24

April

Packers Release RB Brandon Saine and LB DJ Smith

Brandon Saine and DJ Smith

Saine and Smith were both released by the Packers on Wednesday

According to the Green Bay Packers team website, the team has released running back Brandon Saine and linebacker DJ Smith. The transactions were announced by Packers GM Ted Thompson.

Both were lost to season-ending knee injuries last season and even more ironically, during the same week six game against the Houston Texans.  Both players reportedly failed a physical exam.

Saine appeared in a handful of games in 2011 and 2012.  He was acquired as an undrafted free agent out of Ohio State in 2011.

Smith was drafted in 2011 with one of the team’s three sixth-round pick.  Smith played in 22 games and had claimed a starting role after the loss of inside linebacker Desmond Bishop during the 2012 pre season.  Smith appeared in six games in 2012 before suffering a season-ending knee injury at Houston in Week 6.

 

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Jason Perone is an independent sports blogger writing about the Packers on "AllGreenBayPackers.com

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4

April

Packers Running Backs: James Starks or Brandon Saine?

Could Packers RB Brandon Saine be on the team over James Starks in 2013?

Could Packers RB Brandon Saine be on the team over James Starks in 2013?

I just recorded a podcast on the Packers running backs with my colleagues Jason Perone and Marques Eversoll. One of them, I can’t remember which, asked an interesting question: Will Brandon Saine make the Packers roster over James Starks?

Saine missed most of the 2012 season after blowing out his knee. He has 18 carries for 69 yards in his career and has contributed some on special teams.

Starks has missed all kinds of time with various injuries throughout his three-year career. When healthy, Starks shows just enough to get Packers fans excited before breaking/spraining/pulling/straining one of his limbs or muscles.

When this topic first came up, I thought it was a silly question. I didn’t think there was any way Saine could be on the team over Starks. But as the conversation carried on, I changed my mind.

Will Mike McCarthy have the patience to deal with Starks if he comes up lame yet again in training camp or the preseason? Will McCarthy even want to deal with the risk of Starks getting hurt again?

It sounds like McCarthy wants to find a back that can carry the load this season instead of always plugging in different players. Given Starks’ injury history, I’m not sure he meets the coach’s criteria.

Saine doesn’t fit that criteria either, but he can play special teams. Perhaps he also benefits a bit from lower expectations. Saine doesn’t need to be a bell-cow running back in order to earn a roster spot. If Starks isn’t running well, there’s not much else he brings to the table.

Of course, Saine is coming off a major injury himself, so this entire discussion could be moot if he’s limping around in training camp.

For some reason, there’s still a part of me that thinks Starks might have it in him and become the running back he was during the Super Bowl run. It might be the delusional part of me, but it’s still a part of me.

My money is still on Starks wearing a Packers jersey over Saine in 2013. That’s a major injury that Saine is coming back from.

What say you, fine readers of ALLGBP.com?

Perhaps none of this will matter if the Packers draft Eddie Lacy and he runs for 1,800 yards and 20 touchdowns…

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.

13

March

2013 NFL Draft Preview: Ranking Packers Running Back Prospects

North Carolina RB Gio Bernard

North Carolina RB Gio Bernard

Running back can be a tough position to evaluate headed into the NFL Draft.

Take last year for example. Trent Richardson was considered a “can’t-miss” guy at the top of the draft, but Alfred Morris, the 173rd overall pick, had the best season of all rookie running backs last year.

This year’s draft doesn’t have a clear-cut top back. There isn’t a Richardson or an Adrian Peterson in this year’s draft class, but there are a handful of intriguing prospects that could step in and start for a team from day one.

Nearly all draft rankings have the same two guys at the top: Alabama’s Eddie Lacy and North Carolina’s Giovani Bernard. Most have Lacy firmly entrenched as a first-round pick with Bernard projected to go in round two.

Lacy and Bernard are completely different backs. While Lacy is a physical, punishing runner, Bernard is a versatile player capable of doing damage in the passing game as well as between the tackles. In today’s pass-happy NFL, I prefer Bernard as a prospect slightly ahead of Lacy.

But beyond the top two guys, this year’s crop of running backs has some quality depth. Oklahoma State’s Joseph Randle, Clemson’s Andre Ellington, UCLA’s Johnathan Franklin and Wisconsin’s Montee Ball all have a chance to be selected on Day 2.

Perhaps the most interesting running back in this year’s class is Marcus Lattimore of South Carolina. Lattimore suffered the most gruesome knee injuries I’ve ever seen last season, and concerns over his long-term health will likely cause him to drop to the third round.

It would be an upset if the Packers don’t add a running back at some point this offseason, whether it’s a veteran via free agency or a young guy through the draft.

1. Gio Bernard, North Carolina (5-8, 202)

  • Draft stock: Late 1st/Early 2nd
  • 40 time: 4.53, 225-pound bench: 19 reps, 10-yard split: 1.53
  • Two-year starter, declared after his RS Sophomore season.
  • The second round is likely where Bernard will be selected, but I really believe he’s the best running back in this class. On top of being a talented runner, he’s a dangerous return man and receiver. I see Bernard as Ray Rice 2.0, and I really think he’d be a natural fit in the Packers’ offense.
15

October

Packers News: Saine, Smith done for season, RB White claimed

Packers LB D.J. Smith is out for the season

Packers LB D.J. Smith is out for the season

The Packers dominated the Houston Texans in every facet of the game Sunday night, but the injuries continued to pile up.

