GREEN BAY, Wis. -- On most days, an unexpected surgery for a starting receiver who combined for 22 touchdown catches the last two seasons would be the news of the day.
But Tuesday was no ordinary day in Green Bay Packers’ training camp. It was the debut of new backup quarterback Vince Young (more on that below) and the first look at the offensive line without injured left tackle Bryan Bulaga.
Still, before we get to the rest of what happened on Tuesday, it’s worth noting how the absence of receiver Jordy Nelson impacts the Packers. Nelson, who caught seven touchdowns last season and 15 in 2011, is expected to miss the rest of training camp. Coach Mike McCarthy said he was hopeful Nelson would be ready for the season opener at San Francisco on Sept. 8.
What’s more, receiver Randall Cobb dropped out of practice on Tuesday with what McCarthy called a bicep injury. That means two of the top-three receivers were out. Of that trio, only James Jones remained standing. Given how often the Packers use a three-receiver set, they consider Cobb, Jones and Nelson all to be starters.
Combine that with the fact that two of the top candidates to be the Nos. 4 and 5 receivers -- rookies Kevin Dorsey (leg) and Charles Johnson (knee) -- have been out since the second day of camp, it’s a thin receiver group.
The Packers signed one receiver, rookie Justin Wilson of Delaware State, on Tuesday, but placed another Sederrick Cunningham (wrist) on injured reserve.
One bright spot among the receivers was second-year pro Jarrett Boykin. He made a tough, back-shoulder catch for a 16-yard gain during the no-huddle period. Two plays later, he picked up 20 yards on a post that set up Aaron Rodgers' 16-yard touchdown pass to Jermichael Finley to end the drill. Look for Boykin to get even more opportunities this preseason.
Young’s role: In his first practice in nearly a year, Young spent most of it standing next to quarterbacks coach Ben McAdoo.
Young, who last was on an NFL roster with the Buffalo Bills last August, took only two snaps in team (11-on-11) periods, and both were handoffs. Young took part in all of the individual drills, much of which concentrated on his footwork. McCarthy considers footwork to be an integral part of playing quarterback. As much as Young will have to learn the offense, he also has much to work on in the fundamental aspect of the game.
“You don’t want to spend the majority of your time with that, but just the way the quarterbacks are trained on a day-to-day basis, it’s part of our daily operation,” McCarthy said. “He’ll definitely be trained in it, but we have to teach him the language and get him up to speed.”
Young said there was some carryover from the offense he ran in 2011 with the Philadelphia Eagles, where he spent one season. Then-Eagles coach Andy Reid runs a West Coast offense similar to McCarthy’s.
If Young doesn’t know enough to play in Friday’s preseason opener against the Arizona Cardinals, it might be one of the last opportunities for backups Graham Harrell and B.J. Coleman to make a better impression. While Harrell has shown improvement over last season, Coleman has struggled during the first week of training camp.
By signing Young, the Packers clearly sent the message that Harrell and Coleman haven’t convinced them that they could serve as a capable backup.
Odds and ends: David Bakhtiari, who took over for Bulaga at left tackle, won all four of his reps in the one-on-one pass blocking drill, including a turn against outside linebacker Clay Matthews. He improved his camp-long record in that drill to 14-4. Said guard Josh Sitton: “I’ve been impressed by him; he seems to win a lot of his blocks. He’s done really well in the one-on-one drills.” Bakhtiari took all of his reps with the No. 1 offensive line at left tackle. Marshall Newhouse stayed at right tackle, while Don Barclay also took some reps there. ... Every time it appears Jeremy Ross has done enough to allow the Packers to take Cobb off kick return duties, Ross makes another mistake. After returning a kickoff 49 yards during Saturday’s scrimmage, Ross muffed a punt off the machine on Tuesday. ... It should come as no surprise considering how well he performed in Saturday’s scrimmage, but running back Eddie Lacy opened Tuesday’s practice as the starter.
Medical report: In addition to Bulaga, Cobb and Nelson, the other new injuries were: defensive end Datone Jones (illness), running back Alex Green (knee) and defensive tackle Johnny Jolly (cramps). There’s concern about Green because it’s the same knee that he blew out in 2011 and gave him problems last season.
Others who missed practice were: RB DuJuan Harris (knee), S Sean Richardson (neck), CB Casey Hayward (hamstring), CB Tramon Williams (knee), OL JC Tretter (ankle), DE Mike Neal (abdominal), T Derek Sherrod (leg), TE Andrew Quarless (quad), TE Ryan Taylor (knee) and DE Jerel Worthy (knee).
What’s next: The Packers practice at 8:20 a.m. CT on Wednesday.