Green Bay Packers
BATTLE OF THE WEEK: Beyond the starting duo of Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson and versatile second-year player Randall Cobb, what the Packers do for filling out what likely will be three more spots at wide receiver is up in the air. Popular veteran Donald Driver would appear safe after taking a good-faith pay cut in the offseason. James Jones is a starting-caliber playmaker who may be trade bait. That leaves promising young prospects Tori Gurley and Diondre Borel in the thick of a competition for possibly one job. The 6-foot-4 Gurley, a red-zone target, suffered a groin injury last week. Borel, a converted quarterback, has slot potential.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Cornerback Davon House. The comparisons to former Packers standout Al Harris have been with House since he arrived in Green Bay as a fourth-round draft pick last year. House, who has the same jersey number (31) that Harris did and similarly sports dreadlocks, was a non-factor as a rookie who admittedly didn't give it his all. He came back this year with an invigorated attitude and has been playing with an edge in camp. The 6-1, 195-pound House is athletic, fast, aggressive and worked his way up the ladder to get significant starting reps at the spot vacated by Charles Woodson's move to safety.
ROOKIE REPORT: OLB Nick Perry (first round) is expected to be in the starting lineup when the Packers play their first preseason game Thursday night at San Diego. Perry, a converted defensive end, still is raw on his drops into coverage. ... DE Jerel Worthy (second) stood out in the team's sold-out scrimmage at Lambeau Field on Aug. 3. The high-energy Worthy controlled the line and busted through to make a tackle for loss on a run play. ... CB Casey Hayward (second) was a star early in camp with a few picks but needs to refine his coverage skills to have a chance to vie with House, Jarrett Bush and Sam Shields for a starting job. ... OLB Dezman Moses (undrafted) is on the fast track with his athleticism to make the team as a backup to All-Pro Clay Matthews.
BATTLE OF THE WEEK: Second-year defensive tackle Stephen Paea has begun taking the majority of the first-team reps at nose tackle, and indications are that he may have permanently moved past his mentor and close friend, Matt Toeaina, on the depth chart. "I'm not trying to prove anything to anybody," said Paea, the Bears' 2011 second-round pick. "I'm just trying to be a better me from last year; and tomorrow I'll be a better me than I was today." If it turns out that Paea's and Toeaina's roles are reversed this year, it won't change things between them. The two players of Polynesian descent bonded almost immediately after Paea was drafted. And both players will get plenty of snaps since the Bears prefer to rotate at last three tackles and preferably four.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK: With Devin Thomas gone, the Bears have another roster spot available at wide receiver, and second-year player Dane Sanzenbacher wasted no time stepping up. He got more extensive first-team reps Sunday because Earl Bennett was limited with a lower-leg injury and made several impressive catches against the No. 1 defense."(He made) a big impression," Smith said. "The same type he made last year as an undrafted free agent and earning a spot on the roster. He has a role that he can do, a quick receiver in the slot. He shows up every day. He's a good football player." Sanzenbacher caught 27 passes last season, when he beat the odds after coming to camp as an undrafted rookie out of Ohio State.
ROOKIE REPORT: First-round defensive end Shea McClellin had his best practice yet last Thursday (Aug. 2), intercepting a screen pass and showing better pass-rush presence than he had in earlier practices. "It was impressive," coach Lovie Smith said of the pick, "but he's capable of making plays like that. "He has great quickness and speed. He works hard; good athletic ability. Nothing should stop him from being a real good football player." ... Second-round wide receiver Alshon Jeffery continues to show good hands and ability to separate, occasionally getting first-team reps and looking as if he fits in. ... Fourth-round tight end Evan Rodriguez has been a factor in the passing game but almost all of his work has come with the second and third units ... Seventh-rounder Greg McCoy is buried on the cornerback depth chart, but he's shown excellent burst as a kickoff returner.
