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Training Camp Report: Wynn Off To Strong Start

Third-year running back DeShawn Wynn’s career has been a circuitous one, but he is hoping that some changes he made this offseason will help him as he looks to solidify a role in the Packers’ backfield in 2009. - More Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Aug. 3

Third-year running back DeShawn Wynn's career has been a circuitous one, but he is hoping that some changes he made this offseason will help him as he looks to solidify a role in the Packers' backfield in 2009.

After leading the team in rushing in the first six games in 2007, Wynn battled various injuries that ended his rookie campaign and then contributed to his release last year in training camp.

Wynn did get another chance with the Packers when he was signed to Green Bay's practice squad less than a week after he was let go. He was eventually signed back to the active roster in Week 6, and then finished off the year with a career-best performance vs. Detroit, rushing for 106 yards, including a 73-yard touchdown run.

Now Wynn has carried that strong play over to the first few days of training camp.

"I'm very, very impressed with DeShawn Wynn," Head Coach Mike McCarthy said. "I think he's having an outstanding training camp so far."

After playing last year at around 240 pounds, Wynn said he made an effort to slim down in order to add some explosiveness and avoid the injury bug.

"I did a better job of taking care of my diet, working on my body, doing a lot more stretching, the little things that I took for granted coming out of college," said Wynn, who now weighs around 230.

Besides the changes he made on his own, Wynn also credited the offseason workout program implemented by new strength and conditioning coordinator Dave Redding.

"It's made a big difference," Wynn said. "Instead of just going in the weight room and pumping iron, he has stuff that is football-related and stuff that also gets your cardio going. While you are lifting weights, you are also getting tired at the same time.

"It works hand-in-hand with the football field, being able to push through that and keep going. I feel like I am in the best shape I have been since I have been here, and a big part of that has to do with the offseason program that we had with him."

Wynn downplayed his solid play thus far, emphasizing the importance of now carrying that over to the preseason games. With Ryan Grant entrenched as the starter, Wynn figures to compete with last year's No. 2 back, Brandon Jackson, as well as second-year man Kregg Lumpkin and rookie Tyrell Sutton for carries.

"I think the competition is great behind all of us," Grant said. "We push each other and we really rally behind each other.

"Backs always kind of stick together. I think we understand the nature of our position. We want guys to do well and we want guys to play at a high level. I'm excited."

The waiting game

Linebacker Nick Barnett remained on the sidelines Monday as he waited to be cleared for practice following a season-ending ACL injury in 2008, but he expressed confidence that he will return to the field during the preseason.

Barnett, who did not pass his physical at the beginning of training camp and was placed on the physically unable to perform list, said while there is no exact return date being set for him, he is targeting Green Bay's third preseason game, at Arizona on Aug. 28, for his return. McCarthy said the medical staff probably wouldn't test Barnett's knee again this week.

"I definitely think by the third preseason game I'll be back rolling and I'll be getting reps," Barnett said. "I don't know for sure. I'm not a doctor or a GM, so I don't know what they are going to do. But I think for sure by that third preseason game I should be seeing some action."

Barnett said his conditioning is fine, and while he isn't experiencing any abnormal pain in his knee, the decision to give the knee some more time during a very physical training camp was probably a prudent one.

"I think that is definitely their concern," Barnett said. "We didn't start camp with half-pads. It was very physical, very active out there, so I guess they are being more precautionary.

"I am definitely in shape, definitely can run, definitely can stop. I think it is more of a risk-vs.-reward type of thing. It doesn't make sense to throw me out there and do something wrong."

Barnett is expected to play the "Mack" linebacker, the weak-side spot on the inside in new defensive coordinator Dom Capers' scheme. While there is no substitute for on-field learning, Barnett said he is doing his best to pick up the intricacies of the defense.

"I'm doing everything I possibly can do," Barnett said. "I'm watching film, taking notes, studying my book. It stinks that you can't be out there and adjusting to the defense and getting live reps because there is nothing like that.

"I'm just doing the best I can as far as taking notes, asking questions and being very proactive with learning (as much) off the field as I can."

Final second

The No. 1 offense waited until the last possible second, but it scored during its 2-minute drill at the end of Monday's practice, an emphasis throughout the offseason after the Packers lost so many close games in 2008.

The situation in Monday's team (11-on-11) period had the offense was trailing, 17-13, with 1 minute, 11 seconds, and one timeout left. Starting from its own 40, the offense got a first down when cornerback Tramon Williams was called for interfering with receiver James Jones on the first play.

{sportsad300}Then quarterback Aaron Rodgers hit short passes to tight end Donald Lee and receiver Greg Jennings for a total of 8 yards. Facing third-and-2, Rodgers went deep over the middle to tight end Jermichael Finley, and linebacker A.J. Hawk deflected the pass. But Finley adjusted to the tip and still made a juggling catch, all the way down to the 9 for a gain of 33.

After a spike to stop the clock with 10 seconds remaining, Rodgers threw incomplete to Donald Driver at the goal line and then incomplete to Finley in the corner of the end zone. Cornerback Charles Woodson and linebacker Brandon Chillar broke up the play, though afterward Finley insisted he held onto the ball.

"Woodson made a good play on it, but it wasn't incomplete I promise you," Finley said. "It hit my hand and slipped in between my thighs. I gripped it and Woodson was trying to beat it out, but he was hitting the ground instead. It was a touchdown for sure."

But no matter. Facing fourth-and-goal with 1 second left, Rodgers found Lee over the middle in the back of the end zone as he got a step on Chillar, scoring the TD.

The No. 2 offense didn't fare as well, though. With quarterback Matt Flynn facing the same situation (except 1:24 remained instead of 1:11), the offense gained just 5 yards on a short pass to Jordy Nelson. On third down, Flynn's pass to the right sideline to Ruvell Martin was broken up by cornerback Joe Porter and could have been intercepted. After a false start, an incomplete pass over the middle to tight end Evan Moore, with linebacker Brady Poppinga covering, ended the drive.

Injury/participation update

Defensive end Johnny Jolly, who sprained an ankle during Sunday night's practice, was wearing a boot on Monday and is expected to be out of action about a week. He was replaced in the base defense by Justin Harrell.

Guard Daryn Colledge dropped out of practice after taking a knee to the thigh from a defensive player during a team period. Colledge said the decision to sit out the rest of practice was more precautionary and that he expected to be back on the field for Tuesday's morning practice. Jason Spitz, Tony Moll and Duke Preston all took snaps at left guard with the first unit in Colledge's place.

Tackle Jamon Meredith also dropped out of practice with cramps.

"We had some guys that were kind of gassed there at the end," McCarthy said. "These are long practices, a lot of reps, a lot of fundamental time. It's by design.

"I know it's taxing, particularly for our big guys. There are a lot of reps here for our big guys, and once again that is by design."

Cornerback Brandon Underwood did not practice, and his injury was not specified.

Remaining out of practice in addition to Barnett were linebacker Brad Jones (back), cornerback/safety Jarrett Bush (abdominal) and nose tackle B.J. Raji (unsigned).

Good turnout

Attendance for Monday afternoon's practice was estimated at 2,000.

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