3

October

Where Are They Now: Following Former Packers

With the 2013 season now a quarter of the way over, I thought it would be a good idea to take a look at all the Packers who played for the 2012 team who are now playing somewhere else.  Have the Packers really missed them?  Have they made a contribution to their new teams?  (note: snaps are only counting offense and defense, not special teams)

Alex Green (New York Jets)

  • 2012 season: 343 snaps, 135 attempts for 464 Yds, 3.4ypc, 0 TDs, 1 Fum
  • 2013 season (projected): 40 snaps, 28 rushing attempts for 60 Yds, 2.1ypc, 0 TDs, 0 Fum
  • Alex Green never really was able to overcome the ACL injury he suffered as a rookie and became one of the few high draft picks to be quickly dumped by the Ted Thompson regime.  Green quickly found a new home with the New York Jets, one of the teams that curiously have been linked to the Packers (numerous trades of picks, Caleb Schlauderaff and of course Brett Favre).  As of yet, Green hasn’t been able to make much of an impact even with an apparent opening at the running back position with the Jets; Chris Ivory has been hobbled with injuries, Mike Goodson just returned from suspension and KR/RB Joe McKnight was sent packing.  At the moment, Green is projected as the 3rd running back and is on pace for about 60 yards rushing with a 2.1 average.   For the Packers James Starks has played pretty well and Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin have both showed promise.  the Packers are fine at running back without Green.

Greg Jennings (Minnesota Vikings)

  • 2012 season: 416 snaps, 36 Rec for 366 Yds, 10.2 YPC, 4 TDs, 0 Fum
  • 2013 season (projected): 664 snaps, 56 Rec, 1,008 Yds, 18.0 ypc, 8 TD, 0 Fum
23

August

Pre Season Week 3 – Packers vs. Seahawks: Keys to the Game

Packers vs Seahawks

Wilson will provide the Packers with their first test with a mobile quarterback in 2013

Please forgive my hiatus for last week’s Green Bay Packers vs. St. Louis Rams contest.  I was temporarily brainwashed to think that my post would write itself.  But I digress. . .

This week’s pre season game has the Seattle Seahawks visiting Lambeau Field to face the Packers on Friday.  As John Rehor of Packers Talk has said, this is not a rematch of last year’s Monday Night Football debacle.  Dubbed the “Fail Mary” game, it incited a lot of controversy and left many Packers fans wanting vengeance against both the man (the Seahawks) and the machine (Roger Gooddell and the NFL).  But alas, as John said, it’s not a rematch.  It’s just a pre season game.

Still, week three of the NFL pre season has long been considered a dress rehearsal for the upcoming season and the starting units typically see their longest stint on the field during this game.  It’s more of a true litmus test to see how a team looks and how prepared they are for the upcoming regular season.  While there may be some chatter from the players and media, the Packers need to drown that out and focus.

During the offseason, the Seahawks got busy in acquiring more pieces to complete their team and get even better than last year when they came within inches and seconds of advancing to the NFC Championship game.  They traded a first round draft pick for receiver Percy Harvin to give quarterback Russell Wilson another solid target.  Harvin promptly injured his hip and had to have surgery, which will prevent his Seattle debut until some time in November, if at all.  Seattle also brought in former Lions defensive end Cliff Avril to help with their pass rush and former Vikings cornerback Antoine Winfield to add some experience to their defensive backfield.

Seattle comes into this season as not only a favorite to win the NFC West, but they are also considered by many to be front runners for the NFC and the Super Bowl.  This should provide a solid test for the Packers, who also figure to be in the mix for a deep playoff run.  Let’s drill down on the keys for the Packers in this week’s game and also some of the position battles that are still in full swing.

16

August

Checking Up on the Packers’ Third-Year Players

Packers RB Alex Green could have the most to lose among third-year players.

Packers RB Alex Green could have the most to lose among third-year players.

At a time where rookies are looking to make an impression, sophomores are trying to make that jump, and veterans are honing their skills, it’s easy to overlook the third-year players. These guys are knee-deep into that transition between being a “young guy” and being a “veteran.” And for many of them, it’s this transition that will make or break their careers. When a football player goes looking to sign his second contract after three or four years, he’s going to know exactly what he’s worth – both to his own team and other teams.

The third-year players for the Green Bay Packers are an interesting group, to say the least. After winning the Super Bowl in 2010, the Packers picked at the 32nd spot in the 2011 NFL Draft. It’s a double-edged sword, because it represents a great achievement, but also provides a great challenge on draft day.

