18

August

Surviving Sunday: News, Notes and Analysis from Packers Preseason

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

Surviving Sundays with no Packers 

Packers beat Rams
The Packers got an exhibition win over the Rams on Saturday night. I didn’t get a chance to watch the game, but here is what I gathered about the Packers’ performance from those Tweeting while watching: First-team offense looks good, Johnny Jolly took a giant step forward, Micah Hyde has promise, Eddie Lacy is big and tough, the Packers don’t have a kicker, pass-rush from players on the first-team defense not named Clay Matthews isn’t there, D.J. Williams keeps dropping passes. For a more in-depth recap of the game, be sure to check out Jersey Al’s post.

Williams ready for week 1?
Out with a knee bruise since July 30, cornerback Tramon Williams said he should be ready for the season-opener against the 49ers. Of course, in the same interview, Williams also said he thought he’d be back by now. Never trust a player’s timetable for returning from an injury. Players always claim that the injury “isn’t that bad” or “should only take a couple of days.” They’re rarely right. I’m no doctor myself, but given how cautious the Packers are with injuries, it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if Williams misses at least the 49ers game.

Woodson praises Rodgers
Former Packers defensive back Charles Woodson doesn’t understand why Greg Jennings and Donald Driver were questioning Aaron Rodgers’ leadership lately. As soon as Jennings started spouting off, I remembered an interview Rob Demovsky — former Packers beat writer with the Green Bay Press Gazette and now at ESPN — did on Packer Transplants where he called the Packers wide receiving corp “the biggest group of frontrunners he’s ever been around.”  It’s scary how I remembered that quote, but it’s looking more and more like Mr. Demovsky was spot on.

Grading Packers’ rookies
Here’s a nice report card of the Packers rookies’ through three weeks of training camp. If I was the teacher, I’d probably put tackle David Bakhtiari and Datone Jones at the top of the class. I don’t think any parents need to be called in for a special conference yet.

9

August

Maybe Greg Jennings is jealous of Randall Cobb

If Greg Jennings is so happy in Minnesota, why does he keep talking about Green Bay?

If Greg Jennings is so happy in Minnesota, why does he keep talking about Green Bay?

Enough is enough.

Former Packers wide receiver Greg Jennings simply cannot stop talking about his former team. And despite his assertion that the grass is greener in Minnesota, his repetitive jabs at the Packers suggest otherwise.

The breakup between Jennings and the Packers wasn’t a “he dumped her,” or “she dumped him” situation. It was a mutual divorce that made sense for both sides.

Even without Jennings, the Packers still have one of the top receiving trios in the league in Randall Cobb, James Jones and Jordy Nelson. Extending Jennings likely would have resulted in the departure of someone else. Morgan Burnett was signed to an extension last month, and Jones, B.J. Raji and Jermichael Finley are scheduled to hit free agency next summer.

Jennings, on the other hand, wasn’t ready to give up his “go-to receiver” label. In Green Bay, he’d have to share targets with three talented receivers and an athletic tight end. In Minnesota, Jennings is the clear-cut No. 1 receiver and figures to be towards the top of the league in targets.

But throughout this mutual breakup, a cloud of jealousy is hovering over Jennings’ head.

After all, his ex (Green Bay) has continually replenished their receiving corps under the watchful eye of Ted Thompson, grooming potential replacements for players on the decline. After taking Jennings in 2006, the Packers drafted James Jones in 2007, Jordy Nelson in 2008 and Randall Cobb in 2011.

And now, it seems like Jennings is having trouble seeing his ex with a younger, prettier (and less costly) girl.

In October 2012, quarterback Aaron Rodgers made a bold statement about Cobb, telling Packers beat writer Jason Wilde on their weekly in-season radio show “Tuesdays with Aaron” that Cobb “is probably going to go down as one of the best picks in Ted Thompson’s career, if not the best.”

Thompson’s draft résumé boasts Rodgers, Nick Collins, Greg Jennings and Clay Matthews, among others. But still, Cobb, after appearing in just 21 games in the NFL, was already in the conversation, according to the 2011 league MVP.

Later in the season, in Week 17, Jennings’ sister Valyncia trashed Rodgers on Twitter during the Packers-Vikings game in Minnesota. On top of urging her brother to “go to South Beach and get paid” after the 2012 season, Valyncia suggested that Rodgers favors Cobb over the other receivers.

8

August

OK – I’ve Officially Had Enough of Greg Jennings

Greg Jennings Farewell Newspaper Ad

Click for larger image.

Greg Jennings – I remember when we used to think you were  a classy guy. Why are you now trying so hard to disprove what we believed to be true?

You won a Super Bowl with the Packers and in the resulting Sound/FX video, we hear you agonizing with great emotion over the final plays of the game.  In your nervousness, you seemingly can’t stop talking, as the defense proceeded to stop the Steelers and close out the game. It seems like you haven’t stopped talking since.

