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.

24

July

Pigskin Paul’s Packers Preview: 12 Young Players Who Need to Step Up

Packers Nick Perry - Time to Step Up.

Nick Perry – Time to Step Up…

We have done it my friends. We have survived the dreaded football off-season. This coming week NFL teams will begin pouring into Training Camps with about 90 players per team ready to compete for jobs on 2013 regular season rosters. The Green and Gold will be amongst them obviously with high expectations and goals, but lots of questions to be answered as well. Not to be considered all inclusive by any means, here are some topics that come to mind for yours truly.

Nice to see that MARK MURPHY continues to wield the financial magic wand that continues to reap revenue and profit to keep the franchise competitive with the power brokers like JERRY JONES down in Texas. With the South end zone expansion project well on its way to completion local revenue should get a nice boost for future seasons. My only question in that regard is one for the entire NFL: At what point does your thirst for money hit “the wall” because of fan saturation/exposure and expense of access to your game?

Still can’t help but wonder whether Free Agency and Salary Cap haven’t left the team dangerously thin of proven NFL talent at the LB and S positions? Of course some younger players will get better and contribute more, but is the organization counting on more of that phenomenon than is reasonable? We shall see.

So then who might be the younger players to step it up and emerge as legit NFL starters, perhaps even stars? The other key question is often, who can return to the field and bounce back (and up) from injuries? With a young, home grown roster like that of Green Bay that list might include half of the roster, but let me pinpoint a dozen guys who might make a performance leap this season for various and sundry reasons.

NICK PERRY/OLB    Last year’s No. 1 Pick missed most of the season after a September wrist injury eventually landed him on injured reserve (with a knee injury to boot).  Assuming he’s healthy it would be nice to think that he spent a lot of  his down-time in 2012 talking with coaches and watching film that helped him better understand the position switch from DE to OLB he is making. Hopefully, that study will help him do more playing than thinking in 2013.

4

December

Packers Don Barclay: Who is This Guy?

Packers Offensive Lineman Don Barclay

Packers Offensive Lineman Don Barclay

After stepping in for an injured TJ Lang at right tackle in last week’s game against the Vikings, Packers rookie Don Barclay is suddenly the subject of many questions.

Even before the Vikings game, there were calls by many to move Lang back to left guard and insert Barclay at right tackle (all without ever having seen Barclay play a single meaningful offensive snap in the NFL).

Either these folks knew something we didn’t, or blind luck shall be given the credit, as Barclay stepped in and did an adequate job. Adequate meaning he didn’t do anything fantastic, but he also didn’t do anything horrible. For his first game ever, a solid performance.

For some fans, this is enough to anoint Barclay the Packers starting right tackle for the rest of the season in place of TJ Lang, there in place of Bryan Bulaga. And so the questions start…

Packers fans have a seemingly endless unquenched thirst for information about every guy in a Green & Gold uniform -even undrafted rookie free agents no one has ever heard of before.

And that, in a sense, is why we’re here. To provide you, the insatiable Packers fan, with volumes of minutiae about your beloved Packers players.

So without further ado, we present to you Don Barclay:

Don Barclay, 6’4″, 310lbs, West Virginia University

Barclay is from Cranberry PA, about an hour outside of Pittsburgh. He was deemed too big for Pop Warner football, and didn’t start playing until just before High School.

Despite living near Pittsburgh, he never considered going to the University of Pittsburgh because of an uncle of his who played for West Virginia and despises the Panthers (this because his WVU team could beat them once in his years at WVU).

Barclay was a three-year starter at left tackle who tied the school record by playing in 52 games with 39 consecutive starters after serving as a backup guard and tackle as a redshirt freshman.

At the WVU Pro day, Barclay turned in these results:

40yd dash: 5.03
20yd dash: 2.88
10yd dash: 1.73
Bench Reps: 23
Vertical jump: 29.5″
Broad Jump: 8’7″
20yd shuttle: 4.70
3-cone drill: 7.54

Most scouts were looking at Barclay as a guard, with some even thinking about him as a potential center, which is why Barclay practiced snapping the ball in front of scouts at his Pro day.

