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Green Bay Packers sign offensive lineman Cecil Newton, brother of Cam, to practice squad

Oct. 13, 2011
 
Cecil Newton, seen here posing for his NFL headshot during his stint with the New Orleans Saints earlier this year, joined the Green Bay Packers practice squad on Wednesday. / File/Getty

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The Green Bay Packers’ new practice-squad signee isn’t just another name in the line of players who come and go during the season.

Though not well known himself, offensive lineman Cecil Newton is the brother of Carolina quarterback Cam Newton, the first pick of this year’s draft who has been something of a sensation from Week 1 of his rookie season.

Cecil Newton trained with his brother all offseason when he was working for another shot with an NFL team as a guard and center. Since getting cut in training camp by the New Orleans Saints, Cecil Newton has been following his brother closely and attended the Packers’ game at Carolina on Sept. 18. Cam Newton had a big day — he threw for 432 yards in a 30-23 loss to the Packers — and after five games ranks No. 4 in the NFL in passing yards.

“He’s obviously proving a lot of people wrong,” Cecil Newton said of his brother Thursday. “He’s the type of kid that’s always focused on doing the right thing and getting better rather than worrying about what people say you can and can’t do. He’s going about it the correct way, he’s preparing for games week in and week out. He’ll watch the game he just played on Sunday, he’ll watch that game Sunday night, he’ll watch his mistakes, what he can do to change, and he’ll go about it the same way the next week. He’s doing the correct things.”

Cecil Newton (6-foot-2, 315 pounds) was an undrafted rookie out of Tennessee State in 2009 and spent 14 games on Jacksonville’s practice squad and the final two on its roster as a rookie. He tore his medial collateral ligament in the final preseason game of 2010 and spent the season out of football, then went to training camp this year with New Orleans.

Since getting cut by the Saints, he’s been working out in Atlanta waiting for a chance with another team. The Packers, who this week promoted guard Ray Dominguez from their practice squad, brought Newton in for a workout Wednesday night, then signed him to their practice squad.

“He’s got some aggressiveness I think, that’s what kind of jumped at me,” said Joe Philbin, the Packers’ offensive coordinator, after Newton’s first practice Thursday. “He’s got some pop in his body. Beyond that, I don’t have a real good feel for him.”

Cecil Newton spent all offseason working out with his brother, starting before the draft and lasting until the NFL lockout ended in late July. They worked out at several facilities, including in San Diego, but spent most of their time at the IMG Performance Institute in Bradenton, Fla., where they had a relatively regimented daily schedule that simulated an NFL team’s offseason workout program.

In the morning, they did conditioning and agility drills. Then Cam went to film sessions with former NFL quarterback Chris Weinke, while Cecil lifted weights. In the afternoon, they had on-field instruction during which Cecil would snap to his brother, who had to work extensively on dropping back from center after playing as a shotgun quarterback in college.

Cecil also worked a variety of one-on-one drills with defensive linemen in the afternoon sessions.

“(Weinke) was a major help to him, with Weinke (having played) in Carolina and understanding the system,” Cecil Newton said. “(Cam) took heed to what (Weinke) had to say. They said (Cam) was a shotgun guy, couldn’t drop back, but he ultimately focused on taking drop steps and reading coverages and not sitting back in the gun and using his athleticism to make plays. He understood this is the NFL, you’re not the biggest, you’re not the fastest, there are a lot of great athletes and talent around here. That’s what he’s doing, going about it like a professional.”

Bulaga “good to go”: Right tackle Bryan Bulaga appears to have a good chance of returning this week against St. Louis after missing the past two games because of a sprained left knee.

Bulaga practiced Wednesday for the first time since getting hurt and showed no ill effects when he returned to practice Thursday. Coach Mike McCarthy listed him as a limited participant on the injury report.

“If they’re OK with it,” Bulaga said about being ready to play this week. “We still have (today), and if they feel like I’m the best option, I’m good to go.”

McCarthy said: “Had a padded practice today and had a chance to observe him going in the one-on-one run block vs. the D-line and also the pass rush, so he looks to be moving well.”

Injury updates: Receiver Greg Jennings left practice early because of an injured groin muscle, but McCarthy suggested the injury doesn’t appear to be threatening.

“Greg just irritated his groin, probably about halfway through practice, so we sent him up for treatment,” McCarthy said.

The Packers also added guard-center Evan Dietrich-Smith (foot) to their report as a limited participant.

Cornerback Pat Lee (back) returned to practice after sitting out Wednesday.

The only players who are out this week are defensive end Mike Neal (knee) and left tackle Chad Clifton (hamstring).

pdougher@greenbaypressgazette.com and follow him on Twitter @PeteDougherty.

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