4

September

This year’s Packers Practice Squad Unusual for Ted Thompson

Ted Thompson looked outside of his own cuts to assemble this year's practice squad.

Ted Thompson looked outside of his own cuts to assemble this year’s practice squad.

Ted Thompson, almost to a fault, likes to keep “his guys” around for as long as possible. And this year’s practice squad looks very different than those of years past.

The team’s 2013 practice squad features four players from outside the Packers’ final cuts, along with wide receiver Charles Johnson, cornerback James Nixon, tight end Jake Stoneburner and wide receiver Myles White. Perhaps Thompson wanted some of his cuts to return to the practice squad before they were ultimately claimed by other teams.

Last year, seven members of the team’s practice squad spent training camp in Green Bay. Offensive lineman Chris Scott, signed from the Pittsburgh Steelers, was the lone member of the practice squad who didn’t spend the summer in Green Bay.

By the numbers, the eight-man practice squad tilts heavily towards the offense. Seven of the eight practice-squad spots are held by offensive players, leaving Nixon as the lone defender. On the other hand, the defense holds 28 of the 53 active roster spots.

Half of the practice squad spent the summer (or longer) with the Packers. Here they are:

WR Charles Johnson #17

A seventh-round draft pick from Grand Valley State, Johnson struggled to stay on the field throughout the summer. Hampered by injuries, the 6-foot-2 215-pound receiver showed flashes of his potential but didn’t show enough to merit a spot on the 53-man roster. It will be interesting to see whether or not Johnson or undrafted rookie Myles White is called upon if the injury bug bites the receiving corps.

CB James Nixon #25

Nixon was signed to the practice squad Sept. 20, 2012. A college running back and wide receiver, Nixon certainly has enough athleticism to make it at the professional level. He began his college career at Temple before transferring to the University of California in Pennsylvania for his senior season. After Mason Crosby, Nixon was the story of this year’s Family Night Scrimmage, thanks to an interception and a 66-yard return for a touchdown.

TE Jake Stoneburner #45

The former Ohio State tight end found himself buried on the training-camp depth chart behind veterans Jermichael Finley, Andrew Quarless, D.J. Williams and Ryan Taylor. Stoneburner is not as athletic as Finley or second-year prospect Brandon Bostick, but he had a steady camp, which played a role in the team letting Williams walk. Thanks to his name, there’s a perception that Stoneburner is a throwback, in-your-face-type player, but he clocked a 4.53 in the forty-yard dash at Ohio State’s Pro Day.

28

February

2013 Packers Position Group Analysis: Cornerbacks

Packers 2012 Cornerbacks Sam Shields and Casey HaywardPackers Cornerbacks:  All eyes were on the cornerback group during Training Camp in 2012. This unit, above all others, had some serious competition going on for a starting job. And the result was that this competition continued throughout the season until we ended up with Tramon Williams, Sam Shields, and Casey Hayward as the clear leaders of the secondary.

For expanded coverage of this topic, listen to the podcast using the player below or download the podcast from the Packers Talk Radio Network on Itunes.

Where are we now:

Here are the current suspects:

Tramon Williams (UDFA, 2006)
Jarrett Bush (UDFA, 2006)
Sam Shields (UDFA, 2010)
Davon House (4th Round, 2011)
Casey Hayward (2nd Round, 2012)
James Nixon (UDFA, 2012, Practice Squad)

How many teams can say that their top two cornerbacks went undrafted as rookies? The Packers can, though they can also say that their past two draft selections on cornerbacks are also beginning to make names for themselves.

