13

August

Thoughts on the Dozen Green Bay Players Sent Packing

Green Bay Packers GM Ted Thompson

Ted Thompson on the prowl...

It happens every Summer when Training Camp rolls around in Green Bay, at least under the TED THOMPSON’S regime. Some familiar veteran names show up as ‘cuts’ from the PACKERS roster as the team gets under way preparing for the upcoming season both financially & athletically. It may be less frustrating to deal with this year than most because the team has the Lombardi Trophy on display within the bowels of Lambeau. But once again a rather long list of vet players will no longer wear the Green-and-Gold.

Let me remind you who is MIA as the team prepares for its first Pre-Season game.

NICK BARNETT/ILB     BILLS    Too much $ already being paid to HAWK/BISHOP inside.

ATARI BIGBY/S    Once he got his big contract he’s been fighting HARRELL for hot tub time too often.

BRANDON CHILLAR/LB    Was coming back to team until he hurt his leg (again) in offseason.

DARYN COLLEDGE/LG  CARDINALS    Never completely satisfied coaches with inconsistent play. Too expensive.

KOREY HALL/FB/ST   SAINTS       Pure Special Teamers get too expensive after a few years.

JUSTIN HARRELL/DE     The king of the training room was never available.

BRANDON JACKSON/RB    BROWNS     Solid 3rd Down RB, but wanted, and got, more $ than that role is worth.

CULLEN JENKINS/DE     EAGLES    Great attitude, average athlete who greatly benefitted under CAPERS schemes.

DERRICK MARTIN/S      Marginal player who helped during injury rash last year… no upside.

BRADY POPPINGA/LB    RAMS   Too old, too expensive for ST and back-up OLB with no speed.

JASON SPITZ/OG    JAGUARS    Looked like the real deal until back injury made him a risky investment.

MARK TAUSCHER/RT     Could still play, if he wanted, but BULAGA & SHERROD are in town.

ANTHONY SMITH/S    TITANS    See Derrick Martin

I also believe JAMES JONES would have been on the list without a verbal shout-out from AARON RODGERS  to bring back one of his favorite targets.

For those of you mathematically challenged, that’s a baker’s dozen vets no longer around to do their thing in a PACKERS uniform. It’s not as though they were all chopped liver. Even though most will not all start in their new NFL homes it is clear that other teams perceived value in most of the PACKERS cast-offs.

9

August

Will Any of the 2011 Undrafted Free Agents Make the Packers 53-Man Roster?

Green Bay Packers 2011 Undrafted Free Agents - UDFAs

It probably goes without saying that the 2011 Green Bay Packers should have a deep, talented roster.

That was likely the case before the last season begun, too, and it was proven time and time again during the course of the season when 15 players went to IR. Because of that talent and depth in the roster, the Packers were able to overcome the injuries and win the Super Bowl.

Heading into this season, the Packers only lost a handful of players from that run. The list of players from 2010 playing elsewhere this year: Cullen Jenkins (Eagles), Nick Barnett (Bills), Brandon Jackson (Browns), Daryn Colledge (Cardinals), Jason Spitz (Jaguars), Korey Hall (Saints) and Brady Poppinga (Rams). Brandon Chillar, Mark Tauscher, Anthony Smith, Atari Bigby, Matt Wilhelm, Justin Harrell and Derrick Martin are currently free agents without a team.

From those names, only Jenkins, Jackson, Colledge, Spitz and Hall were with the team the entire season. All the others were either mid-season pickups or went on IR at some point during the year. The point here is that the Packers found adequate replacements for the rest of the players listed, somewhat nullifying their impact on this year’s roster.

It’s a testament to GM Ted Thompson and his team of scouts, as they have done a terrific job of identifying talent, regardless of which avenue they’ve taken to acquire it.

However, the impressive depth of the Packers 2011 roster could mean that Thompson has to back off a strategy he’s used so well in recent years: keeping an undrafted free agent or two on the 53-man roster.

The lockout robbed many of them of valuable time during summer practices, but it’s also forcing both the UDFA’s and Thompson to make quick evaluations during training camp.

The players have had to learn an entire playbook quickly and still impress coaches with their play on the practice field. As if they were already behind, who do you think lost out the most from Saturday’s rainout at Family Night? These guys. Only the No.1 offense and No. 2 defense got any reps in team action. Typically, the scrimmage is just another critical evaluation period for the bottom of the roster. But that didn’t happen Saturday night, as storms called off the practice just 30 minutes or so in.

29

July

Green Bay Packers 2011 Training Camp: Previewing the Offense

Let’s take a quick look at how the Green Bay Packers offense stacks up heading into training camp by breaking down each position individually. Packers training camp starts Saturday, July 30th in De Pere, Wisconsin.

Quarterback: Aaron Rodgers, Matt Flynn, Graham Harrell

The Packers head into the 2011 season with likely the best 1-2 combination at quarterback in the NFL. Starter Aaron Rodgers put up fantastic numbers for the third consecutive year, throwing for 28 touchdowns and 11 interceptions while narrowly missing out on becoming the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for 4,000 yards in his first three seasons under center.

He didn’t let up once the playoffs started, as he threw for three scores in a win over Philadelphia then thrashed the Falcons in the NFC Divisional round with one of the more impressive playoff performances in Packers playoff history. He completed 86.1 percent of his passes that night (31-for-36) for 366 yards and three touchdowns. In the Super Bowl, Rodgers took home MVP honors for his 304-yard, 3-touchdown masterpiece against the NFL’s No. 1 rated defense. He’s a bonafide regular season MVP candidate heading into the season.

Concussions were Rodgers’ kryptonite, however, as he suffered two (at Washington, at Detroit) during the regular season. The latter kept him out of a huge matchup with the New England Patriots, but that allowed backup Matt Flynn to showcase his ever-improving skill set in primetime. Flynn put up Rodgers-like numbers, throwing for 251 yards and three touchdowns in a 31-27 loss that turned out to be a jumping-off point for the Packers playoff run.

There was talk that Flynn, who will be a free agent after the ’11 season, might be traded to a quarterback-needy team this offseason, but the Packers seem intent on holding onto him as a valuable backup. With Rodgers’ injury history, that could turn out to be an important non-move. Even he if does leave after the season, he’s worth more to the Packers this year as a backup than a mid-to-low draft choice.

If they would have dealt him, any injury to Rodgers might have thrown Graham Harrell into the starting mix. While he put up huge numbers and was fourth in the Heisman voting his senior year at Texas Tech, Harrell is obviously raw in many areas. He went undrafted in ’09 and spent sometime in the CFL before latching on in Green Bay. The league’s lockout also cost him valuable time in Mike McCarthy’s quarterback school. The Packers chose not to draft or sign any quarterback this offseason, so his No. 3 spot on the depth chart seems somewhat secure.