the NFL's preseason sack leader (five sacks).

CORNERBACKS (5)

Rookie Demetri Goodson is another draft pick who might wind up on injured reserve (concussion). He has not done enough to warrant a roster spot. The Packers can afford to keep only five cornerbacks because safety Micah Hyde will play as a slot cornerback in the dime package. If they keep another one, look at Jumal Rolle, who got a late-season promotion from the practice squad last year.

SAFETIES (5)

This group went from the weak link of the defense last year to potentially having three starting-caliber players in Burnett, Hyde and Clinton-Dix. Plus, Richardson keeps showing playmaking potential, and Banjo has played a big part on special teams.

SPECIALISTS (3)

All three returning specialists are safe and secure.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Things will be much different next week in Seattle. For starters, there will be 68,000-plus trying to break the sound barrier at CenturyLink Field.

And in the middle of it all, rookie Corey Linsley will be trying to snap the ball to Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers -- something he has never done in a game.

If two series in the preseason finale were any sign -- and it might not be -- then the Packers believe Linsley will handle it without complications. In his first action since starting center JC Tretter sustained a knee injury that will keep him out for up to six weeks, Linsley played 22 snaps of near mistake-free football alongside a collection of second-stringers in Thursday's preseason finale against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Linsley made all of the line adjustments that the Packers center normally would make -- "He had the controls of it, and he was making all the calls," said left guard Lane Taylor, who started next to Linsley -- and by his count had only one missed assignment, a wrong step on an outside zone run.

"He did a really nice job," said quarterback Matt Flynn, who took both series with Linsley. "We weren't getting a lot of exotic looks or anything but he did a nice job of setting the huddle, getting to the line of scrimmage, making a quick declaration and getting us in the right spot. He's been impressive to me since I've been kind of working with him since the beginning of OTAs. I've been with him first-hand, and he's done a nice job."

But things will be different next week on the road against the Seahawks. Coach Mike McCarthy likely will want to run more of the no-huddle offense, a task that will be more difficult in the crowd noise. Against the Chiefs, they used it for just three of Linsley's 22 snaps.

Linsley was the only presumed Week 1 starting offensive lineman that suited up against the Chiefs, so the upcoming week of practice will be critical for him to fine-tune things with Rodgers and his fellow linemen. But there were no red flags that would cause the Packers to look for other options between now and the opener.

"I actually felt mentally and in terms of the intangible aspect of the game, I actually felt the most comfortable out there," said Linsley, a fifth-round pick from Ohio State. "They've been telling me to get the line and make the call quicker, and I felt that I did that better today than I ever have before, so I feel like I got better there."

The Packers gave Linsley some help. Several times, he and Taylor used combination blocks to secure Chiefs defensive linemen. However, on one play -- a 10-yard rush by DuJuan Harris on the second series -- Linsley got to the second-level and blocked linebacker James-Michael Johnson.

"I watched Corey and Lane early," McCarthy said. "I thought they did some really good things. I thought they were really composed, just managed the huddle. From what I did see I thought they played well."
GREEN BAY, Wis. – We'll see if Mike McCarthy feels the same way in a week, but after Thursday night's preseason finale – a 34-14 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs at Lambeau Field – the Green Bay Packers coach made a bold statement to his team that he later repeated to the media.

"I don't know if I've felt this good coming out of the preseason as I do tonight," McCarthy said.

With the regular-season opener next Thursday at the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks, McCarthy wasn't willing to look any further than where his team stood coming out of the preseason.

"I don't jump out and make statements, but our goal is simply the same every year: We're here to win championships," McCarthy said. "That's what we're working for. That will never change. That's a part of being a Green Bay Packer, but with that, we're not ignorant to the fact that you play 16 games, and we've got a game coming up here next Thursday."

If McCarthy was giddy about his team's preseason, which included a 3-1 record, it's probably because he felt just the opposite coming out of camp the past two summers.

"I haven't felt that way in," McCarthy said, "it's been awhile."

Rookie center Corey Linsley does not know the recent history of training camps past, but McCarthy's statement still resonated with him.

"I feel that when a head coach like Coach McCarthy says something like that, it's for real," Linsley said.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Three days before the Green Bay Packers' preseason finale, quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt had one wish for his last look at backup quarterbacks Matt Flynn and Scott Tolzien.

