4

September

Despite Optimism, Evidence is Lacking that the Packers’ rushing attack will be Better in 2013

Eddie Lacy has people excited about the Packers running game. Is it irrational excitement?

Is it just me, or are people irrationally assuming that the Packers will be a better running team this season?

I just got done listening to Bill Simmons’ latest podcast. Simmons and Cousin Sal (Simmons’ sidekick) talked about NFL over/under win totals and highlighted the Packers improved running game as a possible reason for the team’s success this upcoming season. Sal even cited Jonathan Franklin as a reason for his optimism, even though Franklin has looked like a total bust so far.

It’s normal for national media figures to stick to talking points and get a little confused about specific players when doing massive preview shows that cover all 32 NFL teams.  But even locally and among Packers fans, the consensus seems to be that the Packers will go from being a horrible running team to at least a decent running team.

Why? What have we seen this preseason that has made us think that? I can’t think of much. Here’s what I have seen, and it’s not pretty:

  • The Packers averaged a measly 3.0 yards per carry in the preseason.
  • The Packers long rush was a 21-yard scramble by the now departed Vince Young, a quarterback.
  • Eddie Lacy, the presumed starter, averaged 2.0 yards per carry.
  • Bryan Bulaga, a key to the Packers run blocking up front, is out for the season.
  • DuJuan Harris is gone for the year, and Mike McCarthy sounded uncharacteristically depressed when talking about the injury.
  • This is still the Packers and McCarthy is still the coach. They’re going to want to pass, pass and pass some more.

Help me out here: What am I missing that others are seeing in predicting great things for the Packers on the ground this season?

Is all of the hope about a better running game centered on Lacy? That’s fair, I suppose. I’m excited about Lacy as well. But Lacy is also already banged up and could be one hit or awkward fall away from joining Harris on injured reserve.

Is all of the hope centered on just how awful the Packers were at running the ball in 2012? It’s not good when you’re leading rusher finishes with 464 yards, like Alex Green did last season.

27

August

Packers Cut Roster to 75 Players

Packers GM Ted Thompson

Packers GM Ted Thompson made his roster cuts on Tuesday to make the 75-player limit.

The Green Bay Packers announced on Tuesday afternoon that their roster had been reduced to 75 players, per NFL rules. Four players were placed on injured reserve, four were placed on the PUP (physically unable to perform), and one was released. The players removed from the active roster were:

  • T Bryan Bulaga (IR)
  • WR Kevin Dorsey (IR)
  • RB DuJuan Harris (IR)
  • LB Jarvis Reed (IR)
  • S Sean Richardson (PUP)
  • T Derek Sherrod (PUP)
  • T J.C. Tretter (PUP)
  • DE Jerel Worthy (PUP)
  • K Zach Ramirez (released)

This is in addition to the six players already released since Saturday:

  • QB Graham Harrell
  • WR Justin Wilson
  • WR Omarius Hines
  • WR Alex Gillett
  • DL Gilbert Peña
  • RB Angelo Pease
  • K Giorgio Tavecchio

The players placed on injured lists (PUP and IR) were largely expected to end up there. DuJuan Harris was the one surprising move reported earlier this afternoon. Zach Ramirez was somewhat surprising considering his very recent signing; however, Packers beat reporters noted that he only made 6 of 16 field goal attempts during today’s practice. Mason Crosby connected on all 14 of his, suggesting that he might have finally won the preseason battle for good.

One more important note is that players placed on injured reserve today can not be “Designated for Return” later on in the season. This means that Bryan Bulaga and DuJuan Harris are effectively done for the year. Players on the PUP, as always, will have the opportunity to return to practice six weeks into the regular season.

Ted Thompson and the Packers must further reduce the roster to 53 players by the end of business on Saturday, August 31st.

