♦ Did not practice: S Atari Bigby (ankle), CB Al Harris (knee), RB James Starks (hamstring).
♦ New injuries: LB Brad Jones (back).
Brad Jones carried his new responsibility as the starting outside linebacker for the Green Bay Packers onto Ray Nitschke Field on Saturday for a drizzly beginning to the 2010 training camp. It didn’t take long before he left the field with an injury.
Jones was held out the second half of practice after taking a helmet to the back during a punt period, although he said it wasn’t serious.
“I’ll be out as long as it takes to get better,” Jones said. “I’m a fast healer. So, I think I’ll be back soon.
“I just got hit … happens with that many people flying around. … It’s nothing to be worried about.”
Jones will be one of the most watched players on the roster this season as the heir apparent to Aaron Kampman and opposite of Clay Matthews.
Most assumed the Packers would either draft or sign another outside linebacker with Kampman leaving, but the staff put its faith in Jones. Now he’s expected to flourish in the 3-4 system to the point where opponents can’t just focus on Matthews, who posted 10 sacks and made the Pro Bowl last year.
“This year feels a lot different because I’m so comfortable with playing the game at this level,” Jones said. “Last year, I felt like I was just trying to do anything to make the team. … I feel like I’m competing on a much higher level.
“I can match (what they’re looking for) and a lot more. I don’t want to be just good enough to be the starter. I want to be good enough to be an All-Star starter.”
Underwood just waiting
Cornerback Brandon Underwood discussed what he could about his ongoing legal issues after the session concluded Saturday. Underwood, 23, was accused of sexual assault June 5 by two women in Lake Delton, but still has not been charged.
Underwood and six other players were staying at the Wilderness Resort Golf Cabins for the 13th annual McGovern Charity Golf Tournament hosted by Clay Matthews & Friends. The women, ages 31 and 33, originally said all seven players were involved in the assault before changing their story.
Underwood has said the contact was consensual and Lake Delton Police Chief Tom Dorner determined money was exchanged prior to the incident.
“(Sauk County District Attorney Patricia Barrett) has a job to do and I respect how she’s handling her job,” Underwood said. “It’s a tough situation for me to be in because it’s still lingering over my head. … I’m man enough to be able to take whatever.”
Underwood is expected to play a significant role in the secondary rotation, especially with starter Al Harris out. He played in 11 games last year and recorded five tackles.
“It’s not tough to focus on football at all,” Underwood said. “When I get here, I close out all outside things. … It’s all about football right now.
Nice to see you again
Linebacker Nick Barnett and receiver Donald Driver returned to full contact workouts for the first time since having arthroscopic knee surgeries during the offseason.
Always a fan favorite, Driver drew applause nearly every time he touched the ball.
“They felt fine,” Driver said. “I didn’t have any problems cutting today. … No one got to see me during (organized team activity workouts) or minicamp, so it was fun to get back on the field and put the pads on, and the helmet, and catch balls and run routes. Basically just being with the team and getting in the flow of things.
“When you do that you give the fans what they want. You catch a couple balls … run down the field full speed, they believe that you’ve still got it. To me, that’s all that matters.”
Neither Barnett or Driver showed any signs of lingering effects from surgery.
Slippery when wet
The first day of training camp was met by rain in the morning and a light mist throughout most of the afternoon practice.
Several players, including Underwood, Bryan Bulaga, Graham Harrell and Quinn Porter, slipped on the turf. On a day when the reigning NFL offensive rookie of the year, Minnesota Vikings receiver Percy Harvin, and Philadelphia Eagles receiver DeSean Jackson both left practices early with injuries, some were surprised the workout wasn’t moved indoors.
Coach Mike McCarthy, however, said he never considered the change and thought the field was fine.
Receiver Greg Jennings had a slightly different opinion.
“It was a little damp, initially,” Jennings said. “That’s one of the things, it plays a role mentally in your head. For me, mentally, I don’t know why, but it was just there with me.
“Any time you have a damp surface, it kind of plays a role in how you perform a little bit. … Surface great or not great, I didn’t perform well. So, I have room for improvement.”
The Packers will hold their first two-a-day of camp on Sunday. The morning session starts at 8:45 a.m. with the evening workout beginning at 6:30 p.m.