Category Archives: D.J. Smith

22

May

Packers LB Desmond Bishop: DPOY or Playing for a Different Team?

Desmond Bishop

Will Packers LB recover from his injury and be on the team come September?

This story from Tyler Dunne in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel about Packers linebacker Desmond Bishop is extremely well written. After reading it, you can’t help but like the guy even more than you probably already do.

In the story, Bishop says one of his goals is to win defensive player of the year in 2013.

Unfortunately, as entertaining as the story is, it doesn’t really address the main question I have about Bishop as the Packers open OTAs: What are the odds that he’s actually on the team once the season starts?

Reports surfaced during the NFL draft that the Packers were trying to trade Bishop. Several moves the Packers made in the offseason — bringing back A.J. Hawk, re-signing Brad Jones for $4 million, adding another inside linebacker in the draft — made it appear that the Packers might not be too confident in Bishop’s chances of returning from the torn hamstring he suffered last preseason.

“Trade or release Bishop?” you’re probably asking. “But I thought he was supposed to boost the Packers physicality and automatically improve the inside linebacker corp?”

In a perfect world, that’s exactly what would happen. But how perfect is the Packers’ world when it comes to injuries lately? Not very. J.C. Tretter, one of Green Bay’s fourth-round draft picks, just snapped his ankle in a fumble-recovery drill. Two of the past three seasons have seen the team ravaged by injuries. The scuttle around the Packers is that Ted Thompson won’t hesitate to jettison players who are hampered by injuries.

I suppose the release of D.J. Smith last month is a good sign for Bishop staying in Green Bay. Then again, Smith was also coming off a season-ending injury. Perhaps the Packers also won’t hesitate to cut ties with Bishop like they did with Smith if doubts about Bishop’s health linger further into the summer.

Look, it’s still May. This Bishop story has several chapters that have yet to be written. If you want to read another positive piece on Bishop’s outlook, check this out from Jason Hirschhorn at Acme Packing Company.

Dunne and Hirschhorn’s rosy outlook on Bishop could very well prove to be true. I hope it does. A healthy Bishop playing like he did in 2011 would do wonders for the defense.

24

April

Packers Release RB Brandon Saine and LB DJ Smith

Brandon Saine and DJ Smith

Saine and Smith were both released by the Packers on Wednesday

According to the Green Bay Packers team website, the team has released running back Brandon Saine and linebacker DJ Smith. The transactions were announced by Packers GM Ted Thompson.

Both were lost to season-ending knee injuries last season and even more ironically, during the same week six game against the Houston Texans.  Both players reportedly failed a physical exam.

Saine appeared in a handful of games in 2011 and 2012.  He was acquired as an undrafted free agent out of Ohio State in 2011.

Smith was drafted in 2011 with one of the team’s three sixth-round pick.  Smith played in 22 games and had claimed a starting role after the loss of inside linebacker Desmond Bishop during the 2012 pre season.  Smith appeared in six games in 2012 before suffering a season-ending knee injury at Houston in Week 6.

 

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15

March

Packers News: A.J. Hawk restructures contract

Packers LB A.J. Hawk

Packers LB A.J. Hawk

A.J. Hawk has agreed to restructure the final three years of his contract with the Packers, according to Rob Demovsky of the Green Bay Press-Gazette.

In 2011, the team cut Hawk before re-signing him to a five-year, $33.75 million deal.

Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel tweeted that Hawk’s contract was, in fact, restructured, and that the result was a pay cut. Silverstein went on to say that Hawk wasn’t thrilled about taking a pay cut, but the move will allow him to play in Green Bay for three more years.

Hawk was the fifth overall pick in the 2006 NFL Draft, the pick after the Jets took tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson and just before the 49ers took tight end Vernon Davis. He hasn’t performed up to his draft position, but he’s only missed two games in his seven-year NFL career.

One could argue that 2012 was Hawk’s best season as a professional. Although he failed to come up with an interception for the second year in a row, he racked up 120 tackles and three sacks, according to NFL.com.

Hawk was a standout player at Ohio State University, starting 38 of 51 games. He was a unanimous All-American as a junior in 2004 and as a senior in 2005. Hawk also won the Lombardi Award during his senior season at OSU.

At the very least, Hawk restructuring his deal gives the team some insurance at inside linebacker. Desmond Bishop figures to return to the starting lineup in 2013 after missing last season, and third-year player D.J. Smith could compete for a starting job in training camp.

