Packers notes: McCarthy 'full of hope' on Biegel return

Tom Silverstein
Packers News
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Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Vince Biegel (45) tries to cool off a bit during training camp Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017 at Ray Nitschke Field.

GREEN BAY - When asked Monday if he was hopeful Green Bay Packers rookie outside linebacker Vince Biegel would be cleared to practice this week, coach Mike  McCarthy quipped, “I’m full of hope. I’m the captain of hope.”

Biegel (foot surgery) remains on the physically unable to perform list and probably will be placed on the season PUP list if he doesn’t return this week. Under that scenario, he would not count against the 53-man roster and would be ineligible to play or practice for the first six weeks of the regular season.

McCarthy did say he was encouraged by reports on linebacker Nick Perry (ankle), tackle Bryan Bulaga (ankle) and center / guard Don Barclay (ankle) and their chances of being ready for the season opener against Seattle.

“We’ll see how it works out,” he said. “Seriously, I’m the wrong person to ask about injuries, because my conversations with those guys are, they’re all going to be ready.

“So, we’ll just weigh that vs. the medical staff, but everybody’s optimistic.”

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End Dean Lowry said he hyperextended his knee in the exhibition game against Washington but had made progress and expected to play against the Seahawks. He said he felt lucky the injury wasn’t worse.

“I tried to plant my left foot and then my knee kind of extended outward,” he said. “After watching it, I think I dodged a bullet. I’m ready to get back out there.”

Getting centered: When the Packers host the Los Angeles Rams on Thursday night, it’s possible guard Justin McCray will be the starting center.

McCarthy is expected to sit a good deal of his starters and if Corey Linsley is one of them, someone has to play center. Barclay (ankle) isn’t expected to play and Lucas Patrick, who has been the top backup lately, suffered a concussion against Denver on Saturday night.

McCray is next on the list. He has been learning center this summer and has played it in practice and a little in the exhibitions. But with Barclay out and Patrick not expected to play, he’s next up.

“I’m preparing for it in case it turns out that way,” McCray said. “Coach (James) Campen has been coaching me up on it since April and I’ve tried to take all that into the games. I’m prepared to play both positions.”

McCray was making a strong push for a roster spot but took a step backward with his performance against the Broncos. If he can put together a solid performance against the Rams it will at least put him in the conversation.

“I’m throwing everything I’ve got out there,” he said.

If McCray shifts to center, undrafted rookie Geoff Gray is likely to take his spot at right guard, just as he did in Denver over the weekend.

“It’s definitely nice to get playing earlier in the game and play against even better players,” Gray said. “The more reps I get, the more experience I build. With that group you get more situational-specific reps, and that’s something I don’t have.”

Gray, who played at the University of Manitoba in Canada, has tremendous size at 6-5 ½ and 315 pounds. Some teams viewed him as a tackle and others viewed him as a guard during the pre-draft process.

Here in Green Bay, the Packers have used him inside when he takes reps with the second-team offensive line.

“I definitely think my play style and kind of aggressiveness is something that is embraced by the offensive line,” Gray said. “I think just going forward I need to work on cleaning up some of the little mistakes. Every once in a while there’s kind of plays that I look back and I (think), ‘I don’t normally do that. I shouldn’t do that.’ But they just come out every once in a while.”

Audible: Quarterback Brett Hundley was on the field for all but 10 snaps against the Broncos, which meant fellow backups Joe Callahan and Taysom Hill didn’t play.

McCarthy said the plan was to feature Hundley after starter Aaron Rodgers finished his two series. Callahan and Hill are expected to play in the exhibition finale against the Rams.

“They need to play,” McCarthy said. “The focus was to play Brett as much as we possibly can this past week, so we’ll look, after tomorrow’s practice we’ll evaluate where we are. Tomorrow’s our Thursday practice and then we’ll decide how much each guy’s going to play.”

Ryan Wood of the Green Bay Press-Gazette contributed.

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