2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Packers rely on fresh faces amid slew of injuries

    2012-11-23 16:18

(Eds: Adds quotes, details. With AP Photos.)

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) - The kids really are all right.

The Green Bay Packers' defense is relying on many fresh-faced rookies this season, both by design and because of injuries, and so far they're delivering - and forming a close bond in the process.

``When you're a rookie class, you tend to spend a lot of time together - you've got meetings together, events you have to attend together - and you just naturally create a bond,'' said undfrafted rookie outside linebacker Dezman Moses.

``The older guys when you first come in, they're handling their business, not really too concerned with bringing the young guys along at that point because they don't know who's going to be there and who's not (when the season starts). So you're really looking to your rookie teammates and leaning on each other.''

And it's that bond - part competition, part shared experience, part friendship - that is paying off big for the Packers these days, according to the young guys involved.

``It's definitely a competitive-type relationship that we all have,'' said Moses, who will make his second straight start in place of injured star outside linebacker Clay Matthews on Sunday night at the New York Giants.

``We all get along great, but at the same time, we kind of challenge each other to make plays. Just joking around, seeing who can do what as teammates, challenging each other. I think it's good to challenge each other. We all know what we do well. It helps the team overall. When you challenge an elite athlete, they usually step up.''

And that's exactly what's happened. That competition is among players at every level of the defense - on the line, at linebacker, in the secondary - and it's fostering an environment of improvement.

Of course, the fact that the Packers are playing so many young players on defense hardly qualifies as news. In the Packers' draft-and-develop approach to their roster, it's simply how they do things. That said, to be getting the quality of play they're getting from their young'uns, well, now that is newsworthy.

``Our young guys are stepping up big-time,'' 12-year veteran defensive tackle Ryan Pickett said. ``It's exciting for an older guy to see the young players come in and make the impact they're making. They're giving this defense a big-time boost. They're making plays. They're playing like vets.''

At one point in last Sunday's victory at Detroit, the Packers had six rookies on the field: Moses, safeties Sean Richardson and Jerron McMillian, defensive linemen Jerel Worthy and Mike Daniels, and cornerback Casey Hayward, who with his team-leading five interceptions is stating a very strong case for NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year consideration. (Rookie outside linebacker Nick Perry, the team's first-round pick, is on season-ending injured reserve following wrist surgery.)

``Our whole focus coming into this season was to be a more athletic football team, to be a more well-rounded football team, and I feel like we've definitely accomplished that from a personnel standpoint, and you're seeing that come together as a football team,'' said Packers coach Mike McCarthy, whose team used its first six draft picks on defensive players after finishing last season ranked dead last in the 32-team NFL in yards allowed.

``I thought our young players have played extremely well. Casey Hayward was extremely productive (against the Lions). McMillian, he played very well. I thought Dezman Moses played extremely well in his first opportunity at outside linebacker playing a full game, the number of snaps that he had. Defensively, we graded out very well. It clearly was a strength of our performance.''

For the season, Hayward, who has taken over as a starter at cornerback since Sam Shields, who was also playing well, went down with a sprained ankle Oct. 14 at Houston, has a team-high 16 pass breakups, 35 tackles and one forced fumble to go along with his five INTs, one of which came against the Lions.

Moses has two sacks and also forced a fumble against the Lions. Daniels and Worthy each have two sacks. (Daniels also recovered the fumble that Moses forced at Detroit). McMillian has one interception (he had another one wiped out at Seattle Sept. 24 by a penalty), recovered a fumble/lateral against the Lions and ranks third on the team in pass breakups with 11.

``The new guys view it as an opportunity. They know that they've got to take advantage of it,'' defensive coordinator Dom Capers said. ``That's what this game is all about: When the opportunity presents itself, you've got to be ready, you've got to go out and perform. We've had a number of young guys that have done that.''

NOTES: The Packers ruled out four players for Sunday: Matthews, CB Sam Shields (ankle), S Charles Woodson (collarbone) and ILB Terrell Manning (shoulder). WR Greg Jennings, who has missed the last six games with a lower abdominal muscle tear, is questionable but says he is playing. . Struggling kicker Mason Crosby, who enters Sunday night having missed seven of his last 13 kicks, including two last week at Detroit, had a ``pretty good'' week of practice, according to special teams coordinator Shawn Slocum. ``We need to make field goals. We've talked about it. It's time that Mason goes and has a good game,'' Slocum said.

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Mike PounceyJul 23 12:33p

Miami Dolphins C Mike Pouncey (hip) could miss the first eight weeks of the season because of the hip surgery he had this offseason, according to a source. He [ More ]

Evan RodriguezJul 23 12:23p

Buffalo Bills FB Evan Rodriguez (cramps) and TE Chris Gragg (cramps) were hospitalized because of complications from cramps and were getting hydrated, according to head coach Doug Marrone. Rodriguez [ More ]

Dustin HopkinsJul 23 12:20p

Buffalo Bills PK Dustin Hopkins will have to try to make the roster as a kickoff specialist, according to head coach Doug Marrone.

Vernon DavisJul 23 12:13p

San Francisco 49ers TE Vernon Davis has reported to camp Wednesday, July 23, according to an Instagram post from 49ers S C.J. Spillman.

Jason BabinJul 23 12:03p

New York Jets signed DE Jason Babin (Jaguars) to a two-year contract, with the second year being a team option. He's expected to serve as a situational pass rusher.

