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August

Packers Training Camp Rewind: RB Brandon Saine

Packers RB Brandon Saine

I could have easily titled this post “Brandon Saine: The New Brandon Jackson?” or “Brandon Saine Could Be Packers Third Down Back,” because that’s exactly what he’s shaping up to be. Though, in all fairness, I actually think he could be better than Jackson used to be.

Saine was picked up by the Green Bay Packers in 2011 as an undrafted rookie out of Ohio State. Though he was released in the final cuts, the Packers signed him to the practice squad, where he stayed until being promoted to the active roster halfway through the season. His first significant appearance came in the Thanksgiving Day showdown against the Detroit Lions, and Saine would later go on to see some significant playing time against the New York Giants and the Lions rematch.

According to ProFootballFocus.com, these are some of the stats for Saine in the seven games he appeared in:

Snaps 78
Run 19
Pass 38
Run Block 12
Pass Block 9
Run Attempts 19
Run Yards 72
Yds. / Attempt 3.8
Pass Targets 11
Receptions 10
Catch % 90.9%
Receiving Yards 69
Yds. / Reception 6.9
Yards After Catch 78
YAC / Reception 7.8
Touchdowns 0
QB Sacks 1
QB Hits 0
QB Hurries 0

 

When I went back to watch some of the game film from last year, I focused on Saine’s two prominent appearances: Week 13 vs. Giants and Week 17 vs. Lions. The thing to jump out at me first was his ability to pick up the blitz.

While there wasn’t a large sample size to work with in regards to pass protection, you have to enjoy seeing him crack the extra pass rusher like he did there. He meets the linebacker dead on, with good timing, and stays low to maintain leverage.

Side Note: The single sack allowed by Saine last season was in the Divisional Round of the playoffs against New York. It came in the fourth quarter against a fast edge rush by OLB Michael Boley that just so happened to get the better of James Starks earlier in the game on the same move and also for a sack. Not an excuse, but it is noteworthy.

It just so happens that the next play in the drive highlights a few things about Saine that I really like in the passing game. Take a look:

Saine is their biggest weapon in the screen game, if you ask me. Not only does he sell the screen very well, but his timing is also impeccable. There were a couple other screens he ran during the season that demonstrated the exact same traits, too. Even beyond that, though, is what he did after he caught the ball. Saine allows Lang to set up the block then quickly picks his point of attack, gets low, and bursts forward.

Which brings us to our finally clip:

This really highlights the final trait that I like about Saine: he is relentless every single time he touches the ball. In a way, it reminds me of John Kuhn. He keeps his shoulders low and his feet moving until he’s on the ground, and he hits his holes hard.

Saine’s skills could make him an ideal third-down back, especially if he improves in pass protection, but I don’t think it has to end there. He plays to the end of his runs and pushes forward the entire way. Saine’s hands are exceptional, and his asset to the screen game could take him far. While he’s no Ray Rice, he’s the kind of consistent, dependable running back the Packers like.

Brandon Saine will, unfortunately, be out for the San Diego game due to a hamstring injury, but his performance in practice has been noted by Mike McCarthy: “Brandon Saine is ‘Mr. Consistent.’ He does it every day. He’s such a pro for a young player. Doesn’t say much. He’s strictly business. I just love his approach. He’s made the gains physically from Year 1 to Year 2. I think he’s having an excellent camp.”

I fully expect Saine to be on the Packers 53-man starting roster for the season, and I’m looking forward to how he progresses during the rest of camp once his injury has healed.

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Chad Toporski, a Wisconsin native and current Pittsburgh resident, is a writer for AllGreenBayPackers.com. You can follow Chad on twitter at @ChadToporski

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18 Responses to “Packers Training Camp Rewind: RB Brandon Saine”

  1. FourEyesBrewing says:

    Fantastic post. I love when people pull clips from film to highlight their point. Very helpful and informative. I wish I could read posts (and watch clips) like this every day.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

    • Chad Toporski Chad Toporski says:

      Thanks. We’re hoping we can get some more film study up this year, so please keep coming back! :-)

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  2. Mr. Bacon Mr. Bacon says:

    I find stats misleading, but in the final clip you can see why Saine earned those stats. If you pause somewhere around the :06 mark, Saine had a very slim hole to use.

    In the past, and the big knock with Grant, was that he always seemed to mostly run into his blockers because he had trouble finding the hole so he would make these moves to create one big enough.

    I have yet to see Saine yet with a legitimate big time touchdown play. By legitimate I am talking about a 40+ yard type of play and not a pure power red zone td although he has no touchdowns yet.

    However back to the running play, he was able to identify a hole and make the proper cut for a modest 3-4 yard gain. Now this may not be glamorous but it’s a productive running play.

    Whoever is going to be the running back this year I just want to see one thing, vision. I don’t care if they are speedy or powerful. Make one cut or none, don’t try to dance side to side. Plunge through the line with your momentum and try to gain some big time yards.

    If we can develop a constant rushing attack, then I think we will have less sacks this year.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

    • Chad Toporski Chad Toporski says:

      He actually gets clipped by Suh going through that hole… But yes, Saine is decisive and when he goes, he goes hard.

