Category Archives: Brandon Saine

8

October

Packers News: Benson could be out eight weeks

Cedric Benson will likely be out at least eight weeks

Cedric Benson will likely be out at least eight weeks

At halftime of Monday night’s game between the Houston Texans and the New York Jets, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Packers running back Cedric Benson could miss eight weeks.

Earlier in the day, head coach Mike McCarthy didn’t reveal much about the severity of the injury to Benson’s foot, but Schefter suggested it’s a Lisfranc injury. Jets wide receiver Santonio Holmes suffered a similar injury, which will sideline him for the rest of the season.

The Packers currently have three running backs on their roster in Alex Green, James Starks and Brandon Saine.

It’s much too early to tell whether or not the Packers will bring in a veteran running back to fill Benson’s shoes, but the top available free agents include Tim Hightower, Steve Slaton and Joseph Addai.

McCarthy suggested that Green, Starks and Saine would each get an opportunity to play next Sunday at Houston. We’ll know much more about the Packers’ running back situation following their first full game without Benson.

——————

Follow @MJEversoll

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.

——————

23

August

Packers – Bengals Preseason Preview: The Dress Rehearsal

Cedric Benson

This time, RB Cedric Benson will be suiting up in Green and Gold.

The third week of the preseason is upon us, which is also known as the “dress rehearsal” for the starters before the real games begin in earnest.

That means we will get to see a full half of Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers’ starting offense tonight as they face off against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium.  The starting offense showed some signs of life last week against the Cleveland Browns, but still struggled in some areas.

Same goes for the Packers’ starting defense.  Tackling seemed to be improved, but the defense still was swallowed up in coverage by rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden.  This week, they face off against Andy Dalton and a Bengals offense that struggled at times in the 2011 season.

As for the backups, this is a big game for Graham Harrell.  Confidence in him as the backup behind Aaron Rodgers hit an all-time low after the 35-10 loss to the Browns in which Harrell failed to lead the offense to a touchdown in roughly three quarters of action.

Here’s what to look for in tonight’s game:

Turnovers

It’s starting to sound like a broken record, but the Packers must start taking better care of the football.

As a team that is traditionally near the top of the NFL in turnover ratio, the ball handling the Packers have displayed in the preseason has been one of the biggest surprises to the start of the 2012 season.  Wide receivers coughing up the ball (here’s looking at you, Randall Cobb) and running backs putting the ball on the ground are inexcusable.  Having the best quarterback in the game will get the team nowhere if you can’t hang onto the football.

This game is the last chance the starters have to alleviate fears of many fans.  While not all the turnovers have come from the first unit, there have been enough to at least raise some eyebrows.

The debut of Cedric Benson

With James Starks and Brandon Saine not playing in the game, this is a chance for Benson to show he still has what made him a consistent 1,000 yard rusher.   Some took the signing of Benson as putting Starks on notice and many believe Benson will supplant Starks as the Packers’ starting running back.

8

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.

26

July

Packers Pre-Training Camp Grades: Offense

Josh Sitton is part of a talented Packers offensive line.

It’s time for Packers training camp. Soon, your Sundays will be filled with Packers football instead of whatever other boring thing you do on Sunday’s without football.

Before camp officially kicks off, here’s how I grade the Packers position group by position group. We’ll start with the offense this morning and check out the defense later today.

How different will these grades look after camp? Who knows, but for now, this is where the team stands in my eyes.

Quarterback: A+
There’s not much more to say about Aaron Rodgers, the reigning MVP, that hasn’t already been said. Even if he regresses a little, Rodgers is still an ’A’ quarterback. I suppose I could dock the Packers a little for having backups with no experience, but I’m not. I’m sick of that debate. Backup QBs with “experience” are usually just bad QBs. I’ll take my chances with a young guy that can still be developed.

Link: Ron Jaworski ranked Rodgers the No. 1 QB in the NFL during a top-to-bottom review of NFL QBs on ESPN. Check out a summary of Jaworski’s thoughts on Rodgers in Kevin Seifert’s ESPN NFC North blog.

Running Backs: C-
James Starks, the projected starter, is fragile and the two backups have a combined 21 NFL carries. On most teams, this would be a reason to freak out. On the Packers, it’s a reason to, I don’t know, shrug your shoulders a bit. Yeah, it’d be nice to have a 1,200-yard rusher, but it’s not necessary. If Starks and company stay healthy, pass block and do enough to help maintain leads late in games, that’s good enough. A ‘C-’ sounds like a fair grade to me entering camp. It’s slightly below average because this group hasn’t done much to warrant an above-average grade. But it’s not a failing grade because in the Packers offense, running backs don’t have to do that much work to pass the class.

Link: If you would like a little more insight into the X’s and O’s in the Packers run game, check out Brian Carriveau’s examination of possible Packers scheme changes in 2012.

25

July

How Long Does it Take A Running Back to Recover From An ACL Injury?

Surprisingly, one of the biggest concerns from Packers fans is depth at running back (personally I would have put safety as my top concern).  Fans are worried that the combination of James Starks, Alex Green and Brandon Saine may not be enough to take pressure off Aaron Rodgers and the passing game.  One thing that I think fans have missed is that Alex Green isn’t exactly ready to play, after suffering a brutal ACL injury during week 7 of the 2011 season, whether or not he can be a significant contributor for the offense in 2012.  On the flip side, while Packers fans should not hold ill will against Adrian Peterson, who also injured his ACL (as he is a class act and a great football player), let’s just say Packers fans are hoping to see Peterson in sweat pants during week 13 and week 17.

