Category Archives: 2012 OffSeason

24

August

Packers News: Anthony Hargrove among five cuts

DL Anthony Hargrove

DL Anthony Hargrove

With the first mandatory roster reduction scheduled for Monday, the Packers got an early start to their cuts by releasing five players on Friday.

 

The team’s first five cuts were defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove, wide receiver Andrew Brewer, offensive tackle Herb Taylor, and defensive backs Micah Pellerin and Dion Turner.

Hargrove, carrying an eight-game suspension from the Saints’ “bounty-gate” scandal, is the most notable name among the five cuts. The 29-year-old signed with the team as an unrestricted free agent in March in hopes of bolstering the pass rush, but the Packers have clearly decided that they have better options on the defensive line.

Taylor, 27, is a journeyman offensive tackle with 18 career regular season games of experience. After staring left tackle Marshall Newhouse suffered a concussion in the Packers’ Family Night Scrimmage, Taylor was inserted into the starting lineup and provided very little resistance to opposing pass rushers.

Pellerin, 23, and Turner, 23, were clearly two of the Packers’ weakest defensive backs in camp, and neither player made a serious push to make the team in a crowded defensive backfield.

Brewer, 25, was cut after spending just over two weeks in Green Bay. He was claimed off waivers from the Eagles on August 8 but was never a threat to earn a spot on the Packers’ stacked receiving corps, which is perhaps the best unit in the NFL.

Friday’s roster moves leave the team at 85 players, and the roster must be down to 75 by Monday.

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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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23

August

Packers Running Backs: Will the starter be decided tonight?

Packers RB Alex Green

Packers RB Alex Green

Cedric Benson has only been a member of the Green Bay Packers for slightly over a week, but he’s already been getting reps with the No. 1 offense in training camp.

In just two practices wearing full pads, Benson has broken off a handful of impressive runs, and he certainly appears to be as natural a runner as any running back on the roster. Although he’s coming off three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons, Benson has never been known as a game-breaker in the backfield.

His career average of 3.8 yards-per-carry suggests Benson is more of a workhorse than a true home-run threat.

And despite James Starks entering training camp as the No. 1 back, his spot in the starting lineup–and on the roster–may be in serious jeopardy. Starks has missed 16 games in his first two seasons, and he’s out of the lineup again with turf toe. If second-year back Brandon Saine is able to return to practice next week and proves his worth to the coaching staff, the Packers may consider cutting ties with Starks.

With Starks at least temporarily out of the picture, the battle to be the team’s starting running back comes down to Benson versus second-year player Alex Green.

The “starter” may be a somewhat subjective label, as the Packers may very well decide to use multiple backs within the offense this year. Of all the running backs, Green is the best receiving threat within the Packers’ spread offense, while Benson is certainly the most proven runner of the bunch.

The third preseason game–or “dress rehearsal” for the regular season–traditionally gives starters increased playing time. And as the Packers head to Cincinnati to play Benson’s former team, the Cincinnati Bengals, the spotlight will shine brighter on the running back battle than perhaps any other position.

In all likelihood, head coach Mike McCarthy will rotate his running backs to take advantage of each player’s strengths. Green will be utilized as a receiver, John Kuhn is the team’s best pass protector and short-yardage back, Saine is solid in every area, and Benson is likely the Packers’ best runner between the tackles.

If the Packers are able to build a lead late into games, Benson may be called upon to run the clock and carry the team to victory.

AllGBP.com’s Adam Czech provided an insightful look at Benson in the fourth quarter on Wednesday:

17

August

Packers vs. Browns: A Closer Look at the Backup QB Position

Aaron Rodgers and Colt McCoy

Aaron Rodgers and Colt McCoy

Packers backup quarterback Graham Harrell replaced Aaron Rodgers on the team’s first possession in the second quarter, and he remained on the field well into the fourth quarter.

The Packers got an extensive look at Harrell during the game, but in almost three quarters of action, he was only able to muster up a meager three points for the offense. Harrell completed 12 of 24 passes for 100 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions. And he drew a flag for intentional grounding in the endzone, resulting in a safety.

