OTA notes: Shields a no-show, Tretter breaks ankle doing silly drill, Neal moving around : Packers Insider

OTA notes: Shields a no-show, Tretter breaks ankle doing silly drill, Neal moving around

May 22, 2013 by  
Filed under News

By Tyler Dunne, Bob McGinn, Tom Silverstein , Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

~Green Bay — Organized team activities for the Green Bay Packers have begun without Sam Shields. The starting cornerback who finished last season with a bang was not on the practice field Tuesday.

Shields’ absence isn’t a major surprise and, for now, it’s not a major cause for concern. A restricted free agent, Shields has not signed his one-year tender offer of $2.023 million. The Journal Sentinel has learned that in negotiations earlier this off-season, the two sides remained far apart on a long-term contract extension. There are indications, however, that this won’t be a prolonged holdout.

The Packers are hoping that’s the case and Shields is back soon.

“I wish Sam was here,” coach Mike McCarthy said. “He’s not here for his specific reasons that I’m sure if he wants to answer them, he can answer them. It’s about the opportunity to compete and our secondary is very competitive. I wish he was here.”

Sam Shields hasn't signed is tender yet, and is skipping OTA's at the moment as he tries to get a long-term deal done with the Packers.

No player on the Packers’ defense played better in December and January than Shields. Yet also, no position on the Packers’ roster is arguably deeper than cornerback. Green Bay has leverage in contract talks — there’s no rush to give Shields a lucrative contract with Casey Hayward and Davon House around.

On Tuesday, the second-year Hayward worked opposite veteranTramon Williams. House, a spectator at practice, is expected to compete for a starting job, too. Not to mention Green Bay also picked Micah Hyde in the fifth round of this year’s NFL draft. So even though Shields did have four interceptions and 11 pass breakups in his final six games, the Packers may not be quick to budge.

Shields could play this season on the tender and become an unrestricted free agent next spring.

One of Shields’ closest friends on the team, safety Morgan Burnett, says he has kept in touch with the corner.

“It’s different not seeing Sam because you all pretty much know that’s who I’m with all the time,” Burnett said. “So it’s different not having Sam here, but hopefully he’ll be here soon and I’ll have my buddy back.”

Whenever Shields does return, he’ll have to earn his starting job.

Working from the slot as a rookie, Hayward led the team in interceptions (six) and pass breakups (21). Green Bay seems intent on giving him a fair shot at winning a starting spot out wide. Battling a shoulder injury, House showed promise when healthy, too.

“Those guys are very athletic,” Burnett said. “Casey, from his play this past season, he’s a ball hawk capable of making plays. House is a big corner. He makes plays. It’s an honor just to be around these guys because they’re very athletic and they challenge you to get better.”

Tretter goes down

The Packers drafted J.C. Tretter because of his versatility. A tackle at Cornell, Tretter likely would have been trained at various spots in Green Bay. Yet now his NFL career begins on the sideline.

Tretter broke his ankle at Monday’s practice and will be out several months. His first season may be a wash.

According to Tretter’s agent, Alan Herman, the rookie lineman was taking part in a fumble recovery drill on the first day of OTAs when he got his cleat caught in the ground. He suffered a fracture at the lower end of his fibula and torn ligaments in his ankle. The injury is similar to one former Packers running back Ryan Grant suffered in 2010, only Grant’s fracture was up near his calf.

Tretter will have screws and a plate inserted in his ankle to repair the ligament tear.

“It’s like they’re trying to slide into second base and he got his cleat caught and his ankle rolled over and broke,” Herman said. “Why they’re practicing a fumble drill, I don’t know. There’s not supposed to be contact. That’s a silly drill. Why have big 300-pound guys slide like that in OTAs?”

The surgery, which will be performed by team physician Patrick McKenzie, would take place in the next 24 hours, Herman said. He called it a “six-month deal.”

Herman said based on another client who had a similar injury last year — Cincinnati Bengals center Kyle Cook — it’s not a sure thing Tretter won’t play this season. Cook suffered the injury in a preseason game against the Packers on Aug. 23 and was then put on injured reserve with the “designated for return” label. It turned out to be a good move because he returned to practice Nov. 28 and played two weeks later.

