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Green Bay Packers' Tori Gurley gets jump in receiver competition

Aug. 23, 2011
 

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Green Bay Packers cornerback Tramon Williams, left, breaks up a pass intended for receiver Chastin West during Tuesdayd's training camp practice inside the Don Hutson Center. / Jim Matthews/Press-Gazette

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There’s no substitute for size, and among the group of inexperienced receivers trying to make the Packers’ roster, Tori Gurley has more of it than anyone else.

It was on display during Tuesday’s practice inside The Don Hutson Center.

At 6-foot-4, Gurley can make plays that guys like Chastin West (6-1), Diondre Borel (6-0), Kerry Taylor (6-0) and Antonio Robinson (6-1) cannot.

His height allowed him to make a spectacular catch against cornerback Tramon Williams during a team period. It was a back-shoulder throw along the right sideline that Matt Flynn sailed a little. Gurley jumped, extended his arms and caught it just out of Williams’ reach. It’s doubtful any of those other young receivers would have gotten to that ball.

West’s five-catch, 134-yard performance in Friday’s preseason game against Arizona seemingly has given him the best shot to make it as the sixth receiver. West got increased work with the starting offense the last two days in practice. But Gurley, too, got some reps with starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who hit him on a deep route during a blitz period.

An undrafted rookie from South Carolina, Gurley is the second-tallest skill-position player on the Packers’ offensive roster. Only tight end Jermichael Finley, at 6-5, is taller. The tallest receiver among the Packers’ returning group is the 6-3 Jordy Nelson.

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Perhaps only Nick McDonald and Marshall Newhouse know what led to the bizarre event in practice when the two offensive linemen squared off and started to fight.

Whatever the reason, a fight between two players in the same position group can never be good.

The two were paired together on the second-strong offensive line and got into it following a play during a team period. Their position coach, James Campen, immediately got them together on the sideline and forced them to make up.

Campen likely nipped it in the bud, but if there’s lingering animosity, there could be trouble down the road.

The Packers don’t need another incident like they had in 2004, when teammates Ahmad Carroll and Joey Thomas got into a fight outside of a meeting room at Lambeau Field. Carroll took offense to Thomas being among the players who were giving him a hard time about mistakes he made in an early-season loss to Chicago. Carroll said to Thomas, who was inactive for the game: “At least I played.” Then Thomas said: “That’s only because you’re the first-round pick, and everything has been spoon-fed to you.” On the way out of the meeting, Carroll sucker-punched Thomas and a full-fledged fight broke out.

That’s not exactly the kind of chemistry coaches want in their position groups.

Did you notice?

• Ryan Grant appears to be the most reliable pass protector among the running backs. He picked up blitzing safety M.D. Jennings during a team period that allowed Rodgers to connect with Donald Driver on a deep sideline pass. The Packers haven’t settled on a third-down back to replace Brandon Jackson. The problem is, later in the drill Grant dropped a swing pass, something a third-down back can’t do.

• Jamari Lattimore and Vic So’oto worked as the second-string outside linebackers. That means the two undrafted rookies are ahead of sixth-round pick Ricky Elmore, who worked more on scout team than with the regular defense. So’oto had a strip sack of quarterback Graham Harrell, but he shouldn’t have hit Harrell because quarterbacks aren’t supposed to be touched in practice.

• Four tight ends — Andrew Quarless, Tom Crabtree and rookies D.J. Williams and Ryan Taylor — were on the No. 1 kickoff return team on Tuesday.

• Inside linebacker Desmond Bishop took a rep as an outside rusher in the one-on-one pass rushing drill. Left tackle Chad Clifton easily blocked him.

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If you've ever answered "Who has the ball?" with "It's halftime," you might recognize The Airhead. Check out the characters in our cartoon gallery of oddball fans.

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