Clin­ton-Dix brushes off side­line scene

Packer Plus - - Packers Notebook - By TOM SILVERSTEIN Beat writ­ers Bob McGinn and Michael Co­hen contributed to this re­port.

Be­fore he apol­o­gized on Twit­ter for giv­ing vet­eran line­backer Julius Pep­pers a piece of his mind, Green Bay Pack­ers safety Ha Ha Clin­tonDix tried to make it seem like his side­line out­burst was just an at­tempt to fire up his team­mate.

“That’s what he said?” Pep­pers said af­ter the game. “Oh.”

It was pretty clear from the video Fox showed dur­ing the broad­cast of the Pack­ers’ 37-29 loss to the Car­olina Pan­thers that he was do­ing more than just giv­ing him a pep talk. Pep­pers re­acted an­grily to Clin­ton-Dix’s com­ments and even­tu­ally nose tackle B.J. Raji shoved the safety away.

The ar­gu­ment came af­ter the Pan­thers scored their fi­nal touch­down with 9 min­utes, 22 sec­onds left in the fourth quar­ter.

“Just re­ally emo­tion,” Clin­ton-Dix told a cou­ple of re­porters af­ter the game. “Just talk­ing to him, telling him to keep us go­ing and keep us pumped up. That was it, just a lot of emo­tion, a lot of things go­ing on.”

Pep­pers was sitting on the bench when Clin­ton-Dix ap­proached him. He stood up and was in a de­fen­sive pos­ture as though he was de­fend­ing him­self ver­bally as Clin­ton-Dix con­fronted him.

Sec­onds later, Raji came to Pep­pers’ de­fense, rais­ing his arm and point­ing for Clin­tonDix to get out of that area of the bench. Clin­ton-Dix said some­thing to Raji that an­gered him and he shoved the safety as team­mates Mike Pen­nel and Mor­gan Bur­nett in­ter­vened.

Bur­nett gave Clin­ton-Dix a bear hug and es­corted him out of the area.

Bur­nett and then later safeties coach Dar­ren Perry came over to talk to Clin­ton-Dix, and Pen­nel and Sam Shields, who was not dressed for the game, tried to calm Raji. So what hap­pened? “It’s an in-house thing, and it’s up to us to take care of it,” Raji said.

Asked why Raji shoved him out of the way, Clin­ton-Dix said:

“You have to take that up with B.J. I don’t know what’s wrong with B.J. Just a lot of emo­tions. B.J. was pumped and try­ing to make some plays and things are hap­pen­ing. Some­times you get the best of it, but it got us turned up a lit­tle bit.”

Af­ter the Pack­ers left the locker room, Clin­ton-Dix took to Twit­ter to apol­o­gize for his be­hav­ior.

“I apol­o­gize for my play and side­lines is­sues,” he tweeted. “We are good just two emo­tional guys with heart and pas­sion try­ing to find away to win.” A sec­ond tweet said: “I will never dis­re­spect a HOF player and a guy I’ve been watch­ing since I was a lit­tle kid. Mis­un­der­stand­ing, I apol­o­gize to my packer Fans.”

Coach Mike McCarthy down­played the in­ci­dent, say­ing it didn’t worry him.

“It is foot­ball,” he said. “Things hap­pen on the side­lines. I think of it as once again, go back to my an­swer be­fore, I think it is a prod­uct of us not play­ing to our stan­dard and some­times things like that hap­pen. I have no con­cerns.”

Lacy OK: The good news for Pack­ers run­ning back Ed­die Lacy is that the groin in­jury he suf­fered against Car­olina on Sun­day doesn’t ap­pear se­ri­ous.

Lacy went through a reg­u­lar work­out Mon­day with the rest of the team, and there’s a chance he will be ready to prac­tice this week.

The bad news for Lacy is that James Starks is healthy and on a roll.

When the Pack­ers play the Detroit Lions on Sun­day, the of­fen­sive coach­ing staff will have to make a de­ci­sion whether to go with Starks as the pri­mary run­ner or stick with Lacy in an at­tempt to get him out of a long slump.

“My job’s get­ting our play­ers ready and if they’re go­ing through a tough spot to try to make them bet­ter,” McCarthy said. “They don’t come much bet­ter than Ed­die Lacy. He’s an ex­cel­lent team­mate. He’s happy-go-lucky.

“There’s things he’s not do- ing very well right now, and he’s work­ing to cor­rect them. It’s my job to help him.”

It’s also McCarthy’s job to win games, and as he said dur­ing his Mon­day news con­fer­ence, “Lord knows we haven’t won a game in a while.”

The key to the of­fense’s strug­gles the past two weeks — be­sides fac­ing two of the best de­fenses in the NFL — may start with the in­abil­ity to run the ball. Hav­ing a rush­ing at­tack would at least help keep op­pos­ing pass rush­ers from mak­ing a bee­line straight at quar­ter­back Aaron Rodgers.

Starks pro­vided a spark with both his run­ning and re­ceiv­ing.

In the run­ning game, he fin­ished with just 39 yards on 10 car­ries, but on a cou­ple of runs he read his blocks well and made solid cut­backs. In the pass game, he had six re­cep­tions for 83 yards and a touch­down, most of it on screens.

