Category Archives: Vic So’oto

2

January

Packers vs. Lions: 5 Observations from Green Bay’s 45-41 Win over Detroit

Packers QB Matt Flynn broke several franchise records Sunday. (Photo: Tom Lynn, JSOnline)

Backup quarterback Matt Flynn threw six touchdowns in relief of a deactivated Aaron Rodgers Sunday, leading the Green Bay Packers to a 45-41 shootout win over the Detroit Lions in Week 17 at Lambeau Field.

Here are five observations from the Packers’ win:

1. Cha-Ching 

In throwing for a Packers’ record in both passing yards (480) and touchdowns (six), Matt Flynn vaulted himself to the top of the 2012 free agent quarterback class. He’ll become a rich man sometime this summer, as there will likely be at least one quarterback-needy team that pays big money to Flynn despite only two NFL starts.

Any chance of the Packers trying to re-sign as a backup him went out the window Sunday. He’s ready to start, and that’s not happening in Green Bay. It’ll be interesting to see how the Packers approach the impending situation this offseason, however. They could choose to let Flynn walk and simply net the compensatory pick in next year’s draft. Or, they could franchise tag him and then pursue a trade, which gives them control over the compensation and location. I don’t think any team in the division is a threat to sign Flynn, but the Packers’ decision regarding their backup quarterback is definitely something to watch after this season.

2. More than a steal

You would be hard-pressed to find a receiver that had a better calendar year than Jordy Nelson. His stunning run started in Super Bowl XLV and has been followed by a breakout 2011 season. On the first day of 2012, Nelson finished his career year with another career game. Nelson caught nine passes for 162 yards and three touchdowns on Sunday, pushing his season totals to 68 for 1,263 and 15. Nelson’s 15 receiving touchdowns is third in Packers history to only 18 from Sterling Sharpe in 1994 and 17 from Don Hutson in 1942.

But possibly the most encouraging part of Nelson’s day was the fact that he did it without Greg Jennings, who missed his third game with a sprained knee. Any concerns about Nelson’s capability of handling the lead role were calmed. He’s a legitimate No. 1 NFL receiver. Can you believe the Packers re-upped Nelson for four years and just $14 million? What a steal that deal looks like now.

31

December

Packers vs. Lions Preview: 5 Things to Watch

Packers QB Matt Flynn has a perfect stage in Week 17 for his looming free agent status.

The Green Bay Packers (14-1) and Detroit Lions (10-5) face off in Week 17 of the NFL season Sunday.

The basics 

When: 12:00 CST, Sunday, January 1, 2012.

Where: Lambeau Field, Green Bay, WI.

TV: FOX; Thom Brennaman and Brian Billick with the call, Laura Okmin on the sidelines.

Radio: 620 AM WTMJ (Milwaukee); Packers Radio Network; NFL Sunday Drive.

Series: Packers lead, 92-65-7 (Packers won last regular season game, 27-17, on Nov. 24, 2011 at Ford Field.)

Five things to watch

1. Money to be made

Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Friday that he wants all three quarterbacks to play on Sunday, but the middle man in the group has a golden opportunity to bump up his price tag this summer. Matt Flynn, the Packers backup quarterback and a free agent after the season, will likely see the majority of the snaps against the Lions. Another solid performance on the big stage may propel a quarterback-needy team to give Flynn the opportunity to start for their franchise—and the money that goes with it—next season.

2. Who needs receivers?

The Packers offense may be one of the most receiver-dependent outfits in the NFL, but they’ll be down two at that position on Sunday. Both Greg Jennings (knee) and Randall Cobb (groin) were ruled out this week by McCarthy. Their absence should mean an increase in snaps for the Packers’ four tight ends, and more specifically, rookies D.J. Williams and Ryan Taylor.  Expect the two first-year players to log career highs in snaps and receptions on Sunday.

3. Clifton’s return

Packers left tackle Chad Clifton has played in some big games during his career, but Sunday’s tilt with the Lions might rank near the top. While the game alone has little overall meaning, how Clifton performs may influence whether or not he can play again in the NFL. The Packers get one chance to see him live before the playoffs begin, and if they don’t like what they see from him, McCarthy may have to go with with Marshall Newhouse as his starting left tackle in the postseason. It wouldn’t be overly surprising if Clifton wasn’t the same guy he was before the torn hamstring, as he’s 35 years old and in his 12th season in the NFL. A dud of a performance or set back with the injury could signal the end of Clifton’s NFL career.

26

December

McCarthy: Packers “Playing to Win Game” on Sunday; Chad Clifton Expected to Play

Mike McCarthy wants LT Chad Clifton to play Sunday against the Detroit Lions.

Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy made no mistake about his team’s desire to be 15-1, and he might get to try out a few players in the process, including left tackle Chad Clifton, against the Detroit Lions in Week 17.

McCarthy said Monday that the Packers are preparing to “win the game” and that sweeping the NFC North is an important goal to accomplish.

“We have every intention of being 15-1 come Sunday afternoon,” McCarthy said.

No mention was made about how long his starters will play, but McCarthy did say that he wants Clifton, who’s been out since injuring his hamstring in Week 5, to practice this week and play in Sunday’s game. McCarthy acknowledged the importance of Clifton seeing live action before the playoffs begin, and this week represents the last of those opportunities.

The Packers will also look to get more playing time for both Vic So’oto and Jamari Lattimore at outside linebacker, a position that opposite of Clay Matthews has been nothing short of a disaster this season. McCarthy said that So’oto earned his opportunity to play on Sunday, and Frank Zombo’s healthy scratch was partly due to special teams.

McCarthy gave more encouraging news on the injury front, as Ryan Pickett (concussion) and Bryan Bulaga (knee cap sprain) both appear to be getting close to returning. The duo could play this week against the Lions. The return of Bulaga and Clifton would give the Packers the opportunity to play the opening night starters on the offensive line (Clifton, T.J, Lang, Scott Wells, Josh Sitton, Bulaga, left to right) for the first time since Week 3.

Pickett’s return would be just as significant, as McCarthy said that Sunday’s performance in run defense graded out as the “worst in my time here.” The Packers have been gashed since losing Pickett, who McCarthy called their “best run defender,” to his second concussion of the season against the Oakland Raiders. The Bears ran for 199 yards on Sunday night, including 121 from third-string back Kahlil Bell.

Finally, McCarthy said that running back James Starks bruised his ankle in the third quarter on Sunday night’s game. Both of his ankles have been injured this season, and he’ll be challenged to practice on Wednesday.

Other highlights from McCarthy’s press conference:

16

December

McCarthy: Bishop and Pickett Out; Starks, Sitton and Saine Questionable for Sunday vs. Chiefs

During his Friday press conference, Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy ruled out both Desmond Bishop and Ryan Pickett for Sunday’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs but said that James Starks, Brandon Saine and Josh Sitton all have a chance to play.

Bishop and Pickett have both been held out of practice this week. Bishop will miss his third straight game after injuring his calf against the Lions in Week 13. Pickett suffered his second concussion of the season against the Raiders last Sunday and won’t make the trip to Kansas City.

Rookie D.J. Smith will make his third straight start for Bishop, and C.J. Wilson is listed behind Pickett on the Packers depth chart. Jarius Wynn and Mike Neal should also see more snaps in Pickett’s absence.

Both Starks (injury) and Saine (concussion) have missed this week’s practices, but McCarthy said they’ll be game-time decisions. If they checkout on the field in Kansas City before kickoff, each will have a chance to play. The Packers are hopeful that one of the two will be able to play, as Ryan Grant and John Kuhn are the only other healthy ball carriers on the roster. No roster move was made to fortify the position this week.

Sitton, who went out in Detroit with a knee sprain, has done light work at practice this week and has a chance to play. The coaching and medial staff will weigh how Sitton feels about giving it a go with a brace on his knee. If he can’t play, Evan Dietrich-Smith will make another start at right guard. One could only assume the Packers would play it safe with Sitton even if he thinks he can play on Sunday.

A.J. Hawk (calf) and Vic So’oto (back) were full participants this week and are expected to play on Sunday.

Other highlights from McCarthy’s Friday press conference:

  • McCarthy was unaware of any interview being conducted with Packers quarterback coach Tom Clements at Penn State. Said Clements would be “an outstanding candidate.”
  • McCarthy was glad that WR Tori Gurley decided to stay. Pointed out that Gurley is an “up-and-coming player” and an “inquisitive” young man. He’s taken advantage of his opportunities in Green Bay so far.
  • Andrew Quarless has not had surgery on his knee. That procedure will happen soon. Quarless is on crutches but “spirits are high.”
14

December

McCarthy: Status of James Starks, Josh Sitton in Doubt For Sunday Against Chiefs

Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy didn’t sound too optimistic Wednesday that either running back James Starks or guard Josh Sitton would be available to play Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs.

McCarthy said that Starks worked out hard on Tuesday, but the ensuing medical reports done today weren’t encouraging. He was a no-go at Packers’ practice on Wednesday.

Starks has dealt with a lingering ankle injury that forced him out of games against the Buccaneers and Lions in consecutive weeks. Starks then missed last week’s game with the Oakland Raiders after not being able to practice during the week because of the injury.

