22

July

Packers OL Andrew Datko: Training Camp Dark Horse or Off the Team?

Packers offensive lineman Andrew Datko

We don’t know much about Packers offensive lineman Andrew Datko because he was stashed away on the practice squad all of last season.

What we did know about him after the Packers drafted him in the seventh round in 2012 we’ve probably already forgotten because, well, he was on the practice squad all of last season.

Because the Packers offensive line situation always seems to be in some sort of disrepair, it’s important that we keep any offensive lineman who can walk upright fresh on our mind before training camp battles begin.

Here’s a refresher on Datko so you don’t have to ask yourself “Who is that guy?” should Datko make some noise during camp.

  • At Florida State, Datko started 12 of 13 games as a true freshman at left tackle. Even though he only weighed 260 pounds, he still had 21 knockdown blocks. Talk about starting your college career with a bang.  
  • He started all 13 games his sophomore season and only allowed two sacks. In 11 games as a junior, he only allowed one sack.
  • Things went downhill from there. After starting the first four games of his senior season, Datko hurt his shoulder — the same shoulder he hurt in high school. The injury required surgery in November and Datko couldn’t lift at the NFL combine, causing him to freefall down draft boards and fall right off many of them.
  • Physically, Datko is the type of offensive lineman the Packers like to draft: A successful college left tackle (when healthy) who is athletic, versatile and could theoretically play multiple positions.
  • Datko’s ceiling in 2013 is winning the Packers sixth man job along the offensive line. If he does that, both Datko and the Packers have to be ecstatic. It would mean the 6-foot-6, 315 pounder is healthy and Ted Thompson can breathe a little bit easier if Derek Sherrod is a lost cause.
  • Obviously, Datko’s worst-case scenario is the shoulder acting up again and getting cut.
  • Realistically, look for Datko to be in the mix for the seventh or eighth offensive line slot, probably not the sixth. The sixth-man job likely goes to the loser of the battle to start at right tackle. Datko lined up at guard during OTAs, which also helps his chances of making the team, if healthy.
23

July

Packers Training Camp Battles: Will Anyone Stand Up to Perry at OLB?

Nick Perry

Packers OLB Nick Perry

When the Packers open training camp, we will hear plenty about Nick Perry making the shift from a hand-on-the-ground college defensive end to a stand-up NFL outside linebacker.

No doubt, there will be plenty of adjustments that Perry needs to make as he transitions. But don’t let that fool you, Perry is the player the Packers want to rush the quarterback opposite of Clay Matthews.

There is no need to be overly concerned about Perry not yet being a well-rounded OLB. The Packers should focus most of their efforts on making Perry the best possible pass rusher that he can be. What deficiencies he may have in pass coverage or other areas can be developed over time.

If Perry turns out to be the pass rusher the Packers think he can be, the other aspects of playing OLB will come to him. Meantime, Dom Capers can create sub packages and scheme as necessary to maximize Perry’s talents and mask the undeveloped portions of his game.

After Perry and Matthews, things get interesting at OLB.

Erik Walden
The Packers brought Walden back even though he disappeared down the stretch last season after getting arrested. Most people have written Walden off, but I say not so fast.

There’s a reason the Packers brought him back. If they didn’t think he was any good, they wouldn’t have resigned him. I’m not saying Walden is going to be a breakout player, but don’t immediately dismiss him.

He’s had his moments with the Packers, including three sacks in the 2010 season finale and a two-game stretch before getting arrested last season where he totaled 15 tackles and a sack.

Bringing Walden back was a good decision. If he plays like he did before the arrest, the Packers have a solid depth player. If he looks finished, the Packers can just cut him and move on with their lives.

Dezman Moses
This year’s buzz player, Moses made everybody take notice of him during OTAs. His 20-yard shuttle and 3-cone drill times at the combine were better than Perry’s, and he was a very productive college player.

Ted Thompson seems to always find an undrafted free agent or two that sticks around. A few even make a major impact (see Sam Shields in 2010).