General Manager Ted Thompson ended up taking ten players that day, and four of them are no longer on the roster: G Caleb Schlauderaff (Round 6, No. 179), LB D.J. Smith (Round 6, No. 186), LB Ricky Elmore (Round 6, No. 197), and their final pick DE Lawrence Guy (Round 7, No. 233). Schlauderaff was traded to the New York Jets at the beginning of the regular season, Elmore was a disappointment who left with the cuts, Guy spent a year on injured reserve before being signed from the practice squad by the Indianapolis Colts, and D.J. Smith was a semi-surprising cut by the Packers last April.

The remaining six picks and two undrafted rookie free agents have made it this far, so let’s take a quick look at where they might be headed:

T Derek Sherrod (Round 1, No. 32)

  • Fate hasn’t been kind to Sherrod. No matter what people gleaned about his abilities from his short time in training and practices, there’s no avoiding the fact that his injury killed the value of Thompson’s first round pick. Sherrod’s been off the field since December 2011, and there’s no telling when he’ll get back on, not to mention how he will perform if he does. The Packers will be as patient as possible, but the outlook just isn’t promising.

WR Randall Cobb (Round 2, No. 64)

8

August

Thursday 8/8 Packers practice: Calm before the storm

What I learned at Thursday's practice: Aaron Rodgers can throw a football.

What I learned at Thursday’s practice: Aaron Rodgers can throw a football. Pretty well.

The Packers will kick off the 2013 preseason tomorrow night at home against the Arizona Cardinals.

On Thursday morning at Ray Nitschke Field–the final practice before exhibition games start–the team opted to practice in shells, despite the fact that it was originally scheduled to be in full pads.

It was a slow-paced practice without many memorable plays, highlighted by a mid-practice pep talk from head coach Mike McCarthy. The skipper was dissatisfied with the pace of practice, so he paused the action to get his team going.

In the last couple drills of practice, the pace picked up and guys seemed to be playing with more energy.

Eddie Lacy (sort of) returned to practice

Yesterday, Packers running back Eddie Lacy was in flip-flops at practice. Today, he walked onto the practice field wearing cleats and carrying his helmet. But the walk from Armed Forces Drive to Ray Nitschke Field would be the most action Lacy would get all morning.

Lacy didn’t play a single rep at Thursday’s practice and looks highly unlikely to play in the preseason opener against the Cardinals.

At this point, it’s pretty clear that the coaching staff views Lacy as their No. 1 back. And if that’s the case, it makes sense to keep Lacy off the field in an effort to prevent his hamstring injury from lingering.

Vince Young continued to struggle

In my practice summary from yesterday, I suggested Young is not currently ready for game action. I came away from Thursday morning’s practice thinking the same thing.

During the team portion of practice, Young was intercepted multiple times and sailed a couple more passes well above the receiver’s head. Young did make a nice deep throw to Jeremy Ross, but the receiver couldn’t hang on in the endzone.

According to McCarthy, the Packers would like to get Young into Friday’s game at some point. A brief preseason appearance is one thing, but right now, Young is not ready for regular-season action. What’s the next step after rusty? That’s Vince Young right now.

Johnathan Franklin is quick, crafty in space

With Lacy on the sideline, James Starks and Alex Green got the most snaps with the No. 1 offense. But the most impressive back during Thursday’s (half-speed and unpadded) practice was rookie Johnathan Franklin.

24

July

Ten Packers Training Camp Topics: #1 — The Main Event

The Packers spent two draft picks on running backs, but could DuJuan Harris steal the starting job?

The Packers spent two draft picks on running backs, but could DuJuan Harris steal the starting job?

Quick. Think of a more anticipated Packers training-camp battle in recent years than this summer’s competition at running back. Good luck.

In 2012, the running back position saw a great deal of turnover. Desperate for a true feature back, the Packers opted to sign veteran Cedric Benson during the preseason. But Benson went down with a Lisfranc injury, opening the door for 2011 third-round pick Alex Green.

When Green failed to take full advantage of his opportunity, James Starks got a chance to prove his worth. Outside of a few nice runs, Starks was pretty average in his six regular-season appearances.

But late in the season, the team got a massive boost from journeyman DuJuan Harris. Just months after selling used cars in Florida, Harris was the feature back for the No. 3 seed in the NFC Playoffs.

In six games with the Packers between the regular season and the playoffs, Harris carried the ball 62 times for 257 yards, an average of 4.1 yards per carry. While not spectacular, that’s a sizable upgrade over Benson’s average of 3.5, Green’s 3.4 and Starks’s 3.6.

Harris also scored four touchdowns in those six games.

This will be his first offseason with the Packers, and he’ll face the stiffest competition at the position in recent memory. Leading up to this year’s draft, Eddie Lacy was considered by most to be the best running back available, possibly cracking the first round and Johnathan Franklin was thought to be a surefire second rounder before falling to the Packers in the fourth round.

The rookies have yet to show what they can do in full pads, but there’s certainly reason to be excited about both. Lacy provides the Packers with their most physical running back in some time, and Franklin appears to be a natural fit within the Packers’ fast-paced, spread offense.

