Insider: Thumbs up to Crockett, down to Backman

Robert Zizzo
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Green Bay Packers rookie running back John Crockett saw his first training camp action after returning from an ankle injury.

Thumbs up

John Crockett, one of the more highly touted undrafted rookies of this training camp, finally made it onto the practice field Friday. For a player who is expected to be in the thick of the battle for the third running back spot, that’s worthy of a Thumbs up.

The 6-foot, 217-pounder from North Dakota State had been sidelined with a sprained ankle since a June 16 OTA practice when he fell awkwardly on his left ankle.

Crockett passed his physical and was activated off the physically unable to perform list in time for Friday’s padded practice, the final one before Saturday’s annual Family Night event.

The No. 3 running back spot vacated when DuJuan Harris wasn’t re-signed this offseason is up for grabs and missing the first six training camp practices won’t help Crockett’s chances. His main competition, Rajion Neal and Alonzo Harris, have played well so far, so Crockett has some catching up to do.

But the Packers liked Crockett enough to pay him a premium signing bonus after he rushed for nearly 2,000 yards last season for the FCS national champion Bison.

This should be one of the more interesting roster battles by the end of the month.

Green Bay Packers tight end Kennard Backman kneels on the field during training camp practice at Ray Nitschke Field.

Thumbs down

Packers’ sixth-round draft pick Kennard Backman needed to separate himself from the pack at backup tight end.

After Andrew Quarless and Richard Rodgers, Backman is in a fight for the No. 3 spot with returnee Justin Perillo, and undrafted rookies Mitchell Henry and Harold Spears.

The 6-3, 245-pounder out of Alabama-Birmingham is the smallest of the group and entered the NFL with little in-line experience at the position after spending much of his time in college playing split out in a spread offense.

On Friday, with Henry sidelined with a finger injury, Backman had more opportunities to show off his pass-catching ability.

Instead, he had a bad drop on a third-down pass in the flat from Scott Tolzien during a blitz drill.

With several drops since OTA practices, Backman’s chances of making the 53-man roster could be diminishing.

Rosterbuilder:Should Backman make the cut? You be the judge

Did you notice?

■ The final 8:20 a.m. practice of training camp was the shortest, running only 1 hour, 36 minutes. Practices had been lasting more than 2 hours.

“We had planned on cutting practice shorter than the previous practices,” McCarthy said. “We ended up cutting it down to 30 and doing ball drills — cutting the practice down 30 minutes back.

“This is frankly the point in camp when you get to eight, nine, 10 practices in, this is the threshold in where you have to be smart with trying to prevent the fatigue injuries. It was a little slick out there with the light rain. That’s why we cut it back and got some extra ball-drill work.”

The Family Night practice starts at 6:25 p.m. today. After an off day Sunday, the two public practices next week before the first preseason game are 12:15 p.m. Monday and 11:45 a.m. Tuesday.

■ Quarterback Aaron Rodgers and center Corey Linsley botched a snap at the 1-yard line in the red-zone drill and the ball was recovered by nose tackle B.J. Raji.

■ Veteran offensive lineman Don Barclay, then Josh Walker, got first-team reps in the 11-on-11 blitz drill at right guard replacing T.J. Lang, who is dealing with a sore shoulder. Lane Taylor had been getting first-team reps at left guard replacing Josh Sitton.

■ General manager Ted Thompson was back at practice after attending a Pro Football Hall of Fame event in Canton, Ohio, on Thursday. Thompson was in Canton for former-GM Ron Wolf’s gold jacket presentation, part of his induction ceremony this weekend.

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