Rookie cornerback Pat Lee was placed on season-ending injured reserve by the Packers on Friday. To fill his spot on the roster, the team promoted linebacker Spencer Havner off the practice squad.
Lee sustained a knee injury against the New Orleans Saints two weeks ago. Lee missed last week's game against Carolina and had been ruled out for Sunday's game against Houston. The rookie second-round pick from Auburn played in five games. He recorded one tackle and one pass defensed, both against Atlanta in his second game.
Havner, meanwhile, has spent three seasons on the Packers' practice squad. He reportedly was being pursued by the Chicago Bears, who host the Packers in two weeks.Courtesy of The Sports Exchange:
Jeremy Kapinos didn't take long as the Packers' new punter to ingratiate himself with his new teammates.
Kapinos had several players who were off-the-field onlookers in awe and cheering when he boomed and expertly placed his first couple punts during a special-teams drill in the indoor practice facility Thursday.
"I definitely appreciated [the ovation]," Kapinos said. "For me, the first one, I just wanted to get that one out of the way and kind of settle into a groove and work on the things I need to work on to help the Packers."
The Packers signed Kapinos as a free agent Wednesday to replace the struggling Derrick Frost, who was released Monday. Kapinos, a first-year player, made his practice debut Thursday.
Head coach Mike McCarthy also was impressed by what he saw from Kapinos.
"Jeremy did a nice job today," McCarthy said. "I thought he handled the snaps clean. He definitely has some power in his leg [and] did a good job with the directional kicking. He had a good day's work."
Kapinos was deemed the best fit for the Packers at this late stage of the season after a four-player audition was held Tuesday and Wednesday. He has only one NFL regular-season appearance to his credit – last year with the New York Jets, who had signed him as an undrafted free agent – but Kapinos provides an uncommon dimension as a left-footed punter and has experience kicking in inclement weather when he was at Penn State.
When Kapinos had his workout for Green Bay's personnel department Tuesday, he punted both inside and outside, where he contended with chilly and windy conditions. The forecast for Sunday's game against the Houston Texans at Lambeau Field calls for temperatures in the teens.
"You had to stay light on your feet, otherwise you were going to end up on your rear," Kapinos said of kicking in the frigid elements Tuesday. "It was fun. It was a nice [introduction] to the weather. The challenge was awesome."
Kapinos will punt on the field at Lambeau on Friday.
McCarthy is looking forward to seeing how Kapinos handles his first test with the Packers this weekend.
"He just needs to go out and kick to the proper direction," McCarthy said. "He's been impressive through his workout, and that's why he's here."
Thursday, 8:32 a.m.
The forecast for Sunday in Green Bay calls for a high temperature of 18 degrees, purportedly giving the advantage to the Packers as the Texans make their inaugural appearance at Lambeau Field.
Since passing the football will be difficult amid the arctic conditions, ball control through a sustained rushing attack figures to be the priority for both teams. That could favor Houston, which is armed with diminutive but speedy rookie Steve Slaton, who has been piling up the yards in recent weeks. Slaton ranks second among the league's featured backs with an average of 5.0 yards per carry. The Packers' 27th-rated run defense is allowing 4.8 yards per rush.
The expected return of quarterback Matt Schaub after a four-game layoff because of a knee injury will allow the Texans to be two-dimensional with league-leading receiver Andre Johnson. Al Harris and Tramon Williams would have the one-on-one matchups on Johnson with Charles Woodson at safety for the second straight game. Look for Woodson to play closer to the line of scrimmagem as the Packers plan to neutralize Houston's rushing attack first and foremost. Green Bay will have to be wary in passing situations of Slaton coming out of the backfield and productive tight end Owen Daniels.
Lead back Ryan Grant should play after coming out of the last game with a sprained thumb, but the time could be right for the Packers to get Brandon Jackson equally involved in the run game. Jackson responded in relief of the injured Grant against the Carolina Panthers with 11 carries for a season-high 80 yards.
The menacing threat of defensive end Mario Williams coupled, with Houston's possible liberal use of blitzing, will force quarterback Aaron Rodgers to be quick and decisive with his throws. The Texans' injury-riddled secondary can be exploited.
Wednesday, 8:31 a.m.
The experiment of Pro Bowl cornerback Charles Woodson at safety probably will continue for the remainder of the season.
Woodson made what was to those outside of the organization an unforeseen start at strong safety in the Packers' 35-31 loss to Carolina on Sunday. The lineup switch was made last week, and Woodson had practice reps at his new, but not unfamiliar, position Friday.
"It was initiated with the medical situation of the safeties, and the second part of it was getting your best players on the field," head coach Mike McCarthy said.
Atari Bigby, the regular starter at strong safety, had aggravated a sprained ankle in the previous game. Top backup Aaron Rouse also came out of that Nov. 24 loss to the Saints with an ankle injury that made him unavailable Sunday.
Bigby was activated for spot duty Sunday, but he suffered a sprained shoulder in the first half and didn't return to the game. He's not expected to be ready for the next game, Sunday against Houston, so Woodson stands a good chance of remaining at safety.
Although he had last played the position at the end of his eight-year stay with Oakland in 2005, Woodson likes the role.