BATTLE OF THE WEEK: The Lions typically keep six linebackers. The starters DeAndre Levy, Stephen Tulloch and Justin Durant are set. That leaves four players battling for three spots and it's going to be a tough cut. Four-year vet Ashlee Palmer and rookie seventh-round pick Travis Lewis are battling for the backup spot in the middle, though Lewis is also taking reps on the outside. Second-year Doug Hogue and rookie fifth-round pick Tahir Whitehead are battling to be the fourth linebacker, the one who plays in the goal-line and short-yardage packages. Palmer is also in the mix there. "We've got a great stable of guys," Durant said. "Tahir is probably the strongest dude I ever seen. He's explosive. And Travis has everything down already. He's learned the Mike (middle linebacker) and the outside already."
PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Rookie Travis Lewis has generated most of the buzz this week. "I don't want to jinx him but he's really been outstanding," coach Jim Schwartz said. "No. 1, he's been good physically, but No. 2, he's picked up the schemes and the adjustments very quickly." Lewis, whose draft stock plummeted after a poor, injury-plagued showing at the Combine, has wowed the coaching staff and the veterans with his ability to pick up the system and to make the calls on the field. "Other than Tully (Stephen Tulloch), Lewis is among the top two middle backers I've ever had calling the defense, and that's a mouthful," defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham said. "He handles things like I've never seen a kid handle."
ROOKIE REPORT: Third-round pick Bill Bentley has emerged as a leading contender to start at either right cornerback or nickel back. "Bentley acts like he's been here before," Cunningham said. "I asked him this morning whatever he's taking for a diet, I want some. He's a top-end energy guy every day, flying all over the field, and he's really, really smart. He's playing both positions, nickel and outside, and he's doing well." ... Wide receiver Ryan Broyles, second-round pick, continues to be limited. He sat out portions of three practices last week because of knee soreness. ... Offensive tackle Riley Reiff, first-round pick, continues to work at both right and left tackle, mostly with the second offensive unit. His biggest challenge, offensive line coach George Yarno told the Free Press, was balance. "He's got to use his body better," Yarno said. "He's strong enough, and he'll continue to get stronger as he matures, but strength is not an issue with Riley. It's more learning the balance and the timing of playing an NFL defensive lineman. And he's getting better at it every day."
BATTLE OF THE WEEK: The competition for No. 3 running back is an important one because the winner could end up actually being the No. 2 back if starter Adrian Peterson suffers a setback or simply isn't ready to begin the season. Peterson is ahead of schedule and is expected to start the regular season, but he's also coming back from left knee reconstruction at the end of December and remains on the physically-unable-to-perform list. The battle was heating up in Week 1 of camp when Jordan Todman sprained an ankle. Todman, a second-year pro with no regular-season experience, is proving himself as the quicker, faster option. But his competition, Lex Hilliard, has maintained a slight edge because of his four years of special teams experience in Miami.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK: "I see you, Reg!" was a popular comment being screamed from the sideline by starters when the defensive backups were on the field during Week 1 of camp. "Reg" is long-shot cornerback Reggie Jones, a second-year player who spent eight games on the team's practice squad a year ago. Jones came to camp with six corners ahead of him on the depth chart. But he's climbing after spending the week around the ball, intercepting passes and batting others away. Jones has turned the heads of teammates that didn't even know his last name a week earlier. The former Portland State standout has shown just how hard he worked during an offseason in which he dropped his body fat from 10 percent to 3.
ROOKIE REPORT: Fourth-round pick Greg Childs, who was becoming one of the top four receivers, is out for the season after tearing the patellar tendons in both knees on the second-to-last play of Saturday night's scrimmage. Childs fell to the fourth round because he tore the patellar tendon in his right knee as a junior at Arkansas and never fully recovered during his senior season. Childs wasn't hit on the play. He just came down awkwardly in the end zone. ... Left tackle Matt Kalil, the fourth overall pick, has held his own against All-Pro defensive end Jared Allen. ... K Blair Walsh, a sixth-round pick, has been booming kickoffs out of the end zone. He's also been consistent on field goal attempts. ... Left tackle Matt Kalil, the fourth overall pick, has held his own against All-Pro defensive end Jared Allen. ... Kicker Blair Walsh, a sixth-round pick, has been booming kickoffs out of the end zone. He also hasn't missed a field-goal attempt when the coaches have tried to apply extra pressure.
Agree or disagree?: Discuss hot Packers topics in our, free forums. Leave publisher Bill Huber a question in the subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum.