The Packers on Sunday signed undrafted free agent Kole Heckendorf, a Mosinee native and receiver from North Dakota State
Lardinois gets tryout
Green Bay Notre Dame graduate Joe Lardinois, a defensive end/outside linebacker who played at North Dakota State, has been invited to next weekend's rookie minicamp as a tryout player.
The 6-foot-4, 264-pound native of New Franken said he received a call from the Packers shortly after the draft ended on Sunday.
“I think it's a pretty good opportunity for me,” Lardinois said. “I get a chance to work out with the team I grew up watching. I'm going to give it everything I've got and hopefully I get something out of it.”
The Green Bay Packers aren’t going away from the zone blocking scheme, but if they’re looking to pound the ball on the ground the old-fashioned way, they might have found just the guy to help them do that.
In perhaps one of the surprise moves of Ted Thompson’s draft on Sunday, the Packers’ general managed nabbed powerful fullback Quinn Johnson of LSU in the fifth round at No. 145 overall.
It was an unexpected pick, if only because the Packers seemed stocked at a position of diminishing importance with veterans Korey Hall and John Kuhn. But if coach Mike McCarthy wants to use more power concepts, then the pick of the 6-foot ¾, 246-pound Johnson just might fit.
“Quinn Johnson has that ability to play power football, in the power pattern schemes versus the zone schemes,” McCarthy said. “But his number one asset will be in the inside zone scheme, which is the starting point for the way we run the football.”
Johnson, who began his college career as an outside linebacker but converted to offense as a sophomore, rarely touched the ball at LSU, but the Packers believe he’s agile enough to be a short-yardage back and a capable receiver out of the backfield.
“He was a running back (in high school) who rushed for over 1,000 yards,” Thompson said. “He’s got a good skill set, and he’s a big, physical guy. We felt like that would be a nice get. We thought that was a value pick.”
Thompson became enamored with Johnson during a visit to LSU last fall. He came back raving to McCarthy about Johnson.
“Quinn Johnson was somebody he was very excited about,” McCarthy said. “He is our type of player. He is a hard-nosed fullback. We think he also has special-teams value and also was able to run the football. We just felt at that particular point in the draft we couldn’t pass him up.”
There won’t be room for three fullbacks on the 53-man roster come September, so Johnson will have to show he’s dynamic in order to unseat Hall of Kuhn, who have been mainstays on special teams the last two years.
♦ Tauscher’s future: The Packers have all but closed the door on the possibility of re-signing veteran right tackle Mark Tauscher.
In the final year of his contract last season, Tauscher blew out his left knee on Dec. 7. Tauscher will turn 32 on June 17 and almost certainly won’t be healthy by the start of training camp.
“You never say never in pro football,” Packers offensive coordinator Joe Philbin said when asked if there was any scenario in which Tauscher would return. “There’s a million things that can happen between now and September, but that’s probably a better question for Ted. I don’t know. Certainly there’s possibilities, I guess.”
Thompson called Tauscher’s situation “a medical thing.”
“I don’t think it’s a question of want,” Thompson said when asked if he wants Tauscher back. “It’s a question of timing and the medical thing.”
♦ Undrafted free agents: With 68 players under contract, the Packers will have room on their offseason roster to sign up to 12 rookie free agents.
One of the first they signed was Iowa receiver Andy Brodell, who also is a kick returner. His agent, Jack Bechta, said Brodell had offers from five other teams but chose the Packers because they had shown the most interest in him in recent weeks.
They also signed Mosinee native Kole Heckendorf, a receiver from North Dakota State who said he had offers from Houston, San Diego and Washington.
“I always rooted for the Packers growing up, and now I’m going to get a shot with Green Bay,” Heckendorf told the Wausau Daily Herald. “We’ll see what happens.”
Other signings included a third receiver, Jamarko Simmons, according to an NFL source, and running back Tyrell Sutton. Simmons played at Western Michigan with Greg Jennings.
Sutton of Northwestern agreed to a three-year contract, his agent, Alonzo Shavers, confirmed late Sunday night. Also believed to have signed was Michigan tight end Carson Butler.
The Packers will for sure need at least one quarterback because none of the three quarterbacks on the roster will attend this weekend’s rookie orientation camp. As of Sunday evening, they still hadn’t secured a quarterback.
Among the top quarterback prospects to go undrafted were Louisville’s Hunter Cantwell, Michigan State’s Brian Hoyer and Alabama’s John Parker Wilson.
The Packers had shown interest in Cleveland State basketball player J’Nathan Bullock, but he signed with the New York Jets.
Players drafted this weekend don’t count against the 80-man offseason roster until they sign contracts.
♦ Bring it on, Greene: Fourth-round draft pick T.J. Lang, a tackle from Eastern Michigan, had always been a fan of former NFL linebacker Kevin Greene.
So imagine his surprise when during his pre-draft visit to the Packers, he bumped into Greene, who is the Packers’ news outside linebackers coach.
“He said, ‘Wow, I’m in the same room as Kevin Greene,’” Packers offensive line coach James Campen said. “Of course we went over and set him up a little bit and talked to Kevin and said, ‘T.J thinks he can take you right now one on one.’ Kevin kind of stared him down a little bit and had a little fun with that.”
♦ Odds and ends: With the third-round picks the Packers traded away on Saturday in order to move into the first round to take Clay Matthews, Jacksonville took William & Mary cornerback Derek Cox at 73 after getting that pick from the Patriots, who took North Carolina receiver Brandon Tate with the other Packers’ pick, No. 83. That was the pick the Packers got from the Jets in the Brett Favre trade. … The Bengals picked Missouri tight end Chase Coffman, the son of former Packers tight end Paul Coffman, in the third round at No. 98 overall.
— Pete Dougherty and Tom Pelissero contributed to this report.