3

July

High Praise for Packers 7th Round Pick Sam Barrington from NFL Analyst Greg Cosell

Is Packers LB Sam Barrington the latest draft steal for GM Ted Thompson?

NFL analyst and NFL Films senior producer Greg Cosell had high praise for Packers seventh-round draft pick Sam Barrington on Tuesday.

Speaking with with Doug Farrar of Yahoo Sports on the Shutdown Corner podcast, Cosell called the 6-foot-1, 235-pound linebacker from South Florida an “athletic kid,” whose “athletic ability was a second- or third-round pick.”

“I think this kid has a chance, and certainly to stick on special teams because of his athleticism,” the highly respected Cosell said. “But I thought he was far more athletic than a lot of linebackers I watched and I was surprised he was not talked about.”

Cosell also said he did some additional research on Barrington and found out that he may have dropped in the draft because of issues diagnosing plays and learning on defense, but that’s impossible to know for sure.

Barrington was also arrested four times at South Florida — all for driving with a revoked or suspended license. Getting arrested four times generally doesn’t help one’s draft stock, either.

Barrington’s numbers improved every season at South Florida, culminating with 80 tackles, two forced fumbles and 3.5 sacks in 11 games as a senior.

His 40-yard-dash time at the NFL combine was a ho-hum 4.89 seconds, but improved to 4.69 seconds on South Florida’s pro day.

After Packers GM Ted Thompson picked Barrington, he called him a “good value.” That’s about as boastful as you’ll hear the tight-lipped Thompson get about a pick he’s made.

The Packers have had success with seventh-round draft picks in the past. Is Barrington the latest steal for Thompson?

“I was really surprised that he was not drafted until the seventh round,” Cosell said. “The more I watched him the more I liked his game. I wouldn’t call him explosive, but he was athletic with really good movement. I always defer to film as opposed to 40 times, and I thought he played as an athlete.”

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Adam Czech is a freelance reporter and a Packers fan living in the Twin Cities. Follow Adam on Twitter. Read more of Adam's writing on the Packers here.

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22

May

Packers LB Desmond Bishop: DPOY or Playing for a Different Team?

Desmond Bishop

Will Packers LB recover from his injury and be on the team come September?

This story from Tyler Dunne in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel about Packers linebacker Desmond Bishop is extremely well written. After reading it, you can’t help but like the guy even more than you probably already do.

In the story, Bishop says one of his goals is to win defensive player of the year in 2013.

Unfortunately, as entertaining as the story is, it doesn’t really address the main question I have about Bishop as the Packers open OTAs: What are the odds that he’s actually on the team once the season starts?

Reports surfaced during the NFL draft that the Packers were trying to trade Bishop. Several moves the Packers made in the offseason — bringing back A.J. Hawk, re-signing Brad Jones for $4 million, adding another inside linebacker in the draft — made it appear that the Packers might not be too confident in Bishop’s chances of returning from the torn hamstring he suffered last preseason.

“Trade or release Bishop?” you’re probably asking. “But I thought he was supposed to boost the Packers physicality and automatically improve the inside linebacker corp?”

In a perfect world, that’s exactly what would happen. But how perfect is the Packers’ world when it comes to injuries lately? Not very. J.C. Tretter, one of Green Bay’s fourth-round draft picks, just snapped his ankle in a fumble-recovery drill. Two of the past three seasons have seen the team ravaged by injuries. The scuttle around the Packers is that Ted Thompson won’t hesitate to jettison players who are hampered by injuries.

I suppose the release of D.J. Smith last month is a good sign for Bishop staying in Green Bay. Then again, Smith was also coming off a season-ending injury. Perhaps the Packers also won’t hesitate to cut ties with Bishop like they did with Smith if doubts about Bishop’s health linger further into the summer.

Look, it’s still May. This Bishop story has several chapters that have yet to be written. If you want to read another positive piece on Bishop’s outlook, check this out from Jason Hirschhorn at Acme Packing Company.

Dunne and Hirschhorn’s rosy outlook on Bishop could very well prove to be true. I hope it does. A healthy Bishop playing like he did in 2011 would do wonders for the defense.

28

January

Talking Packers Linebackers: Present and Future?

