Green Bay Packers receiver James Jones (89)during training camp practice at Ray Nitschke Field on Thursday, Aug. 4, 2011. / Evan Siegle/Press-Gazette
The Packers re-signed receiver James Jones at a reasonable price and might have been able to do the same with defensive end Cullen Jenkins but apparently decided they will have to spend that money elsewhere.
According to a source with access to NFL salary information, Jones’ three-year contract with the Packers is worth $9.4 million, or an average of $3.13 million a year.
Though Jenkins’ deal with Philadelphia is for five years and worth $30.375 million, the Eagles actually made only a modest first-year commitment to the defensive end. They didn’t pay him a signing bonus and owe him $3.875 million in salary and roster bonus this year, and then have what’s essentially an option bonus in 2012 when they’ll have to make a more significant financial commitment to keep him on the team.
Jones’ contract had a $1.5 million signing bonus plus a $1.3 million base salary and $950,00 roster bonus for this year, for a $3.75 million total. Next year he’ll make a $2.3 million base salary and $200,000 roster bonus ($2.5 million total), and in 2013 he’ll make a $2.95 million base salary and $200,000 roster bonus ($3.15 million total).
Jenkins’ five-year contract with the Eagles appears to be structured so the Eagles can see whether the 30-year-old with a significant injury history can get through 2011 healthy and playing well before they make a major financial commitment to him. This year Jenkins will make $3.875 million, and then in 2012 he’s due a $5 million roster bonus and $2.75 million base salary ($7.75 million total). That makes for $11.375 million over the first two years, if the Eagles choose to keep him.
In 2013 Jenkins is due for a $2.5 million roster bonus and $4 million base salary ($6.5 million total); in 2014, a $2 million roster bonus and $4.5 million base salary ($6.5 million total); and in 2015, a $6 million base salary with no roster bonus.
Change in diet: James Starks thinks his diet was the culprit for his long recovery from a hamstring injury last year, when he missed the first 2˝ months of the season because of an injury that happened during OTAs in May.
After seeing a nutritionist this offseason, Starks is now eating gluten-free, which means abstaining from products that have wheat.
“I’m not eating carbs; I’m eating gluten-free bread,” he said Friday. “I’m staying off dairy products because it wasn’t working for my body. I went to see a specialist, and I was wondering what is the problems with the hamstrings and stuff? Sometimes it’s because you’re not feeding yourself the right foods. I was feasting off carbs thinking it was good, but my body didn’t react the right way. That played a big part in the healing process taking so long.”
Starks said as soon as he changed his diet, he added weight – good weight – and got stronger and leaner. When he reported for training camp last week, he said he weighed 225 pounds. He played at 217 pounds last season.
“I’m a lot stronger, I’ve got a lot more experience and I feel great,” Starks said. “I don’t have my hamstring bothering me anymore.”
Starks began last season on the physically unable to perform list and didn’t practice until late November. His NFL debut was a 73-yard rushing game against San Francisco on Dec. 5, but he didn’t blossom until the playoffs. He rushed for 315 yards in the four postseason games, including 123 yards in the wild-card game at Philadelphia.
Though running-game drills are difficult to evaluate in practice because the whistle blows on first contact with the ball carrier, Starks looks more powerful. That was evident in Thursday’s practice, when he plowed over rookie safety Anthony Bratton during a between-the-tackles running drill.
Starks has been working as the backup to Grant through the first week of camp. The two are likely to share carries during the season, though their roles will be open to adjustment depending on performance.
New rules: Four NFL officials are at the Packers’ camp this week working the team’s practices and advising the team on the NFL’s new rules and points of emphasis.
The officials also gave a short seminar for reporters Friday evening and showed the same video the team watched that explains the changes. Most of the changes actually were clarifying or adding specific language to previous rules, though there are two significant changes.
The first is on kickoffs, where the kickoff line has moved from the 30-yard line to the 35, and where all players except the kicker now can line up no more than five yards from the kickoff line. The kicker still can take as long a run to the ball as he wants. The other players are considered within the five-year limit if their front foot or hand is touching the line five yards behind the kickoff point.
The second change is that all scoring plays are subject to a booth replay challenge, so coaches will never have to challenge them. The referee and booth official will be linked by a transmitter, and after every scoring play, the scoring team will not be allowed to try the extra point until the replay official transmits to the referee either that the touchdown is confirmed or that the referee has to review it. On a review, the referee will look at the entire play to see if there’s anything that should overturn the result.
The areas of emphasis for this season included a further defining of defenseless players on illegal hits – it added kickers and punters on the kick and return, a quarterback on change of possession and blindside blocks. Quarterbacks throwing and in the pocket, and receivers making a catch before they’ve had a chance to become a runner already were defined as defenseless.
Also, hits to a quarterback’s head by an arm or hand will be a roughing penalty only if the blow is “forcible.”
Finally, the rules try to clarify the requirements for a reception and include maintaining control of the ball after hitting the ground. The video used as an example of an incompletion Calvin Johnson’s infamous non-catch that would have given Detroit a win over Chicago in the final seconds of their Week 1 opener last season. Johnson had the ball when he hit the ground but as he continued to roll over he held the ball in one hand, and it scraped the ground and popped out. The play remains an incompletion under the updated definition because Johnson didn’t voluntarily let go of the ball before finishing his body contact with the ground.
Lang's surprise: T.J. Lang was lured by his offensive-line mates into the locker room at lunch time Friday to find his locker covered by pink wrapping paper and filled with pink balloons proclaiming, “It’s a girl!”
“I hope you guys realize it was a boy,” Lang said as he strolled toward the locker.
Yes, they knew Lang’s girlfriend had given birth Thursday night to a boy, John Joseph. Lang’s girlfriend lives in the Detroit area, so when she went into labor he caught the first flight to Detroit at 6 a.m. Thursday. She finally gave birth at 8:34 p.m.
“It was awesome,” Lang said. “A long, stressful day, but when that baby came out it was special.”
On Friday, Lang caught the first flight back to Green Bay and was back at training camp in the morning, working on about 5 hours sleep.
“The excitement kept me up,” he said.
Jennings injures hip flexor: Receiver Greg Jennings attended but didn’t practice Friday night because of an injury to his hip flexor. McCarthy gave no indication of how serious it is.
Cornerback Tramon Williams, who left practice Thursday because of stiffness in his hip, didn’t practice Friday.
Also, rookie cornerback Davon House left practice Friday with an injured hamstring and didn’t return.
Rookie receiver Kerry Taylor passed his concussion test Friday morning and did a workout but was held out of practice for a second day. He sustained the concussion Wednesday night and expects to participate in the Family Night scrimmage tonight.
Injury report:Did not practice: LB Diyral Briggs (hamstring), DE Eli Joseph (hamstring/hip flexor), T Theo Sherman (ankle), G Adrian Battles (Achilles), WR Kerry Taylor (concussion), tight end Tom Crabtree (hip flexor), CB Tramon Williams (hip tightness), DE Lawrence Guy (concussion).
McCarthy said right tackle Bryan Bulaga was bothered by knee tendinitis Friday night. Bulaga appeared to take fewer snaps than usual but did finish practice.
New injuries: WR Greg Jennings (hip flexor), CB Davon House (hamstring).
Returned from injury: None.