Perhaps the Super Bowl was the inception of your apparent jealousy of the attention bestowed upon Aaron Rodgers.  After all, it was YOU who made the fantastic catch for a TD. It was YOU who scored two TDs in that game. Yet Rodgers got the accolades, Rodgers got the MVP, Rodgers got the car, Rodgers got the trip to Disneyland. And it burned away at you, didn’t it Greg? Think of what your next contract demands could have been with a Super Bowl MVP cred?

Oh well, at least you were “the man” among the receiving corps, right? But then 2011 happened and Jordy Nelson’s breakout year left you second on the team in receptions and yards. Even worse, Nelson became the recipient of most of the deep throws, you biggest source of glory. Damn, that hurt.

And then the fateful 2012 season. the Packers offered you more money than you eventually accepted from the Vikings, but it wasn’t enough. You felt slighted.  You kept talking back then about having to move on for the good of your family. You put your house up for sale the week the Packers season was over. You couldn’t wait to get out.

It didn’t help that there was a new kid in town stealing your targets – Randall Cobb. And that James Jones was catching all those TD passes.  You missed half the season with injuries, but when you did play, you felt you weren’t being thrown to enough. Rodgers had new favorite receivers, you thought. You never said that, but your sister went on a rant about Rodgers not throwing to you enough. We all know where she got that idea, right? You obviously had expressed those feelings to her.

28

July

Surviving Sunday: News, Notes and Analysis from Packers Training Camp

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

Now that Packers training camp is underway, Surviving Sunday is shifting gears a bit.

Gone is the lengthy opening column where I wax poetic about a topic that may or may not relate to the Packers. Also gone are the non-Packers links to non-sports items and other nonsense.

Starting now, Surviving Sunday will be 100 percent focused on the Packers and all the happenings from the previous week’s training camp practices and exhibition games. With training camp in full gear, the Packers are getting serious about the 2013 NFL season. It’s time for Surviving Sunday to get serious, too.

Aches and pains
Before the first practice even started, there were several Packers standing on the sidelines, injured. Perhaps the Packers need to fire their medical staff and just hire a bunch of people who work at a Fed Ex store and specialize in using bubble wrap to protect delicate items.

Here is the list of the walking wounded: DL/OLB Mike Neal (abdomen), CB Casey Hayward (hamstring), RB DuJuan Harris (knee), T Derek Sherrod (leg), DL Jerel Worthy (knee), OL J.C. Tretter (ankle), S Sean Richardson (neck), CB Davon House (illness) and LB Jamari Lattimore (illness).

Neal and Hayward hurt themselves training on their own and were surprise injuries (although, I’m not sure how surprising it should be any more when Neal turns up injured). It sounds like Hayward and Harris should both be out a week or two, but who knows.

Depending how long Harris is out, it could open up the door for Alex Green or James Starks to A) stay on the team and/or B) impress in camp and move up the depth chart.

If those injuries weren’t enough, rookie WRs Charles Johnson, Kevin Dorsey and Sederrik Cunningham also went down on the first days of practice. Someone needs to make a sacrifice to the football Gods so they show a little mercy on our favorite team. (Update: Sounds like Johnson will be fine.)

Drama and gossip
Aaron Rodgers’ first news conference of camp sounded more like a group of high school kids catching up on the latest gossip than a football media session. Rodgers addressed the Ryan Braun/PED situation — saying “it doesn’t feel great being lied to” — and basically dismissed the recent barbs Greg Jennings sent his way from across the border in Minnesota.

26

July

Rodgers’ Mounting Disappointments

Rodgers Braun

Lately, Rodgers has dealt with more than his share of disappointments in former teammates and friends

It’s not often that we talk about non-football related topics on our shows, but earlier this week during our first installment of No Huddle Radio, we briefly discussed Ryan Braun’s recent suspension from Major League Baseball.

To catch everyone up, Braun reportedly tested positive for steroids in late 2011 and vehemently argued that the test result was “BS”.  Braun appealed the suspension and ultimately won, albeit on a technicality that stemmed from an issue with the chain of custody of the sample that he submitted.

The story was noteworthy here because of a tie that it has to the Packers’ organization.  A big tie.  Quarterback Aaron Rodgers has been friends and a business associate of Braun’s for some time.  Both are the faces of their franchises and revered by fans, or in many cases regarding Braun, were.

When Braun’s positive test surfaced and amidst his assertion that he had done nothing wrong, Rodgers publically went to bat for him.  Rodgers took to Twitter and posted some bold thoughts in support of his friend, using the term “idiots” to describe those who were judging Braun before he was found to be guilty.  Rodgers also tweeted to an individual who questioned his allegiance to Braun and bet a year’s salary that Braun was innocent.  Rodgers was basing his sentiments on what he had been told by Braun, at the time.  As I have said before, Rodgers did what most of us would have done.  He believed a friend, based on their merit alone.  That’s how true friendship works, right?  Most of us normally wouldn’t befriend someone that we didn’t feel that we could trust.  Rodgers clearly had that trust in Braun and his word.

