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Vic Ketchman

Vic Ketchman is a veteran of 40 NFL seasons and has covered the Steelers and Jaguars prior to coming to Green Bay.


Neal 'day to day,' Gurley has big practice

Posted Aug 17, 2011

Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy has listed defensive end Mike Neal as “day to day,” following a medical examination of Neal’s injured left knee. McCarthy said the injury will not require an MRI exam.

“No, just a doctor’s examination,” McCarthy said when asked if Neal will undergo a scan on his left knee.

Neal sustained the injury early in Tuesday’s practice, during a defensive line drill that involved a blocking bag. He went to the ground clutching his left knee but later left the field under his own power.

“He got his knee in a bad position and torqued it. He hit the bag with his other foot and planted funny. He seems to be doing fine,” McCarthy added.

McCarthy spoke to reporters following a two-hour-plus practice, the Packers’ final “long” practice before Friday’s preseason game against the visiting Arizona Cardinals. McCarthy plans to conduct a 48-minute practice on Thursday.

“We didn’t look the way we need to look,” he said in evaluation of Wednesday’s practice. “We’ll try to clean up some things schematically and get ready to play on Friday night.”

If there was an offensive star of Wednesday’s practice, it is undrafted wide receiver Tori Gurley. After a blatant drop of what should’ve been a touchdown catch early in practice, Gurley went on a pass-catching tear. He used his 6-4 height to make a leaping touchdown catch over undrafted cornerback Brandian Ross in a red zone drill, then followed with a diving catch of a low pass over the middle.

“Every time you line up it’s important. Every snap is evaluated. You’re looking for ability. You’re looking for performance. You’re looking for fit and, from a culture standpoint, does the person fit?” McCarthy said when Gurley’s strong performance on Wednesday was mentioned.

Another player who would seem to be on the rise is Erik Walden, who’s in a battle with Frank Zombo and Brad Jones for the right outside linebacker job. Walden was running with the ones on Wednesday, the significance of which is that it marks the first time in this camp that one man has run with the ones at ROLB two days in a row. It likely means Walden will get the start on Friday.

“I think he clearly looks better than he did when he came to us midway through (last) season,” McCarthy said of Walden.

Another linebacker, undrafted Vic So’oto, is getting a lot of playing time and a similar amount of attention from outside linebackers coach Kevin Greene. Early in practice, So’oto was with the ones during a brief “screen and deceptions” drill.

A little later, he followed a play in which he was blocked to the ground by tight end Andrew Quarless during a running play, by bulling through first-round pick Derek Sherrod and “sacking” quarterback Aaron Rodgers. So’oto clearly appeared motivated by his failure on the previous play.

“He’s going through a little bit of what Bryan (Bulaga) went through,” McCarthy said of Sherrod, comparing his learning curve to that of the Packers’ 2010 first-round pick. “He’s not playing as fast as he’d like to.”

Zombo, meanwhile, created two loud noises in a one-on-one pass-rush drill. The first sound was the smack of Zombo’s pads onto tackle Marshall Newhouse’s. The second sound was the cheer Zombo got for “walking” Newhouse back to the quarterback.

Suffice it to say the competition at right outside linebacker is fierce and growing.

“My number one priority is to get a personnel evaluation of the team,” McCarthy said of Friday’s preseason game, the Packers’ second following a 27-17 loss in Cleveland last Saturday.

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