"I'd like to see them both make it really hard," Van Pelt said on Monday.

Flynn
Flynn
Tolzien
Two touchdown passes per man combined with passer ratings of better than 100 for each in Thursday's 34-14 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs in the preseason finale might have made even harder than Van Pelt could have imagined.

Packers general manager Ted Thompson and coach Mike McCarthy will have to pick one of them to serve as the backup for Aaron Rodgers, who was given the night off along with most of the other starters. Just as difficult might be whether to keep both backups on the 53-man roster.

"I think Matt and Scott have both championed the case to be on our football team," McCarthy said after the game. "I felt very good about their progress from last year through the spring and all the way through training camp and watching it live, I think they both played very well tonight."

Flynn played the first and third quarters. He threw touchdown passes of 22 yards to Davante Adams and 11 yards on a screen pass to LaDarius Perkins. Tolzien handled the second and fourth. He threw touchdowns passes of 33 yards to Jeff Janis and 6 yards to Myles White. Each put up 17 points.

Tolzien's overall numbers (12-of-18 passing for 139 yards and two touchdowns with a passer rating of 126.9) were slightly better than Flynn's (7-of-15 for 102 yards and two touchdowns with a passer rating of 108.9) just as they have been throughout the preseason.

If the Packers went simply by the numbers, it wouldn't be close. For the entire preseason, Tolzien completed 38 of 56 passes (67.9 percent) for 477 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions, which equates to a passer rating of 112.0. Flynn was 18-of-38 (47.4 percent) for 232 yards with three touchdowns and one interception for a passer rating of 82.3.

But the Packers can't ignore Flynn's history. He was the backup here from 2008-11 and then returned last season to bail out the Packers after Rodgers' injury and unsuccessful starts by Seneca Wallace and Tolzien.

"I've said it from Day 1, and it's true: I'm not just saying it to be saying it, but I really haven't paid attention to any competition," Flynn said. "I've been out there supporting Scott. I have never wanted to compare apples to apples or even try to. I don't think anybody really does in a competition."

McCarthy said the decision about how many quarterbacks to keep will come down to more than just the competition between Flynn and Tolzien. It also could be impacted by competition at other spots.

Earlier in the week, Rodgers made a plea for his bosses to keep both of his backups. Tolzien said he would be fine with that.

"I like our room and first and foremost, they're great guys," Tolzien said. "It's truly been the most fun I've ever had play football, having those guys in the room. They keep the mood light, and it's been fun in that regard. You spend so much time preparing for these guys that you're always happy for the other guy's success just because you see how much time we put into it together. It's nice when it shows up on game day."

Observation Deck: Green Bay Packers

August, 28, 2014
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GREEN BAY, Wis. – The Green Bay Packers had no intention of putting Aaron Rodgers at risk of injury in Thursday's preseason finale against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Rodgers and most of the starters on both sides of the ball were held out.

And it gave them the perfect excuse to get a long look at the two players locked in a battle to be his backup.

Matt Flynn and Scott Tolzien might have made the Packers' decision that much more difficult, especially if they were thinking of keeping only one of them.

Alternating quarters, each threw a pair of touchdown passes in the Packers' 34-14 victory at Lambeau Field.

Playing the first and third quarters, Flynn finished 7-of-15 passing for 102 yards and two touchdown passes for a passer rating of 108.9. Meanwhile, Tolzien finished 12-of-18 for 139 yards and two touchdown passes for a passer rating of 126.9. If the Packers were hoping to sneak Tolzien through to the practice squad, for which he remains eligible, that might be even more difficult after teams see the film from this game.

