Insider: Thumbs up to Quarless, down to Goodson
There doesn't appear to be a future in Green Bay for Jermichael Finley, so the Packers are looking for someone from the tight end group to grab the starting job.
The one who will be given the first chance took a step in that direction Monday during the team's first night practice. Andrew Quarless, the veteran of the group in his fifth year, had a big night in team drills. He caught four passes from Aaron Rodgers, including two for touchdowns. His diving catch for a touchdown during a red zone play came despite a penalty on Sean Richardson for pass interference.
Quarless returned last season from a knee injury that forced him to miss the entire 2012 season. He became the primary starter after Finley went down with a neck injury and finished with a career-high 32 catches. On Monday night, Quarless led the way for a group of tight ends that appears to be responding to the competition.
"I think so," coach Mike McCarthy said when asked if the group is jelling. "This is what we need. There's a lot of blitzes, a lot of pressure. A lot of different formations, personnel groups, so no one gets stressed more than the tight end position when you play like that. This is great work for them. You're seeing production, so I think we definitely took a step in the right direction."
In addition to Quarless, rookie Richard Rodgers and Jake Stoneburner had shining moments Monday night. Rodgers showed his speed and athleticism on a seam pattern when he caught an Aaron Rodgers pass in stride at full speed. Stoneburner caught a touchdown pass from Rodgers in the red zone drills and later made a nice catch from Scott Tolzien against the dime defense.
When the Packers drafted Demetri Goodson in the sixth round this spring, they knew they were getting a raw prospect. The 5-foot-11, 197-pound cornerback played basketball at Gonzaga his first three years of college and was injury-free during only one full season of college football after transferring to Baylor.
On Monday, his inexperience showed as he struggled in team drills and possibly fell on the depth chart. In the dime defense, he was in coverage on Matt Flynn's touchdown pass to Alex Gillett.
Then, three plays later, he and Jumal Rolle appeared to get their wires crossed and allowed a wide-open Rodgers-to-Randall Cobb touchdown pass. Later, during a red zone blitz drill, Kevin Dorsey was able to strong arm the ball from Goodson for a touchdown pass from Flynn. In a red zone play, he broke up a pass from Flynn but was called for a penalty. Later in the drill, he had good coverage, but Gerrard Sheppard made a nice diving catch for a TD. Now, Rolle appears to have moved ahead of him at the perimeter spot on the depth chart.
Did you notice?
The first fight of training camp took place during the one-on-one interior line drill. Rookie free agent defensive end Luther Robinson was lined up across from center JC Tretter and appeared to get his hands under Tretter's chin, forcing his head back. Tretter took exception and smacked Robinson on the helmet. After players from both sides of the line joined in the melee, T.J. Lang and Robinson got into it before all were separated.
Jeff Janis was taken off of the non-football illness list and practiced for the first time this training camp after recovering from shingles. He spent most of the evening playing catch on the sideline but participated in the final-session walkthrough.
Mason Crosby continued his consistent field-goal kicking this training camp, going 8-for-8. His final two kicks came from the 53 and 55 right hash marks.
Rookie free agent linebacker Jayrone Elliott stood out in the one-on-one drill, going 4-0. He beat Derek Sherrod, Bryan Bulaga (who appeared to hold) and Don Barclay twice, both times handily.