Packers linebackersLet’s talk Linebackers, inside and outside. These positions in the 3-4 are what can make it a dominating defense or just another also ran. The roles of the ILB and OLB really quite different then any other scheme. The OLB’s are more like a right side DE in the 4-3 then the OLB in the 4-3. Playing both on the line and off, playing more of the 7 and or 9 spots along the defensive front. Both need to rush the passer and in the 3-4 coverage is a big part of the OLB’s duties.

Linebackers get a lot of discussion when it comes to the Packers. At the start of the season many comments were that the Packers were in good shape with there ILB’s. The comments on Hawk were from the biggest bust ever to a steady but not flashy starter, Bishop was gone and Smith would fill in just fine.

At OLB Perry needed to develop quickly for the OLB’s to be better then in 2011. Walden was liked by some and not liked so much by others. Moses got a lot of pre season hype, anyone else was a big question mark.

I have a some what radical view on the Packers linebackers, I am not a fan of Walden at all, he has some good games against weaker opponents but lacks so much at a starter he needs to be replaced. He cannot hold point against the run, he is a one trick pony in pass rush, if he can’t get around a OT he is done. He has no bull rush ability, and lacks inside moves or twists.

Moses to me is Walden in the different package. The only thing with Moses is we don’t know how much he can be developed, what will NFL level strength training and coaching do for him, so I put him as Walden’s replacement as a back up and situational player. Zombo has packed his bags and should not see them come back to Green Bay and I am a Zombo fan, I thought he just might develop nicely, but injuries put and end to that.

10

October

Packers News: Nick Perry fined $15k for hit on Luck

Nick Perry hits Andrew Luck in the chest, gets flagged and fined

Nick Perry hits Andrew Luck in the chest, gets fined

In the latest edition of players getting fined for playing football, Packers linebacker Nick Perry was fined $15,000 for his hit on Colts quarterback Andrew Luck this past Sunday.

According to Rob Demovsky of the Green Bay Press-Gazette, Perry plans to appeal the fine.

On the play, the official referred to Luck as a “defenseless player,” which is usually a term reserved for a receiver attempting to make a catch with no way of shielding himself from an coming collision. Luck, however, was standing in the pocket with five competent offensive linemen in front of him.

So in essence, labeling Luck a “defenseless player” is perhaps the biggest slight one could possibly give to an offensive line. Watch the play again, and see exactly what Perry was flagged, and fined, for.

Luck clearly didn’t see the Perry coming, and as a result, he was smacked by a 270-pound freight train. Perry does something that players nowadays are taught not to do, which is leading with the helmet. However, Perry hit Luck directly in the acceptable, yet constantly shrinking region to hit quarterbacks–square in the chest. The ball popped lose, and Packers linebacker D.J. Smith recovered.

The nine-yard sack was Perry’s second of the season, but a 15-yard penalty negated the turnover altogether. But if there’s a bright side to the story, it’s that Perry finally flashed his massive potential.

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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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3

September

Packers LB Terrell Manning Battled Health Issues Throughout Camp

Packers LB Terrell Manning

Packers LB Terrell Manning

Packers rookie linebacker Terrell Manning had a mysteriously quiet training camp.

Although Manning was just a fifth-round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, many draft experts had drafted rated much higher than where he ultimately came off the board–ESPN tabbed Manning the tenth-best outside linebacker of the 2012 draft class.

Fast forward to the summer, Manning was buried behind D.J. Smith and Robert Francois on the depth chart and starving for an opportunity to showcase his abilities. When starting linebacker Desmond Bishop suffered a season-ending injury in the team’s first preseason game in San Diego, the door opened for Manning to step into the spotlight.

But the former North Carolina State standout continued to hide in the shadows.

And as Rob Demovsky of the Green Bay-Press Gazette points out–Manning was battling more than just his fellow linebackers this summer:

His problems began the first week of training camp, and the Packers’ medical staff quickly realized this was no ordinary stomach flu or food poisoning. The 6-foot-2, 237-pound Manning was tested for everything from Crohn’s disease to cancer before he was diagnosed with a parasite that caused colitis, an inflammation of the large intestine.

Manning says at one point during training camp, he weight as little as 220 pounds–which is less than the average weight of the Packers’ top four running backs. However, the rookie linebacker refused to use his health as an excuse to sit out of practice, as he was on the field for all 21 training camp practices and all four preseason games.

