Packers Camp Insider: Getting an early read on reasons for fewer injuries
» Last year at their final open practice of training camp, the Packers had 10 players sitting out, one on injured reserve and two others still not activated from the PUP list. On Monday, their final practice of camp this year, they had only three players who didn’t practice because of injury, one on injured reserve, and no one on PUP. Their one season-ending injury in this camp was to a part-time player (linebacker Jake Ryan), and if they get through their preseason finale without losing a starter — most of the starters presumably won’t play — it’s looking like they’ll have all their preferred starters except for rookie linebacker Oren Burks for their regular-season opener against Chicago. This is about as healthy as an NFL team can hope to be going into its preseason finale. “I think all the guys are pretty much out there,” said Tramon Williams, who is finishing his eighth training camp with the Packers and 12th overall (one with Houston, two with Cleveland and one with Arizona). “And here, especially in Green Bay, that’s a big deal, there are always a lot of injuries. This is definitely one of the healthier camps I’ve been around.” It’s difficult to know how much of it is simply luck, and how much training and practice regimens are responsible. This is the first time in coach Mike McCarthy’s 13 seasons as coach that the Packers didn’t have at least some of their early camp practices in the early morning. Instead, their starting times from Day 1 of camp ranged from 11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. McCarthy has said he did it mainly to get his young players immediately acclimated to the regular-season schedule. But it wouldn’t be a surprise if injuries were also part of his thinking. Perhaps the GPS data the Packers have accumulated the last six years suggested there were more injuries in those early-morning practices, and that players are a little less susceptible to injury if they’ve been awake and moving around longer before they hit the practice field.
» Rookie quarterback Tim Boyle almost made it through training camp without throwing an interception in team drills. But Monday, he threw his first two, one while running the Packers’ offense and one on scout team. Boyle took the fewest snaps of the four quarterbacks in camp, so he had the fewest passing attempts, which helps lower his interception total. But it’s still unusual for a rookie quarterback to go that long without being intercepted, especially one who threw 11 touchdown passes and 13 interceptions last year at Eastern Kentucky. “I think that’s going to be something that saves me in my career in the NFL is having to hold onto the ball and making smart choices,” Boyle said after practice. “I’ve had a history of throwing a lot of interceptions, and that’s a thing I’m putting aside now. Check the ball down and go somewhere where it’s supposed to go instead of fitting something in. I haven’t thrown one in a (preseason) game, thrown a very limited amount in practice, which I’m very proud of.” His first interception Monday came when he threw to the wrong spot on an out pattern to rookie receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling, and Josh Hawkins intercepted. “He ran the correct route, so it was 100 percent on me,” Boyle said. The other came while running the scout team near the goal line. He underthrew tight end Jimmy Graham on a jump ball in the back of the end zone, and safety Marwin Evans intercepted. Boyle is unusual for a Packers quarterback prospect in that he very rarely tries to make plays outside the pocket. He’s been one of the mild surprises of camp, especially early in camp, and could be in the running for the Packers’ backup job a year or two down the road. “I’m not a dynamic runner by any means,” he said. “I have enough to get out of the pocket and scramble a little bit, but I think my strength is sit in the pocket and deliver the ball. So that’s what I’m going to do.”
DeShone Kizer has shown in camp he can deliver the deep ball and did again twice Monday. Early in practice, fourth-round pick J’Mon Moore got behind Donatello Brown, and Kizer put the long throw on the money for a touchdown. A little later, Davante Adams got behind Hawkins, and Kizer’s long throw was catchable but just went off Adams’ fingers. With Aaron Rodgers missing practice because of an illness, Kizer clearly had the best day among the quarterbacks. He threw several darts over the middle, though he also was intercepted when he threw behind Randall Cobb. Cobb got a hand on the pass, but defensive back Quinten Rollins made a diving catch of the carom.
Bits and pieces
» All camp, Graham has made a point of spiking the ball with authority after catching touchdown passes in practice, and that hasn’t gone over well with some of the Packers’ defensive backs. But they got back at him Monday when Evans made the leaping interception in front of Graham in the back of the end zone. After the play, Evans slammed a Graham-like spike not far from Graham, and most of the defensive backs celebrated like they’d just won a game.
» Because of rain Sunday night and Monday, the Packers moved their final open practice of camp into the Don Hutson Center. It’s not unusual for a punter to hit the Hutson Center ceiling on occasion, but JK Scott did it four times in seven punts in a live drill.
Rodgers didn’t practice because of illness. Also not practicing were Burks (shoulder), WR Jake Kumerow (shoulder) and T Kyle Murphy (ankle). Kumerow said he’s unsure whether he’ll be cleared to play Thursday night at Kansas City, but after not practicing Monday the odds of him suiting up appear slim.
Returning from injury were WR Trevor Davis (hamstring) and RB Devante Mays (hamstring).
Quote of the day
“You want to make sure that you feel that you have a handle on your team more than anything. We obviously have one more preseason game and a couple practices here that are important to continue that evaluation, part of your own team. And then obviously we're really working hard on the rest of the league, kind of studying those teams to see if there's anything that can help us from that perspective.” — Packers GM Brian Gutekunst on how he and his scouting staff are preparing for final cuts this weekend.
Packers practices for the rest of the season are closed to the public.