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Insider: Jones still proves worth on defense

Aug. 12, 2012
 

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A.J. Hawk, from left, Brad Jones and Clay Matthews talk on the sidelines during Sunday's practice at Ray Nitschke Field in Ashwaubenon. / Megan McCormick/Press-Gazette

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Brad Jones probably has his roster spot secured based on his extensive involvement on special teams.

During Sunday’s practice, he was on both the No. 1 kickoff return team and the No. 1 kickoff cover team. Last season, he tied for second on the team with 11 special teams tackles. He also blocked a field goal in the playoff game against the New York Giants.

Every once in a while, he also comes through on defense. Sunday was one of those days. During the only competitive team period of practice, Jones made the winning play in the no-huddle drill. Dropping into coverage from his outside linebacker position, Jones intercepted an Aaron Rodgers pass in the end zone. On third-and-eight from the 13-yard line, Rodgers tried to hit James Jones in the back of the end zone, but Brad Jones had underneath coverage and picked it off.

Having moved back to outside linebacker after a brief tryout on the inside during the offseason program, Jones has fallen far down the depth chart. He has worked most with the No. 3 defense and remains behind even undrafted Dezman Moses, who has been with the No. 2s. His interception on Sunday came when he was rotating in with the ones.

But Jones always seems to find a way to stick around and work his way back into the defense. After playing sparingly from scrimmage last season, Jones got the call to start in the playoff game and had the Packers’ only sack of Eli Manning in the game.

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Maybe the defensive linemen were trying extra hard to gain an edge in the one-on-one pass rushing/pass blocking drill on Sunday, but the downside was they were jumping offsides like crazy.

Twice, Daniel Muir appeared to jump. So did Jarius Wynn and Anthony Hargrove.

Given how much coach Mike McCarthy has harped on pre-snap penalties, he won’t be happy when he watches the practice film of that drill.

Did you notice?

• Rookie defensive tackle Mike Daniels practiced on consecutive days for the first time in nearly two weeks after battling knee and groin injuries and looked quick in the one-on-ones, splitting a pair of reps against rookie guard/center Tommie Draheim.

• Recently signed free-agent Reggie Wells split reps with Andrew Datko and Herb Taylor at left tackle with the No. 1 offensive line. Wells won both of his one-on-one reps. Datko won all four of his one-on-one reps and has won six straight in the drill. Taylor won his only rep, blocking Daniel Muir.

• Dropped passes won’t help the causes of rookies Brandon Bostick, Curenski Gilleylen and Dale Moss. Bostick dropped a touchdown pass. Other than Moss’ drop, which led to an interception, he had a strong day, making several catches during the team periods.

• D.J. Smith, normally a mainstay on many of the special teams units, wasn’t on the kickoff return or kickoff coverage teams on Sunday. His special teams workload likely will decrease now that he has taken over the starting inside linebacker job in place of the injured Desmond Bishop.

• With Josh Sitton’s workload lightened, Evan Dietrich-Smith got most of the team snaps at right guard with the No. 1 offense.

• Phillip Merling took the first reps at end in place of Ryan Pickett in some of the base defense snaps.

• The smallest training camp crowd of the summer watched Sunday’s practice, which at one hour and 45 minutes tied for the second-shortest practice.

• Even though tight end Ryan Taylor (concussion) and defensive end Jerel Worthy (knee) returned to practice, there were still 19 players sidelined because of injuries.

rdemovsk@greenbaypressgazette.com and follow him on Twitter @RobDemovsky.

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