The Green Bay Packers may have shown a greater willingness this offseason to sign veteran free agents under first-year general manager Brian Gutekunst Kevin King Jersey , but the team is standing pat for now after injuries to key contributors on defense.
One day after inside linebacker Jake Ryan (knee) and safety Kentrell Brice (ankle) each had to be carted off the practice field, Gutekunst said Tuesday he's not going to seek outside help at either position.
With Ryan out, rookie third-round draft pick Oren Burks took snaps with the No. 1 defense at inside linebacker. And with Brice sidelined, Josh Jones, a second-round pick a year ago, got most of the reps at safety alongside Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. Jermaine Whitehead also worked with the first unit at safety in Brice's place.
"You know, you never like to see any of that, especially with those guys who have worked as hard as they have. But it's football, it's part of it and it's our job to be prepared and keep moving forward," Gutekunst said.
"I think the best practice is patience. We have some young players that show some promise out there, and we'd kind of like them to continue to grow into those kind of roles and see what we have," he added.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy said he could not give timelines on either player's recovery and that Ryan was still undergoing further tests on his right knee. Ryan got hurt while making a tackle during a team period near the end of Monday's in-pads practice.
Brice Terron Armstead Jersey , who took virtually every team snap with the No. 1 defense before his injury, injured his ankle when he was blindsided during a punt coverage drill. He was able to attend practice and was walking gingerly on the sideline.
Bruce missed much of last season with another ankle injury.
The starting safety spot opposite Clinton-Dix came open this offseason when longtime starter Morgan Burnett left as a free agent and joined the Pittsburgh Steelers. Jones, who played more than 700 defensive snaps last year as a rookie, now must put that experience to use.
"Next man up. That's the mentality," Jones said. "You hate to see one of your teammates go down, but the next guy should be prepared. That's why you prepare. When it's your time to be called upon, you're ready."
The Packers drafted the 6-foot-3, 233-pound Burks with the hope that his athleticism and speed - he spent the early part of his college career at Vanderbilt playing safety - would be an asset in coverage on passing downs in the team's dime package. He was already working with the starters in that sub group, but on Tuesday, he was with the 1s in the base defense as well.
"You just never know when your opportunity is going to come," Burks said. "I'm doing my best to get better every day. I know I'm going to make mistakes - I'm a rookie. But I just learn from those mistakes, try not to make them twice and try to grow."
NOTES: Pro Bowl DL Mike Daniels (quadriceps) missed practice but his injury is not considered serious. Also sitting out Tuesday were FB Joe Kerridge (shoulder) Star Lotulelei Jersey , RB Aaron Jones (hamstring), LB C.J. Johnson (hamstring) and OL Alex Light (ankle). . Gutekunst said he had no updates on contract talks with quarterback Aaron Rodgers, but continued to express confidence that an extension would get done. "I wouldn't put any timelines on it," Gutekunst said. "As long as everybody is working toward the same goal, I think we feel positive about it."
Colorado had speed and youth. Nashville brought experience and know-how.
It was plain to see which won out – this time.
Mattias Ekholm ignited the offense early with the first goal by a Nashville defenseman in the series, Pekka Rinne stopped 22 shots and the top-seeded Predators advanced to the second round with a 5-0 victory over the Avalanche in Game 6 on Sunday night.
Austin Watson , Filip Forsberg , Nick Bonino and Viktor Arvidsson also scored to help the Predators move on to face Winnipeg. They were 3-1-1 against the Jets in the regular season.
”I’m very impressed the way (the Avalanche) played. They played very modern hockey, with a lot of speed,” said Rinne, who notched his fourth career postseason shutout as the Predators won the series 4-2. ”Great game. Great team effort. We didn’t give them any life.”
Nashville removed any sort of drama with two goals in the opening period and two more in the second to hush the capacity crowd. That’s the sort of game plan the Predators envisioned.
”I think that was our best game from start to finish,” Watson said. ”That’s good for us going forward Eric Kendricks Jersey , to be able to take the last game of this series and carry that into how we want to play in the next one.”
Andrew Hammond ran out of magic in net, allowing five goals. The third-string goaltender nicknamed ”Hamburglar” had 44 saves during a Game 5 win in Nashville to extend the series. But he couldn’t turn back a formidable Nashville offense that won a second straight playoff contest in Denver. Before this, the Avalanche hadn’t lost two straight at the Pepsi Center since early December.
”It’s disappointing to us and I’m sure it’s disappointing to fans,” Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog said. ”It means a lot to us that they did give us a standing ovation at the end.”
Watson tormented Colorado with four goals and seven points in the series. In all, 11 of Nashville’s forwards had at least a point over six games.
The one thing missing was contributions from a blue line that tied a franchise record for goals during the regular season. The Predators `D’ was held scoreless until Ekholm’s slap shot at 7:20.
Forsberg scored 38 seconds into second to give Nashville a 3-0 lead and completely drain the energy out of the arena. Bonino added another to go with his two assists.
The closest Colorado came to scoring on Rinne was in the second period, when Nikita Zadorov sent in a shot, but it was waved off due to goaltender interference on Carl Soderberg.
”Every line that went out there took a lot of pride in playing good defense, even at the end with the game 5-0. We still protected the net,” Rinne said. ”Guys wanted to get me that shutout.”
It was quite a bounce-back season for Colorado, which boasts one of the youngest teams in the league. The Avalanche went from a 48-point team in 2016-17 to 95 points this season, earning the last playoff spot on the final day of the regular season. The Avs are the first NHL team to post that sort of turnaround from one full season to the next since Pittsburgh also jumped 47 points in 2005-06 (58) to `06-07 (105).
”There are a lot of positives for sure,” said Nathan MacKinnon Justin Bethel Jersey , who was held to one shot Sunday. ”Everybody thought we weren’t going to make it, that we were going to be the odd-team-out in the West. Obviously, it’s nice to prove some people wrong and have a good young team going forward.”
In the handshake line after the game, Nashville coach Peter Laviolette had some encouraging words for MacKinnon.
”He thought our team was up-and-coming, similar to their team,” MacKinnon recounted. ”Definitely, it’s a good team to be compared to.”
Colorado ran into a Predators squad that looked every bit like the team that went to the Stanley Cup Final a season ago and won the Presidents’ Trophy this season. They’re clicking on all cylinders heading into the Winnipeg series.
”These guys have been flying around for six games, playing really fast hockey,” Forsberg said. ”We’ve been trying to play as fast as we can as well. If we can bring that speed into the next round that will be good.”
NOTES: The Predators improved to 6-6 all-time in a Game 6 situation. … F Colton Sissons had two assists. … RW Ryan Hartman was a scratch after being suspended for Game 5 for a hit on Soderberg. … D P.K. Subban had high praise for MacKinnon: ”My expectations for him as a player is to be a Hall of Famer by the end of his career.”
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