That was before today, when Rodgers spoke on the issue and it is clear that he is less-than-thrilled with the situation and likely, Braun himself.  Here is a recap of those comments from CBS Sports.  Rodgers has often toed a very careful line when speaking about sensitive topics and this was no exception.  He was candid in stating his disappointment in the situation, but did leave us wondering what the state of his relationship with Braun would be from here forward.  Let’s not forget that Rodgers is trying to prepare for the 2013 season and likely wants to put this behind him and focus on football.

18

July

Ten Packers Training Camp Topics: #7 — Nelson, Jones, Cobb and?

Jarrett Boykin was a pleasant surprise last summer. Is he ready to be the Packers No. 4 receiver?

Jarrett Boykin was a pleasant surprise last summer. Is he ready to be the Packers’ No. 4 receiver?

A year ago, the Packers had a crowded group of wide receivers. A declining Donald Driver was buried on the depth chart behind veterans Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson and James Jones, as well as a budding star in Randall Cobb.

But that was then, and this is now. Driver is retired, and Jennings is playing for the Minnesota Vikings and (apparently really excited about) catching passes from Christian Ponder. Last season, Driver barely played and Jennings missed eight games.

But between Jennings and Driver are six career Pro Bowl selections and ten 1,000-yard seasons. So needless to say, the Packers face some unanswered questions at the position headed into the 2013 season.

Nelson, Jones and Cobb will all return.

Of the three, Jones was the only player to play all 16 games last season, but the trio combined for 2,483 receiving yards and 29 touchdowns. That accounts for 57.8 percent of Aaron Rodgers’s passing yards and 74.3 percent of his touchdowns in 2012.

Nelson missed four games with a lingering hamstring injury and Cobb missed the regular-season finale. But if all three players can stay healthy for the entire season, there’s very little to be concerned about in regards to the Packers receiving corps.

Without Jennings in the fold, the Packers may not have a true No. 1 receiver. But between Nelson, Jones and Cobb, the Packers may have three legitimate No. 2 receivers. The jury is still out on Cobb at just 22 years old.

But chances are, at some point this season, either Cobb, Jones or Nelson will get hurt and be forced to miss time. And if that’s the case, someone will be called upon to step in and contribute to the offense.

But who?

Last year’s training-camp standout Jarrett Boykin is one possibility. After signing with the Jacksonville Jaguars following the 2012 NFL Draft, Boykin was cut in May. The Packers picked him up, and the undrafted rookie cracked the 53-man roster despite Jennings, Driver, Jones, Nelson and Cobb all but guaranteed roster spots.

The coaching staff felt strongly enough about Boykin’s 2012 preseason that they kept six wide receivers on the roster.

But this summer, Boykin will face stiff competition against Jeremy Ross (who wasn’t in Green Bay last summer) along with a pair of seventh-round picks–Charles Johnson and Kevin Dorsey.

12

July

Packers Undrafted Rookie Scouting Report: Tyrone Walker, WR Illinois State

Player Information:

  • Tyrone Walker, WR Illinois State
  • 5’10”/191 lbs
  • Hometown – Indianapolis, Indiana

Pro Day:

  • 40 yard: 4.59
  • 20 yard: 2.64
  • 10 yard: 1.60
  • Bench: 11
  • Vertical: 39
  • Broad: 129”
  • Shuttle: 4.41
  • 3-cone: 6.99

Introduction:

Walker is the latest player to come out of the Packers farm team, also known as Illinois State but whose road was harder than even his teammates.  He saw defensive end Nate Palmer selected in the 6th round by the Packers and then heard that his quarterback, Matt Brown signed as a priority rookie free agent (i.e. a player that signs immediately after the draft finishes).  Walker however, was only asked to come in as one of 27 try out players looking to snag on of the last spots on the 90-man roster.  Walker apparently showed enough during the tryouts and was signed to a contract and perhaps even more surprising was he recently caught the attention of one of the guys throwing the football.

Outside Analysis:

Draft Insider: Dependable small-school receiver with poor size/speed numbers. Comes back to the ball out of breaks, easily adjusts to errant throws, and makes the reception in stride. Fights with his hands to separate from defenders, displays outstanding hand/eye coordination, and competes to make receptions. Stays in bounds running after the catch and gives effort trying to pick up positive yardage.

Aaron Rodgers: Tyrone reminds me of Antonio Chatman, who not many people know I actually played with. But Deuce had very similar size and agility but he was a good route runner, very good in and out of his breaks. And I see that with Walker. I think he has very good hands, he’s a good route runner and I think he has a chance to be a good player in this league.

Video:

Analysis:

  • Keep in mind this video only shows catches, not drops.
  • Also keep in mind this is from 2011, but Walker increased his production in 2012.
  • Not a burner by any means but definitely quick enough
  • Good awareness, knows what’s going on in coverage and down and distance
  • Often motioned to the slot, probably will make his career at slot initially, runs good intermediate routes and can find the soft spots in coverage.