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Packers focus on bulk in NFL draft

Packers focus on bulk and add inside linebacker in NFL draft
GENARO C. ARMAS, AP Sports Writer

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Coach Mike McCarthy sought size at the line of scrimmage. General manager Ted Thompson drafted bulk.

Four linemen, two on each side of the ball, taken by the Green Bay Packers in the NFL draft this weekend should satisfy the coach.

"I think first off when you look at the big men that have been drafted, there's definitely, in my opinion, a desire to get bigger. So we've accomplished that," McCarthy said Saturday after the Packers made the last of their seven picks this weekend.

Fittingly, that man was 6-foot-7, 301-pound left tackle Kyle Murphy, who was taken in the sixth round. He joins 6-7, 305-pound Jason Spriggs in the Packers' draft class, a left tackle from Indiana selected in the second round on Friday.


Green Bay trades up, takes offensive tackle

The Packers have added heft up front in the NFL draft.

They beefed up offensive line depth by trading up in the second round Friday to take Jason Spriggs, a 305-pound tackle out of Indiana.

Green Bay moved up nine spots to the 48th overall pick in the draft by dealing three picks to Indianapolis. The Colts received the Packers’ second-rounder, the 57th pick overall, along with selections in the fourth and seventh rounds.

“We thought we had an opportunity to get someone that (we) wouldn’t have if we sat still,” Packers director of player personnel Brian Gutekunst said.

The Packers turned to defense in the third round by taking Utah State outside linebacker Kyler Fackrell with the 88th overall selection. Fackrell led the nation with five fumble recoveries.


Packers draft defensive tackle in 1st round

The Green Bay Packers are counting on UCLA’s Kenny Clark to help fill a big void on the defensive line.

General manager Ted Thompson selected Clark, a junior, with the 27th overall pick in the NFL draft on Thursday night.

Clark played three years at UCLA, starting all 13 games in 2015 and making 29 consecutive starts overall. A team captain, Clark had 75 tackles and six sacks for the Bruins last season.

There is a huge void in the middle of the defense with tackle B.J. Raji choosing to take a year off. The 6-foot-3, 310-pound Clark will help plug that hole.

“I feel like I’m very versatile. I’ll do whatever they ask me to do,” Clark said in a conference call from his hometown of San Bernardino, California.


NFC North Draft Capsules

Draft capsules for NFC North teams heading into the NFL Draft, which begins Thursday:

11. CHICAGO BEARS (6-10)

LAST SEASON: Finished last in NFC North in first season under general manager Ryan Pace and coach John Fox. Even though they won just one more game, Bears believe they started to lay strong foundation. QB Jay Cutler posted highest rating of career while cutting interceptions from 18 to 11 in 15 games after Bears waited until March to announce he was their quarterback going forward. Defense tied for 22nd in sacks, had 17 takeaways — fifth fewest in league.



POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: DT A’Shawn Robinson, Alabama; OLB Leonard Floyd, Georgia; DT Jarran Reed, Alabama; CB Vernon Hargreaves, Florida.


Thompson offers few clues on draft focus

How the Green Bay Packers proceed with their first-round pick in the NFL draft could be a sign of the team’s comfort level with the young inside linebackers on their roster.

Or not. General manager Ted Thompson has never been one to drop big hints.

Thompson stayed true to form Wednesday. He said picking the best player available is always the preference. He offered few clues about how moving linebacker Clay Matthews back to the outside could impact his decision when the Packers pick 27th overall on April 28.

Mathews spent much of the last two seasons on the inside, helping shore up the run defense. And while he made the Pro Bowl as an inside linebacker last season, Matthews is at his best rushing the passer and wreaking havoc in the backfield.

“Yeah, it’s a coaching decision. We’ve had a little bit of fortune with him playing outside backer, too,” Thompson said wryly.


Packers open season with 2 road games

The Minnesota Vikings will play their first regular-season home game at US Bank Stadium against, naturally, the rival Green Bay Packers.

The NFL unveiled the 2016 schedule Thursday, putting the Packers and Vikings in prime time on Sunday night, Sept. 18. The rematch in Green Bay will be on Christmas Eve, Dec. 24.

The Packers’ 96th NFL regular-season schedule is highlighted by five prime-time contests (subject to flexible scheduling).

The Packers kick off their season on the road for the fourth consecutive year, the longest streak in team history, opening with two road games for the first time since 1924. Green Bay will travel to Jacksonville, playing on the road against an AFC team in Week 1 for the first time since facing the New England Patriots in 1985.


Cook gets his QB with Packers’ Rodgers

As Jared Cook considered his options in free agency, finding a quarterback to get him the football was first and foremost on his mind.

“It was more than the top priority I was looking for,” the tight end said Tuesday, a day after signing a one-year free-agent contract with the Packers, whose quarterback happens to be two-time league MVP Aaron Rodgers. “It was imperative that I find a person that’s known for getting the job done and is good at what they do. I think that he’s one of the best in the league at doing it, clearly.”

While Cook targeted a team with a proven quarterback, the Packers, who rarely delve into free agency, targeted Cook to give their quarterback an explosive threat at tight end. Last season, Richard Rodgers caught 58 passes, one of four tight ends in franchise history to catch at least 55 in a season. But he averaged only 8.8 yards per reception.


Packers dip into free agency to sign TE Jared Cook

The Green Bay Packers made a surprise move into free-agency by signing tight end Jared Cook on Monday.

The Packers rarely dip into the free-agent market, making the deal a significant one for a team with a history of building through the draft and hanging onto its players.

A person with knowledge of the deal told The Associated Press the agreement is for one year and worth up to $3.65 million. The person requested anonymity because terms of the contract have not been announced.

The signing was announced by Packers general manager Ted Thompson.

Cook is 6-foot-5 and 254 pounds. He spent the past three seasons with the Rams, and could give the Packers the big tight end they've lacked since Jermichael Finley's career ended with a neck injury during the 2013 season.


Packers' Raji says he will take hiatus in 2016

B.J. Raji quoted Vince Lombardi in announcing his decision to leave football for a year.

While the late Hall of Fame coach for the Green Bay Packers would have been proud, the current team now has a hole to fill on the defensive line.

Raji said Monday that he was taking a "hiatus" from the NFL and would not play in 2016 following seven seasons with the Green Bay Packers.

"This decision was made after hours of conversation with close family members and mentors and considerable self-introspection and is one in which I am absolutely certain," Raji said in a statement. "I cannot rule out a return to the NFL in the future, but I will definitely not be playing during the 2016 season."

The statement was provided by Raji's agents. The Green Bay Press-Gazette first reported Raji's decision.


Packers re-sign Perry, Kowalski but lose Tolzien

The Green Bay Packers have re-signed linebacker Nick Perry and signed guard/tackle Vince Kowalski.

The Packers announced the signings Friday.

Green Bay picked Perry in the first round of the 2012 draft out of Southern California. He’s played in 46 games with 16 starts over four seasons and has 130 tackles, including 84 solo, 12½ sacks, five forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.

Last season, he had a team-high 3½ sacks in the playoffs, tying Clay Matthews for the franchise record for a single postseason.

Kowalski is a 6-foot-4, 305-pound first-year player out of Villanova. He signed with the Packers as a rookie free agent last June but was released Aug. 31.

The Packers lost backup quarterback Scott Tolzein on Friday. He signed with the Indianapolis Colts.


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