"I'm very comfortable," Woodson said. "I grew up playing safety, so I know how to play the position. I got a little work [last] week. I just tried to get different reads down and that type of thing. I was definitely ready [Sunday]."
The Packers were able to make the late-season move in the secondary because they feel second-year player Tramon Williams has proven to be starter-ready at cornerback this season. Williams had been the primary nickel back and also filled in for starter Al Harris for four games earlier in the season when Harris was out with a spleen injury.
"Tramon Williams has played very well throughout the season, and the opportunity to have him in our base defense was something we felt would benefit us as we move forward," McCarthy said. "I thought Charles played well [Sunday] at the safety position. I think he is extraordinary when he is around the football, particularly the way he is scraping at it and trying to get it out on the two fumbles. ... I like what I saw out there in our secondary."
McCarthy had no problem with Woodson's positioning in man-to-man coverage of the Panthers' Steve Smith on a game-turning play down the middle of the field. Smith's exceptional leaping grab over Woodson went for 54 yards down to the Packers 1-yard line and set up the game-winning touchdown run by DeAngelo Williams with less than two minutes to play.
Tuesday, 9:16 a.m.
LB Nick Barnett was placed on injured reserve Monday. He had remained on the roster for three weeks after suffering a season-ending knee injury in the Nov. 9 loss at the Minnesota Vikings. …
DE Kenny Pettway was placed on injured reserve Monday. Pettway, a backup, suffered a ligament tear in a knee while covering a kickoff return in the fourth quarter Sunday. Pettway appeared in eight games, making five special-teams tackles. …
DT Alfred Malone, a first-year player from Troy, was signed from the practice squad. …
CB Joe Porter, a first-year player from Rutgers, was signed from the practice squad. …
C Scott Wells suffered a game-ending concussion in the second quarter of the Packers' 35-31 loss to the Carolina Panthers on Sunday. Wells likely won't play in the next game, Sunday against the Houston Texans, which would create a shuffled offensive line of right guard Jason Spitz at center and rookie Josh Sitton at right guard. …
S Atari Bigby suffered a sprained shoulder in the first half Sunday and likely will be sidelined at least one game. Bigby didn't make the start at strong safety in the game after aggravating an ankle injury the previous week. Cornerback Charles Woodson was moved to the starting spot and probably will remain there for the rest of the season. …
RB Ryan Grant didn't return to the game after suffering a sprained right thumb in the second quarter. The injury isn't considered serious enough to jeopardize Grant's availability for the next game. He will remain the starter at halfback. …
S Nick Collins briefly left the game Sunday with a bruised hip he sustained in the first quarter. Collins will need some time to recover during the practice week, but he is expected to be OK to play in the next game. …
RB Brandon Jackson, who had an impressive 11-carry, 80-yard performance Sunday as Grant's fill-in, suffered a bruised quadriceps in the game. The injury isn't believed to be serious. …
DE Aaron Kampman emerged from the game with a strained quadriceps. The injury isn't believed to be serious. …
DE Jeremy Thompson likely won't be ready for the next game after suffering a sprained knee and ankle late in the first half Sunday.
Monday, 8:27 a.m.
Playing out the string is not what the Packers envisioned for their final four games of the season.
Yet that's what the reigning NFC North champions might be left with after they were overtaken 35-31 by the visiting Carolina Panthers on Sunday – Green Bay's second straight loss and fourth defeat in the last five games.
"We're in a hole," running back Ryan Grant said. "We need to focus on winning games. It's really not about focusing on the playoffs right now. We need to focus on winning each game from here on out."
With a 5-7 record, the Packers are two games off the NFC North lead pace.
As much as Green Bay still could make a late-season surge to contend for the division title, which seemingly will be the only way it can return to the postseason, its play of late doesn't suggest a much-needed winning streak is doable.
"We've been way too inconsistent, definitely underachieving at times," quarterback Aaron Rodgers said.
Rodgers' 298-yard, three-touchdown performance Sunday in rallying the Packers from an 11-point deficit to a 28-21 lead in the fourth quarter was squandered because of coverage breakdowns on both special teams and defense. Green Bay allowed kickoff returns of 51 and 45 yards by Mark Jones in the final quarter, both of which led to short touchdown drives for the Panthers.
The latter runback preceded a 54-yard pass from Jake Delhomme to Steve Smith against cornerback-turned-safety Charles Woodson. That set up the fourth 1-yard touchdown run of the game by DeAngelo Williams to decide the outcome with 90 seconds to play.
"We've had a number of games that have gone down to the wire, and we haven't been able to pull them out and lost by a close margin," Rodgers said. "We haven't executed in the crunch time like we should."
Four of the Packers' seven losses have been by no more than four points.
During a potentially devastating post-bye November that yielded a 1-4 record, Green Bay lost by three points in overtime at the then-unbeaten Tennessee Titans, by a point the following week at the Minnesota Vikings and then the bitter setback to the Panthers on Sunday. The only clunker in the month was a 51-29 setback at the New Orleans Saints on Nov. 24, a week after the Packers had their best performance of the season with a 37-3 rout of the Bears.
Packers head coach Mike McCarthy said his team can't concern itself with its fading division-title prospects.
"We need to win a game right now," McCarthy said. "We need to win a game and then worry about the next one. We can't think outside of that. We're making common mistakes, and we as a coaching staff need to get it corrected."
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