GREEN BAY—Two days away from the preseason opener, the Packers’ injury list changed once again, and a dose of feistiness was evident at practice on Wednesday.
Among the injury developments, running back Eddie Lacy rested a bothersome hamstring, defensive lineman Mike Neal took the field for the first time and receiver Randall Cobb is being very cautious with his sore bicep.
Head Coach Mike McCarthy said he had been given no information to generate long-term concern with Lacy, but the injury certainly puts his status for Friday’s preseason opener against Arizona in question.
After an impressive scrimmage last Saturday, Lacy was beginning to emerge as the offense’s No. 1 back, but the competition – which McCarthy has called the best “top to bottom” that he’s seen at that position, even with DuJuan Harris (knee) still sidelined – marches on.
Alex Green returned to practice after sitting out one day when his knee flared up, while James Starks, Johnathan Franklin and Angelo Pease continued to take their regular reps.
“The running backs have done a good job,” quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. “This is the deepest backfield we’ve had. Last year we started five different guys at running back, and we want to find one or two guys who separate themselves in that group.
“There are going to be tough decisions, and I’m glad I don’t have to make them. I’m excited about the running game and what I saw on Family Night.”
Neal was excited just to get back on the field, having not practiced at all in camp due to an abdominal strain. He was limited to individual and one-on-one drills, with much of that work coming with the outside linebackers, a position he began dabbling in during the spring.
Neal said he’ll work his way back slowly and doesn’t expect to play on Friday, but he’s leaving where he plays up to the coaches. McCarthy shot down the notion that Neal is making a full-fledged position switch.
“Mike is a defensive lineman,” McCarthy said. “He will have a role that will have some different responsibilities than he’s had in the past, but he’s on my defensive line depth chart.”
Depth at wide receiver is a necessity, as Cobb did little more than run sprints and stay loose, though he was dressed in full pads.
With Jordy Nelson (knee) out for the preseason and draft picks Kevin Dorsey and Charles Johnson yet to practice, receivers Jarrett Boykin and Jeremy Ross have stood out the most amongst numerous young prospects. Undrafted rookie Myles White made a big play on Wednesday for the second practice in a row.
“This may be the most depth I’ve seen in training camp in my time here,” Rodgers said of the receivers. “It’s exciting as a second or third or fourth quarterback because you know you’ve got some guys to throw to.”
Punches thrown after the whistle during the half-line run-game drill heated up a cool summer day. One scuffle broke out between guard T.J. Lang and linebacker Sam Barrington, and moments later it was offensive lineman Greg Van Roten and linebacker Robert Francois going at it.
Tempers flared to the point that tight end Jermichael Finley actually took a swing at a teammate, which prompted defensive lineman Johnny Jolly to come plowing into him from the side to break things up.
“It’s time to go play against somebody else,” said McCarthy, adding that trying to punch someone wearing a helmet is “not very smart.”
“They’re tired of getting after each other. Some plays linger to the next. This has been going on for two weeks. We’re just ready to play a game.” Additional coverage - Aug. 7