22

July

Packers OL Andrew Datko: Training Camp Dark Horse or Off the Team?

Packers offensive lineman Andrew Datko

We don’t know much about Packers offensive lineman Andrew Datko because he was stashed away on the practice squad all of last season.

What we did know about him after the Packers drafted him in the seventh round in 2012 we’ve probably already forgotten because, well, he was on the practice squad all of last season.

Because the Packers offensive line situation always seems to be in some sort of disrepair, it’s important that we keep any offensive lineman who can walk upright fresh on our mind before training camp battles begin.

Here’s a refresher on Datko so you don’t have to ask yourself “Who is that guy?” should Datko make some noise during camp.

  • At Florida State, Datko started 12 of 13 games as a true freshman at left tackle. Even though he only weighed 260 pounds, he still had 21 knockdown blocks. Talk about starting your college career with a bang.  
  • He started all 13 games his sophomore season and only allowed two sacks. In 11 games as a junior, he only allowed one sack.
  • Things went downhill from there. After starting the first four games of his senior season, Datko hurt his shoulder — the same shoulder he hurt in high school. The injury required surgery in November and Datko couldn’t lift at the NFL combine, causing him to freefall down draft boards and fall right off many of them.
  • Physically, Datko is the type of offensive lineman the Packers like to draft: A successful college left tackle (when healthy) who is athletic, versatile and could theoretically play multiple positions.
  • Datko’s ceiling in 2013 is winning the Packers sixth man job along the offensive line. If he does that, both Datko and the Packers have to be ecstatic. It would mean the 6-foot-6, 315 pounder is healthy and Ted Thompson can breathe a little bit easier if Derek Sherrod is a lost cause.
  • Obviously, Datko’s worst-case scenario is the shoulder acting up again and getting cut.
  • Realistically, look for Datko to be in the mix for the seventh or eighth offensive line slot, probably not the sixth. The sixth-man job likely goes to the loser of the battle to start at right tackle. Datko lined up at guard during OTAs, which also helps his chances of making the team, if healthy.
2

June

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

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

I had an idea for a new Packers offseason gameshow while driving home from work today.

The first nine years of my adult life I had a job where I took a city bus to work. It was nice to not burn gas and spend half my salary on parking, but I always had to stay alert so I wouldn’t get stabbed. There are some, ahem, interesting people that rode the city bus on my route.

Now I have a job where I drive 30 minutes to work, in my own car. Yes, I’m burning gas (free parking, thankfully), but I don’t have to worry about getting stabbed. This frees up my brain and allows me to think of all kinds of silly things, like my idea for a Packers offseason gameshow.

I’ve already filmed the pilot episode, and am ready to share the transcript with all of you today. I brought back the ghost of Richard Dawson to host my show, mainly because I crack up whenever I see old Family Feud episodes when Dawson tries to make out with all the female contestants.

The name of the show is Will Johnny Jolly Play for the Packers Before…

Enjoy.

Richard Dawson: Welcome ladies and gentlemen to everyone’s favorite new favorite game show! The object of the game is to guess if Johnny Jolly will play a regular season snap for the Packers before another player currently on the Packers roster. It sounds confusing, but it’s not.

Even people who read Packers blogs should be able to understand it and play along at home. Let’s get started.

Female Contestant No. 1: I’m ready, Richard.

(Dawson leans in and gets a smooch)

Dawson: Will Johnny Jolly play a regular season snap for the Packers before running back James Starks?

Female Contestant No. 1: Oh, that’s a tough one. I wish Jolly participated in OTAs this week so we at least knew what kind of shape he’s in. But the injury-prone Starks could be on the chopping block with with Eddie Lacy and Jonathan Franklin on the team. I’m going to say yes, Jolly will play for the Packers before Starks because Starks won’t make the team.

Dawson: That’s a logical answer. Time will tell if you’re right. And if you are right, you win an even longer kiss from me!

15

January

Packers News: Team keeps eight practice squad players

Packers OT Andrew Datko

Packers OT Andrew Datko

The Green Bay Packers have signed eight practice squad players to future contracts, according to the team’s official website.

Tight end Brandon Bostick, quarterback B.J. Coleman, tackle Andrew Datko, center Garth Gerhart, guard Joe Gibbs, linebacker Micah Johnson, cornerback James Nixon and safety Chaz Powell have all been signed by the team. This according to Packers general manager Ted Thompson.

Bostick was a pleasant surprise in training camp and remained on the Packers’ practice squad for the entire season. With the uncertainty surrounding Jermichael Finley’s future in Green Bay, Bostick could potentially challenge for a roster spot next season.

Coleman was selected by the Packers in the seventh round of the 2012 NFL Draft. He showed impressive arm strength in training camp but was never activated on game day. He continues to be a backup quarterback-in-training for the Packers.

Datko was a seventh-round pick of the Packers last season. He was inconsistent throughout training camp and never found the field this season. With Bryan Bulaga and Derek Sherrod returning next season, the Packers will be in much better shape at the tackle position.

Gerhart, an undrafted rookie free agent from Arizona State, and Gibbs, a first-year player out of Tennessee-Martin were both recent adds to the practice squad.

Johnson was added to the practice squad Dec. 31 after entering the league as an undrafted free agent in 2010. Johnson spent time with the New York Giants, Miami Dolphins, Kansas City Chiefs and Cincinnati Bengals before arriving in Green Bay. He was first-team All-Southeastern Conference as a junior at Kentucky.

