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Notebook: Lacy, McCarthy not worried about photo, fitness

Jul. 30, 2013
 

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Running back Eddie Lacy had perhaps his strongest showing in a Packers uniform at Tuesday's practice. / Lukas Keapproth/Press-Gazette Media

Injury report

New injuries: CB James Nixon (knee), S David Fulton (knee), LB Dezman Moses (foot), T Kevin Hughes (headaches).
Still out: WR Sederrik Cunningham (wrist), WR Charles Johnson (knee), WR Kevin Dorsey (lower body), RB DuJuan Harris (knee), CB Tramon Williams (knee), S Sean Richardson (neck), CB Casey Hayward (hamstring), OL J.C. Tretter (ankle), DL Mike Neal (abdominal), OT Derek Sherrod (leg), DL Jerel Worthy (knee).
Returned: CB Davon House (illness), S Chaz Powell (foot).

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A day after an unflattering photo of Eddie Lacy blew up on social media, Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy and his rookie running back were left to dispel suspicion following Tuesday’s second padded practice.

Lifted from one of the Packers.com weekend training camp photo galleries, the image of Lacy turning his body to prepare for a catch went viral on Twitter on Monday afternoon because it seemed to accentuate a soft abdominal region and physique unbecoming an NFL running back.

For a lack of a better term, it made Lacy look fat.

Many national media outlets picked up on the photo, believing it served as confirmation of many scouts’ pre-draft fears about Lacy’s commitment and love for the game.

Listed at 5-foot-11, 230 pounds, Lacy declined to say what his exact weight is when meeting with reporters, other than to claim it’s exactly where he and the organization want it to be.

McCarthy concurred, telling reporters if the team’s second-round pick from April’s NFL draft hadn’t met conditioning requirements, he wouldn’t be on the field.

“Eddie Lacy going through the conditioning tests, he was fine,” McCarthy said. “Any time our players come in, we have a physical, conditioning tests. If we had concerns about any of our guys, they wouldn’t be on the field.”

Lacy stayed away from Twitter during Monday’s off-day but found out about the photo after receiving a phone call from a friend. Several of his teammates, including receiver Randall Cobb, have playfully ribbed him about it since the shot surfaced.

On the field and away from the headlines, Lacy responded with perhaps his strongest showing in a Packers uniform at Tuesday’s practice, especially during the team’s red-zone drill.

Although the tackling wasn’t live, the bruising power back showed the ability to run through contact, make defenders miss and push into the second level of the defense, a facet the Packers’ offense lacked for most of last season.

On his fourth carry of the drill, Lacy even busted out his popular spin move for the first time since winning the national championship at Alabama to turn a would-be tackle for loss into a 2- or 3-yard gain.

The Packers are counting on that production, too, because McCarthy confirmed after practice that incumbent starter DuJuan Harris is expected to miss another two or three weeks with a knee injury.

“He’s a power guy, but I don’t want to call him just a power guy, because I’ve seen him where he’s made some moves and made guys miss,” Packers guard T.J. Lang said. “If you can make guys miss and get north-and-south and show some speed, he’s a guy that just brings a totally different dimension to our running game.”

After practice, Lacy agreed it was probably his best day in a Packers uniform while adding he wasn’t reading too much into the highly discussed photo.

“That’s something I don’t too much worry about. That’s an external factor,” Lacy said. “I learned in college to pretty much distance yourself from that. I mean people are going to say what they’re going to say, but at the end of the day, I have to do what I have to do, and that’s what I’m doing.”

Vouching for Jolly

Packers general manager Ted Thompson had a little help in making the decision to bring back Johnny Jolly after the 30-year-old defensive lineman was reinstated by the NFL in February.

While a new drug-free outlook buoyed Jolly’s return, it also came down to some anonymous veteran players stepping up and vouching for the Packers to give Jolly another chance.

“We thought long and hard on that and made a decision based off of our association with Johnny,” Thompson said. “When he’s been here and been on our team — I’m not going to speak for all the other stuff, I’m not going to try to judge — but when he’s been here as part of our team, he’s been a good teammate. He had some veteran players on this team speak up for him.”

A sixth-round pick in 2006, Jolly last played for the Packers during the 2009 season and then was suspended by the NFL indefinitely for violating the league’s drug policies. During that time, he served six months of a six-year term in jail for violating probation for multiple codeine arrests before being released in May 2012 and placed on shock probation for 10 years.

Backup plans

Second-year offensive lineman Don Barclay saw another healthy round of reps at center Tuesday, botching one shotgun snap to Aaron Rodgers after fumbling two in a row during Sunday’s first padded practice.

With Jeff Saturday’s retirement and Evan Dietrich-Smith’s promotion to starter, the Packers have positioned Barclay into the second-team rotation with fellow second-year interior lineman Greg Van Roten.

Barclay began taking snaps at center a week into organized team activities after rookie offensive lineman J.C. Tretter went down with a broken ankle. Although Barclay has had a few blunders, McCarthy remains committed to giving the 2012 undrafted free agent a shot at cracking the starting lineup either at center or right tackle.

“The more (snaps) I can get, the more I can prove myself at different positions and being versatile on the line with center and tackle,” Barclay said. “It will help me out, knowing the offense even more from inside-out, center-to-tackle. It just helps me out every day.”

Extra points

■ Rookie receiver Charles Johnson said there is no concrete timetable for his return after sustaining a knee injury during Saturday’s practice, but said MRI results on Monday indicated only swelling and no significant damage.

“They said it was nothing major, so I’m just rehabbing and everything trying to get the swelling down, get the pain away and get some flexibility back,” Johnson said. “Hopefully, I’ll be back out there soon once I get through rehabbing.”

■ In his first comments since releasing veteran linebacker Desmond Bishop this offseason, Thompson said he made the move because of his confidence in the team’s backups, which include veterans Robert Francois and Jamari Lattimore, and 2012 fifth-round pick Terrell Manning.

As for Bishop going on to sign with NFC North Divisional rival Minnesota, Thompson quipped: “We probably wish he went somewhere else.”

■ New Packers receiver Omarius Hines said he talked with Packers’ scouts at the Casino Del Sol College All-Star Game in January, but was unaware of the team’s interest before being brought in for a tryout this week.

whodkiew@pressgazettemedia.com and follow him on Twitter @WesHod.

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