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The 3 Legged Race

by Mark Daniels

What a strange afternoon at training camp.  On a day the Packers went from four quarterbacks to three, they also went from two kickers to three.  General Manager Ted Thompson and Head Coach Mike McCarthy apparently had seen enough of Graham Harrell, after nearly three years, to make him the surprising first cut of camp.   Harrell signed in the spring of 2010 and the Packers invested two years on the practice squad and a third season as the primary backup to Aaron Rodgers only to decide three weeks into camp, it just wasn't going to work out.  Especially after signing Vince Young three weeks ago.  Out of football for a season, Young moved past Harrell in short order and B.J. Coleman will remain as the kid to groom, almost certainly after a second straight season on the practice squad.  Even though McCarthy said the number two job hasn't been settled yet, Harrell's release indicates it probably has.  Even more curiously, the Packers gave Mason Crosby some competition for the first time since his rookie year by signing Giorgio Tavecchio in the spring.  Now with only a week to go before the final 53 man roster must be established, they've given both Crosby and Tavecchio some competition by signing rookie free agent Zach Ramirez from Portland State.  Ramirez had a cup of coffee with the Seattle Seahawks during their rookie orientation tryout in the spring but was released.  His phone was quiet until this weekend when the Packers called, gave him a tryout Sunday morning, signed him and sent him onto Ray Nitschke Field for practice.

The team didn't waste any time opening up the new 3 legged race.   On a 90 degree, windy day, special teams coach Shaun Slocum had an extensive field goal period at practice.  Here's how it unfolded, starting at the 35 from the right hash mark, all three took a shot downwind, and made it. They moved back to the 41, all three good again, from the 45, Crosby hit, Tavecchio missed wide right and Ramirez also missed to the right.  All 3 were good from 48, and then 50.   The second team protection unit then took their turn.  First shot from the 34, all good, same from the 39, the 47 and the 53 was where Crosby missed wide left..   They kept backing up....a 60 yarder, again with a stiff breeze behind their backs, all good.  Finally from 63, Tom Dempsey range.  They all were good.   Round 1 in the 3 man round robin had all of 'em go 10 for 11.  They might have to do this again Monday and Tuesday because who knows if they'll get chances in Kansas City.  Should be fun to watch.  After practice, Mike McCarthy talked about the big decisions of the day, cutting Graham Harrell and signing Zach Ramirez.

Audio: Mike McCarthy on Harrell, Ramirez.

Some other practice notes:  Jordy Nelson was back on the field, running a few routes.  He appears ahead of schedule after the knee surgery a month ago.  He's still hoping to be ready for the San Francisco game.  Randall Cobb also returned from his biceps injury.   McCarthy has already ruled out Casey Hayward and Morgan Burnett for the Chiefs game after they pulled hamstrings against Seattle.  Brad Jones and his hamstring are still iffy.  DuJuan Harris reinjured his knee and his status for Thursday night is uncertain.