3

September

Green Bay Packers Fill Out Practice Squad

OL Chris Scott

OL Chris Scott becomes the Packers eighth practice squad member.

According to Packers.com, the Green Bay Packers have finalized their 8-man practice squad. Along with the reported signings of their seven training camp players, the Packers have added OL Chris Scott. He was a fifth round draft pick in 2010 by the Pittsburgh Steelers, though he started out on their practice squad. In 2011, he began the season on the PUP list, after which he was added to the active roster. He only appeared in two games, however. The Packers list Scott as a guard/tackle.

It’s not surprising that Ted Thompson has added another offensive lineman to the list, considering he kept a record-low (for him) seven players on the 53-man roster. This brings the total of offensive linemen on the practice squad to three.

Here is a list of the eight practice squad members to begin the Green Bay Packers 2012 season:

  • WR Diondre Borel
  • TE Brandon Bostick
  • QB B.J. Coleman
  • T Andrew Datko
  • DE Lawrence Guy
  • G/T Chris Scott
  • RB Marc Tyler
  • G Greg Van Roten
——————

Chad Toporski, a Wisconsin native and current Pittsburgh resident, is a writer for AllGreenBayPackers.com. You can follow Chad on twitter at @ChadToporski

——————

25

May

Green Bay Packers Taking Shotgun Approach to Improving the Defensive Line

Phillip Merling

Veteran free agent DE Phillip Merling became the twelfth defensive lineman on the Packers' offseason roster.

Call it the “shotgun approach.” Ted Thompson added his twelfth defensive lineman to the roster on Wednesday with his signing of DE Phillip Merling, who spent the last four years with the Miami Dolphins. Of the four (non-Packer) veteran free agent signings by Thompson this offseason, three have been defensive lineman: Daniel Muir, Tony Hargrove, and now Merling.

There’s obviously been some emphasis by the Packers on bolstering the talent and depth across the unit. The drafting of Jerel Worthy and Mike Daniels take the total number of new linemen up to five, meaning almost half of the group will be new faces in training camp.

Is this a case of desperation in response to the horrible performances of last season? No, that’s taking it a bit far. Ted Thompson is not spending beaucoup money on these free agent players, which one would tend to do when desperate.

But he is stockpiling the talent pool in a variety of ways, and hoping a good number of them stick.

The three free agent signings are not superstars. Tony Hargrove is the most well known of the group, but he’s probably not going to be a game-changer. His career has been up and down, playing with four different teams over eight years and racking up just 19.5 sacks and 16 run stuffs in the process. Hargrove hasn’t started a game in two seasons, and he only has 25 starts to his name across his entire career. Those numbers aren’t meant to discourage anyone – they’re certainly not the whole story – but they’re not indicators of a guy who’s going to “tilt the field.”

Then there’s Daniel Muir, whose career contrasts with Hargrove’s. Both are 28 years old, but Muir has 3 years less experience in the league and a slightly less impressive resume. Unlike the travelling Hargrove, he spent most of his years with the Indianapolis Colts after his rookie stint with the Packers. Muir’s numbers aren’t as flashy (just a half a sack in his career), but he is also an inside tackle player rather than a defensive end, so his role is considerably different.

27

February

2012 Packers Position Group Analysis: Defensive Line

Packers Defensive Line

Packers Defensive Line

Packers Defensive Line: This is the first in a series of examinations I’m going to do on each Packers position group as it currently exists. Kind of a State of the Union address – where we are, where we want to go and what we need to do to get there.

Where are we now:

Here are the current suspects;

BJ Raji (1st round)
Ryan Pickett (1st round)
Mike Neal (2nd round)
C.J. Wilson (7th round)
Jarius Wynn (6th round)
Howard Green (6th round)
Lawrence Guy (7th round, injured reserve)
Johnny Jones (undrafted, 77th ranked DT by nfldraftscout.com, cut by Miami in preseason)

Notice a pattern here? This is classic Ted Thompson building depth with late round picks, but thanks to Neal missing so much time, the emergency fill-ins ended up playing a lot more that you would want. For the year, both Jarius Wynn and CJ Wilson were both within a hundred snaps of Ryan Pickett. Frankly, that’s way too much. Pickett’s value against the run can not be argued against – one just has to look at the two games Pickett missed – the Packers gave up 344 rushing yards in those two games.

But at age 31, Pickett is just not a full-time player anymore. He’s certainly no BJ Raji, who played 80% of the defensive snaps last season. While Raji and his coaches say it’s not a problem, that he didn’t wear down, one has to wonder. Raji’s production was down in every category this year, and some observers outside of the Packers organization have hinted that he wasn’t playing hard every play.