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Marques is a Journalism student, serving as the Sports Editor of UW-Green Bay\'s campus newspaper The Fourth Estate and a Packers writer at Jersey Al\'s AllGBP.com. Follow Marques on Twitter @MJEversoll.

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11

March

If Brad Jones Leaves, Packers Affected More Than You Think

 

Jones has garnered much interest in free agency.  If he departs, Jones could create a big void at inside linebacker for the Packers

Jones has garnered much interest in free agency. If he departs, Jones could create a big void at inside linebacker for the Packers

With free agency somewhat underway in that teams are free to contact players’ agents to discuss a deal, much of the talk in Green Bay has centered around wide receiver Greg Jennings.  Jennings is unquestionably the marquis name out of Green Bay that has very solid potential to be wearing a different uniform this next season.  He has even been debated as the top free agent receiver on the market with Pittsburgh receiver Mike Wallace the other half of that conversation.

But lost in the shuffle are some of the other free-agents-to-be in Green Bay, one of which is linebacker Brad Jones.  According to a piece published by Tom Silverstein of the Journal Sentinel, at least eight other teams have already contacted Jones’ agent.

Jones filled in for the injured DJ Smith in week six last season and remained the starter for the balance of the season.  He did an adequate job in that role and gained some valuable playing time in the defense.  With 2012 being Jones’ fourth in the team’s defensive scheme and with his contributions on special teams, Jones has become a stronger veteran presence on this roster.

Now I’m not saying that Jones is a “must sign”.  If eight teams have already expressed interest, he will surely have some options to choose from, outside of Green Bay, when Tuesday rolls around.  As a reminder, Tuesday is the first day that free agent deals can be finalized.  But in possibly losing Jones, it does change the perspective of what the Packers may do in the draft and in free agency.

Many of you will recall that the Packers are hoping to get solid veteran linebacker Desmond Bishop and third year backer DJ Smith back in 2013.  While there is a good chance that both will return, it is not a given.

Bishop needed to have his hamstring re-attached to the bone.  He has been rehabbing the injury and has expressed his readiness when camp opens this summer, but that is going to be left up to the medical staff.  My guess is that Bishop will be on a snap count initially and so therefore is a bit of a question mark.

9

March

NFL Draft Prospect Profile: Alec Ogletree, ILB Georgia

Alec Ogletree

Alec Ogletree

Green Bay Packers NFL Draft prospect profile: ILB Alec Ogletree

Player Information:

Alec Ogletree, ILB Georgia
6-2, 242 pounds
Hometown: Newnan, Georgia

STATS: College stats

NFL Combine:

40-yard dash: 4.70 seconds
Bench press: 20 reps
Vertical jump: 33.5 inches
Broad jump: 122 inches
3-cone drill: 7.16 seconds
20-yard shuttle: 4.39 seconds

News and Notes:

Suspended the first four games of the 2012 season for violating team rules. … Played safety as a freshman. … Moved to LB for sophomore season and missed six games with a broken foot. … One of the most athletic LBs in the draft. … Had 111 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss and three sacks his final season. … Also broke up five passes, had an interception and blocked a field goal. … Twin brother Alexander played fullback at Georgia.

 What they’re saying about him: 

{pick comments from any draft site you like}

  • NFL.com: “Despite playing the last two years at inside linebacker in the Bulldogs 3-4 defense, it would not be surprising to see Ogletree make the switch to weakside linebacker in a defense that uses a four man front. The reason being is the junior struggles to get over top of blocks but does his best work chasing and closing. Expect the Bulldog to be a three down player if he cuts down on wasted steps. Since Ogletree is expected to impress in workouts, expect him to be a top-50 pick.
  • CBSSports.com: “The junior’s lanky frame (6-3, 234) and staggering closing speed make him a potentially more dynamic player at the next level than Manti Te’o, though Jones isn’t nearly as far along in the subtleties of the position, having only made the switch from safety two years ago.”

Video:

Video Analysis:

  • Nothing stood out in this clip that made me say, “Wow! I really want the Packers to draft this guy!”
  • Small. Could this guy really hold up on the inside of a 3-4 defense? Might be better suited on the outside of a 4-3 defense.
  • Once a lineman gets his hands on him, especially on the second level, it’s all over. Ogletree has no chance and doesn’t really fight with his hands to get off blocks.
  • Seems like he might have more of a go-for-the-big-hit mentality instead of a make-a-good-fundamental-tackle mentality.
21

February

Will the Packers Remain Uncomfortably Married to A.J. Hawk?

