New injury: LB Andy Mulumba (knee), DL Datone Jones (ankle).
Did not participate: S Sean Richardson (neck), CB Tramon Williams (knee), OL J.C. Tretter (ankle), OL Bryan Bulaga (knee), OL Derek Sherrod (leg), TE Matthew Mulligan (elbow), WR Jordy Nelson (knee), DL Jerel Worthy (knee), CB James Nixon (knee, ankle).
Returned: QB Aaron Rodgers (illness), WR Randall Cobb (bicep), WR Charles Johnson (knee), CB Loyce Means (ankle).
Johnny Jolly lost a lot during his three-year suspension from the NFL, but football instincts and intuitiveness weren’t among them.
The 30-year-old defensive lineman showed signs of his old self during Saturday’s 19-7 win over the St. Louis Rams, registering two tackles, two pass deflections and intercepting a batted pass from Kellen Clemens in the third quarter.
Jolly came into camp as a long shot to make the 53-man roster, but his odds have gradually improved roughly six months removed from having his three-year NFL ban lifted for repeated codeine-related offenses.
Whether it was his batted pass that led to a Jarrett Bush interception or simply being in the right place at the right time on an interception, the fifth-year defensive lineman showed Saturday that he hasn’t lost his knack for making plays.
Jolly carried it through to practice Monday when he batted down two more passes during team periods, a definite sign in defensive line coach Mike Trgovac’s mind that time doesn’t erode one’s ability to make plays.
“Apparently not,” Trgovac said. “The stuff with Johnny, this is all new for me, too, because I’ve never really been around a guy that was out for three years and then came back, so this is new for me as well. You could see the first day he got a lot of the natural instincts, the first day he was out here on the practice field with us.”
Inside the coaches’ box at the Edward Jones Dome on Saturday night, defensive coordinator Dom Capers couldn’t help but crack a smile as Jolly picked off the Clemens’ pass deep inside the Packers’ red zone.
It reminded him of his first game with the Packers on Sept. 13, 2009, when Jolly registered his only other NFL interception off a pass from Jay Cutler in the red zone en route to a 21-15 victory over the Bears at Lambeau Field.
It’s a talent Jolly perfected in 2009 when he set a franchise record for passes defensed (11) by a defensive lineman.
“It’s an instinctive thing,” Capers said. “Obviously, you know the skill set is there. You saw him do it on Jarrett’s interception last game and the next day on the practice field he did the same thing again. He has some instincts and eye-hand coordination.”
Jolly likely weighs more than the 325 pounds he’s listed at and conditioning will remain a factor in his prospects at making the 53-man roster, but time has treated him kindly.
By all accounts, Jolly remains as hungry as ever and capable of handling the requirements of the position while still finding ways to make plays.
“You work on it. You talk about it, but some guys just have those natural instincts,” Trgovac said. “It’s like some of those guys where you have the same size guy in basketball and this guy always seems to get the rebound.”
Nearly a month into training camp, M.D. Jennings and Jerron McMillian remain in a dead heat for the starting safety spot opposite Morgan Burnett.
The two have alternated on an almost daily basis at the position with Jennings starting the preseason opener against Arizona two weeks ago and McMillian receiving the call last Saturday against the Rams.
During the offseason program, safeties coach Darren Perry presented both with an edict to separate themselves. While neither has done that, he’s appreciated how each has responded since returning for camp last month.
“This thing will probably come right down to the end here as far as who ends up being that guy,” Perry said. “But both of them are aware of the situation and are aware that both of them are valuable members of this football team. It’s just a matter of who we start out with in our (3-4) Okie package.”
In 2012, the two played an almost identical amount of defensive snaps with Jennings (586) slightly edging McMillian (562). In two preseason games, McMillian has 57 defensive snaps compared to Jennings’ 46.
Rookie receiver Charles Johnson returned to the practice field after missing 15 practices, both preseason games and the Family Night scrimmage.
Since being taken 216th overall in April’s draft, the 24-year-old receiver has been relegated to the sidelines. He’s shown flashes of athleticism, but has a lot of ground to make up for after missing nearly a month with the medial collateral ligament injury he sustained in his left knee July 27.
Meanwhile, undrafted rookie hopefuls like Tyrone Walker and Myles White have made names for themselves at a position where the Packers might keep only one extra reserve after Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, James Jones and likely second-year holdover Jarrett Boykin.
“I’m obviously behind because I have missed a lot of time and guys have got a head start on me,” said Johnson, who was limited to only individual work. “I’m going to go out there and give it all I got every time I get an opportunity. Hopefully, I can shine and catch somebody’s eye. I’m just going to do what I do and that’s play football, and we’ll see what happens from there.”
■ The maturation of Sam Shields and overall depth of the team’s cornerback contingent has progressed to the point the Packers no longer feel like they have to use Tramon Williams as their shutdown corner.
The move allows their starting cornerbacks to remain on their respective sides with defensive coordinator Dom Capers adding that he expects Williams to be added to that conversation once he returns from a knee bruise.
As for Shields, the 25-year-old cornerback has developed into a sure-fire starter with another strong camp following a breakthrough season in 2012.
“He’s a more complete player,” Capers said. “He’s playing much more physical and tackling and you can count on him more in supporting the run now. He couldn’t when he first came in and didn’t understand all the aspects. He was more just kind of a cover guy to begin with, but he’s more than that now.”
■ Packers coach Mike McCarthy is hopeful receiver Randall Cobb might be able to play in his first preseason game Friday after returning in limited fashion from missing a week due to a biceps injury.
McCarthy added that Jordy Nelson is progressing and closing in on a return from the knee procedure he underwent earlier this month.
Defensive lineman Datone Jones dropped out of practice after re-injuring his sprained ankle that sidelined him for a week. Linebacker Andy Mulumba missed practice after his knee swelled up in meetings Tuesday.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers was back at practice after being held out Tuesday with a head cold.
— email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @WesHod.