I wanted to know a little more about ACL injuries in general and their effect in the NFL, so enter in “Outcomes of Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries to Running Backs and Wide Receveirs in the National Football League” by Brian J Sennett MD et al. which was published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine, volume 34, no. 12 1911-1917.  Sennnett et al. looked at 33 running backs and 31 wide receivers that had suffered an ACL injury while on a NFL roster between 1998 and 2002 and analyzed their performance compared to players in their respective positions who had not suffered an ACL injury.  The results are not good.

1. Players on average take 55.8 weeks to recover from an ACL injury:The range for the time of recovery for players suffering an ACL injury is from 40 to 187 weeks.  Keep in mind this does not factor in the offseason where a player may be healthy and capable of playing but cannot return to the field as there are no games to play and the specifics of the injury (such as additional MCL damage and the severity of the injury)

Alex Green: Injured on October 23rd, 2011.

  • Best case scenario for return: July 29th, 2012 (training camp)
  • Average case scenario for return: November 18th, 2012 (at the Lions, week 11, which is the week after the bye)
  • Worst case scenario for return: May 24th, 2015
20

July

Packers Training Camp Battles: Starks Leads by Default at Running Back

Packers RB James Starks has the edge to be the starter in 2012.

When James Starks took a handoff, shed two defenders, powered his way through another, and reached for a 17-yard touchdown against the Saints in last season’s opening game, it looked like the Packers were set at running back.

That run was exactly what the Packers were hoping to get from Starks. It wasn’t fancy. It wasn’t breathtaking. It was the offensive line creating a hole, Starks making a decisive cut, exploding through the hole, shaking off tackles and plowing his way for extra yards.

Unfortunately, that was one of the few decisive and explosive moments for Starks last season. It was his only touchdown run and there weren’t any other memorable runs the rest of the way.

Bothered by knee and ankle injuries, Starks looked tentative. He didn’t look like an ascending young running back ready to seize the long-term starting job on a perennial Super-Bowl contender.

Instead of the second-coming of Dorsey Levans or Ahman Green, Starks morphed into the only Packers offensive player to have a disappointing 2011 season.

Nontheless, Starks appears to be the front-runner to get the starting job in 2012.

Alex Green
Green might pose a challenge, but coming off  a major knee injury, it’s hard to envision the second-year player from Hawaii rising that quickly.

Green, a third-round pick, was starting to see his role increase when he blew out his knee in late October against the Vikings. If Green comes back healthy and ready to contribute, he’s an all-around back with the explosiveness to rip off a long run or take a dump-off pass all the way to the end zone every now and then.

Whereas Starks is more of a one-cut and move the chains type of runner, Green has more big-play ability. At least that’s what Green’s college film tells us. We only had three carries to judge his pro career.

Brandon Saine
Lurking in the background is Saine, an undrafted rookie from Ohio St. who looked decent taking occasional swing passes from Aaron Rodgers and charging full-speed ahead.

When Saine built a head of steam, he didn’t look like an undrafted rookie. He actually looked pretty good.

Teach this kid some fundamentals and how to pass block and you never know what he might turn out to be.

12

June

Alex Green: Fitting Into the Packers’ Offense in 2012

Green Bay Packers Alex Green

Will Alex Green be able to contribute in 2012?

Alex Green didn’t have much of a rookie season, registering 17 yards from scrimmage on three carries and one reception before tearing his ACL. The injury that cost Green the majority of his season and the beginning of this offseason isn’t keeping Green from entering 2012 with full confidence.

While many expected the Packers to add a running back during the draft, the team stayed pat with their current stable before adding a few backs as undrafted free agents.

“Not drafting a running back showed they have some faith in me,” Green said in Pete Dougherty’s article for the Green Bay Press-Gazette. “We’ll see how things turn out when training camp comes around.”

The Packers are looking to enter the 2012 season with James Starks, Brandon Saine and Alex Green as their running backs.

There is some question as to whether Green will be ready by the time training camp goes around. If Green can’t get fully back to full strength, he may start the year on the Physical Unable to Perform list, eliminating him from the first six games of the season. If it becomes clear that Green won’t be ready, the Packers should have Ryan Grant on speed dial trying to bring him back into the mix.

Regardless of when Green is fully back from the ACL injury, he should have an opportunity to be a contributor in the Packers offense. Each of these running backs has something different to offer when they step onto the field.

One thing that Green brings to the table is his size. Despite being 2-inches shorter than James Starks, Green is the heaviest of the trio of backs. He is a physical, always moving forward back, but still possess speed necessary to elude tacklers and get into open space. Starks has shown some ability to absorb contact, but his frame just doesn’t compare to Green’s. Starks is more the balanced back of the three, while Brandon Saine did a good job in the passing game last season catching 10 passes for 69 yards in his eight appearances.

Despite the record breaking season that the offense put together, they were largely one dimensional behind the incredible play of Aaron Rodgers. The running game left much to be offered, but was masked by the high point production and efficiency of the offense as a whole.