GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) Jayrone Elliott doesn’t just go by ”No. 91” anymore in the Packers’ locker room. Three sacks in four plays will help get you noticed, even by pass-rushing specialist Clay Matthews.
Elliott’s dream series came in a rather meaningless fourth quarter of a 21-7 preseason win over St. Louis. But maybe, just maybe, the sequence can earn the undrafted rookie more snaps in his long-shot effort to work his way into the crowded outside linebacker rotation.
”It was just crazy, because usually you walk around and they’d be like `What up 91?”’ Elliott said Monday. ”Then they started calling me by name, and calling me `Sackmaster.’
”So, it’s just fun to joke around with Clay and (Julius Peppers), because you know Peppers never really talks to anybody,” Elliott added with a smile.
Elliott’s nice day was overshadowed by the stellar preseason debut of quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who had the up-tempo offense humming along in midseason form. Elliott, who went to Toledo, is taking the ribbing from his feel-good performance in stride.
”I heard he’s starting this weekend in front of me,” Matthews joked after practice Monday.
Not even close. And forget the other side, too, where Peppers is starting.
”We give him a hard time with the amount of success that he had this past week,” Matthews said. ”I’ll be rooting for him.”
If anything, Elliott’s success draws attention to the Packers’ depth at outside linebacker. Start with Matthews, back after missing much of last season with a thumb injury that also limited him in minicamp.
Each week gives Matthews more confidence in using his surgically repaired hand.
”I feel good about it. I think by the time season the rolls around, I’ll be flying out there and making plays and having fun,” Matthews said. ”That’s what I’m doing now, but just a little more crisp.”
The Packers signed Peppers as a free agent to punch up the pass rush. Converted ends Mike Neal and Nick Perry both appear to be healthy again in camp. Andy Mulumba and Nate Palmer got valuable experience last year after injuries to Matthews and Perry, and the Packers also drafted Carl Bradford in the fourth round out of Arizona State.
There might be some tough decisions coming when the roster gets cut.
”Not just the outside linebacker position, but a lot of positions we have to continue to try to work a lot of different combinations,” coach Mike McCarthy said. ”At the end of the day, special teams will be a huge factor in those decisions.”
All of which makes this weekend’s game against Oakland, the Packers’ third of the preseason, all the more important for Elliott and other young players such as receiver Jeff Janis. After missing the first week of practices with shingles, Janis has had an impressive camp, including a 34-yard touchdown last week against the Rams.
Janis might have a better shot at making the roster than Elliott, who in turn realizes he still has a lot of work to do. He’s not letting all those well-wishing text messages he received after the game make him overconfident.
”It was just a bunch of people telling me, `Congratulations, good to finally see you there,”’ Elliott recounted. ”Just a bunch of family members going crazy thinking I’m freaking Clay Matthews.”
NOTES: TE Brandon Bostick suffered what McCarthy called a lower leg injury Saturday that might keep the tight end out a few weeks. Bostick had a foot injury last year in Week 15 that knocked him out for the year. … An interception off a deflection in practice by rookie safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix turned into an entertaining attempt to lateral the ball around to gain extra yards, finally bouncing out of bounds after about three throws.
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