AJ Hawk

Cut him or keep him? The Packers might just stay uncomfortably married to AJ Hawk.

The topic of A.J. Hawk gets debated to death by Packers fans every offseason.

Some fans view Hawk as an overpaid bust who has no business on the field. Others view him as a serviceable player even though he hasn’t lived up to his status as a high draft pick. A few delusional fans even think some other team would trade a first or second day draft choice for Hawk.

If I were in charge of the Packers, I’d release Hawk. If released after *June 1, it would save $5.45 million against the salary cap — money that could be used to extend Aaron Rodgers, Clay Matthews and B.J. Raji — and cut ties with a player who hasn’t forced a turnover since 2010 and didn’t break up a single pass in 2012.

Hawk has always been a ho-hum player. I believe the Packers committed to him because they weren’t sure about their other options. The Packers were the 35-year-old woman who married a guy that wasn’t quite perfect, but time was running out and the other options were iffy. Settling on Hawk was better than being left alone and vulnerable (with a house full of cats).

Here’s the big question regarding Hawk’s future in Green Bay: Are there finally some other options for the Packers this offseason?

Desmond Bishop is a high-energy playmaker. D.J. Smith is capable. Brad Jones proved his worth after Bishop and Smith got hurt. Terrell Manning and Jamari Lattimore are young players who could emerge if given a chance. Do those players give the Packers enough confidence to divorce Hawk? What if Thompson drafts a physically gifted middle linebacker early in the draft?

On paper, you would think so. But can Ted Thompson really be swept off his feet by two guys coming off major knee injuries, a career backup (who is also a free agent), two kids who have never played a meaningful snap, or a draft pick?

Perhaps the names are a bit sexier this time around, but when you look beneath the surface, the Packers might decide to stay uncomfortably married to Hawk. He had 157 tackles last season, and he at least tries to play physical, even if he isn’t talented enough to make much of an impact.

20

February

2013 Packers Position Group Analysis: Inside Linebackers

Packers Inside Linebackers:  If nothing else, the 2012 team showed us how deep we are at inside linebacker. After losing two starters in Desmond Bishop and D.J. Smith, the Packers were still able to keep things together with Brad Jones in the lineup. The caveat, however, is that while the group is deep, there are no real “blue chip” players to be found.

(Note: Listen to the combined linebackers podcast at the end of this article:)

Where are we now:

Here are the current suspects:

A.J. Hawk (1st Round, 2006)
Desmond Bishop (6th Round, 2007)
Brad Jones (7th Round, 2009)
Robert Francois (UDFA, 2009)
D.J. Smith (6th Round, 2011)
Jamari Lattimore (UDFA, 2011)
Terrell Manning (5th Round, 2012)

For all the talk of the deficiencies at defensive line and outside linebacker, we seem to forget about the fact that inside linebacker is leaving us with something to be desired. It’s not a horrible group by any means, but there’s also nothing special about it. Desmond Bishop is currently the best player of the bunch, A.J. Hawk isn’t worth his contract weight, D.J. Smith was a bit of a disappointment this year, and despite his solid play, Brad Jones wasn’t much of a playmaker either. Terrell Manning seems to be the current roster’s last shred of hope among an otherwise lackluster crew, but he needs to make it onto the field first and foremost.

  • Hawk: Even though A.J. Hawk had one of his best years in 2012, it was still not great. He’s no Vince Young when it comes to first round busts, but he lacks the playmaking ability and athleticism you would expect from a player drafted at his position. His work ethic and football intelligence have kept him around for seven frustrating years, though it’s clear his salary will be more than his worth in 2013. The Packers could save $5.45 million in cap space by releasing Hawk.
  • Bishop: It’s hard to believe that Desmond Bishop will be going into his seventh season in 2013, because it took him so long to gain a starting role. His lack of consistency held him back until Nick Barnett’s season-ending injury in 2010. Since then, he has proven himself to be a hard-charged thumper that brings an attitude to the defense. More of a red chip than a blue chip player, he is easily the best inside linebacker on the squad right now.