“James Starks has done an out­stand­ing job, so he de­serves the right for play­ing time,” of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Edgar Ben­nett said. “It was ob­vi­ous in yes­ter­day’s game with his over­all pro­duc­tion.

“Ed­die, he’ll have more op­por­tu­ni­ties. I guess yes­ter­day was re­ally more in­jury-re­lated than any­thing else. We’ve def­i­nitely got to get him go­ing.”

Lacy, who has fought an an­kle prob­lem since Week 2, has 78 yards rush­ing on 33 car­ries (2.36 avg.) over the last four games. Worse yet, he has a fum­ble in each of his last three games, the lone turnover in the sec­ond quar­ter against the Pan­thers.

First im­pres­sions: Just be­cause rookie Jake Ryan had a team-lead­ing 10 tack­les doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily mean he has taken over Nate Palmer’s spot at in­side line­backer.

Palmer was benched in the first half against the Pan­thers, and Ryan filled his spot next to Clay Matthews the rest of the game. Ryan and Palmer will prob­a­bly have to bat­tle it out in prac­tice this week to see who starts against Detroit.

“Just OK,” McCarthy said when asked about Ryan’s per­for­mance. “He had some pro­duc­tiv­ity, but it wasn’t as clean as he would like and as we like.”

Quar­less near­ing re­turn: This is the week that tight end An­drew Quar­less can re­turn to prac­tice af­ter be­ing placed on in­jured re­serve / des­ig­nated to re­turn six weeks ago.

Once he starts prac­tic­ing, Quar­less has a two-week win­dow to work be­fore the Pack­ers have to de­cide whether to ac­ti­vate him or keep him on in­jured re­serve.

Quar­less said that his in­jured knee has re­sponded well and that he was hop­ing to be cleared so he could be­gin prac­tic­ing.

The ear­li­est he can par­tic­i­pate in a game would be Thanks­giv­ing night against Chicago.

In­jury re­port: Cor­ner­back Casey Hay­ward is in the concussion pro­gram and will need to pass sev­eral tests be­fore he’ll be al­lowed back on the field.

McCarthy did not ad­dress the sta­tus of Shields (shoul­der) and Quin­ten Rollins (neck), but both have a chance to re­turn this week. The Pack­ers found them­selves play­ing rookie Da­mar­i­ous Ran­dall and sec­ond-year pro Demetri Good­son at the two start­ing cor­ner­back po­si­tions af­ter Hay­ward went out.

House clean­ing: Pan­thers quar­ter­back Cam New­ton said he was not about to let Bank of Amer­ica Sta­dium be­come Lam­beau South.

That’s why in pregame warmups, he went up to a ban­ner that was hang­ing over the rail­ing and ripped it down.

“It was a Green Bay ban­ner in Bank of Amer­ica Sta­dium,” New­ton said. “It just doesn’t match. No dis­re­spect to any Green Bay Packer. It’s just a re­spect thing. We take pride in hav­ing the edge of play­ing in Bank of Amer­ica Sta­dium, play­ing in front of the Caroli­nas each and ev­ery week.

“It’s my due dili­gence to pro- tect this house. We played in Green Bay last year and I didn’t see any ‘This is Pan­thers Coun­try’ signs in their sta­dium. Ei­ther some­body was go­ing to have to take it off or I take it off.”

Daniels wait­ing for pay­day: De­fen­sive line­man Mike Daniels has made lit­tle head­way in ne­go­ti­a­tions with the Pack­ers on a new con­tract.

Daniels was ear­marked this year to be their top tar­get among the 14 play­ers sched­uled to be­come un­re­stricted free agents in March.

Mind­ful of the ever-in­creas­ing NFL salary cap, Daniels is seek­ing in the neigh­bor­hood of $10 mil­lion per year, ac­cord­ing to sources, while the Pack­ers hope to land Daniels for sev­eral mil­lion less per year.

Agent Brian Mack­ler is rep­re­sent­ing Daniels in talks with team ne­go­tia­tor Russ Ball.

Daniels has been the Pack­ers’ best de­fen­sive line­man for a sec­ond straight sea­son.

There are about 10 de­fen­sive line­men with roles and weight com­pa­ra­ble to Daniels with con­tracts that av­er­age more than $10 mil­lion.

The list in­cludes Mi­ami’s Ndamukong Suh ($19.1 mil­lion), Hous­ton’s J.J. Watt ($16.7M), Buf­falo’s Mar­cell Dareus ($15.9M), Tampa Bay’s Ger­ald McCoy ($13.6M), Detroit’s Haloti Ngata ($12.2M), Ari­zona’s Calais Camp­bell ($11M), New Or­leans’ Cameron Jor­dan ($11M), Cincin­nati’s Geno Atkins ($10.7M), Pitts­burgh’s Cameron Hey­ward ($10.5M) and San Diego’s Corey Li­uget ($10.25M).

“Why wouldn’t he get $10 (mil­lion)?” an NFL per­son­nel di­rec­tor said this week. “Most of those guys are big­ger, but who’s more dis­rup­tive?

“I think Mike Daniels is a good player. I think he and Li­uget are on a par.”

The Pack­ers have the eighth-most room un­der the salary cap at $10.43 mil­lion.

“It’ll be a slow, te­dious ne­go­ti­a­tion,” said the per­son­nel man. “The loy­alty stuff is out. It’s all about the money.”

Lacy

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