Franklin joined us last month at Packers Talk Radio Network for an interview.

Prior to the draft, I considered Franklin to be the second-best running back in the draft, behind Giovani Bernard and just ahead of Lacy. Ultimately, teams were scared off by Franklin’s small frame and ball-security issues which were on display through his first three years at UCLA. But fresh off his senior season in which he racked up over 2,000 total yards, Franklin expected to hear his name called much earlier than he actually did.

19

May

Surviving Sunday: Packers News, Notes and Links for the Football Deprived

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football.

If I was creating my own perfect media universe to feed me information on the Green Bay Packers, here’s what it would look like:

Play-by-play announcer: Wayne Larrivee. No explanation needed. I could listen to Wayne all day — even if the Packers were losing by seven touchdowns — and still get enjoyment out of the game.

Color commentator: Mike Mayock. I used to have Cris Collinsworth ahead of Mayock, but not any more. Mayock made those boring Thursday night games on NFL Network tolerable last season. I’ll take substance over style from my color commentary each and every time.

Sideline reporter: Doris Burke. Ok, I’m cheating a little bit. Those of you who watch Burke work the sideline and conduct in-game interviews with coaches during NBA games know why I choose her, however. She takes the job seriously and actually tries to tell the viewer something that doesn’t insult his/her intelligence. Her questions are always light on fluff and high on substance.

Studio host: Trey Wingo. Doesn’t need catch phrases or tired schtick to be effective.

Studio analysts: LeRoy Butler and Mark Tauscher. Both guys have ties to the Packers, are extremely engaging and provide good insight.

Main beat writer: Tom Silverstein. Hard working. In-depth. No frills. Smart. Insightful. Gets a little snarky on Twitter. Everything you want out of a beat guy.

Secondary beat writer: Rob Demovsky. Doesn’t get enough credit because the talent pool of Packers reporters is deep. He’s one of the better ones.

Columnist: Bob McGinn. Years upon years of working with sources and dropping knowledge. He also tends to get people a little riled up, which a good columnist will do every now and then.

Radio talk show hosts: Jason Wilde and Bill Johnson. No need to re-create the wheel. Just keep Green and Gold Today what is already is: A show to discuss the Packers, not rant and rave incoherently like most sports talk radio shows.

Blogger: Jersey Al. One of the originals and still the best.

5 Packers people to follow on Twitter: @PackerRanter: Deep. @jrehor: Passionate. @Aaron_Nagler: NFL. @Packerpedia: Informative. @BrianCarriveau: Dedicated.

That about sums it up. I’m sure I left some good people off, but hopefully they get over it and their feelings aren’t hurt too bad by being left off such a prestigious list.

3

April

2013 Packers Position Group Analysis: Running Backs

Packers RB DuJuan Harris will surely be back with the Pack in 2013.

Packers RB DuJuan Harris will surely be back with the Pack in 2013.

As far as personnel, the Packers underwent more changes at running back than any other position. James Starks was the starter through training camp before the team signed Cedric Benson after the first preseason game. Injuries added up, allowing DuJuan Harris–a former used car salesman–to take over as the team’s feature back.

Where are we now:

Here are the current suspects;

DuJuan Harris (UDFA, Signed as FA in 2012)
Alex Green (3rd round, 2011)
James Starks (6th round, 2010)
Brandon Saine (UDFA, 2011)
John Kuhn (UDFA, Signed as FA in 2007)

Listen to expanded coverage of this topic using the player below or download the podcast from the Packers Talk Radio Network on Itunes.

Listen to internet radio with Packers Talk Radio Network on Blog Talk Radio

Harris: For the 2012 Packers, DuJuan Harris (5-9 208) was a huge blessing in a small package. After starter Cedric Benson was lost for the season with a Lisfranc injury, and reserves Alex Green and James Starks both battled injuries of their own, the team turned to Harris to be the lead back. Harris played in a total of six games last season and recorded a team-high four rushing touchdowns.

Green: After Cedric Benson was lost for the season while James Starks was already out of the lineup, Alex Green was the next man up. Green broke off a season-long run of 41 yards later in the game Benson got hurt but never grabbed hold of the starting job. For the season, Green averaged just 3.4 yards per carry.

Starks: As the starter in the Packers’ first preseason game, James Starks turned in a disappointing performance. Before suffering a turf toe injury which would cause him to miss half of the season, Starks also lost a fumble. He returned to the lineup and became a key part of the backfield rotation during the middle of the season, but his roster spot for 2013 is far from assured.

Saine: The second-year back out of Ohio State didn’t carry the ball once in 2012, as he was lost for the season after suffering a torn ACL in week six against the Houston Texans. Saine has appeared in just 14 games the past two seasons, but he showed promise during 2011 in a limited role.