Insider: Levine gets work at safety; Gurley bungles deep ball

Aug. 20, 2012

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Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers throws a passs during Monday's practice at Ray Nitschke Field. Jim Matthews/Press-Gazette


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Given how much shuffling the Packers continue to do in the secondary, who knows what jobs really remain open?

So when a guy like Anthony Levine gets a chance to work with the starters and makes a big play in a team period, it has to count for something. Levine got the call Monday to play safety in the dime package ahead of M.D. Jennings, who had taken the majority of the snaps with the starters in the nickel and dime packages.

In one of the few competitive team periods — a no-huddle, move-the-ball drill — Levine showed his quick reactions when he broke up an Aaron Rodgers pass over the middle that was intended for Randall Cobb on third-and-7.

Levine has seemingly been on the verge of making the roster the last two seasons but hasn’t gotten over the hump. He was signed as an undrafted free agent out of Tennessee State in 2010 and spent all of that season on the practice squad. He came back for training camp again in 2011 but again didn’t make it and spent the final nine weeks of the regular season plus playoffs on the practice squad.

Levine still needs to move into some of the No. 1 special teams units to help solidify his standing.

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Last year in training camp, it seemed like Tori Gurley came up with most of the 50-50 balls thrown his way, using his height (6-foot-4) and long reach to snag balls away from defensive backs.

Now, it’s, well, 50-50.

On Monday, not only did he fail to haul in a deep ball thrown to him, he let 5-foot-11 rookie cornerback Casey Hayward intercept it. Both players jumped for the ball, but Hayward came down with it. Meanwhile, Gurley fell and landed awkwardly. He came up shaking his right arm but remained in practice.

At the beginning of training camp, one of the biggest questions was whether the Packers could find room on the roster for Gurley and Diondre Borel after the two receivers spent all of last season on the practice squad. Both have missed time because of injuries, and now neither looks like a sure bet to make it.

Did you notice?

• With rookie Andrew Datko sidelined with a concussion, five players took reps at left tackle with the No. 2 and No. 3 offensive line behind starter Marshall Newhouse. Rookie Shea Allard took the first rep with the No. 2 line, but Don Barclay, Herb Taylor, Reggie Wells and Evan Dietrich-Smith all took turns.

• The Packers’ defense spent part of the team periods working against the Cincinnati Bengals’ offense. They had players wearing pinnies with uniform Nos. 18 (Bengals receiver A.J. Green) and 84 (tight end Jermaine Gresham).

• Second-year linebacker Vic So’oto finally won a rep in the one-on-one pass rushing drill. He beat Taylor on his 10th turn of the summer. So’oto entered 0-8 and lost his first rep against Wells. Last year in camp, So’oto had a 12-19 record in the drill.

• After his 60-yard kickoff return last Thursday against the Browns, rookie cornerback Otis Merrill saw increased reps in practice. He took the second turn after Cobb during a kickoff return drill.

• There was one change on the No. 1 punt return team from the previous week. Rookie outside linebacker Dezman Moses replaced Erik Walden.

• At 2 hours and 22 minutes, Monday’s practice was the longest in two weeks thanks in part to the fact the Packers were down to 13 players on the did-not-practice list. That’s down from a high of 21 last week. and follow him on Twitter @RobDemovsky.

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