Some other thoughts on the Packers' preseason finale:
  • The only offensive line starter to play was center Corey Linsley, who assumed the job last week after JC Tretter injured a knee. The rookie fifth-round pick played the first two series, both with Flynn, and did not have any obvious breakdowns, but the Packers gave him plenty of help. On several plays, guard Lane Taylor and Linsley used combination blocks on the Chiefs' front.
  • Undrafted rookie Jayrone Elliott, who was tied for the NFL preseason sack lead, registered his fifth sack of the summer in the first quarter. He overpowered Kansas City's starting right tackle Donald Stephenson to dump Chase Daniel on third-and-12. On the previous play, Elliott used a speed move to beat Stephenson to the inside and drew a holding penalty. The sequence might have locked up a roster spot for Elliott, who left the game briefly in the third quarter with an unannounced injury but returned.
  • As good as James Starks looked in the preseason opener, DuJuan Harris has been the better running back since -- other than his fumble in Week 2 against the Rams. Harris gained 26 yards on his first four carries before getting dumped for a 6-yard loss after backup tackle Derek Sherrod whiffed on a block. Harris could have made enough of a statement that he would open the season as Eddie Lacy's backup.
  • Early in camp, Rajion Neal looked like the better of the Packers' two undrafted rookie running backs. But Neal injured a knee in the preseason opener, leaving the door open for LaDarius Perkins. Against the Chiefs, Perkins scored on an 11-yard screen pass from Flynn and also had a long run of 22 yards.
  • The Packers announced four other injuries. Tackle Aaron Adams (knee), defensive end Khyri Thornton (hamstring), linebacker Adrian Hubbard (knee), linebacker Nate Palmer (knee) left the game and did not return.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- There is no doubting the impact that linebacker Clay Matthews has when he is on the field for the Green Bay Packers.

Matthews
According to ESPN Stats & Information, when Matthews was on the field over the past two seasons, the Packers had a sack percentage of 8.9 percent, which would have been tied for second best in the league.

The problem is that Matthews has missed nine regular-season games over the past two seasons, including five last season because he twice broke his right thumb.

That is the likely reason that Matthews dropped eight spots to No. 14 among all NFL defensive players in this year's ESPN #NFLRank.

He is the fourth -- and (spoiler alert) final -- Packers defensive player to appear in the top 100. The Packers will not have any defensive players in the top 10, which will be revealed on Friday.

Here are the Packers in the rankings so far:

Defense
No. 95: CB Sam Shields
No. 81: DT B.J. Raji
No. 50: OLB Julius Peppers
No. 14: Clay Matthews

Offense
No. 77: G Josh Sitton
No. 66: WR Randall Cobb
No. 60: RB Eddie Lacy
No. 34: WR Jordy Nelson

Packers Camp Report: Day 21

August, 27, 2014
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GREEN BAY, Wis. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Green Bay Packers training camp:
  • For the final practice of camp on Wednesday, the Packers went through their new day-before-the-game practice in helmets and shorts. It lasted 61 minutes. That brought their total time on the practice field for training camp to 35 hours and 30 minutes dating to the first practice on July 26. When told of that number, one former Packers' player from the 1980s said: "We used to practice that much the first week [of camp]." The longest practice of the summer was their fourth one of camp on July 30. It lasted two hours and 36 minutes. The only other practice lasted more than two-and-half hours. It was a two hour-and-31-minute session in July 30. They went longer than two hours and 15 minutes only twice after Aug. 1. The shortest practice of camp was a 58-minute session on Aug. 21, the day before the preseason home opener against the Raiders.
  • As has been their custom following the final practice of training camp, the players thanked the fans for attending practice by going over to the stands and shaking hands with them.
  • Despite not having another kicker to compete with, Mason Crosby got almost the exact same number of training camp field goals as he did last year, when the Packers had two other kickers in camp. Crosby finished camp by making all three of his field goals (33, 38 and 43 yards) in Wednesday's practice to finish camp 53 of 63 (84.1 percent). Last summer, he was 53 of 67 (79.1 percent) in practice.
  • After reducing their roster to 75 on Tuesday by putting six players on injured reserve, there were only four players who did not practice on Wednesday. They were: cornerback Demetri Goodson (concussion), linebacker Brad Jones (quadriceps), center JC Tretter (knee) and tight end Brandon Bostick (leg). None is expected to play in Thursday's preseason finale against the Kansas City Chiefs.
  • Quarterback Aaron Rodgers and several other veteran starters also are not expected to play. Rodgers took mostly scout-team reps in practice this week.
  • Thursday's game against the Chiefs at Lambeau Field kicks off at 6 p.m. local time.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- How many 29-year-old NFL players are still ascending?

Count Green Bay Packers receiver Jordy Nelson among the small group that can make that statement.

Nelson, who turned 29 on May 31, jumped 32 spots to No. 34 among all offensive players in ESPN's second annual #NFLRank project.

