Green & Gold


Rookies Janis, Elliott bolster roster bids

The Packers rookies who have made two of the strongest impressions this preseason weren’t at the top of the team’s draft board.

Productive performances by seventh-round pick Jeff Janis and undrafted free agent Jayrone Elliott in Thursday night’s 34-14 preseason win over the Oakland Raiders might have cemented their spots in Green Bay. Teams must trim rosters to 53 players by Saturday afternoon.

“I knew that I had to perform and show once again what I could do. I feel really good about the game and I’m just going to hope for the best,” said Janis, a receiver who had a 33-yard touchdown catch and 62-yard kickoff return to set up another score.


Backup QBs shine for Pack

Mike McCarthy dreads this time of year.

The Green Bay Packers’ roster must be trimmed to the 53-man limit Saturday. One of the most important decisions for McCarthy is whether to go with Matt Flynn or Scott Tolzien as the backup to starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

He might even keep both with the way Flynn and Tolzien played in the 34-14 win Thursday night over the Kansas City Chiefs to wrap up the preseason.

Flynn and Tolzien each threw for two touchdowns against a defense that looked lost at times in a game played mostly by reserves.

“I think Matt and Scott have both championed the case to be on our football team,” McCarthy said.

Flynn threw for 102 yards and Tolzien had 139 in splitting reps by quarter in the evening’s most closely watched position battle. They both made solid cases to be the insurance policy at quarterback a season after Rodgers missed seven weeks with a collarbone injury.


Battle continues at free safety position

The battle for starting positions continues even after the conclusion of the preseason with the Packers’ 34-14 victory over Kansas City at Lambeau Field on Thursday.

One of the more interesting battles is at free safety, where first-round draft choice Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and second-year player Micah Hyde have both played well in the preseason.

The edge currently goes to Hyde, who was listed as the starter on the team’s depth chart this week. Still, Clinton-Dix has made his share of plays.

“Really if you watch the tape, (Clinton-Dix) was everywhere, he had a patch breakout and made some tackles,” cornerback Davon House recently told the Leader.

“His professionalism stands out, the way he handles everything, it is really easy to come in as a first round draft pick and feel like you have arrived,” second-year safety Chris Banjo said. “He is well rounded, and he is a great person off the field and on the field and that is what you love to have around.”


Preseason finale last chance for some players

Don’t expect to see starting quarterbacks Alex Smith or Aaron Rodgers take snaps. Do expect to see running backs Jamaal Charles and Eddie Lacy wearing baseball caps on the sideline.

With roster decisions looming, the preseason game between Kansas City and Green Bay on Thursday night at Lambeau Field belongs to the backups, rookies and undrafted free agents. It’s time for the longshots and hopefuls to make a good impression if they want to stick around.

That means the game is a test for the Chiefs’ No. 3 running back job between Cyrus Gray and Joe McKnight, or perhaps it will settle the Packers backup quarterback battle between Matt Flynn and Scott Tolzien.

“It’s like any position. Matt and Scott aren’t just competing against each other,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. “You have to keep your best players. They’re really competing against the other positions.”

Rosters must be trimmed to the 53-man limit by Saturday afternoon.


Packers beat Raiders, 31-21

Skip the rest of the preseason. The Green Bay Packers offense seems ready for some real games.

With a stable of running backs now complementing quarterback Aaron Rodgers, the Packers could be as potent as ever this year.

Rodgers threw for two touchdowns, Eddie Lacy rumbled for a 1-yard score on the Packers’ opening drive and prized free agent acquisition Julius Peppers recorded his first sack of the preseason in the Packers’ 31-21 victory Friday night over the Oakland Raiders.

“I think we’re ready. I think it’s been a good preseason. Scored some points, moved the ball,” Rodgers said. “We have 13 days until the game.”

That would refer to the season opener Sept. 4 in Seattle against the Super Bowl champion Seahawks.

