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Packers Notes: Special Teams, Getting Healthy, & The Mystery Man

September 6, 2010

The Green Bay Packers finalized their 53-man roster and 8-man practice squad this weekend and are ready to open up their regular season next Sunday afternoon in Philadelphia. And while many folks enjoyed the day off of work this Monday, the Packers’ players and coaches had no such luck.

Special Teams:

After releasing punt returner Will Blackmon over the weekend, head coach Mike McCarthy revealed who on the Packers roster would fill that role. McCarthy said cornerback Tramon Williams and wide receiver Greg Jennings are both options. In the kick return game, McCarthy said the team will rely on wide receiver Jordy Nelson and running back Brandon Jackson.

Getting Healthy:

That long exhaling sound you heard today was the collective sigh of relief Packers fans breathed as the entire starting defense was on the field for the first time in a while. After missing most of the preseason with a hamstring injury, outside linebacker Clay Matthews was a full participant. Matthews’ partner in crime, outside linebacker Brad Jones, also took part in practice today. Defensive end Cullen Jenkins (calf) left practice after jog throughs, but McCarthy said Jenkins and linebacker Desmond Bishop (knee) would “be ready Wednesday, no later than Thursday.” The only Packers player not participating on Monday was cornerback Brandon Underwood (shoulder).

The Mystery Man:

To quote Green Bay Press Gazette writer Rob Demovsky, “Packers fans love the minutiae.” And this last bit of information could certainly be viewed as a trivial detail.

The Packers signed 8 players to their practice squad over the weekend. And 7 of the 8 were on the 75-man roster prior to being released, but 1 player was a “mystery man” from another team. Today, the mystery man was revealed; the player is running back James Johnson. Johnson played collegiately at Kansas State before signing with the Cincinnati Bengals as an undrafted free agent in 2008. Johnson spent 2008 and 2009 on the Bengals practice squad and this offseason with the Minnesota Vikings. For his troubles, Johnson — and all NFL practice squad members — will make a minimum salary of $5,200 per week. Not bad work if you can get it.

Finally, I’ll leave you with some video highlights of the 2007 Kansas State Wildcats. You will see some nice speed from James Johnson (No. 8) as well as a lot of Jordy Nelson (No. 27). (Hopefully, Nelson can return to his college form when returning kicks this season. Give it a watch, you’ll see what I mean.) Hat tip to Packer Update for finding the video.

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