31

July

A Little Support For Packers MD Jennings

With the departure of former starting safety Charlie Peprah, who was released in a very similar manner to former inside linebacker Brandon Chillar for failing his physical at the start of training camp in 2010, all eyes now look towards Charles Woodson, MD Jennings and Jerron McMillian to see which ends up being the starting safety opposite Morgan Burnett.

Only a couple of problems; Woodson is desperately needed at the line of scrimmage as the slot cornerback, Jerron McMillian is a 4th round rookie who naturally shouldn’t be counted on to step in as a starting safety and actually produce and MD Jennings, who despite being a “football nerd” and making it as a undrafted rookie free agent last year “is too small and short and looks like a cornerback instead of a safety” as paraphrased by Bill Johnson during Green and Gold Today on July 25th, 2012.

Is “the doctor” really too short and too small to be a safety with the Green Bay Packers?  I think the prototypical “safety” Bill Johnson is thinking of would be someone like Taylor Mays (who despite being a physical specimen apparently isn’t a half decent safety) who stands at 6’3” weighs 230lbs.  To figure this out, I’ve compiled a list of the Packers starting safeties from the last decade as according to Pro Football Reference.

 

Name

Height (inches)

Weight (lbs)

Aaron Rouse

76

223

Antuan Edwards

73

212

Atari Bigby

71

220

Charlie Peprah

71

202

Darren Sharper

74

210

LeRoy Butler

72

197

Mark Roman

71

200

Marquad Manuel

72

209

Marques Anderson

71

212

Morgan Burnett

73

210

Nick Collins

71

206

Average

72.27

209.18

STD

1.62

7.87

 

31

July

Green Bay Packers Free Agent Tracker

Green Bay Packers 2011 free agency tracker:

 

FB John Kuhn: RE-SIGNED WITH PACKERS

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.

WR James Jones: RE-SIGNED WITH PACKERS

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.

DE Cullen Jenkins: SIGNED WITH EAGLES 

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

29

July

Green Bay Packers Won’t Re-Sign Atari Bigby

Atari Bigby on Bike

Atari Bigby has seen his last days as a Packer with his number given to rookie Alex Green.

Apparently free agent Atari Bigby won’t be re-signing with the Green Bay Packers this season. Third round draft pick Alex Green tweeted last night that his jersey number will be #20, which belonged to Bigby for the past six years.

For the past few seasons, Bigby has been the strong safety complement to Nick Collins. His best season was 2009, when he accumulated 49 tackles, defended 8 passes, and picked off 4 interceptions. Though admired by some, he has been considered the weakest of the starters in the backfield.

Unfortunately for Bigby, he sealed his fate last season when he decided to holdout on his contract. With Morgan Burnett drafted that year, the Packers didn’t budge and reportedly threatened to reduce his $1.759 million tender offer if he didn’t sign it.

Bigby eventually signed, but a chronic left ankle injury seemed to put the nail in the coffin. He had to undergo arthroscopic surgery in August and was placed on the PUP list. By the time he returned to the field in November, Charlie Peprah had solidified his spot as a starter. To top it all off, Bigby missed a few of the final games due to other minor hamstring and groin injuries.

With Alex Green now donning the #20 jersey, it’s clear Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy have decided to move on without Atari Bigby. Charlie Peprah and Morgan Burnett have shown themselves to be more than adequate replacements for the injured and aging safety.

——————

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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26

July

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.

Commentary

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.

28

April

2011 Draft Prep: Green Bay Packers Needs by Position – Safety

In this next installment of our 2011 Draft Prep series looking at the Green Bay Packers’ needs by position, we are going to analyze how the safety position currently stands. Strengths, weaknesses, depth, and uncertainties will all be examined to determine the urgency of need in regards to next season.

This series is meant to help us figure out the needs of the team and how the draft could be used to improve the weaker areas. While Ted Thompson largely uses the “best player available” (BPA) approach, his decision to trade up or down the board is affected by what position players he would prefer to have. Additionally, the picking up of players in the later rounds and in undrafted free agency is often based on need, since the talent is less defined.

CURRENT PLAYERS:

#36 Nick Collins
27 yrs. old / 6 yrs. exp.
Signed through 2013

#26 Charlie Peprah
28 yrs. old / 5 yrs. exp.
Signed through 2012

#42 Morgan Burnett
22 yrs. old / 1 yrs. exp.
Signed through 2013

#34 Anthony Levine
24 yrs. old / 1 yrs. exp.
Signed to reserve/future contract

#43 Michael Greco
24 yrs. old / 1 yrs. exp.
Signed to reserve/future contract

#20 Atari Bigby
29 yrs. old / 5 yrs. exp.
Free Agent

#27 Anthony Smith
27 yrs. old / 5 yrs. exp.
Free Agent

* Contract information acquired from RotoWorld.com

POSITION STRENGTHS:

As I noted in the cornerback position evaluation, the Green Bay Packers have arguably the best secondary in the league. This could not be possible without a pair of safeties like Nick Collins and Charlie Peprah.

Nick Collins has been playing for the Packers since he was picked up in the second round of the 2005 NFL Draft. An unquestioned starter as the free safety, he has shown no signs of slowing down. Collins saw his third consecutive selection for the Pro Bowl in 2010, and his worth to the team was made clear during the final run of the season. His interception against the Chicago Bears in Week 17 was a game-clincher, and the interception of “Big Ben” Roethlisberger helped the Packers gain an early lead in Super Bowl XLV.

Of course, at the beginning of the season, Nick Collins was expected to do well. Charlie Peprah, on the other hand, wasn’t even expected to be a starter.

21

June

Green Bay Packer Safety Morgan Burnett Developing Quickly: Thank You Atari Bigby

As Green Bay Packers third round draft pick Morgan Burnett continues to impress Packers coach Mike Mccarthy, surely he is grinning inside and saying to himself, thank you Atari Bigby.

For a player that came on as an undrafted free agent, had one good year, and then missed 12 games the past two years, Atari Bigby seems surprisingly secure in not signing the Packers’ RFA tender offer. He was even willing to lose $54,000, as the Packers have the right to re-work the offer to 110% of his 2009 salary and surely will.

While I have no problem with players trying to get as much  money as they can, it seems fairly obvious to everyone except Bigby and his agent Drew Rosenhaus that they have no leverage to seek a long-term deal. But I’m not here to write about that, as the topic has been covered pretty concisely elsewhere. (One good treatise on the subject can be found here: The Game of Atari )

But while Atari stays away from the Packers’ OTAs, Morgan Burnett is getting all the first team reps and his star continues to rise, especially in the eyes of Packers head coach Mike McCarthy. McCarthy has made it a point to compliment Burnett in every press conference he’s held since the Packers started their Organized Team Activities (OTAs).

Here are McCarthy’s comments on Burnett:

05/19/10 – He’s done a very good job, number one, in the meetings, communicating. Dom Capers, the way he runs the defense and the method of communication as far as how our meetings are organized, that’s the first step, and the ability to carry it over to the playing field. We’ve seen him in the rookie orientation and now two practices, so I think he’s off to a good start there. But there’s no question you like the size and the athletic ability that he possesses, and I think that’s pretty clear-cut to everybody just watching him move around the last two days

06/02/10 – Been very impressed with Morgan. He’s done a very good job, particularly communicating for a young safety. That’s a very big part of playing the position, the communication, as far as the alignments, the formations and the calls to be made back there. I think he’s off to a good start. I think he’s a very natural football player. He’s done some things on special teams in particular some new techniques that we’re implementing this year. I like what I’ve seen just in the short time he’s been here also on special teams.