25

August

Surviving Sunday: News, Notes and Analysis from Packers Preseason

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

Graham Harrell cut
Somebody alert the Minnesota Vikings, another Packers player has hit the open market. Reports are out there that Graham Harrell is getting cut, meaning Vince Young has won the Packers’ backup QB job. The Packers are effed if Vince Young needs to play for an extended stretch of games, but probably not as effed as they would’ve been with Harrell. I thought Harrell would come around to at least be a Matt Flynn type of backup, but obviously, I was wrong. His accuracy went from bad to worse, and that ultimately did him in.

Knowledge of offense?
The only thing Harrell had going for him was his knowledge of the offense. I suppose it would be nice for Aaron Rodgers to have a backup that is familiar with the offense and can offer insight when needed, but that knowledge didn’t make up for Harrell’s poor play. Besides, the Packers have a QB coach, offensive coordinator, head coach and who knows how many other people that know this offense just as well, if not better than Rodgers. If Vince Young is playing catchup in the classroom, it shouldn’t be that big of a deal.

Meat wagon makes the rounds at Lambeau
Five more Packers were struck down with injuries in Friday’s loss to the Seachickens. Casey Hayward, Brad Jones, Morgan Burnett and Jarvis Reed left the game on defense. On offense, DuJuan Harris re-injured his knee. Of the five, Burnett worries me the most. Who’s going to play safety if Burnett is on the shelf?

Sherrod’s family speaks
Since the Packers and Derek Sherrod aren’t providing any updates on why it’s taking so long for the big tackle to return from a broken leg, Bob McGinn contacted Sherrod’s family to try and learn more about what’s going on. Turns out Sherrod has had to deal with many challenges on his road to recovery. I don’t get why the Packers and/or Sherrod have been so secretive about the injury and recovery process. I get that all teams are paranoid about releasing injury news, but what good has that paranoia done the Packers in Sherrod’s case? All it’s done is frustrated the fan base and caused some misguided people to question Sherrod’s work ethic or toughness as he tries to return.

4

August

Packers News: Report: Bryan Bulaga Suffers Knee Injury

Here we go again. Bryan Bulaga may miss 2013 with an apparent knee injury

The Green Bay Packers may have already suffered their first major injury of 2013 and they have yet to play a preseason game.

Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel is reporting via Twitter that left tackle Bryan Bulaga suffered a knee injury during Saturday’s Family Night scrimmage and that the injury could be severe.  According to McGinn, the team is “hoping for the best but fearing the worst.”  If the worst case scenario comes to fruition, Bulaga will be on injured reserve for a second straight season.

It’s unclear which knee Bulaga injured, but if it’s the same leg as his hip injury from last season then there could be some long-term repercussions for Bulaga.  As the Packers’ best offensive lineman on a newly revamped line, this injury could prove devastating for Green Bay.

As for what the Packers will do in Bulaga’s absence, there are some options but none of them are really good scenarios. Marshall Newhouse could move to the left tackle position he held last year and let David Bakhtiari and Don Barclay battle it out for the right tackle job.  They could also try Bakhtiari at left tackle and keep Barclay on the right.   With Barclay entering his second year and Bakhtiari a rookie, neither of these situations are ideal.

Part of the Packers’ reasoning for shuffling the offensive line this offseason was to shore up protection of Aaron Rodgers’ blind side. That meant moving Bulaga to left tackle, which is where he played in college.  Unfortunately, it looks like he may have to wait to play that position at the professional level.

For now, it will be a waiting game until official word on Bulaga comes down. Coach Mike McCarthy made no mention of this after Saturday’s scrimmage so everyone is truly in the dark for the time being.

If the report is true then the Packers may be in for another battle with the injury bug in 2013.  After injuries decimated the roster last season, this is not the news Packers fans have been waiting for.

Buckle up, Packer Nation. It may be yet another bumpy ride for the Green and Gold.

27

January

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

Surviving Sundays With No Packers Football

Surviving Sundays With No Packers Football

Sundays with Packers football are over for a long time. In fact, there is no football at all this Sunday (the pro bowl doesn’t count), so it’s time to resurrect Surviving Sunday. As long as I have time and as long as I remember, I’ll try and do a Surviving Sunday every week to muse about some sort of topic and recap the week in Packers news ad other nonsense.

This week, I want to talk about the atmosphere at Lambeau Field.

At the end of this column about the Packers being too soft to join the NFL’s elite, Bob McGinn takes a dig at Packers fans:

And the crowds at Lambeau Field have started to remind me of those staid assemblages at the University of Michigan. It’s the place to be seen and all that, but it has been a long time since a visiting coach or player went on and on about how difficult it was to hear and play in Green Bay.

Nowhere is it written that the Packers shall contend for if not win the Super Bowl every year, but some fans sure seem to think it is.

So, McGinn thinks Packers fans are just as soft as the players. I’m not sure how he can reach that conclusion while sitting far above the unwashed masses in the press box, but I respect his opinion.

I don’t think Packers fans have gone soft, but I’ve only been attending games at football’s Holy Grail for about six years. Perhaps those of you that have been going to Lambeau your whole lives do, in fact, see a quieter and more finicky type of fan occupying the metal bleachers. I know I sometimes wonder if I’m at a cold-weather version of Mardi Gras or a football game while at Lambeau, but I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing.

