Wednesday's Training Camp Update
ASHWAUBENON — Despite Randall Cobb being a significant part of the Green Bay Packers' passing game, he still remains the team's top kickoff returner, and for a couple reasons: he's the best at the job and nobody has yet stepped up in camp to take the job away.
Cobb recorded team-highs in receptions (80) and yards (954) last season and added 8 TDs. The Packers prefer somebody else to step up so Cobb isn't exposed to more plays, but for now he's No. 1.
"If we were playing a game tomorrow, Randall would be my returner," coach Mike McCarthy said. "The opportunity these young men have, preseason will sort that out for us."
One candidate to replace Cobb is Jeremy Ross, who last year averaged 28.7 yards on three returns.
"Jeremy Ross is just a good football player," McCarthy said. "He has a unique skill set. I like what Jeremy's doing."
Ross won't make the team based solely on his receiving talent, so for a player like him if he can step up in the preseason in the return game, he would likely earn a roster spot. For players like Ross, that's the way to get on the team.
"Special teams is the vehicle to make the football team," McCarthy said. "When you get into the final decisions … that's ultimately what it comes down to."
Injuries keep coming
The Packers started Wednesday's training camp practice with 14 players missing in action, including Casey Hayward, Derek Sherrod, Mike Neal and Jerel Worthy.
Then during practice DL Johnny Jolly suffered an ankle injury. Jolly has made a positive impression in camp so this could be a setback if he's out for any time.
Injuries have reared their ugly head, but McCarthy isn't pressing the panic button.
"This is training camp football," he said. "We definitely have upgraded our research and our analysis approach to everything and our strength and conditioning program is included.
"We have testing when they come back for the four weeks they're away. I don't see overtraining in our building as an issue."
While the injuries aren't a positive, at least McCarthy hasn't seen a player suffer a season-ending injury like some other teams in the NFL have already experienced.
Coleman struggles on Wednesday
Reserve quarterback B.J. Coleman is trying to battle Graham Harrell for the No. 2 QB spot behind Aaron Rodgers, but Wednesday his lack of experience showed up as he tossed two interceptions.
"The one interception, a three-man rush, we're in a spread formation," McCarthy explains. "He did exactly what he was supposed to do. It was just a poor decision. The other one, he got fooled.
"I would throw the mistakes in the area of experience and recognition."
Bakhtiari making an impression
Rookie offensive lineman David Bakhtiari has made then most of his first training camp, so much so McCarthy is going to give more chances to compete for playing time.
"I think David is off to an excellent start," McCarthy said. "He is one more worthy of more reps in furthering the competition along the offensive line. He's clearly one of the guys who has made a step in padded practice this week."
Finley having a good camp
Despite setting a career high with 61 receptions last year, TE Jermichael Finley has been a target in the past couple seasons because of negative comments and drops. However, so far in camp it's been the opposite.
Maybe the playmaking TE is in store for his biggest season yet.
"I don't think his approach is any different," McCarthy said. "Jermichael loves football; his offseason training outside the building is top-notch. He's back to the Jermichael of 2009 or '10. I think he's having a heck of a camp."
There's depth at ILB
The Packers waived former starter Desmond Bishop in a surprise move this offseason, but the main reason was the depth at the position. Beyond starters A.J. Hawk and Brad Jones, there's talent.
"I think our inside linebacker depth is as good as we've had," McCarthy said. "I want to say 2010 was a real good group. The young guys are definitely pushing A.J. and Brad.
"Robert's (Francois) having a heck of a camp. Jamari (Lattimore) has made some flash plays. Sam's (Barrington) a little reckless, but I like that about him."
- McCarthy on TE Andrew Quarless' return from 2011 knee injury: "He's getting there. He still has some hurdles to clear. He's catching the ball better."
- Sitting out practice Wednesday: Sederrik Cunningham, Kevin Dorsey, Charles Johnson, DuJuan Harris, Sean Richardson, Casey Hayward, Tramon Williams, David Fulton, Nate Palmer, Dezman Moses, JC Tretter, Derek Sherrod, Mike Neal and Jerel Worthy.
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