Category Archives: Shaky Smithson

23

August

Packers Fans – Do We All Think Like Ted Thompson Now?

Let’s change the pace a little bit, let’s talk about you.

Let’s talk about you the fan.

Now that General Manager Ted Thompson has won a Super Bowl using the “Thompson Method ™”, he can apparently do no wrong in the eyes of the fans.  People who had been clamoring for years to get more veteran free agents and big name signings have quieted down, ready to admit the error in their ways and venerate the white-haired one.  Even the most staunch Thompson hater is now ready to board the “draft and develop” bandwagon that Thompson preaches.

One interesting fact that I’ve noticed is that almost as adamantly as fans were criticizing him before he won a Super Bowl, fans are now just as adamantly supportive of him now that he has won one.  Fans now seem to think the same way as Thompson now, which brings up a interesting question: are Packers fans now psychologically predisposed to think like Ted Thompson?

It’s an interesting thought.  If you are a Packers fan right now, you couldn’t be happier and you’d like status quo to continue (repeat anyone?).  Obviously Ted Thompson did something right to win a Super Bowl (right?), so it makes sense that people are following in Thompson’s rationale now.

For example, currently one of the big stories in the news is how long veteran wide receiver Donald Driver is going to remain a Packer.   Jason Wilde and Bill Johnson at Green and Gold Today have argued that if you took Driver’s name out of it, he’s one of those players that Thompson typically likes to cut and fans seem to echo that sentiment.  What I think people have forgotten is that Driver beat out Jordy Nelson and James Jones for the #2 wide receiver spot behind Greg Jennings last year and appears to still be the #2 wide receiver in training camp this year.

It’s not like the Packers gave him the spot because of his name either, he’s had to hold off every other wide receiver for that spot just like everyone else.   One other thing to consider is that the only way they will cut Driver (or any player for that matter) is if they get a player with more upside.  Do players like Brett Swain, Shaky Smithson, Tori Gurley etc. have more upside than Driver?

9

August

Will Any of the 2011 Undrafted Free Agents Make the Packers 53-Man Roster?

Green Bay Packers 2011 Undrafted Free Agents - UDFAs

It probably goes without saying that the 2011 Green Bay Packers should have a deep, talented roster.

That was likely the case before the last season begun, too, and it was proven time and time again during the course of the season when 15 players went to IR. Because of that talent and depth in the roster, the Packers were able to overcome the injuries and win the Super Bowl.

Heading into this season, the Packers only lost a handful of players from that run. The list of players from 2010 playing elsewhere this year: Cullen Jenkins (Eagles), Nick Barnett (Bills), Brandon Jackson (Browns), Daryn Colledge (Cardinals), Jason Spitz (Jaguars), Korey Hall (Saints) and Brady Poppinga (Rams). Brandon Chillar, Mark Tauscher, Anthony Smith, Atari Bigby, Matt Wilhelm, Justin Harrell and Derrick Martin are currently free agents without a team.

From those names, only Jenkins, Jackson, Colledge, Spitz and Hall were with the team the entire season. All the others were either mid-season pickups or went on IR at some point during the year. The point here is that the Packers found adequate replacements for the rest of the players listed, somewhat nullifying their impact on this year’s roster.

It’s a testament to GM Ted Thompson and his team of scouts, as they have done a terrific job of identifying talent, regardless of which avenue they’ve taken to acquire it.

However, the impressive depth of the Packers 2011 roster could mean that Thompson has to back off a strategy he’s used so well in recent years: keeping an undrafted free agent or two on the 53-man roster.

The lockout robbed many of them of valuable time during summer practices, but it’s also forcing both the UDFA’s and Thompson to make quick evaluations during training camp.

The players have had to learn an entire playbook quickly and still impress coaches with their play on the practice field. As if they were already behind, who do you think lost out the most from Saturday’s rainout at Family Night? These guys. Only the No.1 offense and No. 2 defense got any reps in team action. Typically, the scrimmage is just another critical evaluation period for the bottom of the roster. But that didn’t happen Saturday night, as storms called off the practice just 30 minutes or so in.

8

August

Game Balls and Lame Calls: Green Bay Packers Training Camp Edition, Volume 1

Green Bay Packers 2011 Training campDespite a lockout that made fans sweat bullets, the calendar has turned to August and football is indeed back. Even though it seems Packer Nation didn’t really get to celebrate the Green Bay Packers’ Super Bowl XLV title due to the work stoppage, we must put last season behind us and focus on the new season that has just begun

For Cheeseheads, the start of football season means players on bicycles and practices at Ray Nitschke Field behind the Don Hutson Center.  While it may feel different this year due to free agency occurring at the same time training camp opened, there are many other things that remain timeless at Packers training camp.