      The other note about the stats is that the only non-catch of his 11 targets was a ball that Rodgers threw too short. Again, small sample size, yet it shows a lot of promise in the passing game.

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      • Mr. Bacon Mr. Bacon says:

        I would not be surprised. If you dumb down the passing game to a core for the Packers, it should be really effective. The concept of RB’s and Screen plays are base on the face that the Passing Offense is deadly so the Defense will try to counter with Blitzs. That’s where the Screens come into play, they are Countering the Defense’s Counter-Attacks.

        I think that makes Saine like Brandon Jackson, but Brandon Jackson seemed to lack a certain thing about him. It wasn’t his athletics, but he seemed to be in a sense too lenient after the catch. He seemed to be overconfident that he wouldn’t be taken down easily.

        I don’t see that with Saine. As of right now though, I don’t see Saine starter potential yet but he gives me the look of someone who can be special if he dedicates himself. Maybe by the end of the year he will assert himself to become a true playmaker for the offense next season.

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        • Chad Toporski Chad Toporski says:

          Jackson always seemed to be hesitant in picking his hole. Saine, I think, is definitely a downhill runner, but he makes decisions quickly, plants, and goes.

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  3. Wagszilla says:

    Most complete RB on the team.

    Saine, FTW.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • Chad Toporski Chad Toporski says:

      He’s not the brightest bulb in the group, but he definitely flickers less.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

      • Wagszilla says:

        I think my fellow Packer fans are seriously undervaluing what Brandon Saine brings to the table.

        He’s an inferior runner compared to Starks and lacks the quickness/agility of Green but still has many assets that could help make the offense more explosive.

        1. His Hands
        According to Aaron Rodgers he has the best hands on the team. This alone puts him above all the other backs on the roster and makes him a serious threat. The Patriots never ran the ball too much instead they’d “pass to run” with their RBs. I can’t recall the older backs’ names but recently they’ve done it with Ben Jarvis Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead. A short passing game to the running backs is a missing element from this offense. Another example where this is employed to great effect is in New Orleans w/ Darren Sproles.

        2. His Brain
        Given his past history, he’s an ideal candidate in pass protection not just picking up the blitz but stopping linemen in their tracks. Starks has been hit-or-miss and that’s dangerous with the best player in the NFL under center. Protect the franchise, for goodness sake.

        3. His size
        His size makes his more effective in the aforementioned pass-protection but it also offers other utility, notably run blocking. Remember the bone? Well we don’t have Quinn Johnson anymore but we do have Brandon Saine. Couple Kuhn with Saine and these big guys are helping to spring Alex Green, James Starks, or Randall Cobb loose.

        Also, Kuhn on 3rd and short or on the goal line has become terribly predictable. Instead, hand off to Saine or sneak him out the back for a pass in the flat. Another threat defenses have to be aware of.

        4. He plays Special Teams

        I’m (clearly) big on Saine. He’s got a William Henderson thing going on and as I’ve argued, will prove to be a big asset once he gets a handle on the offense and is given more opportunities.

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        • Chad Toporski Chad Toporski says:

          I suppose I should have clarified… He’s not the best “runner” on the team, but as you noted, he does all of those other things exceptionally.

          Truth be told, the more I watched him play, the more I liked him. I was trying not to be too effusive in my post, especially since I don’t have the best eyes for what makes a good running back… though I am slowly getting better. ;)

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  4. Ron LC says:

    Now that he’s out with an injury (severity unkown),I just hope the 3 perpetually injured RB’s have the decency to get injured at alternate times. Taylor will take his place tomorrow.

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    • Mr. Bacon Mr. Bacon says:

      Not just the Packers, the NFL. It seems Training Camp has become CAMP BLOOD. Everyday someone is going out with a serious injury. We haven’t even gotten to the first NFL-wide preseason game and it seems the Injury Roster is filling up with bodies.

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    • Chad Toporski Chad Toporski says:

      That is the one nice thing about a RB by committee approach… one injury doesn’t spell doom. As long as Saine’s hamstring doesn’t recur, I won’t worry much.

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  5. Spiderpack says:

    That idiot Bill Johnson said today, in his oh so redneck, ass-filled way, that Saine would be cut at the end of camp. There’s no f’n way. Amongst everything else you’ve carefully illustrated for us, Saine’s 40 time was 4.39, and if he can spice up his open field shiftiness & vision, he could be a hell of lot more than a serviceable third down back. And lets keep in mind too that he does not have much experience running the ball either with the Pack or at OSU–he may still be developing his style.

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    • Mojo says:

      Outside of an injury situation there’s no chance Saine gets cut. It would be nice if the frequent Cousins sub of the day; Zach Heilprin, would become Wildes permanent sidekick on G&G.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

    • Chad Toporski Chad Toporski says:

      While I think the contrast between Wilde and Johnson can be good for radio, there are definitely times I just turn off the podcast because I can’t stand listening to Johnson’s ranting.

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  6. Ron LC says:

    Baring injury, Saine is a solid, steady performer at RB. He’ll stay if hamstring is not serious.

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