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End of camp leaves McCarthy confident

Posted Aug 28, 2012


The Packers closed the curtain on training camp Tuesday with a light practice at Ray Nitschke Field and a post-practice seal of approval from their head coach.

“As far as competition, outstanding,” Mike McCarthy said when asked to evaluate the quality of camp. “I’m confident we’ll have a good football team to start the season.”

The Packers will open the season on Sept. 9 with a game at Lambeau Field against 2011 NFC runner-up San Francisco. Before then, the Packers must clean up what’s left of the preseason with a game against visiting Kansas City on Thursday.

For Aaron Rodgers and the Packers’ other frontline players, it’s a game of little significance. For the roster-challenged, it’s one last opportunity to claim a spot on the “final” 53, which will be decided the following day.

“It’s a huge game for a lot of guys all across the league,” General Manager Ted Thompson said. “The ones I care about are here. The NFL is a hard business. It should be hard to make a team. You should be proud to make an NFL team.”

What can a player do in the preseason finale to improve his chances of making the roster?

“Make a statement. Define yourself. Answer a question that’s out there about you. Is it consistency? Is it big-play ability? If you can show more value to your team, that’s what you look for,” McCarthy said.

The Packers announced five players have already been ruled out of action due to injury: rookie tackle Andrew Datko, tight end Tom Crabtree, linebacker Robert Francois, cornerback Davon House and running back James Starks, who is attempting to recover from a serious bout of “turf toe.”

“He hasn’t made a whole lot of progress,” McCarthy said of Starks, whose injury led to the acquisition of veteran running back Cedric Benson, who is now poised to become the Packers’ feature running back.

“I want to see production from Alex Green on Thursday night,” McCarthy said. Green and Brandon Saine would seem to be behind Benson. Starks’ future would seem to be clouded by his injury.

Linebacker Desmond Bishop is one frontline player who’s already been lost for the season due to a major hamstring injury he suffered in the first quarter of the first preseason game. In an answer to a question on Tuesday, Thompson seemed to suggest that Bishop was headed to the injured reserve list regardless of a possible rule that would’ve allowed teams to bring one IR player back onto the regular-season roster. That rule proposal was rejected by the players association.

“We think Desmond is going to be really good and fine when he’s well, but it’s going to take a long time,” Thompson said. Bishop has undergone surgery to repair the injury.

Second-year tackle Derek Sherrod, the Packers’ first-round pick in 2011, remains on the PUP list, effectively buying more time to consider whether to begin the season with Sherrod on PUP, put him on the active roster or on the injured reserve list. Sherrod is recovering from a broken leg he sustained late last year.

“We want some time to take a look at that,” Thompson said.

Thursday night, everyone will get one more time to make an impression.

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