The aforementioned bicycles are one.  Players ride kids’ bikes to and from practice each day.  It’s a tradition like no other in the National Football League.

A couple thousand fans turn out in the stands for each practice with hundreds more lining the fence waiting to get a glimpse of how their team is shaping up for the upcoming season.

That said, enough about the experience.  Today we take a look at the practice of Thursday August 4th as “Game Balls and Lame Calls” makes its return for the 2011 season.  Yes, I know it is practice and game balls aren’t given out, but for the sake of consistency let’s just go with it.

Game Balls:

WR corps—mainly Donald Driver, Randall Cobb and Shaky Smithson.

The reported demise of Donald Driver so far seems to be greatly exaggerated.

While many saw the drafting of Randall Cobb as writing on the wall for Driver’s time in the starting lineup, he showed no signs of slowing down during the practice I witnessed.  Driver made a stellar tiptoe catch on the sideline on one play and then later caught the ball from Aaron Rodgers over the middle (Driver’s specialty) and was able to spin and juke his way out of a tackle.

As for Cobb, what else can I say? I don’t want to place unrealistic expectations on the kid, but he has incredible athletic skills.  During kick return drills, he twice burnt the coverage unit and in passing situations his agility as on full display as he made leaping catches and plays down the middle.  He definitely has promise. Someone even mentioned Desmond Howard when watching Cobb return kicks.

31

July

The Packers’ Wild Week That Was: Day by Day Tracker

Green Bay Packers 2011 Training Camp

Green Bay Packers 2011 Training Camp

This was certainly a week like no other in the Packers Universe. A full off-season’s worth of activity was compressed into a time period of seven days. Here’s a day by day account of the week’s events:

Monday: July 25th, 2011

- The NFL lockout ends and the players approve the new agreement.
- Packers immediately start reaching unofficial agreements with Undrafted Rookie Free Agents (UDFA)

 

Tuesday: July 26th, 2011

- Nick Barnett comes to Lambeau Field, meets with Ted Thompson and leaves with only memories of his 8-year Packers career. Packers save 5 million in cap space.

- Packers Announce the signing of UDFAs:

Diondre Borel, QB, Utah State (6-0, 199)
Anthony Bratton, S, Delaware (6-2, 200)
Ray Dominguez, G/T, Arkansas (6-4, 334)
Sampson Genus, C, South Florida (6-1, 315)
Tori Gurley, WR, South Carolina (6-4, 216)
Jon Hoese, FB, Minnesota (6-2, 238)
M.D. Jennings, S, Arkansas State (6-0, 185)
Elijah “Peanut” Joseph, ILB, Temple: (6-1, 243)
Elisha “Eli” Joseph, NT, Temple (6-2, 290) (officially signed on Friday)
Jamari Lattimore, OLB, Middle Tennessee State (6-2, 230)
Brandian Ross, DB, Youngstown State (6-0, 191)
Brandon Saine, RB, Ohio State (5-11, 220)
Theo Sherman, G, James Madison (6-3, 302)
Antoine “Shaky” Smithson, WR, Utah (5-11, 202)
Vic So’oto, DE/OLB, BYU (6-3, 265)
Kerry Taylor, WR, Arizona State (6-0, 198)
Chris Donaldson, DE, Oklahoma State (6-1, 300) (officially signed on Friday)

- Packers players start arriving in Green Bay. Meet with trainers, coaches and are given their playbooks.

 

Wednesday: July 27th, 2011

- Packers announce the signing of free agent kicker Mason Crosby to a 5-year contract worth 14.75 million dollars.
- Rumors fly about other Packers that will or won’t be back. Some player agents respond. Colledge’s agent says he’s surely gone. Poppinga’s agent is doubtful he’ll be released.

 

Thursday: July 28th, 2011

- Packers Shareholders Meeting – Ted Thompson greeted with standing ovation.
- Daryn Colledge signs a 5 year deal with the Arizona Cardinals.
- Justin Harrell released, saving 1.25 million of cap space.
- Brady Poppinga released, saving 2.3 million of cap space.
- Players check into St. Norbert for start of training camp.
- Brandon Jackson signs a 2-year deal with the Cleveland Browns.
- Jason Spitz signs a 3-year deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
- Packers sign four of their draft choices, Caleb Schlauderaff, Ryan Taylor Ricky Elmore and D.J. Williams
- Mike McCarthy’s wife gave birth to a baby girl, Isabella.

29

July

Green Bay Packers 2011 Training Camp: Previewing the Offense

Let’s take a quick look at how the Green Bay Packers offense stacks up heading into training camp by breaking down each position individually. Packers training camp starts Saturday, July 30th in De Pere, Wisconsin.

