Monday's practice was not only the Packers' first since their 17-0 preseason showing against the Cardinals, but also just the second closed practice of camp. With the focus now shifted from player development to opponent preparation, closed practices are used primarily to install the week's game plan. Head coach Mike McCarthy acknowledged as much during his Monday press conference. "There are things we'd like to work on in private. Some things you do want unexposed." Just because four weeks remain before week 1 of the regular season doesn't mean the team hasn't already begun it's preparation for San Francisco, though we won't know for certain.
To the relief of many, McCarthy said Datone Jones will probably only miss a couple days of practice with the ankle injury he suffered during Friday night's preseason game. McCarthy hinted that the Packers might hold him out longer as a precaution. Right now, it's unlikely Jones will be on the field this Saturday for the Packers' preseason matchup with the Rams.
As we've been hearing for weeks, Derek Sherrod is getting closer to making a comeback. "The medical staff feels good about the way he's coming along. Sherrod's confident but he hasn't passed his physical so can't do contact." Coming off his gruesome leg injury, Sherrod was never going to be able to step in for Bryan Bulaga. However, with left tackle seemingly in safe hands with David Bakhtiari, Sherrod won't be rushed in his recovery.
In less positive news, injured safety Sean Richardson continues to be a question mark going forward. "We talked about him this morning [with the medical staff]. The evaluation just occurred. We still feel we need to wait. Healing needs to take place." More and more, it's sounding like Richardson has played his last down for the Packers and perhaps his last in the NFL.
While right guard T.J. Lang dressed today, he was held out of practice. McCarthy explained that this too was a precautionary measure, and Lang should be available shortly. The news wasn't quite as good for running back Eddie Lacy who spent the day in the trainer's room. This might be something the Packers have to get used to. While Lacy missed few games during his college career, he was regularly nicked up with smaller injuries. Hopefully, Lacy finds a way to play in St. Louis this weekend.
In the past week, McCarthy called DuJuan Harris the starting running back for the Packers. While there's much to be skeptical about regarding that proclamation, Harris made his training camp debut today, and McCarthy shared his excitement. "The way he finished last season, I would classify him as a starter at running back. Doesn't mean he plays every down." McCarthy also added, "The young man's a damn good football player." After an impressive camp for James Starks and the rookie tailbacks, Harris needs to hit the ground running if he wants to ensure a spot on the final roster.
McCarthy reiterated his earlier plan to have the kickers kick every other day. "They hit the ball better today." As mentioned in today's Practice Notebook, Mason Crosby made seven of his eight attempts while Giorgio Tavecchio converted all eight of his. After neither kicker attempted a single field goal in the first preseason game, expect each to get a few chances in game number two.
McCarthy praised the job rookie guard Lane Taylor has done filling in for injured starters. While Taylor did not make our UDFA watch list, he would have been the next man in had we expanded it past five players. We'll have a better idea of how well Taylor has performed once Lang returns to the lineup. McCarthy also extolled the virtues of inside linebackers Jamari Lattimore and Brad Jones. "It's worked out pretty well, especially having the experiences as an outside linebacker. It expanded their perspective." Given how many questions surrounded this position following Desmond Bishop's departure, this is yet another sign the Packers have things under control.
With that, McCarthy left the podium. The Packers reopen practice Tuesday, so expect more updates and developments tomorrow. As always, keep your internet machines tuned to Acme Packing Company for all your Packers news and analysis.
Jason Hirschhorn covers the Green Bay Packers for Acme Packing Co. He has previously written for Lombardi Ave, College Hoops Net, LiveBall Sports, and the List Universe. He is also currently a senior writer for Beats Per Minute, an indie-music webzine. Follow him on Twitter: @JBHirschhorn
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