CheeseheadRadio News 10-06-11: Packers at 4-0

Weekly Green Bay Packers News from Twitter and other Sources by Al Braccoand Jayme Joers (As heard on Cheesehead Radio (10/6/11 ).

To listen to the show, click on the play button below.

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Packers News 10/6/11

Al:   Jordy Nelson was shown a little Packers love this week, as Ted Thompson wrapped up the blossoming wide receiver for another 3 years. Nelson’s contract will be worth 13.2 million over 4 years. Nelson’s comments were fantastic, “I think some people are in this league to get the money, and are excited about it. For myself, I love winning. I don’t know why you would want to leave a team like this, an organization like this.”

Jayme:  Great that he feels that way and it would be hard not to when your quarterback is Aaron Rodgers, who was honored as NFC offensive player of the week for the second time in 4 games.   Rodgers won the award for his record-setting performance, when he became the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for 400 yards, throw four touchdown passes and run for two all in the same game.

Al: Speaking of Packers quarterbacks, Good ol’ Brett Lorenzo Favre was at it again, flapping his gums in his inimitable “can’t help myself” way. Favre let out a series of  backhanded compliments, say Rodgers “just kind of fell into a good situation” and that he was surprised that Rodgers “didn’t do it sooner.”   Rodgers took the high road for the umpteenth when asked about it by reporters.

Jayme:  Jermichael Finley raised some eyebrows this week when he stated that while he understood he was being double-teamed against the Broncos, Aaron Rodgers “needed to get the ball into his playmakers’ hands.”  However, Finley met with Mike McCarthy today and seemed a little happier, stating that if he just keeps running his routes, the ball will come his way.  McCarthy sang a slightly different tune to the media, stating that while they would try to get Finley open, it isn’t necessary in this offense.

Al: While the Packers are cruising atop the power rankings with their franchise quarterback and an offense that can only be stopped by itself, the sobering news came when the NFL rankins placed Dom Capers’ Packer defense 28th overall in the league.  Big plays have plagued the defense this year, with plays over 20+ yards scorching them again and again.  In the end, the defense is 4-0 in the stat that counts the most…wins.  But…defense wins championships.



Green Bay Packers Free Agent Tracker

Green Bay Packers 2011 free agency tracker:



The Packers re-signed fullback John Kuhn on a three-year contract worth $7.5 million. The deal puts Kuhn amongst the highest paid NFL fullbacks.

While you may raise your eyebrows a bit at that, I think it actually makes sense. Kuhn contributed in multiple ways beyond blocking last season, including shouldering some of the running back responsibilities, catching passes, short yardage back and special teams contributor. Kuhn is also a popular player among fans and in the locker room.

Kuhn wanted back in Green Bay all along, but he played it smart and let the market set the price for him. With Houston making a strong push for Kuhn to replace the departed Vonta Leach, the Packers most likely paid Kuhn more than they would have liked. That’s not to say he’s not worth it. Kuhn is a valuable asset for the Packers to have in their hip pocket, but this does affect one of the tight ends being looked at as a possible H back.

He won’t be running the ball as much as last season, but I’d expect Kuhn to help cover for the loss of Brandon Jackson on third downs.


The Packers agreed to terms with Jones on a three-year deal worth $9.6 million.

It sounds as if Aaron Rodgers and Donald Driver went to bat for Jones, and when teams in receiver market went elsewhere, Jones decided to come back with the Packers.

We heard Rodgers say that Jones should be the Packers No. 1 priority, but I still have doubts that he swayed Thompson in any way. The more likely reason for Jones’ return to Green Bay was the fact that receiver-needy teams such as Minnesota and New York signed other players, with the Vikings acquiring Michael Jenkins and the Jets Plaxico Burress.

Now, the Packers return all their pass-catchers from 2010. With this many toys at their disposal, expectations will be sky-high for this offense.


The Philadelphia Eagles have signed Cullen Jenkins to a five-year, $25 million deal.



Packers Sign Delaware Safety Anthony Bratton

The Green Bay Packers signed Delaware safety Anthony Bratton Monday night, their fourth confirmed undrafted free agent pickup of the 2011 offseason.

Bratton visited the Packers before April’s NFL draft, along with fellow Delaware safety Anthony Walters. He signed with the Chicago Bears.

At Delaware’s pro day, Bratton ran the 40-yard dash in 4.46 and 4.50 seconds, and bench-pressed 225 pounds 15 times. He had a vertical leap of 37 inches and a 20-yard shuffle time of 4.09 seconds. Bratton stands 6-1 and weighs 215 pounds.

College summary

Bratton saw the field in all four of his years at Delaware, as he took over one of the starting safety positions in just his sophomore year. That season (’07), Bratton delivered a team-high 73 solo tackles and was second on the team with 103 total stops.

