Packers excited for rare gathering of 4 top WRs


Packers excited for rare gathering of 4 top WRs

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) Aaron Rodgers is putting up MVP-worthy numbers again, throwing for more touchdowns than anyone in the NFL and ranking near the top in completions and yards passing.

Imagine if he'd had all of his favorite toys for the whole year.

With Randall Cobb back from a sprained ankle and Jordy Nelson planning to play in Saturday night's NFC wild-card game against Minnesota, the Green Bay Packers finally will have all four top receivers for the first time in, essentially, three months.

``It makes us very dangerous,'' Greg Jennings said Thursday. ``It's pretty obvious when we have all four guys healthy, the amount of big plays that we can accumulate goes up. Aaron has a lot more options.''

There's no question Rodgers is a special quarterback, one of the league's finest, and he'd put up impressive numbers if he had only one or two guys to throw to. But he has four - count `em, four - receivers who could be No. 1s on many other teams.

``I don't think so,'' Nelson said when asked if any other team is as loaded at receiver as the Packers. ``I don't think you can go four and five deep like we can.''

Jennings had 1,000-yard seasons from 2008-10, and came up just short (949) last year despite missing three games. Nelson has a career average of 15.1 yards per catch, and joined Jennings in the 1,000-yard club last year. James Jones led the NFL with 14 TD catches this year, and matched a Packers record with two scores in three straight games. Cobb is the newest of the bunch, and all the second-year receiver has done is lead the team in catches (80) and yards receiving (954).

Add in big tight end Jermichael Finley and you can see why defensive coordinators have nightmares about facing the Packers.

``You can go to any one of them and get a big play, so it makes it more difficult for defenses to defend,'' Green Bay offensive coordinator Tom Clements said. ``If (opponents) only have one guy or two guys that they have to defend against, they can structure their defenses and set it up in certain ways to take those guys away. But if you have four out there, and sometimes even five, it makes it more difficult.

``So if it's more difficult for them, it's advantageous for us.''

But injuries have kept the Packers (11-5) from making full use of that advantage. The Big Four have played less than three full games together this year, and you have to go all the way back to the Sept. 24 game in Seattle for when they were last all at full strength. (Yes, they were all available for the Dec. 2 game against the Vikings, but Nelson was gone after the second series with a hamstring injury.)

Jennings was hurt in the season opener, and wound up missing eight of the first 11 games with a torn muscle in his abdomen. Nelson was out for four games with a hamstring injury. And Cobb, who's also been Green Bay's primary kick returner, was sidelined last week with a sprained ankle.

Only Jones made it through the entire season unscathed.

``It's been a while,'' Nelson agreed. ``Hopefully we can go out and perform well, make a lot of plays and play a few games together. That's what you want. You want to be at full strength going into the playoffs, and I think we're as healthy as we can be.''

To get an idea just how potent the Packers could be, look at their last three games, when only one of the Big Four was on the sidelines. Rodgers has thrown for 998 yards and 10 touchdowns. Cobb, Jones and Jennings have had 100-yard games, and each game has had three receivers with five or more catches. Green Bay has put up 110 points, including hanging a season-high 55 on Tennessee.

Yes, the Packers lost at Minnesota on Sunday. But the offense found another gear after an uncharacteristically slow start on the first three drives, outgaining and outscoring the Vikings over the final 40 minutes. Jennings had his best showing since his return with 120 yards and two touchdowns on eight catches, while Nelson averaged a whopping 29 yards on his three catches.

Finley's eight catches gave him 61 for the year, a Packers record for a tight end.

``We definitely got it going,'' Jennings said. ``Felt good with what we were seeing, ARod was delivering the ball on the point and guys were making plays all across the field. Are there some things we could have done better as a whole? Absolutely. But we got another shot at it. We've got a chance to make it right this week.''

And they'll be doing it at full strength.

Cobb was held out last weekend as something of a precaution, but he's practiced all week. Nelson was a question mark after he banged up his knee against the Vikings. But he was a full participant in practice Thursday and said ``no, none whatsoever'' when asked if there was any question he'd play.

``We were hoping that, come this time, everyone would be together and ready to go and we are,'' Nelson said. ``And we look forward to the opportunity.''

Notes: Coach Mike McCarthy said there won't be a rep count on Charles Woodson, who will be playing his first game since breaking his collarbone Oct. 21. ``We're going to let him play and communicate on the sidelines and make sure he's OK,'' McCarthy said. ``He's been really pushing the conditioning really the last five or six weeks and he has been practicing the last four weeks. It's just that transition to the games.'' ... CB Tramon Williams missed Thursday's practice with the flu.


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Eagles' Michael Bennett allegedly injured elderly worker; arrest warrant issued

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Eagles' Michael Bennett allegedly injured elderly worker; arrest warrant issued

Philadelphia Eagles lineman Michael Bennett has been indicted on felony abuse for allegedly pushing an elderly NRG Stadium worker during Super Bowl LI.

Bennett was indicted by the Harris County, Texas district attorney's office for injury to the elderly — which is intentionally and knowingly causing injury to a person 65 years or older, according to a press release from the Harris County Sheriffs' Office.

A warrant has been issued for Bennett's arrest.

The 66-year-old paraplegic stadium worker was attempting to control field access when Bennett allegedly pushed her. 

The maximum penalty Bennett faces is ten years in prison in addition to a $10,000 fine.


Bennett — whose brother Martellus played in that Super Bowl for New England — was a member of the Seattle Seahawks during the incident and was in attendance as a noncompetitive player.

The NFL has been made aware of the situation and is looking into the matter, according to Pro Football Talk.

The 32-year-old 10-year NFL veteran could potentially face NFL discipline under the league's personal conduct policy. 


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Wizards host students from Stoneman Douglas High School ahead of 'March For Our Lives'

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Wizards host students from Stoneman Douglas High School ahead of 'March For Our Lives'

With a march on Washington planned for this weekend following the mass shooting in Parkland, FL, students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School were invited by the Wizards to attend their Friday morning practice at Capital One Arena.

About 20 of the kids showed up to watch the Wizards practice, took pictures with players, got a tour of the facilities and walked away with Wizards hats and gear. It was a small break away from what has been a tumultous time ever since the massacre at their school on Feb. 14.

Wizards majority owner Ted Leonsis was on hand to speak with the students, who are set to lead the 'March For Our Lives' through downtown Washington on Saturday.


Wizards guard Bradley Beal met with the media after taking photos with the students.

"For us to be able to take their mind off of it for just a few minutes is always a great feeling," Beal said. "At the end of the day, we're all human beings regardless of our careers are and what our jobs are. A lot of us have families, kids, brothers and sisters. The last thing that you want to happen is what happened to several of those families. You can never imagine."

Beal went to college in Florida and has participated in his own forms of activism. He has found inspiration in the efforts by Stoneman Douglas students. They have taken what happened to their school as a catalyst for what they hope produces change in the ability to protect similar attacks from happening again.


Beal, 24, finds that admirable.

"It's amazing sometimes to learn from the youth on how to do things," Beal said. "It's a testament to where our world needs to lead to, to where we need to get to and to come together as a society. It starts with us as the younger generation. We've gotta come together with love and do things like this. I think what they're doing is awesome. It's spreading positive vibes and it's true humanitarian work that they're doing."

The Stoneman Douglas students are expected to attend Friday night's Wizards-Nuggets game as well.

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