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INTs, injuries sum up defense's day

Fourth practice of camp sees S Kentrell Brice, LB Jake Ryan carted off Nitschke Field


GREEN BAY – An impressive day in the turnover department for the Packers' defense unfortunately was offset by a rough day health-wise.

Amidst three interceptions of quarterback Aaron Rodgers – two by safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, one by rookie corner Jaire Alexander – two front-line defenders were carted off Ray Nitschke Field on Monday with apparent lower-leg injuries.

Safety Kentrell Brice exited on the cart during a special-teams drill early in practice before inside linebacker Jake Ryan later was down for several minutes and then helped off during 11-on-11 work.

Defensive tackle Mike Daniels also left practice early but told reporters afterward the injury was not a concern.

As for Brice and Ryan, no official updates were available, and Head Coach Mike McCarthy will speak to the media next on Tuesday morning. Several players in the locker room afterward expressed how it's tough to see that happen to anybody.

"We need all parts, everybody locked in, all hands on deck," second-year safety Josh Jones said. "You hate to see a loss, especially guys that are a big part of the defense."

Jones and the third-year Brice had been competing for a starting safety job alongside Clinton-Dix following the free-agent departure of Morgan Burnett. Brice was coming back from ankle surgery last season that sidelined him for the second half of the year, and he received strong praise from McCarthy as the offseason program wrapped up.

Ryan, in his fourth season, is the elder statesman amongst a very young inside linebacker group that will likely have a rookie, third-round pick Oren Burks, as the next option alongside third-year pro Blake Martinez for as long as Ryan is out.

"Responsibilities go up immediately, and it's something I'm comfortable with," said Burks, a Vanderbilt product. "Prayers for him. I hope he's back and healthy, because we need him in the room.

"The charisma he brings, just easing our anxieties a little bit when we make a mistake … it's always comforting to have somebody a little older than you watching over your shoulder to help out. But we just have to step up. This is a new opportunity."

After Martinez, the rest of the position group is comprised of rookies and first-year players. When Ryan went down, Martinez gathered his mates to refocus everyone.

"It's at those points where (you ask), 'All right, what are you going to do now, to be that guy that can step up and make those plays?'" Martinez said. "And if you can do that, it's going to help us out that much more."

The secondary was making its share of plays on Monday, beginning with Alexander stepping in front of Randall Cobb on a crossing route for a clean pick.

The rookie first-round selection from Louisville has taken reps with both the first- and second-team defenses thus far in camp, and a play like Monday's could lead to more first-team snaps. He wasn't going to overstate the significance of one play, though.

"I've been there before. It's not my first rodeo," Alexander said. "I'll be more excited to do it in a game. I'm not going to lie, though, it does feel pretty good."

Later, Clinton-Dix intercepted Rodgers' desperation pass on the final play of the two-minute drill off a Martinez deflection. Clinton-Dix then got another pick across the middle before storm clouds and lightning began moving in, cutting practice short.

"Of course it builds our confidence," Alexander said of a turnover-filled day. "Playing against Aaron and the receivers we have, it's definitely a momentum-booster, playing against the best. We're heading in the right direction, but we've still got some work to do."

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