Certainly fatigue will do that to you. Looking at the game-by-game rankings over at ProFootballFocus.com are certainly telling. Raji’s only “Plus” performances were early in the season while the last six games were all on the minus side, especially against the run. In my mind, there is no doubt Raji wore down and did not show much of the explosion he’s capable of. Instead, he was playing way too upright (another sign of fatigue), which makes the offensive lineman’s job that much easier.

2

November

Rating the Rookies: Cobb Leads Packers 2011 Class Through 7 Games

The rookies on the Green Bay Packers roster have yet to complete a half-season in 2011, but the bye week in Week 8 gave us an opportunity to gauge how the Packers’ first-year players look through seven games.

Snap-counts and statistics are courtesy of Pro Football Focus

T Derek Sherrod (R1)

The Packers wanted him to take hold of the left guard position coming into training camp, but that experiment died in a hurry when Sherrod couldn’t handle the switch. He’s a right or left tackle from this point on. The only major action Sherrod has seen this season came against the Falcons in Week 5. After Chad Clifton went down with a hamstring injury, Sherrod filled in at right tackle as Marshall Newhouse slid over to the left side. Of the 51 snaps he played, 36 came on passing plays, and Sherrod allowed just two quarterback pressures and no sacks or hits. That kind of snap distribution shows the confidence that the Packers have in their rookie at right tackle in pass protection. Sherrod also came in on seven snaps (five run, two pass) against the Broncos in Week 4.

WR/KR Randall Cobb (R2)

GM Ted Thompson drafted Cobb in the second round to be the Packers primary return man and a sub-package receiver that can make plays in space. So far, that’s exactly what Cobb has been. He has returned every punt and kick save one, which was a squib kick that Tom Crabtree got his hands on. Cobb has done his best work on kicks, where his 30.5-yard average (13 returns, 396 yards) ranks fifth in the NFL among players with eight or more returns. Of course, his 108-yard TD against the Saints on opening night is the highlight of the season. He also lost a fumble in Carolina that contributed to the Packers falling down by 13 points in the first quarter.

Cobb hasn’t had the same impact on punt returns, where his 12 returns have yielded just 97 yards (8.1 average). Cobb has 11 fair catches. His only muffed punt of the season in Minnesota gave the Vikings good field position to re-take the lead, 14-7.  In the same game, Cobb had a 42-yard punt return that set up a Packers touchdown.

30

July

Green Bay Packers Draft Picks Get Their Numbers

Packers Blank JerseyIn what has been a frantic week of negotiations, trades, and player signings, the Green Bay Packers have finally signed each of their 2011 draft picks. These ten rookies had been waiting anxiously for the end of the lockout so that they could get to Green Bay and start training. And now, with all of their contracts signed, they have earned their uniform numbers and are ready to take to the practice field.

Below is a list of the draft picks, their new numbers, and some information about their contracts:

Derek Sherrod

Drafted: Rd 1, Pick 32 (32)
Position: OL (T)
Number: #78
Contract: Four-year contract total: $6.6 million ($5.32 million guaranteed); Signing bonus: $3,301,456

Randall Cobb

Drafted: Rd 2, Pick 32 (64)
Position: WR
Number: #18
Contract: Four-year contract total: $3.2 million; Signing bonus: $834,000

Alex Green

Drafted: Rd 3, Pick 32 (96)
Position: RB
Number: #20
Contract: Four-year contract

Davon House

Drafted: Rd 4, Pick 34 (131)
Position: DB (CB)
Number: #31
Contract: Four-year contract total: $2.34 million

D.J. Williams

Drafted: Rd 5, Pick 10 (141)
Position: TE
Number: #84
Contract: Four-year contract total: $2.33 million; First-year pay: $424,500; Signing bonus: $198,000

Caleb  Schlauderaff

Drafted: Rd 6, Pick 14 (179)
Position: OL (G)
Number: #68
Contract: Four-year contract total: $2.21 million; First-year pay: $401,450

D.J. Smith

Drafted: Rd 6, Pick 21 (186)
Position: LB
Number: #51
Contract: Four-year contract

Ricky Elmore

Drafted: Rd 6, Pick 32 (197)
Position: DL/LB
Number: #57
Contract: Four-year contract total: $2.18 million; First-year pay: $397,059

Ryan Taylor

Drafted: Rd 7, Pick 15 (218)
Position: TE
Number: #82
Contract: Four-year contract total: $2.14 million; First-year pay: $389,794

Lawrence Guy

Drafted: Rd 7, Pick 30 (233)
Position: DT
Number: #91
Contract: Four-year contract

Our Packers roster here at Jersey Al’s AllGreenBayPackers.com has also been updated to show these changes. We will keep it current as training camp/preseason continues and cuts are made.