Nixon has been a member of the practice squad since Sept. 20. Before transferring to California (Pa.), Nixon spent his first three collegiate seasons at Temple, where he played on both sides of the ball and returned kickoffs. His best chance to crack the roster would be as a return man. Nixon averaged 25.8 yards per kick return in college.

Powell, an undrafted rookie from Penn State, was signed to the practice squad Dec. 5. Much like Nixon, Powell played cornerback, wide receiver and returned kickoffs in college.

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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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3

September

Green Bay Packers Fill Out Practice Squad

OL Chris Scott

OL Chris Scott becomes the Packers eighth practice squad member.

According to Packers.com, the Green Bay Packers have finalized their 8-man practice squad. Along with the reported signings of their seven training camp players, the Packers have added OL Chris Scott. He was a fifth round draft pick in 2010 by the Pittsburgh Steelers, though he started out on their practice squad. In 2011, he began the season on the PUP list, after which he was added to the active roster. He only appeared in two games, however. The Packers list Scott as a guard/tackle.

It’s not surprising that Ted Thompson has added another offensive lineman to the list, considering he kept a record-low (for him) seven players on the 53-man roster. This brings the total of offensive linemen on the practice squad to three.

Here is a list of the eight practice squad members to begin the Green Bay Packers 2012 season:

  • WR Diondre Borel
  • TE Brandon Bostick
  • QB B.J. Coleman
  • T Andrew Datko
  • DE Lawrence Guy
  • G/T Chris Scott
  • RB Marc Tyler
  • G Greg Van Roten
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Chad Toporski, a Wisconsin native and current Pittsburgh resident, is a writer for AllGreenBayPackers.com. You can follow Chad on twitter at @ChadToporski

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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

Don’t Give up on Packers’ Andrew Datko Quite Yet

Andrew Datko

Give Packers rookie T Andrew Datko a little more time before writing him off.

Early reports on Packers’ seventh-round draft choice Andrew Datko were not good. Comparisons were made to Ricky Elmore.

We got our first glimpse of Datko against the Chargers, and it wasn’t pretty, at least initially. He got whipped a few times and didn’t do much to disspell those early reports.

Then he settled down and wasn’t half bad the rest of the game. Jason Wilde reported on Saturday that Datko has looked better in practice as well after a rough start.

I’m not saying that Datko will become the second coming of Chad Clifton, but it’s silly to write him off so early. Bob McGinn didn’t exactly write him off with his ominous Tweet, but it was a little quick to even suggest that a guy can’t play only a few days into camp.

It’s all about health with Datko. He was a good tackle at Florida State — when on the field. Shoulder injuries limited Datko later in his college career. The guy simply hasn’t played much football recently.

Ted Thompson swung for the fences with the Datko pick. You’re probably asking how it’s even possible to swing for the fences with a seventh-round pick, but in my opinion, that’s the only swing Thompson should be taking that late in the draft.

It’s the seventh round. Picking a boom or bust player is perfectly fine. You can always find fill-in guys off the street who have already reached their ceilings. Try and hit a home run with your seventh-rounder.

Again, I’m not saying that Datko is a home run, but he’s 6-foot-6, 315 pounds, only allowed four sacks in his final three seasons at Florida State, and played his entire junior season with a torn labrum.

This kid deserves a chance to show what he can do if healthy.

Did any of us think Marshall Newhouse would be penciled in as the 2012 left tackle at this point in camp last season? Guys with raw talent usually get better when healthy and given a chance to develop. Datko has raw talent.

With the injury to Newhouse and Herb Taylor’s struggles at left tackle, Datko’s development is actually one of the more intriguing storylines to follow at camp.

14

May

Green Bay Packers 2012 NFL Draft: The Reasons Behind the Picks Part II

NFL Draft Logo Image

2012 NFL Draft

So here is part II of the reasons behind the draft picks (see part I here)  Again, I’m not assigning grades to the draft or to the players because I don’t believe you can tell whether or not a player will pan out within the first 30 something days.  What I am interested in is what the Packers were thinking of when they decided to draft a player; with that in mind, this is what I think the Packers want to accomplish with each draft pick and which player each rookie could be potentially be replacing.

Jeron McMillian – Projected Strong Safety – Round 4, Pick #38 (#133 overall) – Replaces Pat Lee

Rationale: First off let’s be honest here, I don’t think we have the next Nick Collins in McMillian; I was actually very surprised that McMillian was drafted at all by the Packers simply because he doesn’t fit into the mold of what the Packers look for in safeties.  The Packers are probably more interested in playing two free safeties (which there really wasn’t one this year in the draft), consider their preferred pairing of Collins and Morgan Burnett (who ironically never really played together): both have good ball skills and the ability to jump passing routes.  What McMillian does best is run support, which is almost the exact opposite of a ball hawk.   Then again even if McMillian is the next Collins I highly doubt that the Packers can afford to stick him out there in his first year, which is even more reason why I think Woodson will have to make the move to safety.

What McMillian can do, and almost immediately, is play on special teams.  One of the less covered bits of news in the offseason was that cornerback Pat Lee was not resigned by the Packers but was curiously signed by the Oakland Raiders; many assumed this was just because of new Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie’s background knowledge of Lee, but I think its apparent that Lee is always going to be a liability in coverage so more realistically McKenzie wanted his special teams ability.  Lee actually was the gunner opposite of Jarrett Bush and it’s an important position, just look at who was the Packers priority signing this offseason (and it wasn’t Matt Flynn).  My assumption is that the Packers are hoping that McMillian contributes immediately to special teams as a gunner while refining his coverage technique and perhaps becomes a starter on the defense in the future, but anything more than special teams ace in his first couple of years is probably wishful thinking.