Regarding Sitton, McCarthy said that the Packers plan to have some patience with him this week as he continues to rehab a knee sprain suffered in Detroit three weeks ago. Sitton was a limited participant during Wednesday’s practice, which is an encouraging sign for his return. Team doctors didn’t sound optimistic on Sitton’s availability for this week, however.

The Packers have started Evan Dietrich-Smith in Sitton’s place the past two games with varying results.

Desmond Bishop (calf) was unable to participate today but McCarthy made it sound on Monday that Bishop would have a good chance at playing on Sunday. A.J. Hawk (calf) was a full participant. McCarthy praised both D.J. Smith and Robert Francois again on Wednesday.

Brandon Saine and Ryan Pickett, who both suffered concussions against the Raiders, were held out. Vic So’oto (back) was a full participant, and Chad Clifton (hamstring/back) was out.

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Zach Kruse is a 23-year-old sports journalist with a passion for the Green Bay Packers. He currently lives in Wisconsin and is working on his journalism degree, while also covering prep sports for The Dunn Co. News.

You can read more of Zach's Packers articles on AllGreenBayPackers.com.

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12

December

Source: Packers Likey To Activate WR Tori Gurley Soon

According to a source, Gurley will be promoted to the Packers' active roster soon.

According to a source close to the situation, the Green Bay Packers are working on promoting rookie receiver Tori Gurley from the practice squad to the active roster in the coming days.

The source, speaking on terms of anonymity, said that the Packers are working on a deal to pay him money in the range of an active player. Combined with Greg Jennings’ injury that will keep him out 2-3 weeks, there’s a good chance that the Packers could activate Gurley sometime before Green Bay takes on the Kansas City Chiefs this Sunday.

Gurley had an extended talk with both quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the Packers coaching staff on Monday and came away from the meetings encouraged about the upcoming situation, the source said. That would help explain Gurley’s tweet about an hour before McCarthy’s press conference on Monday that said “God works in mysterious ways ;- ) Go Pack Go.”

The source also said that another team was in talks to claim Gurley off the Packers practice squad. The team wasn’t named, but that likely helped give Gurley even more leverage to get onto the active roster.

To make room for Gurley, it is possible that the Packers will put Vic So’oto, a rookie linebacker who has dealt with a recurring back issue throughout the season, on season-ending injured reserve. Chad Clifton is another option for IR, but McCarthy said on Monday that they still have hope for his return this season. Either way, the Packers will have to trim their current roster by one if they plan to make room for Gurley.

An undrafted free agent from South Carolina, Gurley has impressed coaches and fellow players throughout the season. When asked earlier in the year, many of the veteran players had nothing but glowing reviews for Gurley and his play-making ability. Gurley made a name for himself on the punt unit during the preseason, blocking several kicks.

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Zach Kruse is a 23-year-old sports journalist with a passion for the Green Bay Packers. He currently lives in Wisconsin and is working on his journalism degree, while also covering prep sports for The Dunn Co. News.

You can read more of Zach's Packers articles on AllGreenBayPackers.com.

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9

December

Packers Rule Out James Starks and Desmond Bishop for Sunday’s Game With Raiders

Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy announced on Friday that his team would be without the services of running back James Starks and linebacker Desmond Bishop on Sunday against the Oakland Raiders. Neither practiced on Friday.

Starks, the Packers leading rusher this season with 565 yards, left his third straight game last Sunday in New York with an ankle injury. In his absence, the Packers will lean more on Ryan Grant with undrafted rookie free agent Brandon Saine seeing snaps on passing downs.

Bishop will miss his second straight game because of a calf strain he suffered in Detroit. Fellow inside linebacker A.J. Hawk is listed as questionable with the same injury, and rookie D.J. Smith would start along side Hawk if he can go on Sunday. Without Bishop and Hawk in the lineup last week, the Packers surrendered 100 rushing yards on just 20 carries to the Giants. The Raiders currently rank third in the NFL in rushing this season.

Josh Sitton will also miss his second straight game with a knee strain. A timetable for his return hasn’t been officially set, so it’s unclear when Sitton might return to the field. Evan Dietrich-Smith will make his second start in Sitton’s place.

Vic So’oto had a flair up on a back injury he suffered earlier this season and won’t play. Chad Clifton (hamstring) was also ruled out. Clifton hasn’t played since Week 5 in Atlanta and may not return during the regular season.

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Zach Kruse is a 23-year-old sports journalist with a passion for the Green Bay Packers. He currently lives in Wisconsin and is working on his journalism degree, while also covering prep sports for The Dunn Co. News.

You can read more of Zach's Packers articles on AllGreenBayPackers.com.

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