The Packers clearly believe Nelson has not reached his plateau. After all, they gave him a four-year, $39 million contract extension last month. In new money, it made Nelson the ninth-highest paid receiver in the NFL by average salary per year.

According to ESPN Stats & Information, Nelson has 31 receptions of 30 or more yards since the start of 2011. That ranks second to only Detroit's Calvin Johnson (32).

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

Defense
No. 95: CB Sam Shields
No. 81: DT B.J. Raji
No. 50: OLB Julius Peppers

Offense
No. 77: G Josh Sitton
No. 66: WR Randall Cobb
No. 60: RB Eddie Lacy
No. 34: WR Jordy Nelson
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Green Bay Packers reached the mandated 75-player roster limit on Tuesday by placing six players on injured reserve. Two days earlier, they waived seven players.

Most surprising move: When the Packers used to hold their offseason practices on the old practice field that bordered Oneida Street, there was a term for players who stood out in helmets and shorts and then faded when the pads came on. They were known as members of the “All-Oneida Team.” Put receiver Chris Harper in that category. The second-year pro drew praise from quarterback Aaron Rodgers and coach Mike McCarthy for his production during the offseason program. After a practice on June 3 during which Harper caught a deep pass, McCarthy said: "That’s the kind of explosiveness that he has." Two and a half months later, Harper did not even make it to the final cuts. He was one of seven players released on Sunday.

Change of plans: So much for tight end Colt Lyerla spending the season learning the Packers’ ways while on injured reserve. On Tuesday, they reached an injury settlement with him, the details of which can be found here. If the Packers truly wanted to develop Lyerla, it would seem logical that they would have kept him on injured reserve to keep a close eye on him.

Packers’ moves: After Sunday's release of seven players -- Harper, safety Charles Clay, cornerback Antonio Dennard, linebacker Korey Jones, fullback Ina Liania, quarterback Chase Rettig and receiver Gerrard Sheppard -- the Packers were at 81 on their roster. On Tuesday, they placed the following six players on injured reserve: receiver Jared Abbrederis (knee), guard/tackle Don Barclay (knee), running back Rajion Neal (knee), nose tackle B.J. Raji (biceps), linebacker Joe Thomas (knee) and guard Andrew Tiller (calf). Abbrederis, Barclay and Raji will remain on injured reserve for the entire season, but Neal, Thomas and Tiller most likely will be given injury settlements and released at a later date.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- It often takes an injury or an unusually poor preseason showing for a Green Bay Packers draft pick to get cut at the end of his rookie training camp.

Take last year's class as an example. Of the 11 players picked, eight made the opening-day roster.

The three who did not – fourth-round pick JC Tretter plus seventh-rounders Charles Johnson and Kevin Dorsey – all had injury issues. Tretter missed all of camp because of a broken ankle that forced him to start the season on the physically unable to perform list, while Johnson and Dorsey battled injuries throughout the offseason. Johnson played in only two preseason games, while Dorsey played in only one. Johnson landed on the practice squad before the Cleveland Browns signed him, and Dorsey spent the season on injured reserve.

With that in mind, here's a look at where things stand for each member of general manager Ted Thompson's 2014 draft class heading into Thursday's preseason finale against the Kansas City Chiefs, plus the undrafted rookies who could be on the verge of winning a roster spot:

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S (first round): After a slow start to training camp, Clinton-Dix has found himself around the ball more often of late. He has three interceptions during practices this summer, which ties safety Sean Richardson for the camp lead. However, it looks like he won't unseat second-year pro Micah Hyde for a starting job. That means Clinton-Dix likely will play only in the dime (six defensive back) package to start the season.

Davante Adams, WR (second round): Early in camp, Adams was pushing Jarrett Boykin for the No. 3 receiver spot but inconsistent play derailed that. Meanwhile, Boykin has overcome a slow start to secure that spot. If Adams can refine his route running and shore up his hands, he could still make a push for more playing time as the year goes on.

[+] EnlargeRichard Rodgers
Benny Sieu/USA TODAY SportsRookie Richard Rodgers is in line to be the Packers' starting tight end.
Khyri Thornton, DE (third round): Much like fifth-round defensive end Josh Boyd last season as a rookie, it's been a big adjustment for Thornton. Thompson has never cut a third-round pick coming out of his first training camp, but Thornton might have trouble getting on the field early in the season. Playing mostly against second- and third-stringers in preseason games, Thornton has just one quarterback hurry and no sacks or hits in 81 snaps, according to ProFootballFocus.com. Boyd was inactive for six of the first eight games last season. Thornton could follow a similar path.

