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Tragedy befalls Packers’ troubled Quarless

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DE PERE, Wisc. — With a legal matter and a likely NFL suspension hanging over him, veteran tight end Andrew Quarless revealed Monday why he missed the start of training camp last week.

An emotional Quarless told reporters after Monday’s practice that his daughter died at birth Wednesday. The tragedy came on the camp reporting day for Green Bay’s players.

“It’s the saddest day of my life,” Quarless said.

The returning starter was conspicuously absent from the team’s first practice Thursday and also wasn’t on the field the next day, though head coach Mike McCarthy said Quarless was in Green Bay the entire time.

McCarthy said Thursday that Quarless was dealing with “an extremely difficult family situation” without elaborating.

Quarless practiced for the first time Saturday, albeit in very limited fashion, but didn’t talk to the media until the Packers reconvened Monday after a day off.

“I thank this team for the type of support they have given me to help me get through this,” said Quarless, a sixth-year pro. “I’m just very thankful for these guys. It’s really a family in here … a lot of hugs — (from) the coaching staff, everybody. It’s amazing.”

The death of his newborn came only a few weeks after he was arrested Fourth of July weekend in Miami Beach, Fla., for firing a gun during an argument outside a parking garage. Quarless faces a misdemeanor charge.

With the case against him in South Florida pending, Quarless wouldn’t speculate on whether he’ll be punished by the league.

“It’s hard to really say,” he said. “I don’t want to downplay anything. I don’t want to say anything about that. Only time will tell. I’m here for my guys, and they’re here for me, and that’s the best we can do.”

Quarless said a meeting he had with McCarthy after the incident wasn’t all pleasant.

“He was very upset, very upset,” Quarless said. “I just apologized to him for bringing negativity to this place. We have a great group of character guys. There’s just so much character in this locker room.

“He did tell me to just focus, don’t be too hard on yourself. As a man, you learn, you make mistakes, and you learn from them. His biggest thing is to just stay focused, and I kind of took that into my training (before camp), just tried to focus on my training, trained hard and tried to come back in the best shape I can. That was my main goal.”

And, the biggest lesson for Quarless to come out of that ordeal now that he’s mourning the loss of a child?

“You just can’t take things for granted in life,” he said. “You really can’t take anything for granted.”

–Datone Jones echoed the sentiment in the locker room Monday, when the incumbent starting defensive end made his first public comments since drawing a one-game suspension from the league in early July.

“Football can be taken away from you, and I’m not a young player anymore,” said Jones, entering his third pro season.

The league punished Jones, Green Bay’s first-round draft pick in 2013, for a violation of its substance-abuse policy.

Jones reportedly was ticketed by Green Bay police for marijuana possession in the early morning of Jan. 19, shortly after the Packers returned from Seattle following their stunning overtime loss to the Seahawks in the NFC Championship Game.

Jones issued an apology to the Packers organization and its fans in an opening statement he made at his locker after practice Monday.

“I have to make better decisions, and I have to be accountable to my teammates,” Jones said. “What I do off the field affects them as well. Every day that I leave this facility, every day that I go home, I always try to keep in mind that I’m not only doing this for myself but I’m doing this for teammates as well.”

Jones said he had “no reason” to appeal the suspension, which will keep him from the team the first week of the regular season, including the Sept. 13 opener at the Chicago Bears.

“For me, it was just to move on with the situation, get ready for training camp, make sure my mind was all right for training camp and get ready for Week 2 against Seattle,” Jones said.

“I was pretty hurt about it because I can’t go out there Week 1 against Chicago,” he added. “(But) I did it to myself.”

–Rookie cornerback Quinten Rollins made his camp debut Monday.

Rollins, a second-round draft pick out of Miami (Ohio), had limited work after he was on the non-football injury list because of a hamstring injury he sustained in a pre-camp workout.

Green Bay still has three players on the physically unable to perform list at the outset of camp: veteran linebacker Mike Neal and the undrafted rookie tandem of running back John Crockett and wide receiver Ricky Collins.

The Packers’ depth at receiver has taken a bit of a hit the first week of camp. Jared Abbrederis, who missed his entire 2014 rookie season because of a torn ACL, sustained a concussion on the first day of practice last week and remains out.

“He’s making progress,” McCarthy said Monday.

Undrafted rookie receiver Adrian Coxson also is out with a concussion that forced him to drop out of practice Saturday.

Green Bay added a player to the position by signing rookie free agent Ed Williams on Monday. Williams made 13 starts in three seasons at Division II Fort Hays (Kan.) State after he transferred from Toledo.


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