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.

28

August

Marques Eversoll: My Initial Packers 53-man Roster Prediction

Packers GM Ted Thompson

Ted Thompson has some tough decisions to make by Friday.

With the final cuts just around the corner, here are my initial predictions for how things may play out. There are a couple surprises, but overall, I think much of the roster is pretty much decided other than maybe two or three spots.

Although I assumed the Packers would keep six wide receivers all offseason, I simply no longer think that’s the case. Both Tori Gurley and Diondre Borel have been injured for part of training camp, and neither has made the same splash they made last summer at this time. I think they’ll both be let go, and the Packers will look to a different young wide receiver to stash on the practice squad.

Other than that, there aren’t too many surprises. So here goes…

Quarterback (2): Rodgers, Harrell

Although I don’t believe Graham Harrell is a No. 2 quarterback in the NFL right now, I think it’s more likely than not that the Packers will keep the position as is–with Harrell as Rodgers’s top backup. If a late-round pick could pry Colt McCoy away from the Cleveland Browns, Thompson would likely consider making that move. And despite Vince Young being an convenient punch-line for football fans, who would you rather have if you had to win a game without Rodgers: Young or Harrell? I’d take Young, and it’s not even remotely close. It’s highly unlikely that Thompson would bring in Young as a free agent, but then again, Ted hasn’t been typical “Ted” this offseason.

Running Back (5): Benson, Green, Saine, Starks, Kuhn

My oh my, how things have changed for James Starks. After choosing not to bring back veteran Ryan Grant, it appeared the Packers were set to put all their chips in on Starks. But fast forward to August, and Starks is the most likely of the four running backs to be cut. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the Packers cut Starks, but I’m not confident enough to make it one of my predictions. I see Cedric Benson as the clear-cut feature back in Green Bay, I’m a believer in Alex Green, and I like Brandon Saine’s versatility. So if there’s one back the Pack will cut, it’s Starks. Kuhn will be the only full back on the roster.

Wide Receiver (5): G. Jennings, Nelson, Cobb, J. Jones, Driver

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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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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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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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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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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