Richard Rodgers, TE (third round): Without much fanfare, Rodgers appears to have won the starting job over veteran Andrew Quarless and up-and-comer Brandon Bostick (who went down with a foot injury in the second preseason game). However, Bostick almost certainly would have been the tight end in two-minute situations and likely will be when he returns next month. Rodgers' blocking has to catch up to his pass-catching ability.

Carl Bradford, LB (fourth round): It doesn't matter how the Packers spin the last-minute decision to switch Bradford from outside to inside linebacker this week, that's a tell-tale sign that they're concerned he may never be able to be a productive pass-rusher off the edge. Thompson has not cut a fourth-round rookie since receiver Cory Rodgers in 2006, but Bradford has been just as disappointing. If he makes it, it's solely because they're not ready to give up on him yet.

Corey Linsley, C (fifth round): This was supposed to be a redshirt season for him, but the knee injury to Tretter last week means Linsley might be the most important rookie on the team when the Packers open the regular season in Seattle. His responsibility as the starting center, even if it's only until Tretter returns, is far greater than what any other member of this draft class faces. Physically, he looks the part, but his mental errors have hampered him.

Jared Abbrederis, WR (fifth round): The former Wisconsin standout almost certainly would have made a strong push for the No. 5 or 6 receiver spot if not for a torn ACL in the first week of camp. He also would have had a chance at the kick return job but instead will spend his rookie season on injured reserve.

Demetri Goodson, CB (sixth round): The former college basketball player at Gonzaga who then played three years of football at Baylor has struggled mightily in coverage despite obvious athleticism. He sustained a concussion in last Friday's preseason game against the Raiders, leaving his status his doubt.

Jeff Janis, WR (seventh round): Still raw and unschooled in the complexities of the Packers’ offense, Janis' speed can't be ignored, which is why Thompson likely will keep him on the roster. After his impressive 34-yard, catch-and-run touchdown in the second preseason game, it's likely a team would claim him before the Packers could sneak him through to the practice squad.

Undrafted rookies with a chance: Defensive tackle Mike Pennel of Colorado State-Pueblo is a virtual lock to make the roster after B.J. Raji's season-ending injury, while outside linebacker Jayrone Elliott (who is tied for the NFL preseason lead in sacks with four) might be only one more good showing away from joining him on the 53.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- It should come as no surprise that Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy ranked as one of the NFL's top coaches in ESPN NFL Insider Mike Sando's extensive project that examined all 32 coaches Insider through the eyes of a wide range of league sources.

McCarthy
McCarthy
In a poll of 30 NFL people -- eight current general managers, four former GMs, four personnel directors, four executives, six coordinators and four position coaches -- McCarthy came out tied for sixth with Pittsburgh's Mike Tomlin. They ranked behind only New England's Bill Belichick, Seattle's Pete Carroll, New Orleans' Sean Payton, Kansas City's Andy Reid and Tom Coughlin of the New York Giants.

McCarthy's 88-50-1 record in his eight seasons gives him the fourth-highest winning percentage in the league among current coaches with a minimum of 60 games.

Using the same voting system Sando employed earlier this year in his "QB Tiers" project Insider, the coaches were broken up into five different tiers. McCarthy came in near the top of the second tier.

But it was perhaps more interesting what some of those league sources told Sando about McCarthy.

Here's an excerpt:

Like Payton, McCarthy gets high marks for his offensive acumen and overall leadership. The Packers have won with varying run/pass emphasis and they continue to evolve as their personnel changes. But the Packers' defensive performance has declined in recent seasons, leading voters to cite the same reasoning over and over when asked why McCarthy wasn't a '1' in their eyes.

"I like him as a head coach and would love to work for him," one veteran assistant coach said. "I think Mike is a great offensive coordinator who has done some pretty good things as a head coach, but defensively and on special teams, they have never done well enough up there. There is something missing in the program."