Running back Brandon Saine and linebacker D.J. Smith both suffered knee injuries in the Packers’ 42-20 victory. Both players have been placed on injured reserve, and thus, ending their seasons after just six games.

The injury bug has bitten the Packers’ inside linebackers yet again. After losing starter Desmond Bishop in their first preseason game, the Packers have now lost yet another key piece in the middle of their defense. Smith filled Bishop’s shoes in the starting lineup, and now the Packers will likely turn to Brad Jones to fill the starting position.

Jones and Jamari Lattimore both started as outside linebackers before moving inside this offseason. The Packers also drafted Terrell Manning out of North Carolina State, who has yet to make an impact on defense this season. Robert Francois rounds out the Packers’ depth at inside linebacker, after starting two games in 2011.

It’s too early to tell if the Packers will turn to the free agent market and add another linebacker, but the top available players at the position include E.J. Henderson, Gary Guyton and Gary Brackett. But seeing as the Packers still have five inside linebackers on the roster, they’ll likely roll with who they have for the time being.

To fill Saine’s void on the roster, the team has claimed running back Johnny White from Buffalo. White, a former fifth-round pick out of North Carolina, has appeared in 15 career games for the Bills.

With C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson both having been out of the lineup due to injury, White has carried the ball eight times for 34 yards this season. White will back up starter Alex Green and James Starks, and he’ll wear No. 34 with the Packers.

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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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8

August

Packers Training Camp Rewind: RB Brandon Saine

Packers RB Brandon Saine

I could have easily titled this post “Brandon Saine: The New Brandon Jackson?” or “Brandon Saine Could Be Packers Third Down Back,” because that’s exactly what he’s shaping up to be. Though, in all fairness, I actually think he could be better than Jackson used to be.

Saine was picked up by the Green Bay Packers in 2011 as an undrafted rookie out of Ohio State. Though he was released in the final cuts, the Packers signed him to the practice squad, where he stayed until being promoted to the active roster halfway through the season. His first significant appearance came in the Thanksgiving Day showdown against the Detroit Lions, and Saine would later go on to see some significant playing time against the New York Giants and the Lions rematch.

According to ProFootballFocus.com, these are some of the stats for Saine in the seven games he appeared in:

Snaps 78
Run 19
Pass 38
Run Block 12
Pass Block 9
Run Attempts 19
Run Yards 72
Yds. / Attempt 3.8
Pass Targets 11
Receptions 10
Catch % 90.9%
Receiving Yards 69
Yds. / Reception 6.9
Yards After Catch 78
YAC / Reception 7.8
Touchdowns 0
QB Sacks 1
QB Hits 0
QB Hurries 0

 

When I went back to watch some of the game film from last year, I focused on Saine’s two prominent appearances: Week 13 vs. Giants and Week 17 vs. Lions. The thing to jump out at me first was his ability to pick up the blitz.

While there wasn’t a large sample size to work with in regards to pass protection, you have to enjoy seeing him crack the extra pass rusher like he did there. He meets the linebacker dead on, with good timing, and stays low to maintain leverage.

Side Note: The single sack allowed by Saine last season was in the Divisional Round of the playoffs against New York. It came in the fourth quarter against a fast edge rush by OLB Michael Boley that just so happened to get the better of James Starks earlier in the game on the same move and also for a sack. Not an excuse, but it is noteworthy.

12

June

Alex Green: Fitting Into the Packers’ Offense in 2012

Green Bay Packers Alex Green

Will Alex Green be able to contribute in 2012?

Alex Green didn’t have much of a rookie season, registering 17 yards from scrimmage on three carries and one reception before tearing his ACL. The injury that cost Green the majority of his season and the beginning of this offseason isn’t keeping Green from entering 2012 with full confidence.

While many expected the Packers to add a running back during the draft, the team stayed pat with their current stable before adding a few backs as undrafted free agents.

“Not drafting a running back showed they have some faith in me,” Green said in Pete Dougherty’s article for the Green Bay Press-Gazette. “We’ll see how things turn out when training camp comes around.”

The Packers are looking to enter the 2012 season with James Starks, Brandon Saine and Alex Green as their running backs.

There is some question as to whether Green will be ready by the time training camp goes around. If Green can’t get fully back to full strength, he may start the year on the Physical Unable to Perform list, eliminating him from the first six games of the season. If it becomes clear that Green won’t be ready, the Packers should have Ryan Grant on speed dial trying to bring him back into the mix.

Regardless of when Green is fully back from the ACL injury, he should have an opportunity to be a contributor in the Packers offense. Each of these running backs has something different to offer when they step onto the field.

One thing that Green brings to the table is his size. Despite being 2-inches shorter than James Starks, Green is the heaviest of the trio of backs. He is a physical, always moving forward back, but still possess speed necessary to elude tacklers and get into open space. Starks has shown some ability to absorb contact, but his frame just doesn’t compare to Green’s. Starks is more the balanced back of the three, while Brandon Saine did a good job in the passing game last season catching 10 passes for 69 yards in his eight appearances.

Despite the record breaking season that the offense put together, they were largely one dimensional behind the incredible play of Aaron Rodgers. The running game left much to be offered, but was masked by the high point production and efficiency of the offense as a whole.