The Raiders host Seattle next week to wrap up the preseason with a few defensive injuries.


Receivers on the bubble await their fate

With first-round cuts Tuesday, Friday’s preseason game against Oakland might have been the last chance for players on the bubble to prove their worth.

This is especially evident in the Green Bay Packers’ deep receiving squad, where young players are learning what they can from the team veterans.

“I think we are doing pretty well,” said Gerrard Sheppard, a first-year Packer. “We are sill learning the system, but at the same time everyone is buying into it. Everyone’s coming down every day and competing.”

Randall Cobb, who has been with the team since 2011, said the new receivers have demonstrated good knowledge of the playbook.

“They all have talent and they all bring something different to this team, so I am just excited to watch them continue to grow,” Cobb said.

Aaron Rodgers said he needs to get more reps in with the young receivers before he feels comfortable using them in a game situation.


Woodson returning to Lambeau

One of the NFL’s top quarterbacks learned from one of the best defensive backs in the game.

With Charles Woodson leading the defense and Aaron Rodgers running the offense, the Green Bay Packers had a remarkable run of success that included a Super Bowl win and a 15-1 record the following season.

The good friends will have a warm reunion Friday night when the safety returns to Lambeau Field for the first time since signing with Oakland last year. The Raiders visit Green Bay for a preseason game.

“Charles is one of my all-time favorite teammates. Probably the most talented guy, most dominant player that I’ve played with during his stretch, from his time he got here until he left,” Rodgers said. “I learned so much from him.”


Packers' D learns rookies name after big day

Jayrone Elliott doesn’t just go by “No. 91” anymore in the Packers’ locker room. Three sacks in four plays will help get you noticed, even by pass-rushing specialist Clay Matthews.

Elliott’s dream series came in a rather meaningless fourth quarter of a 21-7 preseason win over St. Louis. But maybe, just maybe, the sequence can earn the undrafted rookie more snaps in his long-shot effort to work his way into the crowded outside linebacker rotation.

“It was just crazy, because usually you walk around and they’d be like ‘What up 91?’” Elliott said Monday. “Then they started calling me by name, and calling me ‘Sackmaster.’

“So, it’s just fun to joke around with Clay and (Julius Peppers), because you know Peppers never really talks to anybody,” Elliott added with a smile.


Packers face Britt and Bradford tonight

Kenny Britt had a quiet game in the St. Louis Rams’ preseason opener.

He played just 17 snaps before the backups took over, with no catches and nothing even thrown his way.

The wide receiver has been making plenty of noise at practice, with production to match the trash-talking.

“He loves the game,” coach Jeff Fisher said. “He’s not afraid to voice his opinion and he’s pulling the young guys along with him. He practices one speed and that’s full.”

The Rams (0-1) are hoping Britt, who turns 26 next month, can settle down and be a veteran leader at a position loaded with youth.

Britt will be trying to get open for quarterback Sam Bradford, who will be making his first appearance coming off knee surgery against the Packers (0-1) on Saturday.

Whether or not he gets his first catch with St. Louis, expect Britt to be chattering away.


Flynn, Tolzien in tight competition

Matt Flynn knows better than to worry about a numbers game at this juncture of training camp.

Having his number called at any point in a game played in August is OK with Flynn, a seven-year NFL quarterback in his second stint with the Green Bay Packers.

“Preseason, to me, is always just a blast to go out there and play,” Flynn said Thursday.

A day after Mike McCarthy confirmed Aaron Rodgers would make his belated preseason debut, the Green Bay coach wasn’t ready to say who would be next up at quarterback when the Packers play a preseason game at St. Louis on Saturday.

With the team off the field Thursday, McCarthy said the decision on who gets the first chance to run the offense after Rodgers against the Rams should come Friday.

“Tomorrow’s practice will determine that once we get through that,” McCarthy said.

Flynn and Scott Tolzien received significant playing time with Rodgers held out of Green Bay’s first game last weekend.


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