21

August

Talking Packers With ESPN Radio and Pigskin Paul

I was on the air with CHAD HOLMES @ ESPN Radio 100.5 in Wausau last night and he brought up a plethora of PACKERS questions for discussion. Since there is no posting of the show to send you to I thought I’d summarize some of our topics that might be of interest to PACKERS fans.

We discussed the lack of off-season OTAs and such this year, and whether or not it hurts the PACKERS, or gives them a slight advantage as an experienced, defending Super BOwl squad. Other than teams with new coaching staffs I think the PACKERS as a team will be hurt by the 4+ months of no contact. I say that primarily because under the TED THOMPSON regime this team relies of developing younger players to develop into starters.

Any time they lost that could have spent working with young guys like NICK McDONALD, FRANK ZOMBO, MARSHALL NEWHOUSE, JAMES STARKS, et al (not to mention their Rookies) can’t be regained. And progress lost, though hard to gauge, is a consequence of the Lockout. If the team should suffer through an injury plagued campaign such as last year, then time not spent developing these back-ups could be felt on the field of play.

 

I reiterated that i felt the two places the PACKERS face a personnel challenge this season could be the DL and ILB positions. AFter HAWK & BISHOP I see ROBERT FRANCOIS & D.J. SMITH (R) as the next men up. I see lots to like abut both these young guys, but i am not sure how effective they would be if called upon to play a lot early in the season because of injury to the starters.

Between knucklehead JOLLY and VFA loss JENKINS I am also a bit concerned about the DL rotation. That has become especially true with early injury issues with MIKE NEAL who was slotted to start in place of JENKINS. “next Man Up” is the football rallying cry, but right now HOWARD GREEN, JARIUS WYNN & LAWRENCE GUY don’t look like fill-in candidates that inspire Super Bowl repeat visions in my head.

 

CHAD wondered if I felt RYAN GRANT was still the man at RB, or if he would see diminished touches in deference to STARKS & ALEX GREEN (R). I feel pretty strongly that GRANT is the man if healthy. STARKS & GREEN should see the field and touch the ball, but i think those two guys are primarily fighting for the JACKSON role as the 3rd Down RB. ALso don’t forget that JOHN KUHN, though realistically a FB type, could see some regular touches once the team gets inside the 10-yard line.

 

A hot button topic also seems to be whether or not the team should trade MATT FLYNN, and what his trade value might be at this point. I think PACKERS fans are overrating his value around the league right now. He has improved greatly in his 3 years in Green Bay, but he has thrown a total of  83  passes in his NFL career. There would be some teams out there willing to acquire his potential, but I’d be pleasantly surprised to get anything more than a Round 4 DRAFT Pick.

More importantly, if A-RODGE goes down, after FLYNN has been traded, exactly who is going to [play QB for the PACK? I have not heard any proclamations from MIKE McC that GRAHAM HARRELL is ready to start in the NFL… yet. A Play-Off team has got to have a solid back-up in place to keep the train from leaving the tracks completely if their starting QB goes down for more than a week. I cannot imagine MATT FLYNN not being on the roster come September.

 

We discussed the Rookie impact of RANDALL COBB for the 2011 season. GIven the Lockout residue i would be surprised if we see Mike McC slot in much, if any, Wildcat type plays for COBB this season. I think his main role will be as a Punt Returner, where he could be a huge upgrade over recent guys trying to fill that role. He should also see some time as a slot receiver, and touch the ball on reverse type action, maybe even with the pass option being a reasonable possibility. I can’t see him moving past DRIVER, JENNINGS, JONES &NELSON, but injuries do happen an guys miss playing time. They will try to get him as ready as possible to step in/up when the time comes.

I also expressed fascination, and anticipation, with the weapon potential of D.J. WILLIAMS, whom I see as a very versatile and fascinating “toy” for McCARTHY to blend into his Offense. I love WILLIAMS hands, speed for his size, and attitude toward the game of football. He should fit well into the locker room ,and perhaps out on the grass sooner than many people think. I’ll be watching D.J. closely over the next month, and hopefully beyond.

 

I have been wondering since the DRAFT, who the PACK was grooming to replace SCOTT WELLS at the OC position. They have tried to groom replacements for him pretty much since WHITEY came to town but between WELLS’ determination, and injuries to his would-be challengers he is still the starter and doing a better than adequate job. But he is undersized, and now 30-years old, neither of which is a good thing in WHITEY’s world.

I know the current depth chart lists NICK McDONALD as being in the battle for an OG slot, but I still have the feeling he is the projected starter at OC for 2012. And don’t tell me they aren’t thinking of next season yet. TED THOMPSON is always looking years down the road, when it come to personnel issues.

 

We ran out of time to discuss players I felt might surprise a lot of fans, and make strong roster pushes this month. WE can get into more detail later, but here are my 6 surprise roster contenders for you:

JOSH GORDY/CB Yr 2

RAY DOMINQUEZ/OL    RFA

TORI GURLEY/WR    RFA

‘PEANUT’ JOSEPH/ILB    RFA

SHAKY SMITHSON/WR/PR    RFA

VIC SO’OTO/OLB    RFA

 

I am not including Drafted Rookies or vets who actually spent time on the active roster last year. Let’s see how this list holds up over 3 more weeks of Pre-Season.