  • Williams: After a horrible showing in 2011 thanks to an early shoulder injury, Tramon Williams was looking to get back to his championship form of 2010. Unfortunately, he only seemed to get about halfway there. He showed clear improvement but still came up short, especially in key moments. The big question is whether he’ll continue the upward trend or start falling again.
  • Bush: Can we be done with the Jarrett Bush experiment once and for all? He’s a key special teams player, but a starting cornerback he is not. His performance in Week 1 against the San Francisco 49ers had the coaches quickly backpedaling in their confidence, and in Week 2 Bush was no longer starting anymore.
  • Shields: The award for most improved player of the year could easily go to Sam Shields. He went from an abysmal 2011 season to legitimate shutdown corner status in 2012. Not only that, he found the will to tackle and play with more physicality. His size doesn’t help much, but at least the right attitude is finally there.
  • House: People seemed to forget about Davon House during the offseason until he started proving his worth in training camp. From almost nowhere, he became one of the favored starters next to Tramon Williams. A shoulder injury derailed those plans, but in a short amount of time, House has initiated a lot of hope for the future.
15

January

Packers News: Team keeps eight practice squad players

Packers OT Andrew Datko

Packers OT Andrew Datko

The Green Bay Packers have signed eight practice squad players to future contracts, according to the team’s official website.

Tight end Brandon Bostick, quarterback B.J. Coleman, tackle Andrew Datko, center Garth Gerhart, guard Joe Gibbs, linebacker Micah Johnson, cornerback James Nixon and safety Chaz Powell have all been signed by the team. This according to Packers general manager Ted Thompson.

Bostick was a pleasant surprise in training camp and remained on the Packers’ practice squad for the entire season. With the uncertainty surrounding Jermichael Finley’s future in Green Bay, Bostick could potentially challenge for a roster spot next season.

Coleman was selected by the Packers in the seventh round of the 2012 NFL Draft. He showed impressive arm strength in training camp but was never activated on game day. He continues to be a backup quarterback-in-training for the Packers.

Datko was a seventh-round pick of the Packers last season. He was inconsistent throughout training camp and never found the field this season. With Bryan Bulaga and Derek Sherrod returning next season, the Packers will be in much better shape at the tackle position.

Gerhart, an undrafted rookie free agent from Arizona State, and Gibbs, a first-year player out of Tennessee-Martin were both recent adds to the practice squad.

Johnson was added to the practice squad Dec. 31 after entering the league as an undrafted free agent in 2010. Johnson spent time with the New York Giants, Miami Dolphins, Kansas City Chiefs and Cincinnati Bengals before arriving in Green Bay. He was first-team All-Southeastern Conference as a junior at Kentucky.

Nixon has been a member of the practice squad since Sept. 20. Before transferring to California (Pa.), Nixon spent his first three collegiate seasons at Temple, where he played on both sides of the ball and returned kickoffs. His best chance to crack the roster would be as a return man. Nixon averaged 25.8 yards per kick return in college.

Powell, an undrafted rookie from Penn State, was signed to the practice squad Dec. 5. Much like Nixon, Powell played cornerback, wide receiver and returned kickoffs in college.

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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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20

September

Packers News: Team adds James Nixon to practice squad

Packers CB James Nixon

Packers CB James Nixon

On Wednesday, the Oakland Raiders signed cornerback Brandian Ross to their 53-man roster. And today, the Packers have filled Ross’s spot on the practice squad with another cornerback.

James Nixon, an undrafted rookie cornerback, joined the team and joins Lawrence Guys as the Packers’ only two defensive players on their eight-man practice squad. Nixon started out his collegiate career at Temple, before transferring to California University of Pennsylvania for his senior season.

However, Nixon only made two starts at cornerback his senior season, as the coaching staff shuffled him all over the field, playing defensive back, running back, wide receiver and special teams.

Nixon, listed at 6’1″ 190, has great size for the position. He played some running back and wide receiver at Temple, and he ran a blazing 4.31 forty-yard dash at his pro day. After spending a couple seasons at Temple as a running back/wide receiver hybrid, Nixon switched to defensive back for the Owls.

Ted Thompson chose to sign Nixon instead of adding wide receiver Tori Gurley, who was recently waived by the Minnesota Vikings. The addition of Nixon gives the Packers 11 defensive backs.

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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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