McGinn thinks teams don’t “fear” playing at Lambeau any more. Where do NFL teams fear playing these days? Seattle? Maybe. The Metrodome? Perhaps because of the noise. Soldier Field? Only because the bad turf might lead to a torn ACL?

Most NFL players are millionaires. They travel first class, stay in the finest hotels, eat meals catered by world-class chefs, and have team employees handle all of their equipment and other miscellaneous things. Why would anyone in that situation “fear” going on the road. It sounds like something to look forward to!

19

September

Matthews, Raji Could Make It Tough To Keep Greg Jennings

Greg JenningsWhen Bob McGinn suggested the Green Bay Packers should trade wide receiver Greg Jennings this year, many fans thought he was nuts despite being one of the most respected voices on the Packers beat.

The thinking of many fans, bloggers and beat writers alike was along the lines of, “receivers like Jennings don’t come around very often.  Ted would be nuts to let him walk.”

It’s a very easy argument to understand. Jennings and Aaron Rodgers share a unique chemistry and that’s not something Thompson can replace with draft pick, even a first round selection.   He’s also one of the most beloved players on the team by the fans so naturally they refuse to consider the idea of Jennings in any other colors than green and yellow.

That said, one must consider the reality of the situation.  Rodgers himself admitted it’s a very real possibility Jennings won’t be back in 2013.  Plus the Packers are faced with signing Jennings, Rodgers, Clay Matthews and BJ Raji in the next few years. Jordy Nelson also will need a new contract thanks to his stellar play.  It’s very possible one of them will be a casualty of simple math as the Packers try to stay a reasonable amount under the salary cap.

Unbelievably, that casualty very well could be Jennings.

Before the season began, many would have selected Raji out of those players to most likely be the one who is not brought back.  It made sense, given Raji’s lackluster performance (along with the rest of the defense) last season.   The Packers were and still are incredibly deep at wide receiver but thanks to how Mike McCarthy likes to run a multiple offense, it seemed like Jennings was a near-lock to be brought back.

Two games into 2012 however, the situation has taken a strange turn.

After getting burned by the San Francisco 49ers in Week 1, the Packers defense roared to live against Jay Cutler and the now supposedly explosive Chicago Bears offense.  In the 23-10 victory, the Packers sacked Cutler seven times, intercepted him four times and potentially may have sent the Bears into a season long tailspin.

Two of the key players in the defensive resurgence? Matthews and Raji.

15

January

Packers vs. Giants: 5 Things to Watch in NFC Divisional Round

Peprah was burned for a TD on the Giants' first offensive series.

The Green Bay Packers (15-1, NFC No. 1) host the New York Giants (10-7, NFC No. 4) Sunday in the NFC’s Divisional Round of the 2012 playoffs.

The basics 

When: 3:30 CST, Sunday, January 15, 2012.

Where: Lambeau Field, Green Bay, WI.

TV: FOX; Joe Buck and Troy Aikman on the call, Pam Oliver on the sidelines.

Radio: 620 AM WTMJ (Milwaukee); Packers Radio Network; NFL Sunday Drive; Westwood One.

Series: Packers lead, 31-23-2 (Giants won last playoff meeting, 23-20 (OT) on Jan. 20, 2008 in NFC Championship Game).

Five things to watch

1. Rookie factor

Not since Desmond Howard have the Packers had a special teams weapon that could routinely flip field position. They have one now in rookie Randall Cobb, and you better believe that teams are treating him as such. As the season wore on, more and more teams hedged their bets and kicked away from Cobb.

At the very least, Cobb can ensure the Packers aren’t playing offense from the shadow of their own goal posts Sunday. And if the Giants give him enough chances, Cobb can break that one big play that can turn the game.

2. Opposite rush

Expecting a breakout performance from the Packers’ outside linebacker position after 16 games of mediocrity (that’s putting it nicely) is overly optimistic. But there is some hope that the Packers can get something from a player opposite Clay Matthews Sunday.

Brad Jones showed some life in Week 17 with a hustle sack and a couple of stops in the running game. He’ll likely get the majority of the early snaps against the Giants. In addition, Erik Walden had one of his better pass rushing games of the season back in Week 13 in New York. A solid performance from either player, or preferably both, would be a huge lift for the Packers defense.

3. Big Fella catchin’ on

For all the criticism Jermichael Finley took during most of the regular season, the Packers’ enigmatic tight end really started to come on during the last five games of the season. A five-game stretch that saw him catch 19 passes for 254 yards and three scores started in New York, where Finley went for 87 yards, including a huge catch on the Packers’ game-winning drive, and a first-half touchdown.

4

September

Packers GM Ted Thompson Did Not Claim Anybody off Waivers

Packers GM Ted Thompson did not add any players off the waiver wire.

According to Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Green Bay Packers did not claim anybody off waivers after Saturday’s roster cuts.

This means the Packers will enter their final days of preparation before facing the New Orleans Saints with an abnormally high number of TEs (5) and LBs (10), and record lows on the OL (8) and RB (4).

I thought the Packers might put in a claim for an OL or a DL and part ways with TE D.J. Williams or LB Jamari Lattimore, but it didn’t happen. I’m guessing Williams and Lattimore will be inactive for the early-season games, but as with everything else on a team built by Ted Thompson, we shall see.

 

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Adam Czech is a freelance reporter and a Packers fan living in the Twin Cities. Follow Adam on Twitter. Read more of Adam's writing on the Packers here.

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