In completing fifty-percent of his passes, throwing two picks and recording a safety, it was a night to forget for the Packers’ backup quarterback.

But on the other sideline, Cleveland backup QB Colt McCoy looked like his usual steady self during his only possession of the night.

McCoy replaced starter Brandon Weeden in the middle of the third quarter and led the Browns on an impressive 14-play, 75-yard scoring drive capped off by a Brandon Jackson touchdown run. The former Texas star carved up the Packers’ reserves, completing four of six passes for 58 yards on the drive.

With the starting job occupied by Weeden, many have speculated about McCoy’s availability via trade. The most common suggestions to land McCoy? The Philadelphia Eagles with QB-guru Andy Reid, and the Packers.

General manager Ted Thompson certainly won’t speak on any specific personnel moves until something comes to fruition, but if the Browns offer McCoy for a late-round draft pick, Thompson may be tempted.

It’s clear that the Packers are one of the most talented teams in the NFL at full strength. However, if Rodgers were to get hurt and miss a few games, would the coaching staff be comfortable with Harrell leading the offense?

In Cleveland’s 35-10 preseason demolition of the Packers on Thursday Night, one backup quarterback looked like he could win a couple spot starts in the regular season. He was on the Browns’ sideline, and his name is Colt McCoy.

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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.

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14

August

Give Them Time: Breaking Bad Habits in NFL Rookies

Andrew Datko

Packers rookie OT Andrew Datko has a lot to work on during training camp.

My college professor once told me, “You can’t get rid of bad habits; you can only replace them with new ones.”

I went to school for a B.S. degree in Music Education, with my major instrument being French horn. To make a long story short, though I had been learning the instrument since I was 10 years old, I was never satisfied with my level of playing. Even after four years of being in the U.S. Army Bands, I wanted to get better. My hope was that individual instruction by a good horn professor could fix my problems.

The big thing I had going for me was that I am a musically gifted person. I have a good ear for pitch and intonation, a strong sense of rhythm, and a knack for being able to sight-read music (i.e., play sheet music without having seen or practiced it before). But being able to play an instrument requires more than a musical mind, one must also have the correct technique physically to be in control of the instrument and make it do what you need it to do.

And this was where I had my problems. My breathing, embouchure (“the use of facial muscles and the shaping of the lips to the mouthpiece of an instrument”), tonguing, and posture were not fundamentally sound; thus, I could not always produce the music the way my mind wanted to. I had formed some bad habits that needed serious changing.

Fortunately for me, my horn professor knew exactly how to help. His goal for me as an undergraduate student was to build a strong foundation in my playing so that I could continue to hone my craft and my artistry without the impedance of poor technique.

This was not an easy task, however, and in fact it was often quite frustrating. He essentially had to break me down to slowly build me back up. At first, we worked a lot on the most fundamental aspects of playing: how to sit, how to hold the instrument, proper breath control, embouchure. It wasn’t really a fun process, and I was simultaneously fighting off the bad habits I had already formed, trying to replace them with the good ones.

13

August

Packers, T.J. Lang agree to 4-year extension

Aaron Rodgers and T.J. Lang

Aaron Rodgers and T.J. Lang

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Green Bay Packers have agreed to a four-year contract extension with left guard T.J. Lang.

Lang was a fourth-round draft pick out of Eastern Michigan in 2009, and he’s blossomed into a versatile and reliable offensive player with the Packers. After starting all 16 games at left guard last season, the Packers clearly felt that Lang was deserving of a long-term contract.

And although the Packers insist on their reluctance to play “musical chairs” on the offensive line, Lang is likely the team’s best option behind Marshall Newhouse at left tackle. If the Packers found themselves in a position without Newhouse in the regular season, they’d almost certainly do some sort of shifting, whether it be Lang or Bryan Bulaga to left tackle, instead of asking rookie Andrew Datko or journeyman Herb Taylor to protect Aaron Rodgers’s blindside.

The Packers still have bigger fish to fry, as Greg Jennings’s contract is set to expire after this season, but getting Lang’s deal extended before the season is certainly a step in the right direction.

Lang, 24, and right guard Josh Sitton, 26, form one of the league’s top duos at offensive guard. With Jeff Saturday set to replace Scott Wells at center, the interior of the Packers’ offensive line appears to be in great shape headed into 2012.