——————

Chad Toporski, a Wisconsin native and current Pittsburgh resident, is a writer for AllGreenBayPackers.com. You can follow Chad on twitter at @ChadToporski

——————

5

May

Packers 2011 NFL Draft – What was Ted Thompson Thinking?

With the 2011 NFL Draft in the books, Green Bay Packers fans everywhere are left to speculate on why Ted Thompson chose the players he did. In this article, I will try to delve into the mind of our ‘awkward genius” and present a coherent rational for each pick.

* Derek Sherrod – Offensive Tackle – Round 1, Pick 32 – Replacement for Chad Clifton: The Packers hope that they have their bookends for quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ prime years.  This pick reminds me a lot of Bryan Bulaga, another offensive tackle that was widely respected but not as highly touted as some of the other offensive linemen in the draft and probably fell roughly 10 spots before the being selected by the Packers.  Thompson was thinking value last year with Bryan Bulaga and that applies to Derek Sherrod as well.

At the moment, the Packers claim that they haven’t worked out where Bulaga and Sherrod will be playing, but I think it largely lies with Mark Tauscher.  If Tauscher decides to come back for another year (and beats out Bulaga as the starter), then the Packers will have the option of choosing who goes where.  If on the other hand Tauscher retires, gets cut or becomes the backup, then Bulaga becomes the logical choice for right tackle since he already has experience there and Sherrod gets to learn the ropes behind Clifton and become the future left tackle.

In my opinion this isn’t a snub on Bulaga, nowadays both bookends are equally important, especially with a pass first offense like the Packers; defenses will take advantage of the weakest offensive linemen, not just the blindside tackle.

* Randall Cobb – Wide Receiver – Round 1, Pick 64 – Replacement for James Jones/Donald Driver: The Packers hope to add another wide receiver to their stable to replace James Jones (who is likely to leave for greener pastures) and continue to add depth behind Donald Driver, who just turned 36.  Thompson knows that the Packers are a passing team and keeping multiple receivers on the field gives the Packers the best shot at winning.

While Cobb was seen as a slot receiver, I wouldn’t be surprised if Cobb spends plenty of time outside the numbers. The Packers are rather unconventional in the sense that they don’t really have designated roles for their wide receivers, with every receiver playing every position. For example, Greg Jennings was often most effective coming from the slot, perhaps due to the fact that #1 receivers rarely line up there and often have linebackers or safeties covering them.

4

May

3 Main Themes Emerge From Green Bay Packers 2011 NFL Draft

The 2011 NFL draft is now officially over, and its time to take a look at what the Packers did.  Over the next couple of weeks, fans and analysts alike will sit in front of their computers and grade each team’s draft class; in my opinion this is completely absurd for two reasons.

For one, these players haven’t played a single snap in the NFL yet and no one knows exactly how these players are going to pan out; if anyone did the draft would be a pretty boring affair.

And second, the inherent flaw in grading is that it’s based on a big board typically made by an analyst or the fans themselves.  There are only a few people privy to the actual boards of the 32 teams, and I’m willing to bet that none of the boards you see online are even remotely close to the real things.

Nevertheless, one fact that must be true is that every team drafts with a logical purpose; whether drafting purely on talent, athleticism, speed, need or value, it would be simply foolish for a team to draft a player without an idea of what to do with him and how that player fits into the team.  With that in mind, in the following article I hope to analyze what the Packers were thinking when they drafted each player.

Overall Impressions:

  1. The retooling of the defense is basically complete: Teams set a tone with the players they draft and this year it was all about giving Aaron Rodgers more help.  Many people have forgotten that the Packers are only two years removed from completely changing their defensive scheme from a 4-3 bump and run scheme under Bob Sanders to a 3-4 zone blitz scheme under Dom Capers.The 2009 and 2010 drafts were very defensive heavy, with BJ Raji and Clay Matthews III being drafted in the 1st round in 2009 and Mike Neal and Morgan Burnett being taken in the 2nd and 3rd round in 2010.  This was simply based on the fact that many of the players acquired pre-2009 weren’t ideal for a 3-4 defense (such as DE/OLB Aaron Kampman).  In comparison, the 2011 draft was definitely an offensive draft, with the first 3 picks on the offense and 4 offensive skill positions being addressed overall.