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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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27

August

Packers News: Dujuan Harris to IR

The Packers have announced that running back Dujuan Harris has been placed on IR, ending his 2013 season before it even started.  This perhaps culminates a star-crossed offseason for Harris, who coming in to the offseason looked like the Packers starter.  During the training camp physical, a fist sized cyst was found in Harris’ lung which forced him to miss much of the beginning of training camp.  Once allowed to return, Harris was again hobbled by a knee injury, which finally looked behind Harris coming into the 3rd preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks.  Unfortunately, Harris appears to have re-injured the same knee in the 2nd quarter and did not return to the game.

 

 

Afterwards, Harris sought out a second opinion and apparently the news did not come back well and thus Mike McCarthy has announced that Harris will be placed on IR.  No news has been announced if the Packers will decide to use the IR/Designated to Return tag on Harris, which would allow him to return after week 6 of the regular season.

With Harris out, Eddie Lacy presumably becomes the defacto starting running back with Johnathan Franklin, Alex Green and James Starks as backups.

 

Update:

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Thomas Hobbes is a staff writer for Jersey Al’s AllGreenBayPackers.com.

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23

August

Pre Season Week 3 – Packers vs. Seahawks: Keys to the Game

Packers vs Seahawks

Wilson will provide the Packers with their first test with a mobile quarterback in 2013

Please forgive my hiatus for last week’s Green Bay Packers vs. St. Louis Rams contest.  I was temporarily brainwashed to think that my post would write itself.  But I digress. . .

This week’s pre season game has the Seattle Seahawks visiting Lambeau Field to face the Packers on Friday.  As John Rehor of Packers Talk has said, this is not a rematch of last year’s Monday Night Football debacle.  Dubbed the “Fail Mary” game, it incited a lot of controversy and left many Packers fans wanting vengeance against both the man (the Seahawks) and the machine (Roger Gooddell and the NFL).  But alas, as John said, it’s not a rematch.  It’s just a pre season game.

Still, week three of the NFL pre season has long been considered a dress rehearsal for the upcoming season and the starting units typically see their longest stint on the field during this game.  It’s more of a true litmus test to see how a team looks and how prepared they are for the upcoming regular season.  While there may be some chatter from the players and media, the Packers need to drown that out and focus.

During the offseason, the Seahawks got busy in acquiring more pieces to complete their team and get even better than last year when they came within inches and seconds of advancing to the NFC Championship game.  They traded a first round draft pick for receiver Percy Harvin to give quarterback Russell Wilson another solid target.  Harvin promptly injured his hip and had to have surgery, which will prevent his Seattle debut until some time in November, if at all.  Seattle also brought in former Lions defensive end Cliff Avril to help with their pass rush and former Vikings cornerback Antoine Winfield to add some experience to their defensive backfield.

Seattle comes into this season as not only a favorite to win the NFC West, but they are also considered by many to be front runners for the NFC and the Super Bowl.  This should provide a solid test for the Packers, who also figure to be in the mix for a deep playoff run.  Let’s drill down on the keys for the Packers in this week’s game and also some of the position battles that are still in full swing.

19

August

Revisiting My 10 Top Training Camp Topics for the Packers

Eddie Lacy may not get the first carry of the season, but he's the "starter" in my eyes.

Eddie Lacy may not get the first carry of the season, but he’s the “starter” in my eyes.

About three weeks into camp and halfway through the NFL preseason, many of the Packers’ key question marks are starting to take shape.

Some of such unknowns have since seen new faces (Vince Young) enter the conversation, while other questions (Jermichael Finley) are still completely up in the air.

Prior to training camp, we put ten Packers training-camp topics under the microscope for further review. Now two games into the preseason, it’s time to revisit some of these questions and predictions.

1. Who will be the Packers’ opening-day starter at running back?

Answer: Eddie Lacy, and I feel the same. Kinda.

The Packers clearly didn’t want to (literally) hand the job to a rookie running back without some competition; the team routinely gave veterans Alex Green and James Starks run with the No. 1 offense early in the offseason.

But after the “fat” Eddie Lacy thing blew over, the rookie quickly separated himself from the pack at the position. Coach McCarthy has been effusive in his praise of DuJuan Harris, who returned to practice this week, but if “Fat” is healthy, he’s going to get at least a share of the workload.

