Clemens: Packers camp report

More roster moves as players put on pads

Mike Clemens
July 27, 2019 - 9:09 pm

Sportsradio 105.7 FM The FAN

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Green Bay, WI – The Packers marched into Day 3 of training camp in shoulder pads and were rewarded with a shorter practice.

Instead of another 2 hour 20 minute session under a hot-July mid-day sun, new head coach Matt LaFleur called it a day after 1 hour 50 minutes of drills, special teams, scrimmage, and hustle with no breaks.

LaFleur said training camp records show a spike of injuries to players on Day 3 of training camp, so he kept it short Saturday, but plans to go the full distance in Sunday’s practice session when the team will be in full pads for the first time.

Why so many 11 on 11 team drills in the red zone so early in camp the first three days? Isn’t that something you install later in the playbook?

LaFleur said he wants the players to gradually get their legs back, so receivers and defensive backs are not sprinting 45-55 yards regularly. Instead, they are spending the first three days of camp working shorter distances near the end zone. The offense will run more plays from mid-field later in camp.  

One of the big plays of the day Saturday came when veteran defensive back Tramon Williams blocked a touchdown pass intended for tight end Jimmy Graham across the middle in the end zone. As soon as Graham lined up before the snap wide left on the 5 yard line in the red zone, it was apparent he was the primary target. When Williams, 36, was asked after practice does he still feel he needs to prove himself in practice to keep a spot on the roster, his reply was memorable.

“That’s what you have to do, man. At the end of the day, you have situations like Mike Daniels. That gives you a perspective of your time could be short. So you don’t take these times for granted. You have to continue to go out there and making plays and earning your keep,” said Williams.

Daniels, 30, who was released by the Packers Wednesday morning, visited with former Packers personal man John Dorsey, now GM of the Cleveland Browns, then traveled to Detroit where the Lions signed the defensive end to a 1-year contract worth $9.1 million, $7.8 million guaranteed, about 90% of what he would have earned had he remained in Green Bay this season. Daniels later thanked the Packers organization and fans on Instagram.

Although Mike Daniels was unable to fully participate during OTA’s and Mini Camp this spring due to the foot injury that placed him on IR last season, missing six games, I think the decision to release him was likely more financial forecasting than a football decision.

It’s the responsibility of VP of Finance Russ Ball to keep in tune with what GM Brian Gutenkunst likes about his roster, and who coaches like defensive coordinator Mike Pettine need on the field. The Packers want bigger men to play the edge. Through free agency and the draft they’ve added players with a height of anywhere from 6-foot-2 to 6-foot-6.

Daniels, at just 6 feet, was never going to be the perfect fit.

I can see a scenario where Ball told the coaches and personal department if they liked what they saw in Dean Lowry last year taking over for Daniels at right defensive end, then sign him now to three years and $20 million, because if he has another great season, it will only cost them more a year from now.

They like the depth they have with Montravius Adams, Tyler Lancaster, and next year nose tackle Kenny Clark will be able to command a huge salary increase.

Keeping Daniels at $8 million in 2019 made him too expensive looking toward the future. The team approached Lowry earlier this month about a contract extension now, signed him on Tuesday, and released Daniels after eight seasons the next morning.

There have been other roster moves this week.

Gone are offensive lineman Larry Williams and defensive lineman Eric Cotton.

Added are former Jaguars running back Corey Grant who was once clocked under 4.2 in the 40, and was in Green Bay to have foot surgery 8 months ago with renowned Dr. Robert Anderson. Grant, wearing #35, has definitely shown a burst of speed in practice. Today he was in the mix returning kickoffs. 

The Packers reportedly have been awarded another running back, Darrin Hall, off of waivers via the Bengals. 

The team also signed another defensive lineman, former Wisconsin Badgers Olive Sagapolu, 6-foot-2, 331 lbs., who says he was at a restaurant in Madison Thursday evening eating a plate of chicken wings when his phone went off and it was Green Bay asking if he could be there in time for Friday morning’s practice.

Sagapolu went home, packed his bags, got up at 3am, and drove from Madison to Green Bay so he could pass his physical and hit the practice field without even a glimpse of the playbook.

Two more players were added to the injury list Saturday.

Running back Jamaal Williams (hamstring) and defensive lineman Fadol  Brown,  picked up last year from the Raiders (calf). Bryan Bulaga was present, but was granted veteran rest on Saturday.

Quarterback Tim Boyle was out for a personal matter, which gave more reps to quarterback Manny Wilkins out of Arizona State, who responded with crisp throws, some razzle-dazzle, and a very impressive touchdown run in the red zone. “I think he made the most of his opportunity, and probably earned some more reps today,” said LaFleur after practice.

First round pick safety Darnell Savage Jr. is still out after surgery to have his wisdom teeth removed earlier this week. Defensive back Josh Jackson is on the non-football injury list with a foot injury.

Place kicker Mason Crosby, who turns 35 next month, has been on the sidelines with what is described as a calf injury, but only  “precautionary.”

Crosby has had to watch from the sidelines while kicker Sam Ficken, 26, was four for four in field goal attempts Saturday.

Ficken, who has spent time with the Jaguars, Chiefs, Rams, and Seahawks, is 6 of 8 for field goal attempts so far in camp.

Mike Clemens @mikeclemensnfl.com covers the Packers & NFL on The Bill Michaels Show statewide network, and Sportsradio 105.7 FM The FAN, Milwaukee.