Rookie wide receiver Randall Cobb, the Packers’ second-round draft choice, returned to practice on Sunday, though his participation appeared to be limited. Cobb had been out of action with a bruised knee for the previous two weeks.
Undrafted rookie wide receiver Shaky Smithson also returned to practice, but defensive backs Nick Collins (back) and Josh Gordy (shoulder), wide receiver Jordy Nelson (bruised knee) and tight end Jermichael Finley (sprained ankle) did not practice.
Meanwhile, veteran receiver James Jones sustained what Head Coach Mike McCarthy termed a “knee bruise,” apparently while running a deep-sideline route early in practice. Practice concluded with Jones wearing an ice bag on his right knee.
McCarthy’s major concern continued to be the evaluation of the team’s young talent.
“That’s the priority. We have to pick the right 53. That’ll be the final phase of our personnel evaluation and we’ll make our decisions,” McCarthy said.
The Packers decided to release three players on Sunday: holdovers Brett Swain and Spencer Havner, and rookie tackle Theo Sherman.
“We just felt that if we let them go early it would give them a chance to hook on with another team. They’ll always be a part of that Super Bowl team,” McCarthy said of Swain and Havner. “The other three players will come on Tuesday.”
The Packers must reduce their roster to 80 players by four p.m. on Tuesday. They are currently at 83.
Veteran wide receiver Donald Driver was one of the highlight players in Sunday’s practice. Driver’s best catch was a leaping touchdown grab in red-zone period.
“He ran some good routes. Yeah, I thought he had a good day today,” McCarthy said of Driver.
McCarthy came to the defense of veteran tackle Chad Clifton, who allowed a couple of sacks to Dwight Freeney on Friday.
“Chad Clifton is on a pitch count,” McCarthy said in defending the limited practice time Clifton receives, as the Packers head coach elects to get as much game mileage as possible out of Clifton’s aging knees. “There’s a lot of time and thought that goes into Chad Clifton. His practice time is discussed on a daily basis.
“I have all of the confidence in the world in Chad Clifton,” McCarthy said.