His ’08 season was lost to a torn ACL after just one game, but Bratton came back in ’09 with a second-team All-CAA performance where he led the team with four interceptions. Bratton then turned in a first team All-CAA season last year, helping the Blue Hens possess the best pass defense and total defense in the conference and the best scoring defense in the nation. He also had two interceptions and 66 tackles his senior season.


I was high on Anthony Walters, his safety running mate at Delaware, but both Bratton and Walters are underrated players moving forward.

The Packers are likely losing much of their depth at the safety position, so a guy like Bratton stands a decent shot at making the roster or landing on the practice squad. Anthony Levine is a candidate to move from the practice squad to the 53-man roster, which would leave a theoretical opening for Bratton to grab in camp. But he could make the 53-man roster too, as the Packers already let go of Derrick Martin and may not re-sign free agents such as Atari Bigby or Anthony Smith.

And even though Bratton comes from a smaller school, I like his physical traits and experience in a secondary. It appears he can run and isn’t afraid to play near the line of scrimmage, but his three years of starting experience at Delaware might make him an interesting guy to watch in Packers camp.



Bringing in the Cavalry: A Look at the Packers Injured Reserve

Ryan Grant Injury - Packers injured reserved

Ryan Grant's injury against the Philadelphia Eagles was one of the biggest blows to the offense last season.

With the NFL lockout well into its fourth month now, there has been ample talk of which teams will fare better with a limited offseason. One of those teams, of course, is the defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers. But it’s not their championship status that has people convinced they’ll be ready. No, most people point to the (now cliché) fact that they have “16 players returning from injured reserve.”

While this is certainly the case, I started thinking about this claim a little more in depth. I wondered: Will all sixteen of those players really be making a difference?

Sure, guys like Jermichael Finley and Ryan Grant will have a HUGE impact upon their return. But what about a guy like Spencer Havner or even Brady Poppinga? What are they really going to be bringing back to the table?

Here’s a quick look at each player that ended up injured reserve last year and what their potential impact will be upon their return. They are ordered by the date of their injuries:

Josh Bell, CB

Type of Injury: Foot Sprain
When Injured:
Training Camp (August 10, 2010)
Impact for 2011:
None – The Packers offered Bell an injury settlement during camp, which he refused. After the Super Bowl ring controversy in June, it’s clear the team plans to go on without him next season.

#91 Justin Harrell, DE

Type of Injury: Knee (ACL)
When Injured:
Week 1 @ Philadelphia Eagles
Impact for 2011:
Questionable – Harrell could actually be a big influence on the 2011 season; however, one still has to be cautious with his downright unlucky injury history. If Harrell can manage to stay active for more than a game, then he might be able to do some damage along the line. We all know how big of an “if” that is, though.

#25 Ryan Grant, RB

Type of Injury: Ankle
When Injured:
Week 1 @ Philadelphia Eagles
Impact for 2011:
High – There’s no question that the Packers severely missed their primary running back for most of last season. Brandon Jackson just couldn’t get the job done, and James Starks, while showing a lot of promise, is still young and relatively inexperienced. Grant will provide some much-needed consistency to the ground game, even if he is splitting carries with Starks.



Cheesehead Radio News 06-15-11 with Special Guest Anthony Smith

Weekly Green Bay Packers News from Twitter and other Sources by Al Bracco and Jayme Joers (As heard on Cheesehead Radio 6/30/11 ).

To listen to the Anthony Smith interview, click one of the links at the end of this post.

Packer News 6/30/11

Al: The ESPY nominations were announced this week, with the Packers garnering 5 nominations. The Packers were nominated for “Best Team”, Mike McCarthy for “Best Head Coach” and Clay Matthews for “Best NFL player. Aaron Rodgers picked up two nominations himself, for “Best NFL Player” and “Best Male Athlete.” The winners will be announced on Wednesday, July 13th.

Jayme: Jay Cutler didn’t receive any love from ESPN, and got just as much from Packers Safety Nick Collins. Appearing on the the Colin Cowherd show on ESPN, Collins named Tom Brady as the toughest QB he’s had to face. Asked for who was the easiest, Collins surprisingly answered the question. “Jay Cutler,” said Collins, “I’ve had my share of success against him and I do get a good read on his throws.” Even in this lockout-marred offseason, the Packers – Bears rivalry flourishes.

Al: We haven’t heard much in the way of endorsement deals for the Super Bowl Champions, but this week AJ Hawk signed his name to an exclusive contract with Cinch gear, a leading name in performance training apparel for elite athletes. Cinch has a strong presence in amateur wrestling and Mixed Martial Arts and are looking at the Hawk deal to expand into the football arena. Cinch will be developing an AJ Hawk Signature series for 2012.