Now that Bishop is out of the picture for 2012, the Packers will lean on Smith and A.J. Hawk as their starting inside linebackers. But behind them, Manning is competing with Francois and Jamari Lattimore as the Packers’ top reserves in the middle of their 3-4 scheme.

It remains to be seen what a healthy Manning is capable of accomplishing in a Packers uniform, but after what he endured throughout his first training camp, his competitiveness cannot be called into question.

If you haven’t yet read Demovsky’s article about Manning and his mysterious health condition, you really should. If you’re a fan of the Packers, it’s definitely worth a few minutes of your time.

13

August

In defense of Erik Walden: Packers Third Best OLB

Packers Linebacker Erik Walden

Packers Linebacker Erik Walden

Sometimes I feel like I’ve been living alone on Walden Island. While everyone around me seems to give zero respect to Packers outside linebacker Erik Walden (is he the new Jarret Bush?) , I believe he has a talent just waiting to be brought to the forefront. It’s something I noticed all last year, and with a little luck, the results would have made everyone notice. Unfortunately, a few split seconds here and there can make all the difference in the world.

Erik Walden can flat out rush the passer. When Walden is turned loose to pursue the red meat known as NFL quarterbacks, he performs like a hungry lion. On many occasions last season, I observed Walden coming fast and hard and just being a split second short of a sack. He finished with 3 sacks on the year, but if I told you it could have easily been 10, would you feel differently about Erik Walden?

Now I’m not here to declare Walden as a fantastic NFL player – anyone who understands defensive play could see how mightily he struggled last season in the run game. He never seemed to quite know what to do – when to be the “force” player, when to hold the outside edge, when to hold an inside position. The result was not pretty, earning him a ranking as the worst 3-4 outside linebacker against the run from ProFootballFocus.

But those are not physical errors, they are errors in judgement, decision making and possibly in knowing his assignments. These are errors that can be remedied with more practice. Perhaps Walden is already on the way, as this clip from the Packers family night scrimmage might indicate:

 

 

This might come as a shock to you, but Walden’s production in the running game was actually very good, as far as some numbers go. Walden finished the year with 41 tackles, good for fifth overall in the NFL among  3-4 outside linebackers and he was tied for 1st in the league in assisted tackle with 11.  He finished 19th in stops (more on that later).

Digest that for a second.

3

August

Nick Perry: High Priority Project for the Green Bay Packers

Packers Linebacker Nick Perry

Packers Linebacker Nick Perry

With the 28th overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, Ted Thompson was tempted by a handful of potential difference makers on defense.

Rather than selecting Courtney Upshaw, who had been projected by some as a mid-1st round pick, or Harrison Smith, who would have added some stability to the safety position after Nick Collins was released, Thompson picked USC’s Nick Perry in hopes of bolstering the Packers’ front seven.

Perry was immediately penciled in as Green Bay’s starting outside linebacker opposite Clay Matthews–a spot that has been a revolving door the past three seasons. Erik Walden, Brad Jones and Frank Zombo have each shown occasional glimpses of reliability, but the starting job remained vacant entering this offseason.

In comes Perry.

The rookie defensive end-turned-linebacker has been running with the first-team defense ever since mini-camp in June. But in the early stages of training camp, Perry hasn’t exactly drawn rave reviews.

He’s failed to generate much of a consistent pass rush, and he hasn’t made any “wow” plays in live team action. However, it’s clear after first week of training camp that the Packers are making Perry a highly-prioritized project heading into 2012.

Morning or evening, indoors or outdoors, if Perry isn’t directly involved in the drill the Packers are running, he’s doing one of two things: getting tips from Matthews or chatting with outside linebackers coach Kevin Greene.

Perry gave Greene reason for excitement on one occasion at Thursday night’s practice. In one-on-one drills between the offensive tackles and outside linebackers, Perry got physical and stood up Bryan Bulaga, causing Greene to shower him with praise.

Although he was quiet later in practice during team period and hasn’t generated many would-be sacks thus far, the 271-pound linebacker figures to be an immediate upgrade over last year’s starter Erik Walden setting the edge in the run game. Walden graded out dead-last among 28 3-4 outside linebackers against the run last year, according to Pro Football Focus.

Whether it’s in the form of a high sack total or simply an improved defense overall, the Packers certainly hope their project pans out in year one.

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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.