Packers Training Camp Practice Notebook 8/14: Mike Neal impresses at Outside Linebacker

Jay Cutler (6) of the Chicago Bears is sacked by Mike Neal (96) and Jerel Worthy (99) of the Green Bay Packers during a 2012 game. - Jonathan Daniel

The Packers took the field for another open practice on Wednesday, with a few surprise developments on both sides of the ball.

As the Packers took the field on Wednesday for practice, a few Packers put the pads back on, while a few others dropped out. It's been the status quo of camp thus far, but as many have noted, it's better to be smart than tough. Let's take a look at some of the notes of interest from practice.

  • After appearing bothered by his bicep injury during yesterday's practice, Randall Cobb was not in pads on Wednesday.(PD)
  • The more surprising non-participant was James Starks. Starks was off to a promising start in training camp, but appears to be once again bothered by an injury. (RD) We'll have more on that shortly from Mike McCarthy.
  • Also out were: Johnson, Richardson, Hayward, Tramon Williams, Tretter, Bulaga, Datko,Sherrod, Quarless, Worthy, Datone Jones, and Nelson.(RD)
  • On a more promising note, Ryan Pickett, T.J. Lang, and Ryan Taylor all returned to practice.(PD)
  • Sam Barrington is the only rookie getting reps with the first-string special teams unit (RD), which will likely put him on fast track to earning a roster spot.
  • The kick and punt returner jobs appear to be Jeremy Ross' to lose, after James Nixon was not seen getting reps as a returner (WH) However, Ross continued to struggle at wide receiver during team drills. Are his skills as a returner enough to warrant a roster spot?
  • Vince Young showing progress?
  • Mike Neal impresses at OLB
  • Eddie Lacy improved his chances of becoming the third-down back with a solid performance in pass protection, and blitz pick-up drills.(RD)

  • With Lang returning at RG, Don Barclay started ahead of Newhouse at RT in team drills (WH). This is somewhat surprising, but Coach McCarthy has been very vocal with his praise of Barclay in recent press conferences.

  • DuJuan Harris took the first reps at running back in team drills.(TS)
  • Micah Hyde started over Davon House at cornerback during team drills, and made some nice plays during the team red zone drills.
  • Coleman continues to struggle.
  • The team ended practice with a touchdown pass from Aaron Rodgers to James Jones during a no-huddle drill.

Today's practice was one of the longer ones of training camp, and provided some insight into who might be edging ahead of who in key position battles. As far as the battle for back-up quarterback duties, it appears B.J. Coleman is all but locked in as a practice squad player, as he continues to struggle. Graham Harrell continues to perform well in practice, but will have to translate that to live competition in order to beat out Vince Young for the back-up role. Young is slowly making progress, and is beginning to look more and more comfortable within the offense.

We hope to learn more on injuries, position battles, and performance evaluations during Mike McCarthy's press conference following today's practice. Keep your browsers locked in at Acme Packing Company, for more coverage on all things Green Bay Packers.

Josh VanDyke covers the Green Bay Packers for Acme Packing Company. He is also currently a sports writer for MLive.com. Follow him on Twitter: @JVanDyke24

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