GREEN BAY — A trio of players passed their physicals Tuesday and came off the PUP list for the Green Bay Packers. Linebacker Sam Barrington, wide receiver Ty Montgomery and tight end Jared Cook all returned to practice at Ray Nitschke Field.
The three players join right guard T.J. Lang as individuals who began training camp on the PUP list but have since been cleared. The Packers started practice with six players on the sidelines, and now only center Corey Linsley (hamstring) and wide receiver Jordy Nelson (knee) remain from the original list.
Coach Mike McCarthy declined to offer any updated on Nelson’s condition. Instead, he gave a blanket statement about Nelson and quarterback Brett Hundley, who is nursing an ankle problem. Said McCarthy: “They’re getting better.”
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Though McCarthy said the newly cleared players would be limited in team periods, their on-field contributions gave a wealth of positive news to the Packers.
Cook, who dropped out of OTAs earlier this year to have preventative foot surgery, was terrific from the very first team session of 11-on-11. He started by catching a back-shoulder pass from quarterback Aaron Rodgers down the middle of the field on the third snap, and that was just the beginning. He caught multiple touchdowns in the red zone drill and was a favorite target of Rodgers throughout the evening.
Any chemistry concerns with his new quarterback were quickly silenced, at least for a day.
“It will be great to see Jared out there working,” McCarthy said during his pre-practice press conference. “I know he’s excited about it.”
Joining Cook on offense was Montgomery, whose ankle injury last season proved more serious than it originally seemed. Montgomery wound up needing surgery to tighten a ligament and attend to additional collateral damage. In an interview with the Journal Sentinel in January, he said the surgery “fixed some cartilage, fixed some ligaments, (fixed) some other stuff that needed attention.”
But the second-year receiver looked confident on the ankle and had no problem sprinting down the sideline on a go route early in practice. He also made a nice touchdown catch up the seam on a throw from Rodgers. He even took a few reps in the backfield, alternating with Randall Cobb.
A pair of drops served as his only demerits.
“He suffered a significant injury,” McCarthy said. “His was a lot bigger injury than I think everybody realized. It’s like a lot of things with injury, you don’t really truly know until you go in and operate. It’s great to have him back. He’s been diligent. He’s been here the whole time. He was diligent trying to get back on the field before he went on IR and he’s been just rehabbing like crazy.”
The same could be said of Barrington, who returns after missing nearly 11 months with a foot injury suffered in the opening game last season. Barrington remained in Green Bay throughout his recovery and participated in defensive and linebacker meetings each week. He was seen on the sidelines throughout the off-season program earlier this spring, though his on-field work was limited to stretching and observation.
Barrington appeared eager for contact Tuesday and happily took part in the half-line drill, one of the most physical exercises in camp. He also took a few team reps before sitting out the individual position work.
“It was a tough injury," McCarthy said. “A long process back. I think all these guys are champing at the bit to get out there. Sam is ready to go.”