12

September

Packers-Bears Video: Jermichael Finley, Bear Killer

Jermichael Finley has been at his best against Chicago

Jermichael Finley has been at his best against the Bears

Packers tight end Jermichael Finley is perhaps the most scrutinized player on the Packers’ roster.

As a former Division I basketball recruit, Finley possesses as much athletic ability as any tight end in the league, but dropped passes and mental lapses seem to overshadow his on-field production. However, the 6’5″ 247-pound freak always seems to be at his best against the Packers’ top rival, the Chicago Bears.

Finley’s best regular season game as a professional came last season at Chicago, catching a season-high seven passes for 85 yards and a career-high three touchdowns. Of Finley’s eight total touchdowns last season, four came against the Bears. Oh, and of Finley’s fourteen drops last season, zero came against Chicago.

In the Packers’ Super Bowl season in 2010, Finley torched Chicago on Monday night for nine catches and 115 yards without dropping a pass. Finley missed the Bears game at Lambeau Field after suffering a season-ending knee injury against the Washington Redskins, but going back to the final Packers-Bears game a season earlier, Finley again brought his best, catching five balls for 70 yards.

There’s been an obvious theme for Finley against the Bears lately–consistent production, and more importantly, no dropped passes.

In his last four appearances against the Chicago Bears, Finley has posted 24 catches for 290 yards and four touchdowns, all without a single drop. Over a 16-game season, those numbers would equate to 96 catches for 1,160 yards and 16 touchdowns. Now, that’s the level of play Packers fans have been hoping to see from No. 88.

Despite dropping a pair of passes, Finley enters “Bear Week” fresh off a solid showing against the San Francisco 49ers, in which he caught seven passes for 47 yards and a touchdown. The 49ers were able to limit Finley, and the rest of the Packers for that matter, from producing “big plays,” but it’s pretty clear that the Bears struggled to find a favorable matchup against Finley last season.

Let’s put each of Finley’s four touchdowns against the Bears under the microscope for a closer look.

In an effort to isolate Finley one-on-one, the Packers split Finley wide to the left of their formation. When quarterback Aaron Rodgers sees newly signed safety Brandon Meriweather lined up across from No. 88, it’s game over. Finley simply beats Meriweather to the middle of the field, crosses his face and catches the touchdown.

7

September

More explosive 49ers offense will test Packers defense

49ers WR Randy Moss

49ers WR Randy Moss

The San Francisco 49ers are a popular preseason Super Bowl pick headed into the 2012 season.

Led by dominant defensive end Justin Smith, and the All-World linebacking duo of Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman, the 49ers plan to be in contention for a Championship so long as their key players stay healthy. And while San Francisco’s fierce front seven will surely be a thorn in the side of Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay offense, the 49ers improved offense will provide a difficult test to the Packers heavily scrutinized defense.

In last year’s 13-win season, the 49ers ranked eighth in the league in rushing averaging 127.8 yards per game. However, the passing game was a far different story, as San Francisco ranked 29th in the NFL last season in passing offense, averaging just 183.1 yards per game through the air. Although quarterback Alex Smith did a terrific job taking care of the football, his 17 passing touchdowns ranked just 17th in the NFL.

San Francisco’s deficiencies in the passing game were so glaring that they opted to use only three wide receivers throughout the course of last year’s NFC Championship Game. With Ted Ginn out of the lineup due to injury, the 49ers used a run-oriented approach with at least two tight ends on the field for 81.9 percent of the game.

The stingy 49ers defense was able to hold the Giants to just 20 points on a sloppy playing field in San Francisco, allowing their ground-and-pound approach to put them in position to win the game. But in the end, after a Kyle Williams fumble in overtime, the Giants made one more play than the 49ers and advanced to Super Bowl XLVI.

But after reinforcing their offense with several new weapons, the 49ers plan on lighting up the scoreboard in 2012.

In hopes of taking the lid off of opposing defenses, San Francisco signed future Hall of Famer Randy Moss. The 35-year-old wideout sat out the 2011 season but reportedly ran a sub-4.4 forty-yard dash while working out for New Orleans in March. Moss certainly isn’t the game-breaker he once was, but at 6’4″ he remains a dangerous threat in the red-zone.