18

October

Pro Football Focus Grades: Packers rookies stepping up on defense

After finishing dead-last in total defense last season, the Packers put an emphasis on improving their defense last offseason.

Packers general manager Ted Thompson used the 28th overall pick on USC outside linebacker Nick Perry, before trading up twice in the second round to help bolster the Pack’s struggling defense. Thompson is stingy when it comes to parting with his draft picks, but as he put it after the draft, “I’m no longer my father’s son.”

In the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft, the Packers traded up to No. 51 overall to select Michigan State defensive end Jerel Worthy. After losing Cullen Jenkins the previous offseason, Green Bay hoped to add a versatile pass rusher to its defensive line.

Seven picks later, the Packers, again, surprised everyone by moving up to select Vanderbilt cornerback Casey Hayward with the No. 58 pick. The secondary struggled mightily in 2011, and given the fact that Pro Bowl safety Nick Collins would no longer play for the team, the Packers wanted to add a defensive back capable of playing from day one.

And so far, Hayward certainly looks the part.

Through six weeks of the 2012 NFL regular season, Pro Football Focus has Hayward graded out as the No. 2 cornerback in football. Not the No. 2 rookie cornerback in football. The No. 2 cornerback in football, just behind Vikings veteran cornerback Antoine Winfield.

The folks at Pro Football Focus take every single play from every single game, and put each player under the microscope.

So far, Hayward has played 173 snaps on the season. PFF has charged him with just nine completions allowed, and opposing quarterbacks targeting him have combined for a league-worst 18.4 QB rating.

In the Packers’ last two games, Hayward has three interceptions. Hayward’s first pick of the season came last week in Indianapolis when he was matched up one-on-one against Reggie Wayne. The Colts No. 1 receiver torched the Packers all game, but Hayward got the better of him on that play.

At a pivotal point in the game, Hayward matches Wayne step for step and makes a great play on the ball. Not only was it an impressive play, but it’s pretty telling that the Packers’ coaching staff trusts a rookie on a receiver who had been dominant all day.

1

August

Keeping Perspective While Following the Latest From Packers Training Camp

Mike Daniels

Packers D-lineman Mike Daniels

Remember my post yesterday about three players raising eyebrows at Packers training camp?

Well, those players might already be yesterday’s news. The new eyebrow-raiser at camp is Mike Daniels.

Mike Daniels
Rob Demovsky of the Green Bay Press Gazette says Daniels has gotten plenty of snaps, especially in Dom Capers’ dime package. Like they do in the secondary, the Packers have a bunch of bodies on the defensive line and are hoping that somebody, anybody, steps up and makes the entire position group better. I suppose Daniels could be that guy. Like fellow rookie D-lineman Jerel Worthy, Daniels created chaos in college. And that’s what the Packers need up front. No more tying up blockers and calling it a day.

Wait a minute….Never Mind
Looks like Daniels might already be yesterday’s news, too.  He dropped out of practice Tuesday with an injury.

I wrote my original eyebrow raising post on Monday evening. It was posted Tuesday afternoon and it already felt like old news. I began writing this current post over lunch on Tuesday and by time I got home from work to finish it, it also already felt like old news.

I didn’t even finish writing the post yet and it felt like old news!

What’s this world coming to when a blogger can’t even keep up with the news cycle?

Anyway…
I’ll stop venting now, but if you take one thing from this all-over-the-place post, make it this: Don’t get too caught up in the latest training camp flavor-of-the-day player. Most of us know that by now, but it’s always nice to get reminded. I know I need an occasional reminder.

In camp, all the rookies look like studs and all the veterans look like pro bowlers. The bad players look like they improved over the offseason and the guys who were out shape a season ago are in the best shape of their lives. The players who told the coach to eff off and can’t stay out of jail are suddenly born-again and couldn’t be better teammates.

Hell, Jarrett Bush is suddenly a starting cornerback.