 

And one other thing to keep in mind. Even though this team is a defending Super Bowl champ don’t be surprised when they are still one of the youngest rosters in the League come September. WHITEY jettisoned 20 players, most of them seasoned vets, off the PACKERS roster right after the CBA was signed.

That was to make room for another strong group of 16 Rookie Free Agents to go along with 10 Draftees. Combine that with another 18 second-year men and you already account for about 50% of the entire Training Camp roster. Mark my words… there will more vet names to appear on cut lists for this team between now and September. Youth will prevail, and fuel a very hungry team going into the 2011 season.

16 Responses to “Talking Packers With ESPN Radio and Pigskin Paul”

  1. Ed Schoenfeld says:

    Sounds like you had a great conversation. Thank you for posting.

    I’ll suggest Chastin West over Gurley, at least right now.

    Also, arent those rookies ‘undrafted freee agents (UDFA) , not restricted Free Agents (RFA)? To be restricted, they need to have service years in the NFL . . .

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  2. Pigskin Paul says:

    Sorry to all for any confustion with acronyms like VFA, RFA,etc. I have a habit of referring to undrafted Rookies as RFA, Rookie free Agebts. Techinically that;s stealing a label and I did not intend to confuse anyone.
    Pigskin Paul

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  3. homerunsimpson says:

    ryan grant might leave in free agency next year. he will be 29 and looking for a big contract. if james starks avoids injury he looks really good, and with up and coming alex green… plus UDFA brandon saine looks like a guy who could do something someday. this looks like it could be grant’s last year.

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    • Jersey Al Jersey Al says:

      I think Green will be the reason the Packers let Grant walk… he is going to be a good one.

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      • homerunsimpson says:

        just out of curiosity, you mentioned you think green will be better than both starks and grant. thats a pretty bold statement with only 1 preseason game under his belt… why do you think that?

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        • Jersey Al Jersey Al says:

          1) I like bold statements.
          2) Seriously, he has the moves and the shake we haven’t seen in Green Bay since the last Green that carried the ball. yet, he is big, strong and tough to bring down. that’s a combination I just love. I’ve watched plenty of his college tape and fell in love (with the football part).

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          • homerunsimpson says:

            true. still, starks is a one cut back who hits the hole hard and runs violently. i think hes great for our system (zone blocking). i see kuhn and green being our 3rd down backs this year, well see what happens with green in the future

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        • Oppy says:

          Homerrunsimpson,

          Just watching his college highlight reel is enough to make me excited. Yes, he ran out of a wide-open spread offense and the holes he had on most of the runs were H-U-G-E gaping holes. That being said, you can only watch the RUNNER do his RUNNING, nothing we can do to make his holes tighter and increase the traffic… Oh, and he’s shown good receiving skills as well.

          Like Al, there were a number of things that jumped off the film reel at me.

          Namely, when he gets the ball, he makes a decision, makes a cut, and gets north and south immediately… He has surprising burst for a big back…He has a knack for using his available blocks to their fullest.. He has just enough shimmy to juke the first defender out of his jock.. He then typically finds a way to break through the first contact, or at least lurch forward for an extra 2-5 yards on contact.

          The impressive thing is, you see almost all of these things in almost every run on his highlight reel.

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  4. Mojo says:

    Has anyone (in their right mind) brought up the possiblity of placing Dominquez on the D-line? This would give him Havner like versatility. He seems to have the body type of the big bubbas already employed on inside D-line.

    Just trying to think outside the box. – All right, forget it.

    I don’t think Shakey will makey the roster. They already have Cobb and Green for kick returns and a glut of receivers. Plus he hasn’t shown much in the limited action he’s had in preseason.

    I get the impression the Pack likes So’oto.

    Don’t see the others on your list,(6 roster contenders) other than Gordy, making it though.

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  5. iccyfan says:

    PP – Dominguez has been getting his @ss handed to him in the one-on-one drills, but I understand the same happened to McDonald last season and he stuck. What is it you see in Ray D that makes you think he’s more than practice squad material? Next, no love for Diondre Borel? I’ve read he has the right attitude and makes some plays in camp. While it’ll NEVER happen, imagine a double reverse pass with Borel & Randall Cobb lined up on the field… :)

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  6. bdiggity says:

    Chad Holmes knows nothing about anything. Ruins my day hearing his voice. Just sayin’. Chastin West couldn’t make the team the last two years and a fluke play doesn’t mean he’s all of a sudden a talent. Stash Borel and Gurley due to their larger upside. Another year with a playbook and practice, they’ll be far and away better players than West ever will.

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    • Jersey Al Jersey Al says:

      I’ve never heard Chad Holmes so i can’t comment to that, but to be clear, the thoughts here are Paul’s not Chad Holmes’. Secondly, I tend to agree with you that Gurley is the long-term keeper. I’ve liked him from the day they signed him.

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