Quarterback: Aaron Rodgers, Matt Flynn, Graham Harrell

The Packers head into the 2011 season with likely the best 1-2 combination at quarterback in the NFL. Starter Aaron Rodgers put up fantastic numbers for the third consecutive year, throwing for 28 touchdowns and 11 interceptions while narrowly missing out on becoming the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for 4,000 yards in his first three seasons under center.

He didn’t let up once the playoffs started, as he threw for three scores in a win over Philadelphia then thrashed the Falcons in the NFC Divisional round with one of the more impressive playoff performances in Packers playoff history. He completed 86.1 percent of his passes that night (31-for-36) for 366 yards and three touchdowns. In the Super Bowl, Rodgers took home MVP honors for his 304-yard, 3-touchdown masterpiece against the NFL’s No. 1 rated defense. He’s a bonafide regular season MVP candidate heading into the season.

Concussions were Rodgers’ kryptonite, however, as he suffered two (at Washington, at Detroit) during the regular season. The latter kept him out of a huge matchup with the New England Patriots, but that allowed backup Matt Flynn to showcase his ever-improving skill set in primetime. Flynn put up Rodgers-like numbers, throwing for 251 yards and three touchdowns in a 31-27 loss that turned out to be a jumping-off point for the Packers playoff run.

There was talk that Flynn, who will be a free agent after the ’11 season, might be traded to a quarterback-needy team this offseason, but the Packers seem intent on holding onto him as a valuable backup. With Rodgers’ injury history, that could turn out to be an important non-move. Even he if does leave after the season, he’s worth more to the Packers this year as a backup than a mid-to-low draft choice.

If they would have dealt him, any injury to Rodgers might have thrown Graham Harrell into the starting mix. While he put up huge numbers and was fourth in the Heisman voting his senior year at Texas Tech, Harrell is obviously raw in many areas. He went undrafted in ’09 and spent sometime in the CFL before latching on in Green Bay. The league’s lockout also cost him valuable time in Mike McCarthy’s quarterback school. The Packers chose not to draft or sign any quarterback this offseason, so his No. 3 spot on the depth chart seems somewhat secure.

25

July

Packers Sign Utah WR/KR Shaky Smithson

The Green Bay Packers have signed Utah wide receiver and returner Shaky Smithson to a deal Monday night, kicking off the undrafted free agent signing period that followed today’s agreement on a new CBA.

Smithson was scouted throughly by the Packers pre-draft, as he was one of 12 players who made an official visit with the Green Bay before April’s NFL draft. At his pro day in Utah, Smithson ran the 40-yard dash in 4.65 seconds, the 20-yard dash in 2.71 and the 10 in 1.65. He also put up 10 reps at 225 pounds and had a vertical leap of 30.5 inches.

Shaky Smithson College summary

Smithson is listed as a receiver but he made his name at Utah as one of the more dynamic returners in the NCAA. While he started just four games on offense and caught only 25 passes for 383 yards his senior year, Smithson’s 19.1 yards per punt return and four 100-yard punt return games led the nation.

He also returned two punts for touchdowns and was 24th in the nation in kick return average (24.1 yards). His 2010 totals on punt returns broke the Mountain West record for a season. For his efforts, Smithson was named second team All-Mountain West in 2010.

Commentary

Smithson is an electrifying return man, but the Packers drafted Randall Cobb in the second round and it’s widely believed that he’ll be the main returner on both punts and kicks. If Cobb has a larger role in the offense than previously expected, Smithson could be asked to be the primary returner. The Packers have been desperate to help their return game for the better part of a decade.

But like any undrafted free agent, Smithson has to be considered a long shot to make the team. He won’t contribute much as a slot receiver, and the Packers haven’t generally kept players who are one dimensional on the roster. Unless Smithson has developed some kind of offensive game, that’d be exactly what he is.

In all likeliness, Smithson will need a terrific camp and some errors from Cobb in the return game to warrant a roster spot.

Video highlights

 

——————

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.

25

July

Packers Sign Shaky Smithson and Tori Gurley

Shaky Smithson's best shot of making the Packers is as a returner, but he has an outside shot of getting a look as a slot receiver.

The Green Bay Packers signed Shakey Smithson and Tori Gurley as undrafted free agency began Monday night.

Besides having a cool first name, Smithson led the nation in punt return yardage (572) and average (19.1) at Utah State. Smithson also is a kick return specialist.

Gurley had 42 catches for 416 yards last season at South Carolina. The 6-foot-4, 216-pound Gurley has a better chance of making the team if James Jones departs via free agency.

Follow both Smithson and Gurley on Twitter.

——————

Adam Czech is a freelance reporter and a Packers fan living in the Twin Cities. Follow Adam on Twitter. Read more of Adam's writing on the Packers here.

——————