GREEN BAY – It takes two, at least, to fight. When the Green Bay Packers had their first scuffle of training camp Wednesday, two players were in the middle of the crowd: safety Josh Jones and running back Tra Carson.
Only Jones was pulled off the field, never to return.
Head coach Matt LaFleur made it clear after Wednesday’s practice he sent Jones to the sideline for disciplinary reasons. He was displeased with Jones attempting to tackle his teammate, especially after the whistle.
In the locker room Thursday, Jones said the altercation with Carson “was just competing” and “not that serious.” He referenced an altercation in last year’s camp with tight end Jimmy Graham.
“Same situation,” Jones said. “Me and Jimmy was competing.”
Except there’s a new head coach now, and LaFleur said Wednesday he has a “zero tolerance policy” against fighting.
Jones has always been chippy on the practice field. When asked Thursday if his punishment would change the way he plays in practice, Jones appeared to fall in line with LaFleur’s expectations.
“I mean, of course,” Jones said. “You have to protect your teammates.”
Jones’ punishment did not linger into Thursday’s practice, a one-hour, 34-minute walkthrough. He was back on the field, even in team reps.
“I think he responded well,” LaFleur said. “We talked about it as a team, and that’s something we’re not going to shy away from, and we’re going to be consistent with that message.”
Aaron Rodgers, meet Mike Daniels
Aaron Rodgers had one wish when the Packers released defensive lineman Mike Daniels last week: not to play against him.
No such luck. After the Detroit Lions quickly signed Daniels, Rodgers will face his former teammate twice.
“I’m happy for Mike and his family, getting a contract,” Rodgers said. “Obviously, there was a lot of interest in him because he’s a fantastic player. Now we’re going to see him a couple times. Mike is a great locker room guy, and obviously still has a lot left in the tank. So I’m happy for him and his opportunity. Now, we’ll see him a couple times.
“I think Mike is going to be pretty amped for those two matchups.”
“I think, knowing Mike,” Rodgers said, “he’s probably not going to be yelling at me. He’ll be yelling at somebody, though.”
Packers spelling bee
Rodgers’ poor luck with coin tosses is no secret. Apparently, it also extends to the alphabet.
Rodgers made the finals in a team-wide spelling bee earlier this week. He went back and forth with his competitor, defensive coordinator Mike Pettine, until a coin flip had to come into play.
Pettine won the toss and received the option of spelling a word, or making Rodgers spell it. The word, Rodgers said, was conscientious. Pettine spelled it correctly and won the contest.
It’s not the first time a coin toss has decided Rodgers’ competitive fate. The Packers memorably lost overtime games in the 2014 NFC title bout at Seattle and the 2015 NFC divisional round at Arizona. Both times, the Packers lost the opening coin flip, keeping Rodgers on the sideline.
The spelling bee likely stung less.
Center of the universe
Prior to the draft, there were scouts who thought an NFL team could plug in Mississippi State’s Elgton Jenkins at center and not have to worry about the position for a decade.
The Packers took Jenkins because they thought he could help them as a backup center and possibly a starting guard.
During the first couple of days of camp, the coaches practiced Jenkins exclusively at guard, but this week they’ve started getting him work at center. The 6-5, 311-pound Jenkins is an imposing figure in the middle of the line, but he’s going to have to learn guard as long as starting center Corey Linsley is around.
“It’s really just the technique,” Jenkins said of learning to play guard. “End of the day, football is football. You still have to block your man. There’s just the small things, hand placement, footwork and things like that.”
Jenkins is powerful. He benched 225 pounds 29 times at the combine, tied for sixth among all offensive linemen. He has used his strength to his advantage but will have to learn to pass block big, quick guys in the NFL.
“It’s about being a competitor,” he said. “Just not let people bull rush or things like that or doing what they want to do. I feel like if I lose, it’s always because of something I did, not what somebody else did, so just being competitive and going out there and trying to win every rep.”
You know you’re a long shot when you come into the locker room for the first time and hanging in your locker is a jersey with a number that doesn’t usually correspond with your position.
That’s exactly what happened to Colorado cornerback Kabion Ento.
There in his locker was No. 48. Technically, it is a defensive back number by NFL rule, but when is the last time anybody has seen a cornerback wearing No. 48?
Ento didn’t argue. He played wide receiver at Colorado, but the Packers signed him after the draft to play cornerback. At 6-1, 187 pounds, he has the length to be a press corner and his 41½-inch vertical leap is off the charts. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.52 seconds, but the Packers saw long-term potential there.
“I was like if I get a chance to play DB, why not?” Ento said. “Why not try to take advantage of it? I kind of always wanted to try it out anyway. I know if you try DB you might not get a chance at receiver. But I really wanted to try it out. I see guys my size doing it, so why not?”
Ento has an interception and several nice coverage plays, but he’s got a long way to go before making the team. He’s trying to soak in as much information as he can from the other cornerbacks and make as seamless a transition as possible.
As for the number?
He said it’s the same house number he had growing up, so it might just be lucky.
“It adds quite a bit of meaning to it,” Ento said. “I’m like, I’m playing for home. This actually means a lot to me.”