Fat was exceptional in his preseason debut against the St. Louis Rams, racking up 51 total yards on nine touches. He broke tackle after tackle, picked up the blitz and caught the ball out of the backfield. It was certainly an impressive showing for the rookie.

But if Harris and Lacy are both available on opening day, I really think both players will get a share of the load. Harris played well against the 49ers in the playoffs, but the Packers abandoned the running game in the second half.

So, in this case, the “starter” label may be a bit subjective. It could be a “starter and closer” or “thunder and lightning”-kinda situation.

2. How many defensive linemen will the Packers keep?

Answer: Six. Now, I think they’ll keep seven, including Mike Neal.

I was cautiously optimistic and mildly skeptical about the Neal-at-outside linebacker thing, but it looks like it’s working so far. Injured second-year defensive end Jerel Worthy told me and Cheesehead TV’s Zach Kruse to “look out” for Neal in his new role, and halfway through the preseason, he certainly looks like one of the team’s best pass rushers.

31

July

Packers Stock Report: Too Early to Know Much of Anything Edition

It’s been a healthy start to training camp for Packers OLB NIck Perry.

It’s way too early to know much of anything about the 2013 Packers, but I can’t help myself. It’s time for this season’s first Packers stock report.

Here is who I see rising, falling and remaining steady on the Packers after only a few practices:

Rising

Datone Jones
Jones added 20 pounds since his pro day and it appears as if it didn’t come from drinking beer and eating cheese curds. Most reports of Jones have been glowing, and the rookie from UCLA has Packers fans drooling at the possibility of finally having a versatile 3-4 defensive lineman to take the place of Cullen Jenkins.

Micah Hyde
Mike McCarthy singled Hyde out for praise after the first practice and it sounds like the rookie from Iowa has been solid in other practices as well. With a number of cornerbacks out with injuries or illness, Hyde has gotten an opportunity to show what he can do. So far, itsounds like he’s taking advantage.

Nick Perry
There hasn’t necessarily been a ton of ooohhhs and aaahhhs about Perry’s play so far in camp, but it sounds like the defensive end turned outside linebacker is healthy and ready to restart his career after a season-ending wrist injury knocked him out for most of his rookie campaign. If Jones is as advertised and Perry bounces back and provides pressure on the quarterback opposite of Clay Matthews, this defense could get better in a hurry.

Steady

Randall Cobb
It’s typically rookies who end up in the rising category this early in the season. Everyone is impressed with the Packers’ shiny new toys. A strong camp is now expected from a player like Cobb, who is entering his third season and is the leading candidate to become the team’s top receiver after Greg Jennings’ departure. We haven’t heard too much about Cobb thus far — a good thing because it probably means that he looks fine and there’s nothing much to report.

Sam Shields
Didn’t it seem like yesterday when Shields was a converted receiver just learning to play cornerback? Now he’s talked about as the Packers’ most talented corner and playing for a big payday. McCarthy said Shields looks a little rusty after missing OTAs because of a contract dispute, but it sounds like he’s continuing to play more physical and improving.

29

July

Previewing the 2013 Packers with Rivers McCown from Football Outsiders

The Football Outsiders 2013 Almanac

The Football Outsiders 2013 Almanac is out now!

The 2013 Football Outsiders Almanac is out now and I would advise Packers fans to pick up a copy. I’ve always enjoyed how the almanac blends modern analytics and metrics with traditional scouting and the unique perspectives of a talented writing staff.

Rivers McCown wrote this year’s chapter on the Packers. I don’t want to give the entire chapter away — don’t be a cheapskate, go buy yourself a copy — but I did want to bring a little Football Outsiders perspective over to ALLGBP.com one way or another.

Thankfully, Rivers took some time to answer a few very long-winded questions I asked him about the 2013 Packers. Here’s what he had to say:

Adam Czech: The Packers defense has been labeled “soft” by many fans and a few members of the media. Is there any truth to that label? Or is what some may perceive as being soft have more to do with being injured, slow, forced to play six DBs, or all of the above?