Jayme: On the sadder side of player business news, it was announced that Fuzzy Thurston owes the IRS 1.7 million dollars in unpaid payroll taxes, penalties and interest. The money is owed from a failed restaurant chain Thurston was involved with in the late 70’s. In 1984, he was deemed to owe $190,000. Almost 30 years later, the IRS has seized some of his possessions, such as one of his Super Bowl rings, and will auction them off to apply towards the debt.

Al: With all the praise being heaped on Aaron Rodgers lately, there had to be someone willing to crash that party – and naturally, there was. NFL.com’s Bucky brooks raised the ire of Packers fans by stating Rodgers is not yet in the class of Brady, Manning and Brees, and possibly can’t hang with Rivers and Roethlisberger, either. While I respect his attempt to temper the enthusiasm, his arguments were weak at best, and left out some important facts, like Rodger’s presently having the highest passer ranking in NFL history.



Confidence Check: An Interview with Packers Safety Anthony Smith Reveals His Green Bay Plans

We’ve all known Green Bay Packers free agent safety Anthony Smith to be a guy that exudes confidence. After speaking with him on Wednesday, I can tell you that nothing has changed.

He’s still the same player who four years ago guaranteed a Steelers win in the week leading up to a key matchup with the 12-0 Patriots. Pittsburgh lost that game, partly due to a couple of touchdown passes Smith gave up, and even Tom Brady and coach Bill Belichick took their respective shots at the then two-year safety.

The Patriots mild-mannered quarterback went face-to-face with Smith after one of his touchdowns, screaming who knows what at Smith, and post-game, the normally reserved Belichick said, “We’ve played against a lot better safeties than [Smith], I’ll tell you that.”

But that mishap hasn’t taken anything away from the sureness Smith still feels. Despite being an unrestricted free agent, Smith has plans to stay in Green Bay for next season, and he wants to make his mark on this group of Packers.

When asked about his free agent status on Wednesday, Smith was quick to respond that he has a tentative deal in place with the Packers for when the lockout ends. Smith couldn’t confirm any details, but he said he plans to “finish” his career with the team.

His reason for wanting to remain in Green Bay? Simple. He thinks this current collection of Packers could be in for a long ride of success.

“I want to stay because I think we could have a dynasty here if everyone has the same mindset,” Smith said. “If everyone believes in the same thing; it’s like (Charles) Woodson always says, ‘One mind, purpose, goal and heart equals championships.’”

It’s a far cry from his guarantee in Pittsburgh, but it’s clear that Smith believes that the Packers are in for more than just their one Super Bowl victory. And it’s also evident that Smith wants to be a bigger part of the next championship team. In fact, Smith went as far as saying he thinks he can start for this defense next season.

“I’ll help out on special teams, but I’ve put five years worth of time on that unit. The young boys have to prove themselves there. And it’s in every player’s thought process to start. Yeah, I plan on starting.”



Packers Put a Ring on it – and We Like It

It had the anticipation, nerves and hype of a Green Bay Packer playoff game. There are just two problems with this scenario.

The NFL lockout remains in effect (although hopefully not much longer) and the date is June 16, not January 16.

The excitement was over the unveiling of the Packers’ Super Bowl XLV championship rings.  Tonight was a different kind of night, given that the players and coaches have barely interacted since they got back from Dallas, but it’s a night none of the players or fans who were following along on Twitter will likely ever forget.

Like a great movie, the occasion had it all: Drama, laughter, nervousness and an ultimately very sweet payoff.  Yours truly was even sucked into the drama of the evening thanks to one of my soon to be patented poorly timed and poorly worded jokes. More on that later.

Since the event was private, no media were allowed inside the Lambeau Field Atrium until after the event. This was a night solely for the players in coaches.  We were treated to some “pre –game” coverage on NFL Network but sooner than later the players were inside the stadium, ready for the festivities to begin.

Without any media, the obvious question on Twitter became “Which player would be the first to tweet a picture of the ring?”  The early favorite was tight end and new fan favorite Tom Crabtree with Nick Barnett not far behind.   Another thing that got a chuckle out of me were all the tweets that said Aaron Rodgers had arrived…..solo.

Soon after, players were seated and the ceremony got underway.   Tensions and nervousness began to escalate quickly as time went further and further past 7 PM central.   You’d think there was a game going on given the anxiety I saw on my Twitter timeline.

Offensive lineman Bryan Bulaga broke the tension with a tweet stating “The Ring!” followed by a link to TwitPic. That link ultimately led to a picture of a grinning Bulaga and no ring.  A new meme in Packer fandom may have been born: being BulagaRoll’d. Sorry, Rick Astley.

At this point fans were openly wondering if all the Packer fans retweeting photos of the ring would cause Twitter to malfunction, as has been known to happen during spikes of activity.  Twitter also supposedly has this “Twitter jail” for those users who send too many tweets in too short of time period, thus chewing up precious bandwith. This led me to tweet to fans: “Intentionally trying to take down Twitter will get you banned fyi.”