The total recovery time was only three months. Unlike Cook, however, Tretter would be returning with no experience in the offense.

Grant suffered his injury in Week 1 and was put on season-ending injured reserve, despite being convinced he could be ready at the end of the season. Herman wasn’t sure how the Packers would treat Tretter’s case.

“Everyone has a different approach to it,” he said. “I hope it’s not a total lost year.”

McCarthy would not comment on the injury to Tretter or any others sitting out practice Tuesday. Inside linebacker Desmond Bishop, tackle Derek Sherrod, outside linebacker Dezman Moses, defensive end Ryan Pickett, defensive end Jerel Worthy, running back DuJuan Harris, safety Sean Richardson and House didn’t participate. McCarthy added that defensive end Johnny Jolly, who was not in attendance, is “still going through the process.”

Neal surprised by move

In year four, Mike Neal may be in the midst of a major position change.

Or not. It’s May.

Nonetheless, the Packers are experimenting. At Tuesday’s practice, Neal worked at outside linebacker. The move back seemed to surprise Neal. He said he has not talked to McCarthy about it and only spoke briefly to defensive coordinator Dom Capers and the assistants. Long term, he’s not sure what to make of it.

As he finally was healthy on and the field for awhile late last year, the Packers liked what they saw from Mike Neal, so much so that they want to get him on the field even more.

Dogged by injuries through 2010 and 2011, and a frustrating suspension last year, Neal finally stayed healthy toward the end of last season and finished with 11 tackles and 4 1/2 sacks in 11 games. With the addition of first-round pick Datone Jones and departure of Erik Walden and Frank Zombo, the Packers appear to be open to trying Neal at a new spot.

“From my standpoint, I’m a football player,” Neal said. “Coaches ask me to do one thing and that’s what I do. I don’t ask any questions. I just go along with the role they present. So as of right now, if that’s what it is, that’s what it is. I don’t know plans going down the future. I don’t know what’s going on tomorrow. I just know this is where I lined up today. I’m just lining up where they tell me to.”

Without disclosing his weight, Neal believes he is light enough to play outside linebacker and big enough to play inside. He has not had to cover as an outside linebacker before.

“No, but I’m comfortable with my athletic ability,” Neal said. “I do believe our defensive linemen, not only do I have defensive linemen skills, but as far as being athletic, I can do that.”

Whether he sticks at outside linebacker likely depends on how comfortable he looks through OTAs, minicamp and, potentially, training camp. For now, Neal is as surprised as anyone.

“I don’t know. I’m just as clueless as you are honestly,” he said. “When I got here, it was, ‘Hey, go upstairs. We’ve got to talk to you about something….’We’re going to try and move you around a little bit. We’re going to try and expand your role. We want to get familiar with all facets of the game and we’ll take it from there.’ And that’s pretty much it.”


Once the news hit, Tramon Williams’ phone wouldn’t stop buzzing. Friends and teammates were surprised to hear that his shoulder was, apparently, still a problem.

In an interview with 105.7 The Fan in Baltimore, Williams talked about the nerve damage in his shoulder. Yet while Williams spoke about the shoulder bothering him during the 2011 season, many thought he was talking about the shoulder still being an issue through the 2012 season.

Not the case, he says.

“It was a couple different questions they asked from past years,” Williams said. “It really wasn’t much. It kind of hit the media like it was something today. But it was from the past. So it really wasn’t anything. It was from when the injury happened. It kind of hit like it was something new, like something else happened. I did the interview telling them exactly what happened and they made it seem like it was new.”

Williams insists the injury was not an issue for him last season .

Still, the nerve damage does require time to heal, to regenerate. So in that sense, Williams also said he does feel much better now than he did last May and June.

“It’s better,” Williams said. “Trust me. It’s better than last year. But last year I was good. The structure was good. But when it comes to nerves, it’s time. And there’s nothing at all you can do about it.”

Original story here

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