A former GM said he thought McCarthy needed to "fix the staff defensively" while noting that the head coach must coach the coaches, not just the players. McCarthy did get 11 votes in the first tier, however. One of those votes came from an executive who blamed some of the defensive issues on personnel, noting that McCarthy had in fact made sweeping staff changes back in 2009.

A GM placing McCarthy in the top tier focused on offensive flexibility. "You look at him as an offensive play-caller and he was grinding the s--- out of the ball when he was in New Orleans, and then he changed things up," the GM said. "He developed a passing game in Green Bay, and he is just the same guy all the time – strong leader.”
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- In perhaps a last-ditch effort to see if Carl Bradford is worth keeping on the roster, the Packers moved the fourth-round pick to inside linebacker on Monday.

It was the first time the rookie has lined up anywhere other than outside linebacker since the Packers picked him at No. 121 overall in May.

But after an unproductive training camp and three unimpressive preseason outings at outside linebacker, this could be Bradford's best way to find a role on the team.

"He's been able to pick up the playbook, but what we're looking for is just being able to transfer that on the field as far as production," linebackers coach Winston Moss said Monday. "I know there's a high concern for that. I'm pretty sure he's aware of that, and I'm pretty sure he's had to address it as well."

A former defensive end at Arizona State, Bradford seemed more suited to play inside given his size (6-foot-1, 252 pounds) than as an edge rusher in the NFL. So perhaps the only surprise in seeing him line up at inside linebacker during Monday's practice was that the Packers waited this long.

"I liked it," Bradford said. "I like coming downhill and opposing those tackles and guards and smashing those running backs."

It's crowded group at outside linebacker, especially with the emergence of undrafted rookie Jayrone Elliott (who is tied for the NFL lead in preseason sacks with four), and Bradford is likely no better than seventh or eight on the depth chart at that spot.

But the inside linebacker spot is much thinner behind starters A.J. Hawk and Brad Jones. The top backups are Jamari Lattimore and Sam Barrington. After that, it's wide open. Not only did Bradford take snaps there on Monday but so did second-year outside linebacker Nate Palmer.

"When you look at Brad Jones and Jamari Lattimore … these guys all started outside and next thing you know they're our inside linebackers," defensive coordinator Dom Capers said. "And those guys have been productive for us inside."
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Green Bay Packers signed Letroy Guion this offseason because they liked what he showed during his six seasons with the Minnesota Vikings.

Guion
If they're going to keep him on their roster, it might have to be for the same reason.

The 6-foot-4, 315-pound defensive tackle finally made his practice debut on Monday after missing nearly the entire training camp because of a hamstring injury he sustained the week before camp opened. His return coincided with the final full-pads practice of camp, and it's not a given he will play in Thursday's preseason finale against the Kansas City Chiefs. Between now and then, the Packers will hold only one more practice -- Wednesday's light, day-before-the-game session.

"We'll take another step further at Wednesday's practice in getting some more reps and keep progressing," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Monday. "It'd be foolish to throw him out there and give him a full load."

The Packers don't have much invested in the 27-year-old, who was a backup in his first four seasons before starting 28 games combined in 2012 and 2013. The only guaranteed money they gave him came in the form of a $100,000 signing bonus.

But with the season-ending injury to nose tackle B.J. Raji, Guion suddenly became a much more important player.

"It's always an urgency when a man goes down," Guion said. "It makes me have to step up, having to be that guy. So I'm going to take all my steps forward to do what I've got to do to get prepared."

In Guion, the Packers have a rare veteran option on a defensive line that without Raji features only one player who has made a start for the Packers. That's third-year pro Mike Daniels, a projected starting defensive end who in his first two years has made one start.

"That's good to have that veteran presence," said Daniels, who also could be an option to move to nose tackle. "[The] guy's been doing this for going into his seventh year; obviously had some success. He's played some very good, tough football. He's a tough, strong guy. We could use that."

Guion and undrafted rookie Mike Pennel are the only two true nose tackles the Packers have without Raji. Second-year pro Josh Boyd, who replaced Raji after his injury against the Oakland Raiders on Friday, played almost exclusively at defensive end last year as a rookie. However, Boyd played nose tackle in college at Mississippi State for two years before moving to end.

"You know, I've always been a guy who could play pretty much all the positions," Boyd said. "So it really doesn't matter. The best place they need me is where I'll play. So I'm very comfortable with anything."

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