Less than a week after adding Moss, the 49ers announced they signed the hero of Super Bowl XLVI–former Giants wide receiver Mario Manningham. Both Moss and Manningham saw time with the starting offense this preseason, and Moss is currently listed as the starter opposite Crabtree on San Francisco’s depth chart.

3

September

Packers LB Terrell Manning Battled Health Issues Throughout Camp

Packers LB Terrell Manning

Packers LB Terrell Manning

Packers rookie linebacker Terrell Manning had a mysteriously quiet training camp.

Although Manning was just a fifth-round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, many draft experts had drafted rated much higher than where he ultimately came off the board–ESPN tabbed Manning the tenth-best outside linebacker of the 2012 draft class.

Fast forward to the summer, Manning was buried behind D.J. Smith and Robert Francois on the depth chart and starving for an opportunity to showcase his abilities. When starting linebacker Desmond Bishop suffered a season-ending injury in the team’s first preseason game in San Diego, the door opened for Manning to step into the spotlight.

But the former North Carolina State standout continued to hide in the shadows.

And as Rob Demovsky of the Green Bay-Press Gazette points out–Manning was battling more than just his fellow linebackers this summer:

His problems began the first week of training camp, and the Packers’ medical staff quickly realized this was no ordinary stomach flu or food poisoning. The 6-foot-2, 237-pound Manning was tested for everything from Crohn’s disease to cancer before he was diagnosed with a parasite that caused colitis, an inflammation of the large intestine.

Manning says at one point during training camp, he weight as little as 220 pounds–which is less than the average weight of the Packers’ top four running backs. However, the rookie linebacker refused to use his health as an excuse to sit out of practice, as he was on the field for all 21 training camp practices and all four preseason games.

Now that Bishop is out of the picture for 2012, the Packers will lean on Smith and A.J. Hawk as their starting inside linebackers. But behind them, Manning is competing with Francois and Jamari Lattimore as the Packers’ top reserves in the middle of their 3-4 scheme.

It remains to be seen what a healthy Manning is capable of accomplishing in a Packers uniform, but after what he endured throughout his first training camp, his competitiveness cannot be called into question.

If you haven’t yet read Demovsky’s article about Manning and his mysterious health condition, you really should. If you’re a fan of the Packers, it’s definitely worth a few minutes of your time.

26

August

Open Invitation to the AllGBP.COM Fantasy Football League

Will this guy be the 1st overall pick in AllGBP's Fantasy Football Draft?

Will this guy be the 1st overall pick in AllGBP’s Fantasy Football Draft?

Attention loyal AllGBP.com readers!

We know you love the Packers, but do you also enjoy Fantasy Football?

If so, you may be interested in joining AllGBP’s Official Fantasy Football League this year. The AllGBP.com staff is starting a 12-team league for the upcoming season, and since there are only six of us writers, we’re opening the final six spots to readers who express interest in the comments on this post.

Here is your chance to match your skills with the staff at AllGreenBayPackers.com!

(P.S. This will be the first year Jersey Al is participating in Fantasy Football, so this is your chance to be a part of history!)

The format of the league will be as follows:

1) Twelve teams split into two divisions

  • “Writers Division” (myself, Jersey Al, Chad, Adam, Kris, Thomas)
  • “Readers Division” (six readers of this site)

2) Standard Yahoo! PPR league (.2 Points Per Reception)

3) Nine roster positions

  • QB
  • WR
  • WR
  • WR
  • RB
  • RB
  • TE
  • WR/RB
  • DEF

4) Playoffs will be Weeks 15 and 16

  • Six of 12 teams make the Playoffs.

5) Division winners get 1st Round byes in Playoffs

  • Remaining 4 playoff spots will be seeded by overall record, regardless of division.

**There is no cash reward, although there could be a prize or two for the winner. Bragging rights will be the only guaranteed prize of the 1st place winner!

IMPORTANT: If you are interested in joining the league, comment on this post and leave your e-mail address. If we get more than six people interested, we will choose six at random . Please don’t join unless you plan to be an active participant.

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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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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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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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