NFL Team Report - Green Bay Packers - notes, quotes
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Head coach Mike McCarthy's efforts to presumably tone things down in the team's popular Family Night event didn't go without incident.
McCarthy changed the Family Night format from an intrasquad scrimmage to a practice Saturday.
That didn't dissuade fans from turning out in full force. A crowd of 67,336, a record for the 14-year-old event, jammed into Lambeau Field, which has a capacity of 80,735 on game day.
A year after starting offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga suffered a season-ending ACL tear on Family Night, rookie tight end Colt Lyerla had to be carted back to the locker room with what later was diagnosed as a knee injury.
The severity of the injury hasn't been disclosed, but initial tests revealed a ligament sprain in Lyerla's right knee.
McCarthy would only say after the team returned to practice Monday night that Lyerla will be out for "weeks."
Lyerla, an undrafted player who had a productive college career at powerhouse Oregon derailed by off-the-field issues last year, probably has no one to blame but himself for the setback early in training camp.
He tried to hurdle oncoming cornerback Jumal Rolle in the open field after Lyerla caught a short pass in a team segment Saturday night. Rolle got a piece of Lyerla's extended right leg on the jump, and then Lyerla took a jolt from cornerback Jarrett Bush after landing.
Lyerla's decision to hurdle a defender who wasn't even coming in low on him in the non-tackling drill drew criticism from McCarthy and others with the team.
"There's a time for the opportunity to hurdle the defender, and I think that was probably not the right time," McCarthy said.
Lyerla said after the practice that he didn't "regret trying to make a play."
In hindsight, though, his aggressive action may have cost him a shot at winning a spot on the season-opening roster, if not his entire first NFL season.
--The indefinite loss of Lyerla comes after Packers rookie receiver Jared Abbrederis suffered a season-ending torn ACL in his right knee in practice Wednesday. The diagnosis didn't turn up until Friday after Abbrederis felt good enough to continue practicing Thursday.
Abbrederis, a fifth-round draft pick who joined the Packers as a fan favorite because of his home-state roots and excelling in college at Wisconsin, had a strong start to camp. He was in the mix for one of the three or four open receiver spots behind starters Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb and a viable candidate to return kicks.
"It's unfortunate," Abbrederis said. "Obviously, these things happen. You just look to the positives, try to find positives. (I'm) just ready to get to work - get surgery, get it fixed up and get ready for next year."
The Packers have yet to put Abbrederis on injured reserve, which would free up a spot on the 90-man preseason roster.
--Perhaps with most eyes off him because of an absence of competition this year, veteran kicker Mason Crosby is quietly having a stellar camp.
Crosby has missed just two field goals in the first week and a half of practices.
A year after flopping with his kicks in front of a big crowd in the same event when he was engaged in a camp battle with unknown challenger Giorgio Tavecchio, Crosby dazzled at the end of the team's Family Night practice Saturday. He went 6-for-6 on field goals to close the 90-minute practice.
Following the team's day off from practice Sunday, Crosby had a rousing encore Monday night. He was 8-for-8 in a field-goal session, ending it with conversions from 53 and 55 yards.
"I feel good with how I'm approaching every day," Crosby said. "Every day I come into work, in meetings, on the practice field, I'm taking every opportunity very seriously and making sure I take advantage of them. Whether it's in a game, a practice rep, they all matter, and they all need to be crisp and good. I've been really happy."
The eighth-year pro prevailed in the camp competition last year and proceeded to connect on a career-best 89.7 percent of his field goals (35-for-39, including the playoffs) last season. Crosby was under the gun after making a career-worst 63.6 percent of his field goals (21-of-33) in the 2012 regular season.
--The Packers defensive backs were happy to see venerable NFL referee Ed Hochuli and some of his officiating crew get out of Green Bay after a short stay.
The officials worked a few of the team's camp practices last week, culminating with the Family Night event Saturday.
Hochuli & Co. drove home the league's renewed crackdown on illegal contact in the passing game by the preponderance of yellow flags that were dropping onto the field. During a one-on-one pass-coverage drill between the receivers and defensive backs Saturday, an estimated 10 flags flew in just 20 plays - all but one against the defender.
"They're emphasizing hands on the receiver down the field past five yards, but hopefully that's not the case come the season because that was a little over the top," cornerback-turned-safety Micah Hyde said after Saturday's practice. "We were literally laughing after a while. The first couple ones, we were running down there (in protest), and then after that, we were like, 'Whoa, this is nuts!'"
Nickel back Casey Hayward is taking a wait-and-see approach on whether the officials will be extra vigilant with the touching and grabbing that ensues in downfield coverage once the season starts next month.
"When you go to one-on-ones (in practice), the refs can specifically look at you, but in the game there's a whole lot of stuff they have to watch," Hayward said. "We know in one-on-ones they're going to call it close and we've got to be cautious."
BATTLE OF THE WEEK: Starting safeties. The Packers figure to go into their first preseason game Saturday night at the Tennessee Titans with Morgan Burnett and Micah Hyde as the starters at safety. That doesn't mean the starting lineup for the season opener at defending Super Bowl champion Seattle on Sept. 4 will feature the same tandem. For all the misery and utter lack of production Green Bay had with their safeties last season, when they didn't force one turnover, it is fast becoming a position of strength. Hyde has looked the part of being a competent safety after making the transition from a promising rookie stint at nickel cornerback in 2013. A starting job at a new position would appear to be Hyde's to lose, provided the quality depth at cornerback with Sam Shields, Tramon Williams, Casey Hayward and Davon House doesn't take a hit to force another switch for Hyde. Burnett's hold on the starting role he's had since his rookie year in 2010 isn't firm. He fell short last season of living up to the four-year, nearly $25 million contract extension he received last summer. Pushing Burnett, and for that matter Hyde, for a top spot are Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, the 21st player taken in this year's draft, and Sean Richardson. The latter, a third-year player who made a valiant comeback last season from neck surgery, has stood out in training camp thus far with his nose for the football. To get more use of the personnel at his disposal, defensive coordinator Dom Capers has tinkered with a three-safety look in dime packages.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "As a kid, you felt like you were watching a kid play out there - just a guy that just enjoyed the game, had fun with it and always popped up after a big hit, tough as nails." - Packers backup quarterback Scott Tolzien, who grew up in the Chicago area a fan of legendary Green Bay QB Brett Favre.