Reggie WayneJul 23 11:13a

Indianapolis Colts WR Reggie Wayne (knee) said he has been medically cleared to practice. He's expected to be limited, though, especially in the near future.

Kraig UrbikJul 23 10:53a

Buffalo Bills OG Chris Hairston continued to receive first-team repetitions at right guard in the red zone drills Wednesday, July 23. OG Kraig Urbik struggled with first-team the previous day.

Jamaal CharlesJul 23 09:53a

Updating previous reports, Kansas City Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles will not report to training camp Wednesday, July 23, barring a major contract breakthrough.

Vick BallardJul 23 09:33a

Indianapolis Colts RB Vick Ballard (knee) reported to camp and has passed his physical.

Rob GronkowskiJul 23 08:53a

New England Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski (knee) has been cleared for contact and will not be placed on the Physically Unable to Perform list, according to head coach Bill Belichick.

Evan RodriguezJul 23 08:43a

Buffalo Bills TE Chris Gragg (cramps), FB Evan Rodriguez (cramps) and CB Brandon E. Smith (leg) were out of practice Wednesday, July 23. OT Seantrel Henderson (hip) returned to action.

Rashad JenningsJul 23 08:23a

New York Giants RBs Rashad Jennings, David Wilson and Andre Williams could be used in a three-man rotation this season to keep Jennings fresh.

Caleb McSurdyJul 23 02:53a

The St. Louis Rams waived four players Tuesday, July 22, as they cut loose OL Abasi Salimu, WR Diontae Spencer, LB Caleb McSurdy, and LB Tavarius Wilson.

Carl NicksJul 23 02:43a

Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Bobby Rainey, G Carl Nicks and DE Da'Quan Bowers may be fighting for roster spots once training camp begins due to other competition for their [ More ]

Chris CulliverJul 23 01:13a

San Francisco 49ers CB Chris Culliver (knee) has been cleared to take part in practice when training camp opens this week. He suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament to [ More ]

Ben TateJul 23 01:13a

Cleveland Browns RBs Ben Tate and Terrance West will compete for the starting tailback job during training camp and the preseason, and it's a battle head coach Mike Pettine [ More ]

Joel BitonioJul 23 01:03a

Cleveland Browns OG Joel Bitonio (ankle) lined up with the first-team offense during organized team activities (OTAs), and he held the spot until he suffered a sprained ankle June [ More ]

Paul McQuistanJul 23 01:03a

Cleveland Browns OLs Garrett Gilkey, Paul McQuistan and Jason Pinkston are fighting for position in the pecking order at right guard, and one of them might even push OG [ More ]

Craig RobertsonJul 23 01:03a

Cleveland Browns LBs Christian Kirksey and Craig Robertson will compete for an inside linebacker job during training camp, according to head coach Mike Pettine.

Joe HadenJul 23 01:03a

Cleveland Browns CBs Justin Gilbert and Buster Skrine will compete for the starting cornerback job opposite CB Joe Haden in training camp. 'We weren't going to hand Justin that [ More ]

Gary BarnidgeJul 23 01:03a

Cleveland Browns TEs Gary Barnidge and Jim Dray will battle for the No. 2 tight end spot during training camp and the preseason.

Eli ManningJul 23 12:23a

New York Giants QB Eli Manning (ankle) has shown no ill effects during camp from ankle surgery that sidelined him for earlier offseason activities.

Tom CoughlinJul 22 11:53p

New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin was not happy that several players were forced to leave practice with dehydration issues Tuesday, July 22. 'It pisses me off,' Coughlin [ More ]

Brandon LloydJul 22 11:23p

San Francisco 49ers WR Stevie Johnson is the frontrunner for the No. 3 WR job, according to Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com, but he added that neither Johnson nor WR [ More ]

Darren SprolesJul 22 11:13p

Philadelphia Eagles RB Darren Sproles' ability to win one-on-one matchups in space is what head coach Chip Kelly plans to exploit this season. Kelly said opposing defenses played a [ More ]

Thaddeus LewisJul 22 11:03p

Buffalo Bills QB Thaddeus Lewis and WR Tori Gurley had miscommunications on three occasions Tuesday, July 22, resulting in two incomplete passes and an interception. Joe Buscaglia of WGR [ More ]

Thaddeus LewisJul 22 10:53p

Buffalo Bills QB Thaddeus Lewis and QB Jeff Tuel are in an open competition for the backup quarterback job, head coach Doug Marrone said Tuesday, July 22.

Brian MoormanJul 22 10:43p

Buffalo Bills P Brian Moorman was more effective than P Jake Dombrowski on punts in terms of both average hang time and average distance Tuesday, July 22.

Titus YoungJul 22 09:53p

Updating a previous story, free-agent WR Titus Young (Lions) was charged with felony battery with serious bodily injury from an alleged July 8 incident inside a Los Angeles-area hospital. [ More ]

Ryan MathewsJul 22 09:43p

San Diego Chargers RB Ryan Mathews' rookie contract will expire after the 2014 season, which means this could be his final year with the organization, in the opinion of [ More ]

Mario WilliamsJul 22 09:43p

Buffalo Bills DE Mario Williams, DT Marcell Dareus and DT Kyle D. Williams were all rotated out of the lineup at times during team drills Tuesday, July 22. LB [ More ]

Nigel BradhamJul 22 09:23p

Buffalo Bills LB Nigel Bradham was one of eight players to record sacks during team drills Tuesday, July 22. The team's pass rush has been consistent since camp began, [ More ]

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2014 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group