Wisconsin Sports Briefs: So far, so good for Johnny Jolly; Cobb returning kicks…
Green Bay Packers General Manager Ted Thompson said it was his call to bring back defensive end Johnny Jolly after his drug arrests and three-year suspension.
The GM told reporters Tuesday that he thought long and hard about letting Jolly earn his place on the team again. So far, the 30-year-old defensive end has looked pretty good at training camp.
Thompson said Jolly has “some natural ability to play the game. He does things very fluidly and instinctively. The game kind of flows to him.”
Thompson said Jolly has a long way to go in his comeback, but “so far, so good.”
The GM also said he wished Desmond Bishop would have gone somewhere else besides Minnesota. He said Bishop’s release after his 2012 hamstring surgery speaks well to the Packers’ depth at the middle linebacker spots.
Thompson also said he disliked the skirmishes on the field during the training camp scrimmages. In his words, “I don’t see the point – all you’re going to do is risk breaking your hand.”
Thompson added that it’s not at the point in which players are putting their own teammates at risk. The Packers will have their fifth practice at camp today.
Cobb the kick returner for now
If the Green Bay Packers were to open the season tomorrow, Randall Cobb would be the team’s kick returner. That’s what coach Mike McCarthy said after practice Wednesday, the team’s fifth workout at Packer Training Camp.
There’s been talk that the Packers want to take Cobb off the return teams so he can focus on his role as a receiver with Greg Jennings and Donald Driver gone.
McCarthy said Cobb has done an excellent job and he would deserve the starting nod at this point. Cobb has averaged 26.5 yards per kick return and just over 10 yards on punts during his first two seasons with the Pack.
Jeremy Ross showed some potential last year, but McCarthy says he’s looking for someone more consistent.
Others have tried out, but they have not been reliable in handling kicks. Rookie Johnathan Franklin dropped a punt and a kickoff at Wednesday’s practice.
Also, defensive end Johnny Jolly left Wednesday’s practice early with an injured ankle. Linebacker Dezman Moses also missed the workout with a toe injury.
Bucks trade Jennings to Pistons
The Milwaukee Bucks got rid of a potential headache Tuesday and traded point guard Brandon Jennings to Detroit for guard Brandon Knight and two other players.
It was a sign-and-trade deal in which Jennings signed a three-year contract for $24 million. The 21-year-old Knight, from Kentucky, was Detroit’s starting point guard for his first two pro seasons. He averaged 13 points and four assists in those campaigns.
The Bucks also received small forward Khris Middleton and center Viacheslav Kravtsov. Middleton had six points and two rebounds in his rookie season with Detroit last year. Kravtsov averaged three points and almost two boards in 25 games with the Pistons.
Thus ends a productive but sometimes tumultuous four years in Milwaukee for Jennings, who scored 55 points in only his seventh pro game and had averages of 17.5 points and a career-high 6.5 assists last season. He shot less than 30 percent in the Bucks’ season-ending playoff series with Miami in April.
In his final couple years, Jennings expressed desires to move to L.A. or New York. He changed agents in the middle of last season and was later at odds occasionally with former Bucks coach Jim Boylan.
Jennings was a restricted free agent this summer but received no offers. Milwaukee gave Jennings a one-year, $4.5 million qualifying offer a month ago.
Bucks sign first-round draft choice
The Bucks signed their first-round draft choice yesterday. Small forward Giannis Antetokounmpo from Greece signed a rookie contract which pays him $3.6 million in his first two seasons.
The 18-year-old Antetokounmpo was the youngest player taken in the June NBA draft, and was the 15th overall pick. He averaged eight points and 7.5 rebounds in 10 games for his native Greece in the recent under 20 European championships.
Also, the Bucks signed shooting guard Gary Neal Tuesday. The free-agent is getting a two-year deal worth $6.5 million. Neal was a key backup for San Antonio the past three seasons, and he hit six three-pointers in Game 3 of the NBA Finals against Miami. The Spurs made him a qualifying offer, but later withdrew it when they signed Marco Belinelli.
Bucks General Manager John Hammond has changed two-thirds of his roster in the past month. The only five players who are still around from last season are Larry Sanders, Ersan Ilyasova, Ekpe Udoh, John Henson and Ish Smith.
Details of Braun’s suspension emerge
We’re now learning that Ryan Braun committed two major violations before getting his season-ending 65-game suspension last week.
The Associated Press said the Brewers’ slugger was punished for violating both the Major League drug policy and the terms of the basic agreement for conduct detrimental or prejudicial to the best interests of baseball.
The AP said Braun got a 50-game suspension as a first-time drug offender, and 15 games for the detrimental conduct clause.
The basic agreement violation was reportedly tied to Braun’s 2012 spring training speech in which he blamed Dino Laurenzi for mishandling his drug test and called the testing program “fatally flawed.”
Officials have not said how Braun violated the drug policy, but ESPN said the Bio-Genesis clinic put Braun on a “PED regimen for high-end clients” starting in the 2011 season.