Keep your eyes and ears open. Stay informed. Cross your fingers that nobody gets hurt. But other than that, don’t take every twist and turn of training camp like it’s a major ordeal.

30

July

Packers Casey Hayward: We Know, We know, But Just Calm Down

Packers Cornerback Casey Hayward

Packers Cornerback Casey Hayward

If you’re suddenly enamored with Packers rookie Casey Hayward, be prepared to join a very large club. Three days of training camp, and it’s obvious the kid is a player, right? At the same time, know that around here you’re very late to that party. Indulge me for a  bit:

Very early on during “draft season”, I was told told by a little birdie that Casey Hayward could be the second or third best CB in the draft and that the Packers were in love. I was also told the Packers would be willing to trade up for him, which is why I included him in my one and only mock  draft  and whispered just before the draft that the Packers loved Casey Hayward.

I’m not mentioning these things to brag (although it does sound like that), but rather to point out that if you are a regular reader of AllGreenBayPackers.com, you’ve known about Casey Hayward for awhile. So you weren’t one of those fans who said “who?” when the Packers traded up to snatch him up. And months later, you aren’t surprised that Hayward has made an instant impression in training camp, picking off passes, blanketing receivers and gaining the enthusiastic praise of his teammates.

Hayward has had a fantastic first three days of camp, and has opened up some eyes. Here are some quotes about Hayward that Bob McGinn of JSOnline.com recently garnered:

James Jones: ”Probably the best thing about him right now as a rookie is he understands the schemes and what people are trying to do to him,” wide receiver James Jones said. “As a rookie, he’s smart. He’s going to be good.”

Tramon Williams: ”He’s picking up the defense well and making plays,” Williams said. “If he keeps making those plays he’s definitely going to push.”

This is reminiscent of two camps ago when Packers players were raving about a rookie corner that went on to be a first-year starter at nickel: Sam Shields. Of course, we all know that Shields has lost his way a bit in the last year.

There was never a doubt in my mind that Hayward was going to push Sam Shields, Jarret Bush and Davon House for playing time. And I have no doubt he will one day be a starting cornerback in the NFL.

26

July

Packers Sign Free Agent Guard Greg Van Roten – Video Highlights Included

Newest Green Bay Packer, Greg Van Roten

Newest Green Bay Packer, Greg Van Roten

The Green Bay Packers’ team IQ went up a few points yesterday after signing Ivy League guard Greg Van Roten of the University of Pennsylvania. The three-time All-Ivy Selection was originally invited to the Packers rookie mini-camp, but a conflict with the Jets’ camp kept him from participating. Van Roten also attended the San Diego Chargers’ camp but received no offers from either team.

Van Roten kept in contact with the Packers throughout the summer, and they brought him in for a tryout on Monday. The Packers liked him so much, they wouldn’t let him leave, asking him to stay in Green Bay overnight, while they figured out a way to make some room for him. By the next morning, the Packers had released Charlie Peprah along with offensive guard Grant Cook, and Van Roten was a Packer.

Contacted b y the Daily Pennsylvanian, UPenn’s offensive coordinator Jom McLoughlin commented, “I’m so happy for Greg. This opportunity is a real testament to him and all the hard work he’s put in. Coming out of high school, he was told by several coaches that he couldn’t play at the Division I level, and he always used that as motivation.”

Van Roten played left tackle for the Quakers until halfway through his senior season, when injuries on the offensive line necessitated a move inside during some games. The offensive line didn’t miss a beat, continuing to lead the way for the Quakers’ 3rd highest Ivy League scoring offense while allowing the league’s third fewest sacks for the season.

Greg Van Roten at theNFL Regional Combine:

 

Greg Van Roten Game Highlights (Warning – Adult Language):

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Jersey Al Bracco is the founder and editor of AllGreenBayPackers.com, and the co-founder of Packers Talk Radio Network. He can be heard as one of the Co-Hosts on Cheesehead Radio and is the Green Bay Packers Draft Analyst for Drafttek.com.

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