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Packers Notebook: McMillian, Boykin shine in loss

Nov. 6, 2013
 
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Jerron McMillian got the bounce-back week he was looking for on Thursday night. One week after a couple missed tackles during an otherwise decent showing in the Green Bay Packers’ first preseason game against the Chargers, McMillian continued to state his case that he should factor into the secondary equation. With Charles Woodson playing only one series and Morgan Burnett seeing two, the Packers’ rookie safety saw plenty of first-half snaps working across from M.D. Jennings during the team’s 35-10 preseason loss to the Cleveland Browns. A fourth-round pick out of Maine, McMillian displayed the physicality that drew the Packers’ interest in last April’s draft, especially on Cleveland’s sixth drive, when he had a pair of hard-hitting stops on former Packers running back Brandon Jackson. The biggest collision came on a 2-yard tackle for a loss on a first-down play and he followed with another 1-yard stop four plays later. “From my showing last week, I think I just wanted to improve and make sure I got better from what I did last week,” McMillian said. “In San Diego, I had to get my feet wet and get the feeling for how everything goes. From last week, I think I improved. I still have more room to improve, too.” McMillian and Jennings remain in competition for the first-team job across from Morgan Burnett in the nickel and dime packages, but Jennings has seen all of the first-team work there in camp. On Thursday, McMillian showed he shouldn’t be forgotten. “Whatever they put me at, I’m going to try to do it the best I can,” McMillian said. “I don’t even worry about if M.D. is ahead of me, I’m just trying to compete and work as hard as I can.” As a whole, tackling was stout for the Packers in the first half. Cornerback Jarrett Bush made a couple tackles in man coverage and a few stops at the line during rushing plays. Brandian Ross, who spent all of last season on the Packers’ practice squad, showed up with several big tackles and a big pressure on Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden during the first half. Newhouse back After missing last week’s preseason opener against San Diego with a concussion, the impact of left tackle Marshall Newhouse’s return to the starting offense showed on the field. Newhouse, who returned to practice earlier this week, helped solidify the starting line during the first-team offense’s three series, including its touchdown-scoring drive on its first possession. With Herb Taylor subbing for Newhouse last week against San Diego, quarterback Aaron Rodgers took a big hit early while the first-team offense sputtered. Protection wasn’t an issue Thursday as Rodgers finished 6-for-11 for 59 yards a touchdown. “It felt good,” Newhouse said. “Being away for a little while you get a little stir crazy because you’re used to the routine of being up here all day. Not having that all of a sudden is kind of a shock, kind of a weird thing, but it was good to get back and getting the adrenaline running of laying at Lambeau.” The inactive 18 There were no surprises among the Packers’ inactives against the Browns, but the team didn’t dress 18 players, mostly because of injuries. Nobody returned from the 17 who didn’t participate in Tuesday’s practice because of injury, and running back Cedric Benson didn’t dress after not practicing in pads since signing Sunday. Benson practiced twice this week but was limited to wearing shells because of collective-bargaining rules that say players must have two nonpadded practices at the start of camp. The Packers were still without wide receiver Greg Jennings, who hasn’t practiced since sustaining a concussion during practice on Aug. 3. There were no additional injuries to come out of Thursday’s game. Boykin steps up With the Packers’ log jam at wide receiver, it’s easy to forget about Virginia Tech’s Jarrett Boykin. However, the undrafted wideout was the game’s leading receiver with five catches for 63 yards. He also helped alleviate some of Graham Harrell’s struggles with a pair of big receptions in the fourth quarter. After having only 45 passing yards to that point, Harrell hit Boykin for gains of 25 and 24 yards to set up Crosby’s field goal. It was the only score the team had with Harrell under center. “It was definitely a confidence-booster to go out there and show we can execute, and hopefully get this thing in the end zone,” Boykin said. “We just have to keep fighting, keep progressing and build on top of what we did, and get better.” Extra points » As the team worked to limit Randall Cobb’s reps, the Packers gave extra returning reps to newly claimed wide receiver Andrew Brewer and cornerback Otis Merrill during the first half. Merrill, an undrafted rookie out of Illinois State, made the most of the chance with a 60-yard return near the end of the first half. On three returns, he averaged 34 yards. » Former Packers running back Brandon Jackson saw a good share of second-team reps against his former team and scored on a 1-yard touchdown in the third quarterback when he spun past linebacker Jamari Lattimore. » Packers kicker Mason Crosby missed a 54-yard field goal in the second quarter as he continues to adjust to the new wind patterns at Lambeau Field following the south end-zone expansion. Crosby came back and aced a 42-yarder with 8:57 left in the fourth quarter. He had struggled during the team’s Family Night scrimmage two weeks ago. — whodkiew@greenbaypressgazette.com and follow him on Twitter @WesHod. Injury report Did not dress: RB Cedric Benson (new acquisition). Still out: LB Desmond Bishop (hamstring), CB Davon House (shoulder), WR Diondre Borel (groin), WR Shaky Smithson (ankle), WR Greg Jennings (concussion), TE Jermichael Finley (quad), RB Du’ane Bennett (knee), RB Brandon Saine (hamstring), FB Jon Hoese (hamstring), CB Sam Shields (elbow), OLB Frank Zombo (hamstring), DE Johnny Jones (knee), G Ray Dominguez (ankle), T Derek Sherrod (lower leg), TE Andrew Quarless (knee), RB James Starks (turf toe); FB John Kuhn (ankle).

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Get Green Bay Packers updates as they happen from our reporting team: (from left) Mike Vandermause, Wes Hodkiewicz and Pete Dougherty.

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