Not only does the offensive line look like a solid unit for this season, but Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel explains that the core of the offensive line will remain intact for the next several years:

“The deal assures the Packers that three of their five offensive linemen – Josh Sitton and Bryan Bulaga are the others — will be together for at least three more years. Sitton is locked up through 2016, Bulaga through 2014, Marshall Newhouse through 2013 and Derek Sherrod through 2014.”

Terms of Lang’s new contract have yet to be released.

 

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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.

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12

August

Packers Injuries: Bishop’s season “in jeopardy”

Packers CB Davon House

Packers CB Davon House

The right leg injury Desmond Bishop suffered against the San Diego Chargers did not look good. And according to Packers head coach Mike McCarthy, it isn’t good.

Bishop suffered a right knee sprain, but it’s a severe hamstring tear that could sideline him for the entire 2012 season. After Saturday night’s practice, McCarthy acknowledged the impact of losing Bishop:

“Unfortunately, the hamstring injury was what we feared. Surgery is imminent, and Desmond’s season is in jeopardy. Once we have the surgery, we’ll have a better idea on his status for this season.”

On the concussion front, McCarthy also hinted that Marshall Newhouse would return to practice this Monday or Tuesday but that Greg Jennings is probably a little further away.

Several other players sat out practice on Saturday, including running back James Starks, defensive end Jerel Worthy and cornerback Davon House. House suffered a dislocated left shoulder against San Diego and is expected to be out 2-3 weeks.
The Packers dodged a bullet with House, as losing him for an extended period of time would have been devastating to their secondary. Competing for a starting job against Jarrett Bush, Sam Shields and Casey Hayward, House has consistently been the team’s best option across from Tramon Williams throughout training camp.

Starks is “week-to-week” with turf toe, which would further explain the Packers’ interest in Cedric Benson. Without Starks at practice and with Benson not officially signed yet, Alex Green got the No. 1 reps with the first team on Saturday.

Hopefully for the Packers, this rash of preseason injuries is the worst they’ll see all season.

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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.

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11

August

Alex Green: Quiet in Return, Benson in Town, but Opportunity Awaits

Packers RB Alex Green

Packers RB Alex Green

Packers running back Alex Green was quiet in his return to the field, but he passed his most important test–he stayed healthy in his first game nine months removed from ACL surgery.

While Green only managed a meager three yards and three carries against the Chargers, starter James Starks performed even worse. The first preseason game of the 2012 season put an exclamation point on Starks’s inconsistent start to training camp. After dropping a pass that surely would have resulted in a first down on the team’s first drive, Starks lost a fumble deep in the Packers’ own territory.

And with Thursday’s news that the Packers are close to signing veteran running back Cedric Benson, it’s clear that the team is worried about the current state of the position.

The Packers’ current trio of running backs is inexperienced to say the least. Starks, Green and Brandon Saine have just 28 games of experience and 759 career rushing yards between the three of them. Benson, 29, has surpassed 1,000 in each of the past three seasons.

If Benson, in fact, signs with the Packers–which he hasn’t yet–his spot on the team would not be guaranteed. It’s unlikely that the Packers would keep more than three running backs, especially because fullback John Kuhn is a capable ball carrier. Kuhn, Starks and Green each has a secure roster spot, so unless the Packers were able to stash Brandon Saine on the Practice Squad, the team would face a tough decision between the veteran Benson, or the young Saine.

Regardless of who wins the job as the Packers’ “feature back,” head coach Mike McCarthy has clearly shown that he’s not afraid to employ a pass-heavy offense–understandably so, with league MVP Aaron Rodgers under center. And assuming the team continues it’s pass-oriented ways in 2012, the running back most capable of making an impact as a receiver is Green.

Hawaii’s spread attack inflated Green’s gaudy 8.2-yards-per-carry average as a senior, but headed into the 2011 NFL Draft, he was viewed as one of the top receiving running backs in the entire class. And because the Packers use a pass-when-you-can-run-when-you-have-to offense with McCarthy and Rodgers in control, Green may surprise some people in 2012.