Jclombardi highlights Packers headlines.
Guest senior writer jclombardi @ http://lombardiave.com
Dynamic TE Finley could be put on IR: Finley, who will miss time because of injury for the third straight season, is expected to be out eight to 12 weeks. It was originally thought he would be out three to six weeks and be back in plenty of time to help the Packers in their stretch run. The Packers won’t immediately decide whether to place Finley on injured reserve. Even without Lee, the Packers could stay the course at tight end with rookie Quarless and Crabtree. Quarless has gone from inactive the first two games and no catches in the first four, to four catches for 51 yards after Finley and Lee went out against the Redskins. Quarless had two catches for 30 yards on the final drive of regulation to give the Packers a chance to win. Long-term, however, the absence of Finley could allow Rodgers to get more in sync with his receivers. The Packers rank 12th in the NFL in total offense.
What concussion?– Rodgers looks for clearance: Q Rodgers didn’t take a single snap Wednesday, and yet, when the Green Bay Packers quarterback left the locker room after practice, he did so having given subtle indications that he play in Sunday’s game against the Miami Dolphins at Lambeau Field. Now, nothing he did was proof that he will pass all of his required post-concussion cognition tests, get the go-ahead from an independent neurologist and make his 39th Consecutive start (including playoffs). But when someone suggested to him that he didn’t seem like a guy coming off a concussion, Rodgers smirked. “What concussion?” he said as he walked out of the room.
Spotlight on WR Nelson: When the guys – James Jones, Greg Jennings, Brett Swain and their wives – came to the farm during the offseason, it opened their eyes a little bit. First off, they couldn’t believe anyone could live out there in the middle of nowhere. But I think they enjoyed it. At first, they couldn’t see how anyone could live out there, but then I showed them the land that I bought, and where I’m going to build, and they were like, “It would be nice to live out here in the middle of nowhere.” Town (Manhattan, Kan.) is 20 minutes away, so it’s dead quiet. It’s nice and peaceful. My wife Emily and I started dating at the end of our freshman year in high school, and I’m glad I had her before I got to this situation. I think a lot of guys are in tough situations when they come into this kind of money, this kind of fame. I don’t know how you can ever find anyone that you can trust. Obviously there’s people who’ve done it, but to me, it’d be hard to really know. Obviously you have to take your time to get to know them, but there’s people out there who think, “I’m going to marry this guy and get half his money in a couple years.” Emily’s not like that. At least, she better not be. If she is, she saw something a long time ago in me that I didn’t see.
Packers make due at practice: Eight players, including six starters, sat out Wednesday while four others took part in a limited portion of the workout, which was conducted without pads and featured abbreviated team drills. With 40% of his roster either absent or banged up, McCarthy got as much done as he possibly could. “It’s just another challenge, but I’m very comfortable that we’re giving our players the proper time and the looks and just being smart,” he said. “I’m listening to the doctors and the strength coaches, talking to those guys way too much, but I think it is in the best interest of the team.” Besides tight end Jermichael Finley (knee surgery) and quarterback Aaron Rodgers (concussion), those who missed practice included linebacker Clay Matthews (hamstring), end Ryan Pickett (ankle), tackle Mark Tauscher (shoulder) and tight end Donald Lee (shoulder). Linebacker Nick Barnett (wrist) had surgery in the morning that could sideline him for the rest of the season, and safety Derrick Martin (knee) was put on injured reserve. Barnett’s status is dependent on whether the front office is willing to wait two months for him to recover, which seems unlikely. McCarthy said decisions on Finley and Barnett don’t have to be made right away. About the only good news McCarthy got was that rookie nickel back Sam Shields was able to take part in the full practice after missing the last two games with a calf strain. It’s unclear whether defensive coordinator Dom Capers will go back to Shields as his nickel or stick with Pat Lee, who played there last week.
Packers offense to see new direction with tight end Finley possibly out for season: McCarthy had built much of the Packers’ offense around Finley’s receiving talents lining him up at various spots and often deploying two tight ends to force defenses into potentially bad match ups. With Finley out, McCarthy probably will scale back his use of two tight ends and lean far more heavily on his four-deep receiving corps, as he did against Washington. By unofficial count, he went with two tight ends on only six of the Packers’ 65 offensive snaps after Finley left the game. “Everybody talks about how good our receiving corps is, now it’s time to show it,” Jones said. “When we had (Finley), that just put an extra guy out there. But when we went 13-3 (in 2007) we didn’t have a sweet tight end. I think we’re up for the challenge.
Packers’ Jennings vents frustrations: Frustration finally set in for Green Bay Packers receiver Greg Jennings in Sunday’s overtime loss to the Washington Redskins. Jennings apologized Wednesday for some sideline antics during the 16-13 loss. Jennings wouldn’t reveal exactly what he did to feel the need to apologize. Still, Jennings isn’t exactly thrilled with the state of the passing offense or his role in it, even though he ranks second on the team with 31 targeted passes. Jennings’ 14 receptions tie him for 79th in the NFL. “Frustrated, that’s probably an understatement, honestly,” said Jennings. “You get frustrated in the game of football. Opportunities can be misconceived sometimes. Targets – they can be targets but they cannot really be targets. It’s a game where, when you get an opportunity, you’ve got to make the best of it. We’re going to make it happen.” Jennings certainly has a right to be frustrated. He has just two receptions in each of the last three games.